Apple’s OS X operating system ships with two primary application building frameworks — Carbon and Cocoa. Carbon was designed to make it easier to older, legacy apps running on OS X, while Cocoa is the newer, and according to Apple, better framework.
Apple has long encouraged developers to transition their Carbon apps to Cocoa, but the company has it’s own Carbon-based holdout — OS X’s Finder app.
However, according to AppleInsider, that may be changing with the upcoming release of Snow Leopard. AppleInsider’s sources, which the site calls “people familiar with matter,” claim that Finder will see a Cocoa rewrite for the release of OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard.
While Apple hasn’t given many official details about Snow Leopard, one thing it has said is that the next generation of OS X will be fully 64-bit capable. At the same time the company has delayed a 64-bit capable version of Carbon, which means if you’re building a 64-bit app, you need to be using Cocoa.
That’s why Adobe was unable to release a 64-bit version of Photoshop CS4 for Mac — the app is built in Carbon and it’s tough to build a 64-bit app when the framework you’re using doesn’t support it.
But Adobe isn’t the only company with apps written in Carbon, and it would seem awkward (or just plain untrue) for Apple to claim it had a 64-bit system when one of its own major apps didn’t fit the bill.
So while it’s just a rumor, the all 64-bit claim lends at least one practical reason why the rumors of a Cocoa-based Finder for Snow Leopard may well be true.
So far Apple has not announced a release date for Snow Leopard, though Macworld 2009, happening Jan 5-9 seems like a good bet, if not for the actual release, at least for a healthy dose of new details.