The two features I find most interesting about Mac OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”) are not the ones getting the biggest hoopla, Spotlight and Dashboard. I’m more intrigued by improvements aimed at programmers. Core Data helps the developer manage the data within an application. Core Data, along with Cocoa Bindings, promises to make it much easier to write applications using the flexible model-view-controller pattern. Having just written a good-sized MVC app myself, I appreciate anything that makes it easier. The other feature I’m keeping an eye on is Automator, which allows end users to create their own scripts to automate tasks. Anything from renaming a bunch of files to rotating, cropping, and e-mailing a collection of photos is possible.

There has been a real lack of end-user programming tools built into operating systems lately; the last one was HyperCard, which was last bundled with a Mac in 1990. Windows had the primitive Macro Recorder, which simply recorded raw keystrokes and mouse events, and even that was removed from Windows when Windows 95 was released. So Automator is a welcome change. In some ways, Microsoft is moving in the other direction. It plans to include a new command-line shell and scripting language with Longhorn called MSH. That’s good for sysadmins, but doesn’t do much for end users.