Bedrock was a joint effort by Apple Computer and Symantec to produce a cross platform programming framework for writing applications on the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows platforms. The project was a failure for a variety of reasons, and after delivering a developer preview version the project was abandoned in late 1993.
Bedrock started as an internal effort at Symantec in the early 1990s. At the time many of Symantec's products ran on both Mac and Windows, and what would become Bedrock was originally an internal set of tools intended to ease the effort of keeping both platforms up to date.
In 1991, Apple released the 3.0 version of its own development environment, MPW, along with its own object framework, MacApp. MPW was a command-line driven system that was "unloved". MacApp 3.0 was a major upgrade from previous versions, porting from Object Pascal to C++, a move that left it largely incompatible with the previous version, as well as causing considerable consternation in the Mac developer community.
Symantec was also the supplier of the then-premier development platform on the Mac, THINK C. This was a GUI-based environment which included an application framework of its own, the Think Class Library (TCL). THINK C/TCL had garnered a considerable following in the Mac community, especially during the MacApp 3.0 era. To remain competitive, at some point MPW would have to be replaced with something much more similar to Think.
Throughout this period, Microsoft Windows was first starting its rise in popularity. Cross-platform development systems had been developed, but to this time they tended to be relatively simple, delivering least-common-denominator applications. A cross-platform system that delivered first-rate solutions was something of a holy grail during this time.
The first mention of a collaboration between Apple and Symantec was mentioned in the flier for WWDC '92. The companies talked about it very briefly at the show, calling it Cross Platform Framework and mentioning that more would be revealed at the PC Expo show in June. This was greeted with considerable interest in the press.
At MacWorld show they announced the concept as Bedrock. Bedrock would first be released on the Mac and Windows, with plans to expand it in the future to support Unix, OS/2, Windows NT and Taligent. Bedrock would be an outright replacement for MacApp, and Apple would contribute MacApp code and concepts to the project.
Bedrock development would be supported on the Mac by Apple with an MPW replacement, as well as an updated Think C from Symantec. PC development would be via Symantec's (Zortech) C++ on Windows. Although not officially supported, the system would be deliberately written to be able to work with any C++ compiler.
Although it was a joint project, development was being carried out entirely by Symantec. Developers started commenting about the dangerous position this placed Apple in, leaving their future development platform in the hands of a 3rd party. Making matters worse was the fact that Symantec's CEO had apparently given up on the Mac, and had publicly announced that Windows was the future of the company.
Throughout this period Apple was also working on OpenDoc, positioning it as a unique document-centered technology that led to a better user experience than monolithic applications. Apple was particularly effective in "selling" the OpenDoc concept to end users and developers, and the obvious contradiction between working on Bedrock while claiming classic applications were outmoded led to infighting between the project teams in Apple.
Meanwhile, Symantec was having considerable problems of their own. Late in 1992, numerous members of the Bedrock team, including the head of development, left the company. This led to press accounts that the project was dead.
A developer's preview was delivered in the spring of 1993 that included several demo apps built using the system. These apps looked nothing like Mac or Windows programs, using custom UI widgets for many common tasks like Open File dialog boxes. The demo applications were also filled with bugs and lacked any visual polish, including spelling mistakes and bad grammar throughout. The CD was released with claims that the product would ship late in 1993, but that the release would not be "code quality", and a final release could not be expected to be until some time in 1994.
By the end of 1993, with no developer release in sight, rumours abounded of Apple's dissatisfaction with the project and especially with its lack of OpenDoc support. Even in public, Apple was questioning "how we can fit Bedrock into the OpenDoc environment".
On 24 January 1994 Apple and Symantec finally made the obvious official, and stated that Symantec was no longer actively developing Bedrock. Instead, Symantec granted Apple a "worldwide, perpetual license to distribute and further develop Bedrock. Additionally, Apple granted Symantec a worldwide perpetual license to use specific Apple technology in future Symantec products." At the time, Apple stated they intended to "make Bedrock the tool of choice for OpenDoc part development." In spite of this, all mention of Bedrock quickly disappeared from both company's public statements.
Having relied on Bedrock to be their MPW/MacApp replacement, Apple had done little development on their own platform. By 1994 this left the company with a hopelessly outdated development platform. Bedrock's failure in the midst of the PowerPC efforts were also ill-timed. Symantec had also done little work with Think C during this period, especially their TCL libraries. This led to the rapid switch from both MPW and Think C to the more modern and PPC-native Metrowerks systems.
- Addison 1992.
- Chris Knepper, "Approaching MacApp 3.0", FrameWorks, Volume 5 Issue 2 (February 1991)
- Gary Ray, "Symantec, Apple team on tools", Computerworld, 17 May 1993, p. 8
- Mary Kathleen Flynn, "Tools for Windows-Mac Development", PC Mag, 15 September 1992, p. 33
- Paul Karon, "Cross-platform tools appeal to developers", InfoWorld, 17 August 1992, pp. S74-S75
- Stewart Alsop, "Apple sheds isolationist image with Bedrock environment", InfoWorld, 29 June 1992, p. 4
- Tom Quinlan, "Apple, Symantec to do cross-development environment", InfoWorld, 29 June 1992, p. 6
- "Apple, Symantec announce plans to speed cross-platform software development", joint press release, 23 June 1992
- Ticktin 1994.
- Robert Cringely, "Norton Desktop for WFWFW; General Magic for World; Bedrock for No One", InfoWorld, 11 January 1993, p. 98
- "Symantec releases the Bedrock Architecture CD", Symantec press release, 12 May 1993
- Neil Ticktin, "WWDC ‘93 Report", MacTech, Volume 9 Issue 7 (July 1993)
- Kelley Damore and Tom Quinlan, "Bedrock not as solid as Apple originally planned", InfoWorld, 6 December 1993, p. 8
- James Daly, "Apple, Symantec rethink role Bedrock will play", Computerworld, 20 December 1993, p. 69