Our DNA is written in Objective-C

In-House Mac App Distribution with Sparkle

Last Friday I felt the time being ripe – after over a month of intense work – to roll out the first 1.0 version of iCatalog Editor. This Mac app is meant to revolutionize the work flow of creating digital catalog editions at my partner International Color Services. All those people who are are tasked with converting the raw material for paper catalogs into their feature-rich interactive digital counterparts where lacking such a tool for the past two years.

Not any more. Two years ago I had promised that there would be a Mac-based editor, but until now I was lacking the guts to dive into Mac development. I was afraid that my iOS development knowledge would not do me any good and that being an iOS development pro wouldn’t do me any good on the big intimidating Mac platform.

It turned out to be an unfounded fear. There are quite a few pitfalls, but I am pretty sure any experienced iOS developer can put together a good-sized Mac app in about a month or so. That’s what I did.

Development goes on, but from here on forth I will bunch fixes and new features together in releases that I need to push out to the guys and girls using the Editor app. Since it is sharply targeted at the unique needs of ICS I abandoned an earlier thought of putting it on the Mac app store. So how would I go about releasing the updates in a way that is as convenient as the app store, but would allow me to supply only the select group of Catalog Editors?

The answer to this question is: the same way most professional apps had been distributed before there ever was a Mac app store: Sparkle.

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Ziner is using DTCoreText

The developer of an upcoming Google Reader client wanted to share the following with me, and – with his permission – also with you dear reader.

I’m Jay Zhao, the developer of Ziner and I’m very happy to tell you that DTCoreText is great!  Thank you for writing such a great library!

Ziner uses DTCoreText everywhere!

DTCoreText is my open source solution for parsing HTML and rendering attributed text from it. Built on top of it is my commercial component for rich text editing DTRichTextEditor.

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Fusion Drive for Everybody!

… well, almost. Of course you need to have both an SSD drive as well as an HDD drive present in your system. I just bought this Mac in April, 7 months ago. And of course I had gotten the dual drive option with a 256 GB SSD plus a 1TB HDD.

Manually having to manage what to place where is a pain. When I started to run out of space on the SSD I had moved my user folder to the HDD which was mounted at /Volumes/HDD effectively negating any speed benefit I would have gotten for working with my files. Like, for example, building apps since all my project files are located there as well.

Changing the Xcode temp folder wouldn’t net much of a measurable benefit as well, the bottleneck seems to be loading the project files from disk.

My heart jumped when I heard that Apple had invented the FusionDrive technology promising to end these managing pains.

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A Quick Method to Get Launch Images

I was procrastinating creating launch images for a several of my apps until now. Apple recommends that apps should have launch images that look somewhat like the app UI, but empty so that it feels to the user like the app is starting up faster. Because of the very same laziness I put a splash screen on one of my apps.

Splash screens made a little more sense back in the days when launching an app might take around 5 seconds, of if you where using a technique to artificially prolong the display of the launch image and then have it animate away, like DTSplashExtender. In the very rarest of cases you need a splash screen if there is some legal stuff you want to get off your chest before letting the user play with the app.

Of course most professional developers would have the launch image be also created by their designer. I cannot afford such an extravagance, so I came up with the quick method I am describing in this blog post.

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Summertime 1.2.1

This version of our app that knows all about Daily Savings Time is minor update that fixes reminders and adds support for the taller iPhone 5 screen.

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… and Bonjour to you, too!

In the blog post before this one I began my investigation into TCP connectivity and Bonjour. I set out to create DTBonjour as part of my DTFoundation set of tools to make communicating between Macs and iOS devices extremely easy.

Then I spent a couple of hours on putting together a proof-of-concept app that would show me what’s still missing on the API. Having some classes disconnected from real life use is quite a different ballgame than actually showing it in action.

I asked on Twitter for some suggestions what app to make to show this off, but all where way more involved than the example that I finally decided on: a simple Chat app.

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For my Mac-based iCatalog Editor app I am developing a preview mode that allows for on-device previewing of iCatalogs. This is modeled after the Preview mode in iBooks Author with the tiny difference that there Apple restricts the preview feature to iPads connected via USB, which we will be using the full power of Bonjour to use any app that is running our specialized iCatalog Viewer app on the local WiFi network.

Apple has done a great job making service publishing and discovery a breeze. However they are severely lacking in the object-oriented Sockets department. in this blog post I’ll be developing an Objective-C library that will greatly simplify the process of finding, connecting and communicating with other devices.

And since we are developing for iOS and OS X in parallel the resulting code will work on Mac and iOS devices just the same.

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Q&A: Licensing my Stuff

Luis asks:

“I’m a lawyer who represents a variety of software companies, and a former developer. One of my clients would like to use your nsnotifications/background thread code in their product. Can they use it under the terms of an open source license, such as the MIT license? If not, is it available as part of the Cocoanetics parts store, or some other license?”

Thanks for asking, Luis! I’m happy to answer this as I am considering your diligent asking as a compliment.

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NSToolbarItem with Drop-Down Menu

For the toolbar in my iCatalog Editor Mac app I wanted to have have a toolbar button that would show a drop down menu for selecting what kind of hot zone the user wants to insert. iBook Author has a button like this and I was searching for way to get a similar look.

AppKit does not have this as a standard component, but I found two approaches that would yield a similar looking result.

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Fresh Perspective – iPad Mini Keynote

Hey! My name is Julia Grill also known as juliastic on Twitter and my nice cousin-in-law offered me to post an article about the lastest Apple keynote on his website. So I hope you don’t judge my English as much, because I come from Austria and I’m still learning it.

I also have a website called julialerntios.com where I review apps and also want to begin to blog about technical stuff. Right now all the articles are in German, but I’m trying my best to only blog in English anymore.

So, enough from the self-advertisement:

Yesterday, as you probably know, was the Apple keynote. That was generally the first keynote I ever saw, so I was a bit of excited.

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