Saturday November 10, 2012

So, You Want to Run Objective-C In The Cloud...

In what is surely a brave entreprenurial endeavor, Objective Cloud is a new product going into private beta soon that lets you upload Objective-C code and run it as a service. Aside from the obvious implications that you can use native NSCoding as a wire protocol, they promise the ability to use Cocoa frameworks like Core Image or PDF Kit.

I doubt the Cocoa frameworks are licensed for cloud use. Not sure how this will work out legally. Also I’m not a fan of the “run your client libraries on the server” meme, in general. Not that you can’t find a good reason, but servers are different beasts than clients and you’re better off using languages and frameworks tuned for each environment and use something like this as a last resort.

Legal and conceptual issues aside, the idea fascinates me. I’m going to keep an eye on this.

Update: November 12, 2012

Christian Kienle of Objective Cloud reached out to me to give me some more backstory on the company. They do agree with me on using trusted server side tools to do the job. Yet they see enough of an interest in focused services leveraging the Cocoa frameworks that they think this has legs. The idea of using the Address Book libraries to handle address localization or NSLinguisticTagger for some natural language processing server side is certainly interesting.

I am not a lawyer so I can’t predict how this will fall legally. They are based in Germany and it sounds like they’ve been doing their homework. As I think about it, you could pull this off yourself manually with a colocated Mac Mini and write your web service in Objective-C with the Cocoa libraries. You’ve bought the machine and the libraries. So the question comes down to selling a service running on the Mac Mini written in Objective-C. But, to me, that sounds like the whole point of OS X server.