Apple's 2005 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is at San Francisco's Moscone Center, June 6-10.

Macworld UK caught up with the company's vice president of worldwide developer relations, Ron Okamoto, to discuss Apple's focus at the event this year.

What follows is a condensed version of the full interview, which appears in Macworld's April edition, which goes on sale today.

WWDC has been a traditional debutantes' ball for new OS technologies, operating systems and products: in 2004, Apple previewed Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and introduced its 30-inch Cinema HD display. Apple CEO Steve Jobs customarily offers a strategy update to nurture Apple's developer community.

Okamoto told Macworld this year's event will focus on Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger". "There's so many great things in Tiger that we really want to help developers use within their applications," he said.

Tiger's imminent prowl

Jobs confirmed at Macworld Expo San Francisco that Tiger would be unleashed "in the first half of 2005". While no confirmed date exists, many expect it to happen at WWDC.

Apple is promising more hands-on sessions this year than before. These will give developers a chance to speak with Apple's engineers, and aim to maximise developers software integration with Tiger's new features. A slew of hands-on tutorials are promised.

WWDC will also be focused on community, Okamoto said, explaining: "We recognise the growth in the biotech community. Four years ago we held the first life sciences community lunch. There were 40 people there including the Apple people. Last year we hosted 300 people at that community gathering. So we are looking to generate other such communities within the developer community."

Apple will discuss Spotlight, Dashboard, Core Data, Core Image and Core Video, and other Tiger features. The Apple Developers Awards will also take place this year, Okamoto confirmed.

Okamoto expects "great things" from Tiger: "Developers are super-excited about it. I've seen some of the work they are doing on it. I think everyone will be very pleased with the way developers are going to wrap their arms around Tiger."

Developers, developers, developers, developers...

In recent years, Apple has been attracting new developers from the Open Source, Unix, Java and classic cross-platform communities. Windows developers are joining in.

"Our developer community has grown two-and-a-half times in two years. It's coming from all quarters. You know we have been out there for many years talking about the strength of OS X and its technology innovation," he said, confirming that Apple's development environment, Xcode, is also attracting converts.

"We're seeing Cocoa used in areas you wouldn't expect it, and a lot of that is coming from people in the cross-platform side of Windows," he said.

Focused on excellence

Apple's built a framework to handle Unix, Java, Cocoa and Carbon, and tools to handle those, while taking the technology out to developers.

"We aren't looking at Microsoft, trying to do anything relative to them. We concentrate on what we're doing and do the best we can. We're starting to see the fruits of this".

It's not just the OS and its tools that's pulling the crowd – Apple's seeing success across the board: "It's coming from all quarters – third parties are developing our platform: everything from iPod to Mac to supercomputers. You just need to look at the scale of what the developer community is doing out there. There's not a segment I can tell you where I want to say, "I wish I had more momentum here", he said.

"When you look at what is included in Tiger, it is the most significant release the platform has seen since the original Mac OS X," he said.