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Binary Finary

February 17th, 2006 · 5 Comments

Now we’ve got universal binaries of both Nisus Writer Express and Nisus Thesaurus ready for your hot little mice to download. So what goes into making a universal binary? For an application like Nisus Thesaurus, which was developed for Mac OSX from the start and has basically no file formats, it really is as easy as clicking a checkbox. Something like Express is a bit more complicated.

The problem is that PPC based Macs store numbers in memory differently than an Intel. To illustrate, how do you know that the character sequence “72” mean seventy-two and not twenty-seven? Could we not just as easily have decided that seventy-two should be written as “27”? Indeed, when speaking in German (but not writing it) you literally say “two and seventy”. PPC and Intel chips have exactly this issue, that one stores numbers from the little end to the big end, and the other in the opposite direction.

So how does this affect Express? Here’s when our old friend Nisus Writer Classic and its file format comes into the picture. All those Classic Nisus files you have sitting around from the good ‘ol days are stored using the PPC’s notion of numbers. Before your new Intel Mac can understand them the numbers need to be swapped around. It’s not a difficult problem to solve, but it is time consuming to go through the old file import code and figure out exactly what and where to swap.

Tags: Martin

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gem*Boy // Feb 23, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    thanks for the hard work..and the explanation

    Gem*Boy

  • 2 Gem*Boy // Feb 25, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    I forgot to mention the 72 irony, that is, my magic number is ’27’

    gemboy27

  • 3 Dave // Apr 21, 2006 at 8:21 am

    “It’s not a difficult problem to solve, but it is time consuming to go through the old file import code and figure out exactly what and where to swap.”
    ‘Not difficult, but time consuming’, a matter of priorities, in other words. A year or so ago, Nisus Customer Support told me that frankly Nisus had more pressing issues than fixing a discriminatory glitch in its “offensive word filter” in their original Nisus Thesaurus software. Seems, as I pointed out to them, that the filter worked on racially offensive words, for example, but ignored all manner of offensive words based on sexual orientation.
    Though the problem was eventually fixed (the “offensive word filter” option was simply axed from the software!) the initial response I received from Nisus was one of supreme indifference.
    This is a company I will never do business with again.

  • 4 James L. Page // Apr 30, 2006 at 7:27 pm

    Dave’s clearly got a bug up his butt, at the very least. Thanks, Nisus!

  • 5 RZ // Jun 12, 2006 at 5:52 am

    “Indeed, when speaking in German (but not writing it) you literally say “two and seventy”.”

    Not when writing it? Zweiundsiebzig.

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