Original Work?

Dave Winer poses the question What to do when the platform vendor "validates" your product by copying it and announcing it will bundle the copy with the OS[?] He is not alone as there is also a thread running on Tidbits Talk asking similar questions. I have a bit of a different take. The current hoop-la is over Konfabulator whose snazzy "widget" applets bear a strong resemblance to the "gadgets" in Tiger's Expose.

A personal background. I have used Konfabulator and I believe that if I were to plow though the many e-reciepts on the computer I'd find a payment for it at one point. I say this because like many applications of its ilk I've tried it, played with it for a bit and decided it wasn't for me. Will I find Tiger's Gadgets equally flashy and then wander away. We'll see.

So as the story goes Konfabulator is giving Apple some of their own as Apple jests with Microsoft about copying OS X, Konfabulator jabs Apple for copying Konfabulator. But is it necessarily so? Certainly there is a resemblance between some of the provided widgets. It is worth noting, however that there are plenty of prior works that also share a common look and feel. The Clock widget shares a great deal with xClock that has run on Unix/Linux variants for years. In fact the very notion of Konfabulator is, as far as I can tell, to rip-off the wonderful Enlightenment window manager on Unix/Linux.

In fact much of the look of many current windows managers shares a great deal with several previous windows managers. Perhaps the folks at Konfabulator aren't familiar with Next Step? Perhaps a screen shot or two will help. Does the Next Step interface look just like the new Expose features in Tiger? No. Is there a more common look between Konfabulator and the new Tiger interface? Yes! But why? It is because the folks who write Konfabulator widgets want them to look like OS X. It is Konfabulator who is copying Cupertino's style.

I would hazard a guess that there are people at Apple who are familiar with Konfabulator. I am equally certain there are folks at Apple who have used the numerous predecessors that existed long before Konfabulator. The current hoop-la is akin to Omni Group complaining when Apple came out with Safari that they were copying Omni Web. Funny I don't remember that controversy.

This piece may also appear to comment on Dave's other comment about Apple and system level scripting. I don't claim to know the story and I do know that Dave has contributed a great deal in this realm. The story does make me wonder though, if it was possible anybody else from Apple may have heard the story Gates told? Again I'm not knocking Dave and I'm certain that his concise explanations of the technology and vision helped to form what became Apple Script.... I'd just like to hear sometime from the Apple side what internal goings on were at that time? If it's entirely Dave's idea then give him the credit.