Tag Archives: mac

Micro.blog theme updates

Over the last couple of days we’ve shipped a few improvements to Micro.blog. There’s an update to the Mac version with some bug fixes and better support for showing the title field when you’re writing a longer blog post. The default themes have been updated too.

It’s also much easier to preview themes for your microblog. Under your account there’s now a “Preview Themes” button that lets you click through and test out the themes. Here’s a 10-second screencast recording to show how it works:

Major update to Micro.blog today

Micro.blog is now available to anyone. There’s a limit of 100 new sign-ups each day, so that we can better respond to feedback as the community grows. Thanks so much to the thousands of Kickstarter backers and new users who have helped us improve the platform this year.

We’re also rolling out the following improvements across the web, iOS, and Mac versions of Micro.blog:

Mac icon

  • New app icons on iOS and Mac! We love this redesign by Brad Ellis. Micro.blog now feels much more at home on macOS.
  • Added photo upload to the web version of Micro.blog.
  • Added a “Show More” button to load more posts in the timeline on iOS and Mac.
  • Fixed Discover section in iOS and Mac to allow selecting posts.
  • Improved iOS sharing from Safari to include the page title in addition to URL and selected text.
  • Experiment with following domain name user accounts. The first is @nytimes.com, letting you see headlines from The New York Times home page in your timeline. (This is not affiliated with the New York Times. It’s possible because Micro.blog works with RSS feeds.)

Plus a bunch of minor improvements and bug fixes. You can download the latest versions of Micro.blog from the iOS App Store or directly for your Mac.

Kickstarter update on photos, Mac app

I sent an update to Kickstarter backers today. I wanted to point people to the new Mac app for Micro.blog, and also show off some of the great photos that Micro.blog users have been uploading this week as part of the photo challenge. Here’s the email.

Hello Kickstarter backers! Today we’re wrapping up the 7-day photo challenge on Micro.blog. The challenge was a suggestion from the community: @douglane posted to his microblog with themes to inspire more people to take and post photos.

I’ve loved seeing all the new photos. Here are just a handful of the many photos that have been posted over the last week.

Micro.blog photos

We also recently released version 1.0 of the Micro.blog app for macOS Sierra and High Sierra. This is the best Micro.blog user experience yet, with a timeline, posting to your blog, photo upload, and a new Discover section for finding posts and users to follow.

You can download the Mac app here.

Micro.blog screenshot

I’m also continuing work on the Indie Microblogging book. I’ll be sharing more about the book as soon as I can. Thanks for your support!

Extra Intuition 2 with Gus Mueller

Just posted episode 2 of our members-only podcast Extra Intuition, with special guest Gus Mueller! From the show notes:

Daniel and Manton are joined by Gus Mueller of Flying Meat. They talk about their early days in the indie Mac community, and Gus’s commitment to developing for the Mac. Along the way Gus let us know about a new Mac app he’s working on, and invited listeners to get in touch about beta testing it!

Gus announces a brand new Mac app he’s working on. Really exciting to see this when it ships. You can listen by becoming a member.

Core Intuition 299

One more week until our 300th episode! From the show notes for today’s episode:

Daniel and Manton talk about Daniel’s struggle to finish and release MarsEdit 4. They compare notes about using the WordPress API to import content, and Manton reveals he is working on a Mac app for Micro.blog. They check in about the impact that increasing competition, or perception of it, on their long-time friendship and collaboration.

We’re announcing something new next week. Hope you can tune in for it.

Updated to High Sierra

I installed 10.13 High Sierra today. It takes a long time, presumably because of the file system conversion. Make sure to block out a couple of hours.

Stephen Hackett has a full review. One of the most interesting features to me is Safari’s new ability to automatically enable Reader Mode when viewing certain web sites you configure:

Safari’s stripped-down view is learning some new tricks. The feature can be set to automatically engage, displaying text, images and video in a clean format, leaving ads and funky layouts behind.

Speaking of Stephen, his kids are running the Kids Marathon to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. You can read about it and make a donation here.

More apps for Micro.blog

I want to point to some developer activity in the Micro.blog community. The first is a macOS Today Widget called TodayPoster by Bryan Luby. It gives you a text box to post directly to Micro.blog-hosted blogs from the macOS Notification Center.

The next is a Mac client built with Electron. Developer Matthew Roach has a blog post about it with a download link.

There’s another iPhone app in development as well. It’s not ready yet, but from a screenshot by Francisco Cantu, looks like it will be a good alternative to the official Micro.blog iPhone app.

Thanks to our Core Int listeners

Yesterday we published episode 260 of Core Intuition. From the show notes:

Daniel and Manton discuss Sal Soghoian’s sudden departure from Apple, and what it may mean for Apple’s future ambitions with automation. Then they react to Apple’s alleged decision to abandon their line of AirPort branded routers, and bemoan the loss of yet another “just buy the Apple one” peripheral option

I liked the topics for our show this week because it allowed us to not just talk about AppleScript as it exists today, but also to reflect on what life developing scriptable apps was like in the early days of AppleScript. It’s always fun to think back on 1990s Mac development.

Many of our listeners are celebrating Thanksgiving today. To all of our listeners, whether you’ve listened since the beginning in 2008 or just recently discovered the podcast, thank you so much for giving our show a chance and for being part of the community. Daniel and I still feel incredibly lucky that we get to chat every week about Apple news and our work as indie developers.

SE/30 and the Mac Classic

I finally read Stephen Hackett’s article over at iMore about using “SE” in Apple product names. He lists the Macintosh SE, iMac DV SE, iBook SE, and others. Most are forgettable, but the SE/30 feels the most like today’s iPhone SE: better internals in an old package.

Stephen also pointed to a Macworld article with quotes about the SE/30 and other Macs. John Siracusa had this to say:

Though future models with the original upright shape were released, they were all tagged with the derisive moniker Classic. The SE/30 bore no such shame. It was and is the undisputed king of the original, iconic Macs and, therefore, of all Macs for all time.

The very first computer I ever owned was the Mac Classic. It was the cheapest Mac at the time, but still very expensive for us. I insisted that we get it despite the cheaper PCs that were more powerful and in color.

What struck me when I later saw my friend’s SE/30 was that the Classic was actually slower and worse in a couple of ways than the SE/30, even though the Classic came out almost two years later. Still, I loved that little machine. Everything good that has happened in my life since can be traced back 25 years ago to when I brought it home.

There’s a lot of hyperbole in the tech industry about creating products that make the world a better place. But most products just don’t have that big of an impact. To me, the Macintosh was an incredible, wildly divergent fork in the road — a choice leading to new friends and a new career, meeting my wife and starting a family. It’s hard to even imagine where the original path was leading.

Navigation controllers on the Mac

Brent Simmons has a good post about the pros and cons of bringing UIKit to the Mac. On the differences between iOS and Mac development, though, one point did stand out for me:

And there are things Macs don’t have at all — navigation controllers, for instance, since they don’t make sense in a context where you can just show the hierarchy via multiple panes.

Brent’s right that most Mac apps don’t need navigation controllers. I don’t think I’d have any use for them in my Mac app, Clipstart, for example. But navigation controllers are becoming more common in Mac apps, starting with Twitter apps especially. I expect an important part of Iconfactory’s work on the Chameleon framework to bring Twitterrific to the Mac was supporting navigation controllers.

I’ll always consider myself a Mac developer first, even though most of what I do these days is on iOS and for the web. I’d definitely welcome UIKit for Mac. I’m getting closer to announcing a new iPhone app and web platform, and while I have a Mac version in development too, I can’t justify the time right now to finish it. UIKit for Mac would make that decision much easier.

Two weeks notice: new products

Tonight I worked on some bug fixes to one of the new apps I hope to ship for Riverfold Software. I have just a handful of beta users, but got some good feedback and bug reports last week, things I want to address before opening it up to more users.

When I think of the in-progress apps that I can ship soon to help increase revenue, there are really only 2:

  • Clipstart 2.0, which will be renamed Sunlit for Mac, to complement the iPhone version.
  • Unannounced microblogging-related web app, which may also come with iPhone and Mac apps.

The problem with Sunlit for Mac is that I’m requiring 10.11 El Capitan. So no matter how much progress I make on it, I can’t ship it until Apple releases their next version of Mac OS X. I want to chip away at the new features, but I can’t spend all of my time on it yet. I need to focus attention on projects that have a chance of bringing in additional revenue in the very near future, not by the end of the year.

So the microblogging app — the one I worked on tonight — keeps coming to the front. Since it’s mostly a web app, it has the least number of external API and App Store dependencies that would hold it up. I can ship the core functionality whenever it’s ready. The sooner I get it out the door, the sooner I’ll know if it’s something I can count on as business income.

John Siracusa’s unbreakable record

I’ve been watching a lot of NBA games this season. I’ve caught well over half of the Spurs’s 82 games so far alone, on TV and SiriusXM in the car (and a few in person in San Antonio). I’m not sure how far they’ll make it, but you can’t argue with the greatness of this team over so many years.

The NBA has some records that just seem unbreakable. Either because the rules or style of play have evolved in the modern era, or because the records were insane at the time, these are feats we may not see again. Here are 10 such records, from Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game to the Laker’s 33-game winning streak to Bill Russell’s 11 championships. The Spurs’s 16-year streak of 50-win seasons is approaching this category of success as well.

That’s kind of how I view John Siracusa’s series of Mac OS X reviews on Ars Technica. There have been other excellent reviews about Mac OS X over the years, but the depth and consistency of John’s reviews may always stand apart. If you’re starting today and want to top it, you will have to work for the next 15 years just to be competitive at all.

Congratulations John on a great run. Nothing seems to last forever on the internet — web sites fade away, and some obscure technology isn’t well-covered to begin with — so it’s nice to know that these Mac OS X reviews are at a stable site where we’ll be able to reference them for years to come.

The third era of WWDC

“This is it,” a friend said to me as we were walking up Market Street with other developers, late at night as WWDC was winding down several years ago. The iPhone had hit. The conference was getting bigger. Apple was on the verge of becoming a giant in the industry and you could feel it in the air — a coming change that was obvious only from a distance because it disappeared as you reached for it, like San Francisco fog rolling over the bay. “This is the height of the conference and it’s never going to be like this again.”

Looking back it perfectly captured what I think of as the second “era” of WWDC. It was a kind of golden age for Mac and iOS developers, with a new generation of successful Mac indies and before the iOS race to the bottom was much past the starting line.

From my perspective, learning Mac development in the mid 90s, there are three distinct eras of Apple’s WWDC. My first WWDCs were at the San Jose Convention Center. The developer base was small enough that you consistently ran into everyone, companies like Metrowerks and even Adobe seemed to have an influence on the conference, and Apple frequently showed off new APIs that might not actually ship soon or ever. It was an exciting time to be a Mac developer but the rest of the world didn’t care. This was the backdrop for the failed Copland project, for Steve Jobs coming back, for the clash between Carbon and Cocoa, and the acceptance of Mac OS X.

The next era was at the move to San Francisco. The conference was getting bigger but Apple attempted to keep the events and themes that made WWDC the same, even for a while busing attendees to the beer bash in Cupertino. This is the time when the iPhone SDK arrived and the conference exploded. I think most developers will always look back at this time as something amazing. It’s the backdrop for that walk up Market Street and a dozen similar conversations.

Now we’re in the third modern era of WWDC, with one undeniable characteristic: a small percentage of developers can get a ticket to the conference. The community, however, is as strong as ever, and there’s still a desire to have WWDC be that “one place” that developers can meet each year. It’s a need that smaller, regional conferences, no matter how important they are, just can’t fill.

I like this post from James Dempsey because it starts with the assumption that not getting a WWDC ticket is the new normal:

“Once something changes from being dependably available to rarely available, you begin to form alternate plans and take alternate paths.”

He’s right. Since it’s likely that Apple will continue to iterate slowly instead of making major changes to grow the conference, we’re better off adapting. By adapting we can focus on preserving the community aspects of WWDC that are arguably just as important as the technical tracks.

And change comes slowly to WWDC. I realized while watching (https://developer.apple.com/tech-talks/videos/) recently that Apple just doesn’t see a big problem. John Geleynse described a situation where only one person from a team is at WWDC; the rest of the company is back at the office watching videos and sending questions to their coworker at the conference to ask in the labs. Getting videos out the same day makes the conference more useful for both those without a ticket and actual attendees (and their team) too.

(I still have complaints about how WWDC tickets are distributed and why Apple doesn’t attempt to grow the conference a little more, but the lottery is an improvement over last year. See Core Intuition episodes 132 and 133 for a full discussion.)

I’ll be in San Francisco for a few days next week — at AltConf, at the Cartoon Art Museum fundraiser, catching up on session videos, waiting in line for coffee, hiding in my hotel room writing code, and getting some good food and drink with fellow developers. WWDC means something different now, but it matters just as much as it always has. Hope to see you there.

Clipstart 1.4.2 (on MAS)

Just approved in the Mac App Store, Clipstart 1.4.2 fixes upload issues with YouTube and especially Vimeo, which was broken in previous releases because of Vimeo API changes. I expect this to be the final Mac App Store release for Clipstart. As I blogged about before, all Mac App Store customers can upgrade to the direct download version for free.

Here’s what you should do if you bought Clipstart from the Mac App Store:

  • Update to Clipstart 1.4.2 using the App Store app.

  • Run Clipstart at least once, then quit it. This allows it to copy the Mac App Store receipt so that it’s accessible to other versions of the app.

  • Download the latest version from the main Clipstart web site and replace the existing copy in your Applications folder with the direct download.

And if you’re thinking about buying Clipstart for the first time, please get it directly from the web site and checkout via PayPal. There’s also a demo with support for 2 uploads and tagging 20 videos.

I’m now turning my attention to version 1.5, which will improve a few things and add support for Gatekeeper on Mountain Lion.

Saying goodbye to Wii Transfer

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney

There are many posts on this blog about Wii Transfer, the little Mac app that launched commercially almost by accident, and convinced me that it would be worthwhile to invest time in this side business called Riverfold Software. Early posts like the launch post in 2006 or this one about the first 75 days, and this one covering the price bump in version 2.5. But the app has been fading over the last couple of years, no longer as relevant today as it once was. It’s time to let it go.

I’m retiring Wii Transfer to focus on my other apps. It’s not that it doesn’t sell; it still does. It’s just that it’s not an app I actually use anymore. By officially shelving the whole project, I hope to remove a psychological burden of sorts — to no longer worry that I’m ignoring an active product.

It also doesn’t fit into a new theme I have for Riverfold: apps that are all about keeping and remembering what matters. For Clipstart, that’s family videos. For Tweet Library and Tweet Marker Plus, that’s old tweets. Wii Transfer is about… listening to music on your Wii? It doesn’t fit, and in the world of the Apple TV and Roku, modern streaming technology has passed the app by.

If anyone is disappointed that Wii Transfer will no longer receive updates, of course I offer refunds. I won’t be selling or open sourcing the app, preferring instead to continue to support existing customers myself for as long as they want to use the app. And I’ll keep the automatic bookmark service running that makes setup easy, as well as the Mii rendering service, so nothing breaks.

I put a lot of work into Wii Transfer over its 5-year lifespan. It’s not easy saying goodbye, especially to some of the unique things that only Wii Transfer could do, such as exporting Miis as images. Maybe I can bring that back one day. For now, I’m following the path started by my apps Tweet Library and Clipstart, for which there are many new things still to do.

Clipstart 1.4.2

I released a small bug fix update to Clipstart today, version 1.4.2, to fix an issue with YouTube uploads when using your Gmail address sign-in instead of the YouTube account username. This version should also show up in the Mac App Store after it goes through Apple’s approval process. You can see the full release notes for recent bug fixes here.

As I said earlier this year, there will only be a couple more releases of Clipstart in the Mac App Store. My current plan is to switch completely over to direct-only sales with version 1.5. The new versions run without prompting for registration if you’ve already purchased and run a copy from the Mac App Store.

Holiday bundles and no-brainer promotions

Two new bundles were announced this week: “The Indie Mac Gift Pack”:https://indiemacgiftpack.com/ (6 great Mac apps for $60) and the “Fusion Ads Holiday Bundle”:https://fusionads.net/bundle/ (an assortment of web design-related apps, icons, and more for $79). I love apps in both of these bundles and recommend you check them out, buy what you need, or gift them to a friend. There’s a fear among many developers that a bundle can cheapen the healthy Mac software market, but both these bundles avoid that with a higher price and the feel of being put together carefully.

As a comparison, here’s a “Macworld article on holiday bundles from 2009”:http://www.macworld.com/article/145005/2009/12/holiday_bundles.html. That collection seems kind of random despite several good apps in the list.

And sales for the Indie Mac Gift Pack are split evenly to the developers, so we know it’ll be a nice revenue boost for them during the holidays. From the FAQ:

“Hey… you’re ripping these developers off, aren’t you?” … “No… we ARE these developers. Our six small companies decided to band together and do a promotion, to see if it works for us. We’re splitting all the proceeds evenly. There’s no middleman here.”

I’ve never participated in a bundle, but after some of the “MacHeist controversy”:http://homepage.mac.com/simx/technonova/reports/from_the_mouths_of_developers.html I developed a set of rules that I run Riverfold promotions on. These are the easy things that I can always say “yes” to without much thought:

Coupons are great. My coupons rarely expire and I don’t care if sites like “retailmenot.com”:http://www.retailmenot.com/ keep a list of them. Saving a few bucks might be the difference between someone buying my software and not.

Giving out software to bloggers is great. Inspired by “Wil Shipley’s C4 talk”:http://www.viddler.com/explore/rentzsch/videos/4/, I’ve “blogged about this”:http://www.manton.org/2008/04/wii_transfer_serial.html. Apple employees get free licenses too.

Small promotions are great. I freely give out copies to small sites that want to give away licenses of my software to encourage people to post comments. I think readers interpret these (correctly) as software developers doing something generous for a small site, instead of the gut reaction when you see software listed on MacZot or MacUpdate Promo (“are sales so bad they had to sell their software for half price?”).

Charity is great. I loved being a part of “Indie+Relief”:http://www.indierelief.com/, the Pan-Mass Challenge auctions, and other bundles that go directly to a cause. Just like smaller promotions, these are good for users (deals on software), good for developers (helps with marketing), good for charity (donated money), and good for the software market (these aren’t developers who are making a sacrifice because their sales aren’t doing well — it’s charity).

Now that I’ve seen a bundle like the “Indie Mac Gift Pack”:https://indiemacgiftpack.com/, I think I can more clearly judge a unique bundle opportunity when it comes along. Does it minimize the middleman? Does it respect the individual apps as peers? Does it use the total bundle price to underscore the value of software rather than cheapen it? Then it’s probably a good deal for everyone.

$1 apps won’t dominate the Mac App Store

“Marco Arment wrote an interesting piece”:http://www.marco.org/1432156914 on the Mac App Store shortly after it was announced. I was nodding my head in agreement for much of it, until I got to this part:

“And if the Mac App Store is only populated by a subset of today’s Mac software, a few key points (such as ‘Inexpensive’) still won’t be true. This is why I believe that the Mac App Store will be dominated by (and become known for) apps that don’t exist on the Mac today.”

He makes great points, and I think his assumptions about Apple’s rules are correct. But newcomers dominating the store? And $1 apps as the second most popular price point on the Mac? I’m not convinced.

Many iPhone app hits lend themselves to a mobile environment, but the Mac is different because people usually buy computers to get work done. You don’t have your MacBook Pro with you while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store. You don’t have it at a party when your friend tells you about the latest game. You don’t hand your computer to your kids when they’re bored in the car and want to play Angry Birds.

If $1 apps will be so common on the Mac App Store, why aren’t they common on the iPad? In the iPad top 10 right now there are only two 99-cent apps. Prices around $2.99 or $4.99 are much more common, and there are plenty of $10 apps as well in the top paid and especially top grossing lists. The iPad app making the most money right now is a $20 music app called “djay”.

I think $10-$20 will be pretty common on the Mac App Store, but not $1, and not even $2 or $3. Something that’s priced so cheap sends a clear message on the Mac: this app is useless and should have been free.

As I said recently on “Core Intuition”:http://www.coreint.org/, I absolutely wish all the best of luck to iOS developers and designers moving to the Mac. I had a great time hanging out with a mostly iOS group at 360iDev last month; these guys are ambitious and smart and bring innovation to the platform because they don’t have the baggage that the rest of us have. 2011 will be a fantastic year for new Mac software and for indie developers!

But take a good look at some of your favorite apps for iPhone and iPad and you’ll see that for the most part they lack the depth to compete with established Mac software. The workhorses on your Mac — text editors, image editors, file transfer apps, version control clients, web site tools — won’t be knocked off by new competition easily.

Maybe 10.7 Lion will be a revolution, but when the Mac App Store first launches on 10.6 it’s going to contain familiar software at familiar prices.

Laughing at the guidelines

Apple’s announcement yesterday of a Mac App Store is big news. As soon as the event was over, journalists reached out to developers to get feedback on what it means for existing Mac shops. Reading the variety of responses is fascinating to me, and I contributed some quotes for articles in “Macworld”:http://www.macworld.com/article/155061/2010/10/developers_mac_app_store.html and “Cult of Mac”:http://www.cultofmac.com/mac-app-store-more-developer-reaction/65036. There’s also a “write-up on Ars”:http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/10/mac-app-store-boon-or-bust-for-developers.ars.

Here’s “Wolf’s take on the guidelines”:http://rentzsch.tumblr.com/post/1369652253/mac-app-store:

“My fellow Mac developers are laughing at the Mac App Store guidelines. They’re reporting that apps they’ve been shipping for years — a number of them Apple Design Award-winning — would be rejected from the Mac App Store. These are proven apps, beloved by their users. The current guidelines are clearly out-of-touch.”

Every developer I’ve talked to uses at least some private APIs on the Mac, often to work around bugs or limitations in current APIs. It’s disappointing that the Mac App Store is shipping before 10.7, because 10.7 would be a good opportunity to find out why developers still need private APIs and bake support directly into the next version of Mac OS X to solve common issues.

Can you imagine such rock-solid apps as BBEdit or Transmit being rejected from the Mac App Store? It’s going to be a lonely launch day full of hasty iOS ports if Apple doesn’t show some common sense when approving Mac apps.