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Dude, Where’s My Archive?

Sometime last week, the archives at lists.apple.com went dark, replaced by the ambiguous message:

Archives are currently disabled. If you require urgent access to the Archives, please contact postmaster@lists.apple.com with the subject “ARCHIVES”.

Apple’s developer mailing lists have been around for at least a decade, and contain a wealth of real-world knowledge, particularly on the many APIs that pre-date the establishment of Apple’s web-based Dev Forums a few years ago. While the lists themselves continue to operate and distribute new messages, the archives have been out since at least late last week.

For Core Audio, the loss of the archives is absolutely devastating. Everyone complains about the lack of documentation for Core Audio, but that’s not quite the problem. It’s that the nature of Core Audio is that the syntax is simple and the semantics are where the real work gets done. It’s very easy to create a AudioUnitSetProperty() call that compiles, and very difficult to create one that doesn’t crash and instead does something useful. That’s the good and the bad of an API whose favorite idiom is getting and setting void* properties; compare to AV Foundation, whose far more limited abilities can reasonably be gleaned by reading the docs.

When the nature of the framework is knowing what you can and can’t do with the various properties, what the audio engines will and won’t accept, and why the hell you’re getting OSStatus -50 (paramErr), the best resource you could hope for is 10 years of people doing the same thing and sharing their results. And now it’s gone.

What’s worse is that Apple, as ever, has provided far too little information for their partners to know where they stand or what to do. Are the archives down because of prolonged maintenance, like taking the tapes from Cupertino to North Carolina and hosting them there? Was there a database crash that is now being recovered from? Or was there a business or political decision to just shut down the archives indefinitely (imagine if, say, a legal rival was getting evidence against Apple from the listserv archives, or if Charlie Miller’s App Store security hack was based on information gleaned from the archives). The thing is, we don’t know whether or not to expect the archives to return, and as is so often the case, Apple isn’t being clear with us.

For now, we can complain. And file bugs against the apple.com site. Feel free to dupe mine from Open Radar.

Comments (2)

  1. The archives are back, but you can only browse old messages — searching the archives is still broken. Sounds like a technical problem of some kind.

  2. Thanks, Scott, that’s a relief. I won’t miss the searching… I recall they did some big change about 5 years ago to make it more spiderable to external search engines, so having Apple’s own engine doing the search isn’t critical. Thing is, when you Google for specific APIs, you often get links to individual messages in the archives, and those work again. In fact, I hope someone answers my question about kAudioUnitProperty_BypassEffect soon.

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