Tag Archives: wwdc

Kickstarter, first week wrap-up

One week down. The launch on Kickstarter is going great. It’s fantastic to see everyone’s reaction to the project. More than ever, I’m convinced that the time is right for this.

I wanted to highlight a few posts and links. I was a little caught off guard by activity on the first day, so I’ve yet to really reach out to press contacts who might want to write about Micro.blog. I’ve been focused on replying to questions about the service and book.

John Voorhees wrote for MacStories about the Kickstarter:

Micro.blog has a lot in common with social networks like Twitter, such as replies and favorites, but with an important difference. Instead of locking users into a proprietary system owned by someone else, the content created by individuals is owned and controlled by them. As part of the Micro.blog service, Reece is also building publishing tools with Markdown support, including a native iPhone app, to help people get started with microblogging.

John had interviewed me at WWDC last year about what I was up to. While I didn’t have the name Micro.blog yet back then, I was actively working on the service and you can hear many of the same themes from back in June as I’m saying today.

I thought Marco Arment summed up the urgency well:

We’ve all been pouring a lot more of our writing and attention into Twitter and Facebook than the rest of the web, and the diversity and decentralization of the web has suffered greatly. Far too much power now rests in far too few hands, and we’re starting to suffer tremendous consequences.

Reaction from the WordPress community has also been encouraging. I knew I wanted to reach WordPress fans, because Micro.blog works great with WordPress, but I’m not as plugged into that community. I was excited to see Matt Mullenweg tweet a link to it. And WP Tavern did an excellent write-up, mixing interview questions with previous posts of mine:

During his 14 years of blogging and 10 years of using Twitter, Reece became an advocate for the open web. He said he used to be excited about Twitter and built apps for the platform but grew disillusioned at their approach to locking down the API.

I’m thankful for local articles as well, such as this story from Silicon Hills News by Laura Lorek. Laura is just in the last day of her own Kickstarter campaign for a podcast companion to the Austin news site.

Not to mention blog posts from Brent Simmons, Gus Mueller, Becky Hansmeyer, Ben Brooks, Dave Peck, Chris Aldrich, John Johnston, and the hundreds of tweets and links I’ve seen over the last week. It’s really special to see it spread so far. Thank you again to everyone who has linked to the project.

Now that I’ve had a week to reflect on the campaign, and listen to feedback, I’m starting to form a much clearer picture of how the rest of the month needs to play out. This is the kind of opportunity that doesn’t come around very often. I’m looking forward for the work ahead.

Tagging WWDC microblog posts

I didn’t post as much as I hoped to during WWDC 2016 — just a couple full posts related to the conference, a half dozen microblog posts, and one photo. But nevertheless I wanted to collect them together since I didn’t have a full wrap-up post like last year.

One of the advantages to hosting my own short posts — and only cross-posting to Twitter as an afterthought, not the primary location — is that I can easily tag all the posts in a series. This worked out really well while visiting coffee shops earlier this year.

For WWDC, I’ve used the tag #wwdc2016. I probably won’t go back to tag previous conferences, but I’ll use this format going forward for attending events where I publish a series of microblog posts and photos.

Podcast thoughts on WWDC

I’m back from San Francisco, catching up on everything I missed while traveling. I recorded a few podcast episodes during WWDC week, both my own and an interview.

On Core Intuition, Daniel and I talked right after the keynote about the morning’s announcements. From the show notes:

Manton and Daniel react to the 2016 WWDC keynote. […] iMessage and Siri extensibility, Continuity improvements, Apple Pay for the web, Apple’s keynote diversity, and more.

In the middle of the week, I talked with John Voorhees of MacStories about WWDC news but also a lot about microblogging. It may be the most I’ve shared about my latest project, all in one place.

Yesterday, I recorded a short episode of Timetable. I wanted to capture what the trip to San Francisco each year means to me, outside of the conference itself. I find the week a good opportunity to reset and think about where my focus should be across my projects.

Only taking my iPad Pro to WWDC

I’ll be in San Francisco for WWDC, although as usual in recent years I won’t be staying all week. While out there I’ll be attending AltConf and other events, recording a podcast or two, and catching up on some writing.

I probably should take my MacBook Pro to code on projects, but I never have time. And I’ve been working so much lately, I probably need a break from Xcode for a few days. So I’m going to travel light this time and only take my iPad Pro with me.

I used my iPad Pro often when working from coffee shops and libraries earlier this year. I think I have a pretty good sense of what I’m productive with on it. iPhone and Mac app coding is out, but email, chat, writing blog posts, and even light web site maintenance are all fine, and those are the kind of things I do while traveling.

That leaves podcast recording as the only question mark, but actually I’ve recorded every episode of Timetable using my iPhone specifically so that I could get used to recording away from my office. I wrote a few months ago about my microphone for Timetable. I’ll do the same thing when Daniel and I record our WWDC thoughts after the keynote, with editing on the iPad Pro.

I’m excited about the conference. I’m looking forward to catching up with folks, the news from Apple, and — because I won’t even have my laptop — a bit of a break from the stress of thinking I should be programming.

Core Intuition’s 8 years and overselling WWDC

It’s 2 weeks before WWDC, which means it was also 8 years ago that we published the first episode of Core Intuition. At WWDC that year, Apple showed off iPhone OS 2.0, MobileMe, and the iPhone 3G. The yearly cycle of improvements to the OS and hardware don’t look much different today, but Apple keeps rolling, and so the total changes since 2008 are massive.

For as many years as I’ve been out to San Francisco for WWDC (and to San Jose before then), each year I have fewer expectations for the conference itself. Some years I don’t even bother guessing or dreaming about new features — I have no pressing needs, no critical missing APIs, no questions to ask Apple engineers in the labs — and I’m happily surprised by whatever Apple gives us.

This year is a little different. It’s the first year that I can remember since the Mac OS X 10.0 and 10.1 releases where an Apple platform needed significant performance improvements to be usable for anyone except early adopters. The first couple versions of Apple Watch were ambitious on features, but now it’s time to do the less glamorous work of making the platform fast. I hope watchOS 3.0 will be the same kind of milestone that Mac OS X 10.2 was in that regard. (And like Mac OS X, I hope it can be done mostly in new software.)

Back to WWDC the conference. I’m still thinking about the interesting venue change for Monday to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

In the discussion on Core Intuition 229 last month, I kept coming back to the idea that this change has to be about growing the conference to allow more developers. Since more people show up on Monday (press and business folks, for example, who have less interest in the technical sessions or labs), you could have a bigger space on Monday and then oversell the conference as a whole, knowing that some ticket holders wouldn’t be around later in the week back at Moscone West.

Maybe that creates more problems than it solves because of packed rooms and long lines to get into sessions, though. Now that I’ve had a while to think about it, it seems unlikely that Apple would risk making the conference worse just to squeeze in another 500 developers.

Could there be some creative layouts in Moscone West that Apple hasn’t tried yet? There are so many downsides to changing the venue that I want to believe it’s part of addressing the biggest issue with the conference: most people don’t win the ticket lottery.

There’s still the problem of hotels. Linking to my post about not giving up on WWDC, John Gruber singled out Airbnb as a bad solution, since there just aren’t that many rooms available. That’s true. And even worse, potential last-minute cancellations make Airbnb less reliable. Where I said Airbnb, I should have just said “cheaper hotel”.

(Alex Cash also has tips for saving money at WWDC. Casey Liss has a good post about rising hotel prices.)

Nevertheless, I know some developers are using Airbnb this year, and I’d like to try it next year for a change of pace and scenery away from the conference. With the convenience of Uber, the risk of settling for a place farther away seems low.

And finally, I’ve enjoyed many recent podcasts about WWDC. Two highlights: Under the Radar episode 24, where Marco Arment and David Smith share their thoughts on whether to attend the conference; and Thoroughly Considered 12, about not just WWDC but the value of attending or exhibiting at conferences as a company.

Don’t give up on WWDC

There’s a nice sale going on across several smaller, regional developer conferences right now. I think any of these conferences would be a great experience, so if you’re considering one you could save $100 by acting now.

I wanted to comment on something Joe Cieplinski said about WWDC while linking to this promotion:

Folks say that WWDC is the one time where everyone in our community can get together, but frankly, the price of hotels in San Francisco has made that statement a bit disingenuous. Many—if not most—of us can’t afford to make it to this party, so maybe this is no longer the party for “everyone.”

Curtis Herbert also echoed some of these themes in a post:

While it’s a shame to end the WWDC tradition, it makes sense to follow all the other technical communities out there and rely on smaller, more accessible and distributed, community-run conferences throughout the year. It’s a sign that our community growing up and leaving the nest. One city can’t hold us all anymore.

I think it’s possible to go out to WWDC without spending a fortune. You can attend AltConf, find an Airbnb room for $150/night, and stay a few days instead of all week. I downgraded my expectations for WWDC and booked a cheaper hotel room a couple of months ago. It’s about how much you want to be there.

In fact, I’d still argue that it’s less expensive to “attend” WWDC now because it has been proven how much you can get out of AltConf and other events without the $1600 conference ticket. When I went to my first WWDC back when it was held in San Jose (and the same could be said for the early years in San Francisco), hotels and flights were cheaper but it was pointless to attend without a ticket.

I can’t go to every conference. This year I’ve picked 2: WWDC (probably without a ticket) and Release Notes (in September). I wrote about Release Notes last year and highly recommend it again.

But I stand by the opinion that WWDC is worth preserving as the best place for everyone to go — with or without a ticket, with or without a fancy hotel room — because there’s room for thousands of more developers than at a small conference. I hope that Apple’s change of venue for the keynote and Monday sessions means they are trying to expand the conference to even more developers.

I’m so excited about Monday’s new venue that I’m actually thinking about trying to get a ticket in the lottery, to experience what it’s like and what it means for the conference going forward. The main thing holding me back is that it seems wasteful if I’m not staying through Friday, when another developer — maybe someone who hasn’t attended before — could get that ticket instead.

A great developer can come from anywhere

It’s March 2009, the height of SXSW in Austin before the conference gets too big for itself. I’m hanging out downtown with tech folks from a blogging startup, having dinner and beers before we head to the party they’re putting on. The CTO, one of the first employees at the company, is talking about Memcache servers and MySQL scaling, and I’m hanging on every word. I love this stuff.

I’m a Mac and iOS developer, but I often take a break from native app development to work on server software. So I’m asking him about MySQL replication and what it’s like to run a schema migration without the database falling over. The conversation sometimes shifts back to Apple platforms, and he says he’s been thinking about going to WWDC. I had been attending WWDC for a while, so I say sure, it’s expensive but you should consider it. If you’re doing more web stuff, though, maybe it’s not as important that you attend.

We walk over to the party venue. It’s bigger and more crowded than he thought it would be. Their company has really taken off, growing well beyond the early days when it was just him and the founder trying to build something new. And it’s at this point that he turns to me and asks a question that brings us back to iOS development:

“So what do you think of my app, Instapaper?”

In answer to Marco Arment, at that time the CTO of Tumblr, I mutter something about liking it, but I haven’t really gotten it into my workflow yet. Hopefully whatever I said was encouraging. In subsequent years, of course, Instapaper would be one of my favorite apps.

Later, replaying these conversations, I realized that I asked the wrong questions and gave the wrong advice. About WWDC, I should have said “Yes, absolutely!” with an exclamation point. Buy a ticket. If you can’t afford it, go anyway because you need to be there.

But I didn’t say that because I wasn’t listening closely enough. I was so busy asking questions about Tumblr, that I wasn’t listening to the excitement in his voice about Instapaper. I was so busy thinking about server scaling and databases and all this other stuff that I could’ve learned from a book, that I didn’t hear what he was really saying.

I should have asked about iOS pricing, free versions, sales, UI design, who did the icon, what does the private API look like. But I didn’t ask those things because I missed the big picture, how dominant the App Store would become for distribution, and so I missed what mattered. I’d like to think that since then I’ve gotten better at listening.

Daniel Jalkut and I had Marco as a special guest on Core Intuition 200 not just because he’s a friend but also because he so well represents the goal that many of us have and our listeners have — to start our own company, to find success not just one time but again and again, and to have as thoughtful an approach as possible in the craft of software development.

This week I’m in Indianapolis for the Release Notes conference. While I will have some stickers for anyone interested in my new microblogging platform, and I’ll probably ramble about it at some length if asked, I’ll also be listening. I’ll be listening because you never know which random developer you just met will end up doing their best work in the years ahead, and you want to be as encouraging as possible, offer the right kind of feedback, and also learn from their perspective.

There’s a great line in the Pixar movie Ratatouille:

“Not everyone can become a great artist. But a great artist can come from anywhere.”

I believe that’s equally true for developers. We often see someone go from nothing to a top app in the App Store. We often see someone start without an audience and then make friends on Twitter and blogs through the quality of their writing alone. And so we welcome new voices all the time if they’re respectful.

There’s been some debate about Overcast 2.0’s patronage model. Some of the discussion is healthy — how does a successful business model for one developer apply to other apps? — and some of the discussion is divisive. Instead of asking the right questions, it’s easy to jump straight to a conclusion with the dismissive statement: “that’s fine for Marco, but his approach would never work for other developers”.

The “that’s fine for Marco” attitude is poison for our community because it takes the opposite approach as that Ratatouille quote above. It implies that some developers have such an advantage that the rest of us shouldn’t even bother, because it’s not a level playing field. It’s true that some developers today have an advantage, whether through good timing or just a long history of shipping apps, but the lesson isn’t to give up; it’s to instead learn from it, and look at our own strengths. What small head start do we have that could grow into a great success tomorrow, too?

Rewind a handful of years, back to that day at SXSW when I could name plenty of developers who had more attention and success in our community than Marco Arment. You can be damn sure that didn’t discourage him from taking Instapaper from an “in my spare time” niche app to the top of the News section on the App Store.

I’ll never accept the implied negativity in the “that’s fine for Marco” argument. I’ll never accept that we should be jealous of another developer’s success instead of inspired by it to do our best work.

Floyd Norman’s sketch of Steve Jobs

Disney Legend Floyd Norman has an excellent blog, usually recollecting on the early days of the Walt Disney studio, or more recent animation ventures. This week he wrote about Steve Jobs:

“An animated motion picture goes through many iterations while in production and screenings were held on a regular basis. I honestly doubt Steve was trying to curry favor with Disney. Being a shrewd negotiator Jobs didn’t need any extra help to get his way. I think he brought Apple gifts purely as a gesture of friendliness. After all, shouldn’t everybody have a Mac Laptop?”

The post includes a fantastic sketch of Steve. My only regret from WWDC this year is that I didn’t have a ticket to see Floyd speak at the conference. Although Apple doesn’t usually release the video of lunchtime sessions, I very much hope it was filmed and will show up on YouTube or Vimeo one day.

More quick blogging workflows

I had a great conversion with Seth Clifford one night at WWDC, about writing and blogging. We all want to get better at writing and posting more frequently. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the best way to improve anything is to do more of it, more often.

I believe there are two important facets to microblogging. The first is the timeline experience: a reverse-chronological list of posts from your friends, like you see on Twitter. The second is that posting should be effortless: if there’s less friction between your idea and publishing it, you’ll write more often. So a big part of posting regularly is just having a system that makes it easy.

Seth updated his iOS blogging workflow by using Drafts and WordPress’s email-to-blog feature. As a nice bonus, he gets Markdown files of each post saved to Dropbox:

“Drafts allows you to send email as an action. WordPress allows you to post into the system via email. Using a combination of the action and the Jetpack plugin’s email functionality, I can go from idea to published in seconds, without touching the WP iOS app (which continues to get better, but still isn’t fast) and get my local copy stored away.”

Also this week, Ben Brooks has switched his core Twitter posting to go through WordPress. He has a standalone microblog at benb.me where the posts live. They go out to Twitter automatically via IFTTT. Posting to a blog first and then Twitter second seems like a simple idea, but it is extremely powerful. Years from now you end up with an archive of all your short-form writing at your own domain. Not as an afterthought, but as the default.

The great thing about blogging is there’s no one correct way to do this stuff. I’m really happy to see these solutions from Seth and Ben, and I know other folks are working on similar workflows.

iOS 9 search

Federico Viticci has a comprehensive write-up about Apple’s approach to search in iOS 9, including comments from developers. On local app search:

“With local app search, iOS 9 can build an index of content, app features, and activities that users may want to get back to with a search query. Built like a database and already in use by Apple apps such as Mail and Reminders, CoreSpotlight will provide low level access to the index of an iOS device, making it easy to organize and retrieve content users have previously seen, created, or curated.”

I’ve been slowly going through WWDC session videos, but haven’t cracked open the documentation for search yet. Sounds like an important new API for any app that has user documents.

Apple News and RSS

Daniel Jalkut has an optimistic take on Apple News. He doesn’t think it is comparable to centralized publishing systems like Twitter or Medium for one important reason:

“Because the content doesn’t live on Apple’s servers. This is a key distinction in my mind. Apple’s News App serves primarily not as a source of information, but as an amplifier of it.”

Any technology that invokes “amplifier” in a review is something I want to pay attention to. I used the same word in the closing paragraph of my pitch for App.net. That service is fading away now, of course, but it’s just another reminder that even the most well-intentioned platforms are dangerous if they distract us from controlling our own content and hosting it at a custom domain.

WWDC 2015, basketball, and cartoons

Throughout the week I posted about WWDC to my microblog, but I thought I’d write a longer post with the week’s narrative. It’s useful to have these to refer to in the future when all the WWDCs blur together and I’ve forgotten which event was which. Where it adds any details I’ll link to a few of the shorter posts.

So let’s go back to Sunday morning a week ago when I arrived in San Francisco, ticketless but ready to learn and meet up with friends. What a great day. First burritos and coffee in the Mission, then to Oakland for the NBA finals, game 2. I had signed up on the Golden State Warriors mailing list a couple weeks earlier to get in on the pre-sale tickets. Excepting the nearby San Antonio Spurs, I’m almost never going to just coincidentally be in the same city as an NBA finals game. I couldn’t let that chance slip by.

Golden State Warriors

And it was an amazing game. Outwardly I was rooting for the Warriors — high fives to fans when the team came back to force overtime, wearing my new yellow shirt they gave everyone at the game. But inwardly I was also marveling at LeBron’s dominance and happy to see the series tied up. I want to see this thing go to 7 games.

Monday was the keynote and later the Cartoon Art Museum / NeXT fundraiser, with beautiful art on the wall from one of my favorite films this year, Song of the Sea. Tuesday I tried to catch up on some code at Sightglass Coffee, watch sessions at WeWork, and installed the iOS 9 beta on my retina iPad Mini. In the evening on this day and others there were parties, though I only attended a few.

The Talk Show

The Talk Show live with guest Phil Schiller was a great surprise. I’m so happy for John and his success. Developers who have only known Daring Fireball after it was already fairly popular may need this important reminder: John Gruber started a dozen years ago with a blog that no one read, just like the rest of us, and this week he conducted the best interview of a senior Apple executive I’ve ever seen. If you think it’s enough to just throw random quips to Twitter, it’s not enough. Blogging is still the best way to build an audience. (Don’t miss Marco’s post about the event and what it means for the new Apple.)

I have very little to complain to Apple about this year. Maybe the keynote was a little long, but the topics they hit and the new user features and APIs were exactly right. I’ve got Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan installed and will require it for my next Mac app.

Golden State Bridge

Toward the middle of the week I wasn’t feeling particularly great — not sick, but not really upbeat enough to get excited about new APIs. I escaped the city for the afternoon on Wednesday, visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum and then walking down to Crissy Field toward the Golden Gate Bridge. I stretched my arms out wide to catch the wind and felt refreshed in a way that the stagnant weather back in Austin this time of year can’t hope to provide. I remember this tweet from 2012 and it’s always true again, year after year.

Thursday morning I caught a session at AltConf before heading to the airport. Flights were delayed out of SFO because of fog, so it was 3 hours waiting in San Francisco, and another 3 hours waiting in Phoenix after a missed connection. But it’s all good. WWDC was a little weird for me — not because of anything Apple did, just because I was a little wistful, and distracted by email and non-WWDC happenings too.

Nevertheless I’m inspired by the week. The success of both AltConf and now Layers, not to mention all the other smaller events and keynote watch parties, point to a very strong WWDC for years to come.

Clever code and WWDC

In his 9th essay about avoiding crashes in your code, Brent Simmons writes about learning to be even less clever:

“But over the years I’ve come to think that I should write code that’s about 10% as clever as I am. And I’ve come to believe that true cleverness is in making code so clear and obvious that it looks like nothing at all.”

I’m in San Francisco for WWDC this week, but without a ticket again. I took some time this afternoon — miles away from the hotel and Moscone — to reflect on what I’m doing here and what I need to do next. I’ve been to WWDC many times; my first was in 1996. And it has taken almost all of those years for me to understand the truth of Brent’s statement about being clever.

I also believe that a programming language can either encourage or discourage clever code based on the syntax it allows. I saw it with Ruby — programmers intent on fitting as much logic into a single line of code as possible. I think I see it with Swift as well, in operator overloading and maybe even a kind of rejection of Objective-C’s notorious verbosity. We’ll know for sure if we eventually see a Swift book in the pattern of JavaScript: The Good Parts.

Core Int 180 and Slack

We posted this week’s Core Intuition late last night. This episode is all about WWDC tickets, our plan for San Francisco, and when we’re going to adopt Swift.

We’re also trying something new for listeners, or anyone who wants to talk about programming, WWDC, and other Mac and iOS topics. You can get an automatic invite to our Slack channels for the show by visiting chat.coreint.org. Feel free to join in! I’ve been impressed with how well Slack works for this, and the great discussion that’s already happening there.

WWDC 2015 dates

WWDC will be June 8-12 this year, with a lottery for ticket selection. I’m not going to put my name in the hat for a ticket; I hope to save some money and let others have a chance. I’ll be in town for a few days to meet up with folks and attend AltConf, which looks excellent again.

The student scholarship page caught my eye this year. App submissions have to be written using at least some Swift:

“To be considered for a WWDC 2015 Scholarship, build and submit an app that showcases your creativity and technical skills. Your Mac app or iOS app must be written in Objective-C and Swift, or written entirely in Swift.”

I’m also starting to reset my expectations for a more full-featured, native Apple Watch SDK. I think we’ll see welcome improvements to WatchKit, but with the watch still weeks out from shipping, it seems too soon for a reimagining of the API by June.

Minimal UXKit

Brent Simmons reacts to the news that the upcoming Photos app for Mac uses a private UXKit framework. Instead of being the full UIKit-based replacement for AppKit that many developers want, Brent suggests it could be a minimal framework just to make some things easier:

“I could imagine a minimal UXKit that isn’t meant to replace AppKit but that can be used with both AppKit and UIKit. It might have UXColor, which would wrap UIColor and NSColor. Same with UXFont and UXImage. UXTableView could present a simplified superset of UITableView and NSTableView/NSOutlineView.”

Like Brent and many other developers, I started this same kind of compatibility work when porting Tweet Library to the Mac. I ended up abandoning the project because it’s a slippery slope to basically reinventing Chameleon. (Also, back in 2006 I ported parts of Microsoft’s MFC C++ framework to Cocoa and it was a lot of work. I’m not eager to repeat that process.)

I agree with Brent that we don’t necessarily need a completely new AppKit. I’d love to see Apple standardize the foundational classes which are nearly identical already — colors, images, and fonts, as Brent mentioned — as well as UI elements that could be the same without a real cost — views, buttons, labels, table cells, and maybe split views. These UX-prefixed classes wouldn’t do everything their UI and NS versions could do, but they’d allow developers to move more code into cross-platform layers of their app by sticking to the common properties and methods.

As tempting as it would be to throw in iOS-only classes like UINavigationController, I think that would be outside the scope of a minimal UXKit. Candidates should already exist in similar forms on both platforms.

WWDC 2015 is going to be fun if Apple attempts to tackle even a little bit of this. A minimal UXKit would strike a good compromise between the usual iterative improvements to AppKit and a more revolutionary change to the frameworks.

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.

Why we built Sunlit

Montreal

You have that feeling when hanging out with friends — everyone snapping pictures of their surroundings, of people, events, food, anything — that photo sharing should be better. That years later, you should be able to go back to that time, to see the best photos collected together from several people. And not just photos, but maps of where you were, and text to describe its significance.

One afternoon before Çingleton in 2012, this subject came up as Jonathan Hays and I were taking photos around Montreal. It seemed remarkable and disappointing to us that there was no easy way to put those photos together. And I liked the idea of buildling a new app around photos, with the same themes of curation and preserving past events that are so important to my other Riverfold products.

So we let the idea sit in the back of our minds, and later we wrote a little code as time allowed. At the App.net hackathon before WWDC 2013 we dove into the project in earnest, figuring out how it would sync, then over the summer took some more time to think through the user experience.

Sharing a single photo has been done a hundred times on iOS. Instagram was an important app to nail the timeline UI, and Favd is currently my favorite way to post and browse new photos (it’s really great). But hardly anyone has even attempted to tackle photo curation, group sharing, and publishing, let alone gotten it right. Sunlit 1.0 is our first pass at this and we couldn’t be more excited about trying to solve a new problem with photos.

They say you should spend money on experiences — on memories, not things. Sunlit helps you put those memories together, share them as a group, and rediscover them when it matters. The first version will ship tomorrow. I hope you like it.

5 years of Core Int

Today is the 5th anniversary of Core Intuition. I’m really proud of what Daniel and I have been able to do with it. In our first episode, we set up a basic structure for the show — the length, segments, and theme music — and we’ve stuck to it for 91 episodes.

About the only significant change was when we added sponsors last year, allowing us to take the podcast weekly. Since then we’ve actually recorded the bulk of the episodes. Sponsorships pretty easily exceeded my expectations, and I’m very thankful to all the small and large companies alike who have helped support the show.

Today’s episode covers my recent server move to Linode, which I’ll write more about here later, and a question about the mix of developers at WWDC. Maybe it’s fitting that our first episode was also about WWDC. I like that every year, when the podcast gets a little older, the timing works out such that we’ll likely be revisiting similar, pre-conference topics. Because these couple weeks, leading up to and including WWDC, really define the best part of being a Mac or iOS developer.

No new Apple products yet

Don McAllister is worried that Apple hasn’t announced anything new this year:

“I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get a bit twitchy about the lack of product announcements from Apple. […] It’s usually quiet after Christmas, but by this time last year we’d already had the iPad 3 launch and the announcement of Mountain Lion.”

A few replies on App.net to Don’s post also caught my eye. Simon Wolf said:

“As a developer, a bit of breathing space between iOS and OS X versions is actually rather nice.”

Like many folks, I have a mountain of work to do and I always seem perpetually behind schedule. Apple’s aggressive releases add even more anxiety about updating apps to keep up with the latest APIs and hardware. I would be perfectly happy with Mac OS X and iOS releases on alternating years, and new hardware either when it’s ready or at predictable event dates like WWDC.