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Tuesday, August 10, 2004, 04:40 pm PT (07:40 pm ET)

Mac OS X Tiger to add OpenGL enhancements, PDF Kit, SQLite

Some of the less publicized features of Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" are beginning to emerge as developer sources compile notes from Apple's recent World Wide Developer Conference and preliminary tests of the next-generation operating system.

Although the majority of the features are based on additions to less apparent and underlying technologies, the advances will aid developers in producing more feature rich and streamlined applications in shorter periods of time, sources said.

OpenGL and OpenAL

The version of OpenGL that will ship with Tiger will include better support for pixel buffers, which lets developers perform offscreen rendering with OpenGL. For example, developers could create a pixel buffer to store a texture that may be applied to hundreds of different objects in a video game, though the texture would only be processed once.

Tiger will also add support for Open Audio Library (OpenAL), a cross-platform standard for delivering 3D audio in applications, sources said.

Using OpenAL, developers can implement high-performance positional audio in games and other programs that require high-quality audio output. And because OpenAL is a cross-platform standard, applications written using OpenAL on Mac OS X can easily be ported to run on many other platforms.

Tiger's implementation of OpenAL is reportedly based on the company's Core Audio library and therefore will deliver high quality sound and performance on Mac OS X systems.

PDFKit

PDF Kit is a new Cocoa framework in Tiger that will let developers add PDF viewing and navigation to their Mac OS X application with just a few clicks in Interface Builder. The kit will automatically handle the rendering of the PDF content and provide controls for navigation and setting the zoom level.

Developers may also choose to go beyond simple PDF viewing, as the PDF Kit PDF Kit includes a suite of developer classes for adding capabilities to perform text searches, manage selections, add annotations, and specify the behavior of some graphical elements.

Sources say that starting with the release of Tiger, Apple’s "Preview" application will use the new PDF Kit as the foundation for its PDF support.

SQLite Support

Another feature of Tiger is SQLite support, which incorporates the SQLite library into the system to provide an embeddable, zero-configuration SQL database engine for applications.

Developers who link their applications to this library can access SQL databases without running a separate relational database management system (RDBMS) process. The library can also be used to create local database files and manage the tables and records in that file.

Core Data Framework

SQLite is optimized to provide fast access to database records and is designed for general-purpose use. One example is Core Data—a new Apple framework that simplifies application creation based on a Model-View-Controller architecture—that uses SQLite extensively to provide backend storage for user-defined data.

Core Data is intended for applications that have a significant amount of structured data to manage. According to sources, the library will handle developer tasks such as retrieving object data from disks, maintaining references to those objects, and writing modified objects back to disk.

The new Tiger-only Core Data framework will also provide developers with simplified management of undo and redo operations, support for validation of property values, support for propagating changes, grouping, filtering, and organizing data in memory and transferring those changes to the user interface through Cocoa bindings.