Felten on Flash, Scratch, Ajax and iPhone OS

Professor Felten posts his own thoughts about the removal of Scratch from the app store. His speculation on the reasons for barring interpreters and third party tooling is compelling. In short allowing such applications creates an opportunity for third party app stores. Of all the reasoning around Apple’s increasing constriction of their developers, this makes the most sense to me. Read it for yourself and see if you don’t agree.

He recognizes the exception that has existed all along but there is an implication that allowing rich web applications is more a function of being unable to block them than an intentional concession. I am still ruminating on how this jibes with the initial stance Apple held, that web applications would be the only way to get third party code onto the iPhone. I think the simplest explanation, that Apple is making things up as they go, is probably the most accurate. It is hard to reconcile such extreme waffling otherwise.

I especially like Felten’s tidy example that demonstrates why non-developers should care about license restrictions that affect developers.

Finally, I want to address the common objection that most people don’t care about limits on programming, because they don’t know how to program. To me, this is like saying that you don’t care about restaurant closings because nobody in your house knows how to cook. If you can’t cook for yourself, you should care more about restaurant quality. If all of the good restaurants close, good cooks will just make their own good meals — but you’ll be out of luck.

I’m going to have to remember that as I think it is an apt analogy.

One Reply to “Felten on Flash, Scratch, Ajax and iPhone OS”

  1. Update from the developer John M McIntosh in comments at Computing Education Blog:

    “As the developer of the Scratch.app let me state that we have talked to Steve Jobs about it, discussions with Steve are ongoing, no decision has been reached. Given Apple’s earnings are next tuesday I don’t think we’ll have closure until some time later in the week.”

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