Monthly Archives: November 2015

My Christmas Movie List

I know this is quite random, but we all have movies and other special programming we associate with Christmas.

Here’s my list. These are the things we must watch between now and Christmas. 

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Cartoon)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Ron Howard Movie)
  • A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stewart)
  • A Christmas Carol (Disney Animated Film)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (Jimmy Stewart)
  • Scrooged
  • Jingle all the way
  • Christmas with the Kranks
  • A Christmas Story – my all time favorite
  • Jack Frost
  • Snow Day
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer
  • Frosty the Snow Man
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • A Year without a Santa Claus
  • The Santa Clause
  • The Santa Clause 2
  • Santa Claus is coming to town
  • Elf
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

I see a lot of lists that mention Die Hard and Christmas Vacation. I have never seen Christmas Vacation.

Surface Pro

Brad Colbow: “I’ve been working on a Surface Pro the last year or so. I can sketch, color, ink, vector up my artwork and then get it press or web ready all on one device and often times just using one or two programs: Photoshop and Illustrator.”

Mr. Colbow’s piece is focused on Adobe’s iOS offerings, but the bit above really jumped off the page. I’ve been looking for a comparison between Surface Pro and iPad Pro, this is the closest I’ve seen.

Last week my brother and I made a trip to Los Angeles to attend a Microsoft Device Night. I was able to watch Jordan Crane, a Cartoonist, draw on a Surface Pro. I cannot recall the name of the application he was using, but it wasn’t an Adobe application. He was creating a beautiful picture with a stylus and a full range of color, brushes, and effects. The bottom line is, it works really, really, well.

I’m hoping someone will do a side by side analysis of the iPad Pro and Surface Pro’s input latency.

One other thing of note. I still haven’t been able to use an iPad Pro hands on. I’m hopeful it will be an amazing experience. I can tell you I have had time to use a Surface Pro and it is a fine computer and in my opinion a real replacement for a lot of laptop users. The keyboard is fine and it has a nice touchpad, which means you have mouse pointer. This is something the iPad Pro does not have, and that is fine, but it does give the Surface Pro a leg up as a laptop replacement.

The one thing I haven’t tried is running Visual Studio on it. 

Xcode on iPad?

This is another interesting idea, if only to ask why? A lot of developers have a habit of doing things “because.” It’s not a bad thing, it’s usually out of curiosity or because it’s a fun challenge. Now, I don’t believe this is why we’d get Xcode for iPad, but initially it felt that way.

The obvious question is “Who is this for?” At first I thought it was a silly idea, but after letting that question stew for a while I decided it wouldn’t target Professional Developers, it would target hobbyists.

Imagine if you will an Xcode stripped down to Swift only, hopefully with a new Swift based framework for modern development. Playgrounds would be a bright spot for curious folks. There’s no need to go whole hog with all of Cocoa and Objective-C, give everyone a clean slate environment for the creation of iOS Apps. 

If you look at all of Apple’s recent hardware creations they have their own operating systems. Each operating system is honed for the platform and each in the mold of iOS, not the more open OS X model. 

If you remove OS X as a development target and only target Arm based architectures the idea of a trimmed down Xcode begins to make a little sense. You should be able to build all targets on an iPad Pro. Keep in mind the A9x performs really well. 

I still believe for serious development you’ll need a keyboard and mouse. We will see if Apple ever finds it necessary to create what I’ve dubbed macOS or do developers shoe horn their workflows into a less capable workflow?

According to John Gruber we may find out at WWDC 2016. I hope I will be able to attend.

On Saving the iPad

Jared Sinclair: “The iPad should be rebooted with a set of fresh design principles that are aimed at answering the question: How can a multi-tasking touchscreen device fully replace a Mac? These principles would guide both Apple and third-party developers, and in turn would spur a desire in customers to leave behind a PC for an iPad without looking back.”

I’ve been following Jared’s thought flow on Twitter this week. He’s had a lot of good ideas and they’re distilled down into his blog post, go read it.

My Thoughts on the Matter

With the iPad Pro the line between computer and tablet begin to blur. Jared’s post focuses on the idea of upsizing iOS, for the creation of something he calls padOS. I’ve been thinking along similar lines, but my thoughts center on starting with OS X and adding touch and Pencil support.

Why?

It’s a device for Professionals, right? A recurring theme of recent iPad Pro reviews is how poor the typing experience is, not to mention the lack of a pointing device. The iPad Pro is not a device for all Professions, I’m sure there will be a set of professionals that can use it, but it’s not something I can use in my daily professional life. I need a solid keyboard and pointing device. Touch just won’t work as a primary way to control the caret position. It wouldn’t hurt to have it, it’s just not something I’d use all the time. I think Justin Williams captured it really well in his post The Chicken or the iPad Pro.

The sad reality is there aren’t enough Omnis in the ecosystem right now to make the iPad Pro a viable productivity platform for anyone but those executives, retired folks, and masochist bloggers who jump through more hoops than a circus elephant to use an iPad instead of a Mac.

I could see a Mac Book, or iPad Pro, that is a clamshell design with all the smarts in the iPad display part. The lower part of the clamshell could be a keyboard and a trackpad. Maybe they jam more battery into the lower part, maybe not. The point is they’re so darned close to having this device today.

By adding touch to OS X we get what Jared is after. A platform that is more open to professional applications. We’re not required to run our applications through the review process and we can sell them directly from our own website, which will allow us to control pricing much, much, better and put us in direct contact with our customers. That is appealing.

This brings me back to what I called macOS; similar, I believe, to Jared’s padOS.

In the end could you imagine how wonderful a Mac laptop would be running a form of iOS built just for the hardware? Something that is essentially an iPad with the addition of a keyboard and possibly a mouse? It feels like the Mac could evolve in that direction.

It feels like there is another OS in there somewhere. Either OS X gets touch and Pencil input, or iOS gets pointing device support. Couple a touch based macOS/padOS with a clamshell style iPad Pro and you’d have a very interesting combination.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

This idea isn’t new or inventive. Like a lot of what Apple has done in the past they don’t have to be first to market. Most of their big wins came after careful study of existing markets. Apple has always been able to make a better experience. Did they create the MP3 player? No, they made the iPod. Did they create the smartphone? No, they made the iPhone. Same goes for the tablet form factor. They’ve managed to create a platform that is super easy to use and, more importantly, has a single point of contact for content via the App Store. Most people don’t care to go looking for apps on the web from different third-party vendors. They can find them all in one place, the App Store, which is great for users and not so great for developers.

The iPad Pro isn’t a new idea of course. In some ways it’s following work Microsoft has done with its Surface Pro line of tablets. Microsoft is now on iteration four of their line and I can tell you these are amazing devices. They give software developers and users everything Jared is looking for. They’re running a full desktop operating system that includes touch input. If you’re looking for good stylus input, the Surface Pro has it. It is the real deal. It can run full blown desktop applications, like Photoshop, and run touch input applications. It does this with plenty of power to make both a great experience.

If you’re a professional software developer focused on Mac and or iOS you owe it to yourself to consider other platforms given today’s complexities competing in the Apple ecosystem.

Either that or you can get a job working for someone else and write iOS apps on the side as a hobby.

My Dearest Apple

If you’re a developer in the Apple ecosystem you’ve no doubt heard of Swift, and could be developing with it every day.

I work for a little shop focused on Agronomics Software and Services. Our service is like many gigantor services in thee market; a website with a backing REST based service. It’s a magical cloud! 

We also develop a mobile client for iOS. Our products are Objective-C based but recently we’ve been writing new features in Swift. 

Swift is a really nice language. It takes some getting used to and the syntax is super sugary. As an old C/C++ developer a lot of it feels right at home. We get to trade a dynamic language for strong typing, which doesn’t bother me in the slightest but might bug died in the wool old-time Objective-C developers. Anywho, suffice it to say I’m enjoying it, and I hope to develop in this language for many years to come.

You’re probably saying “What’s your point, man?”

What I’m trying to say is I hope Apple goes whole hog and gives us a new framework for application development. That’s right, leave Cocoa as it is, put it in maintenance mode and do everything from this day forward with a new set of frameworks built entirely in, and for, Swift.

I also hope Apple can bring more of the concepts learned from UIKit back to the Mac. We have a wonderful set or portable API’s with Cocoa, but the Mac feels a bit neglected. If a new set of frameworks were developed Apple could start fresh, leave out the cruft, and give us new frameworks built to take advantage of Swift’s language features.

Get your tools!I would imagine this idea makes app developers cringe. What about all those years invested in Cocoa? For years to come I would imagine Cocoa apps would receive plenty of support and still be first class citizens. Remember what Adobe went through to bring Photoshop to the Mac when Carbon was dropped? Yes, it can be painful, but knowing ahead of time Apple will eventually pull the plug on Cocoa would be helpful, if they ever feel like taking on such an ambitious project.

In 2000 (I think that’s the correct year) Microsoft brought us .Net with the C# programming language at a time when the Windows API (Win32 API) and C/C++ were the primary way to create great native Windows apps. This is what we used at Visio. Lots and lots of C/C++ with the Windows API, later on we introduced MFC into the mix, and finally after bein acquired by Microsoft we integrated Office shared components (MSOx.dll’s.) Microsoft to this day still writes in C++ for its Office apps but most development outside is now done in .Net in C# — I’m sure Microsoft is doing plenty of work in C# and .Net. It’s a very powerful framework and programming language and is getting the lions share of the attention. It was a big risk, but it has paid huge dividends for the Windows ecosystem.

This can be done, is my point. Apple did it with Carbon to Cocoa and Microsoft had done it with the Windows API to .Net Framework. It feels like we are primed for a new Apple Framework that embraces Swift.

Please note, I’m not suggesting that Apple should completely abandon Cocoa. If this type of change happens maybe they can keep parity between the two for a while to give developers time to switch. Remember, Carbon was released in 2000 and finally fully deprecated in 2012, it became way less useful in 2007 when it was not updated for 64-bit applications. Depending how you look at it, Apple supported Carbon for seven, or 12 years. If they allowed for a five year overlap of feature support before fully deprecating Cocoa they could allow developers to move into the new, completely Swift, framework.

Recently we have seen Dropbox fully embrace Swift. With the Dropbox V2 API the Dropbox team has dropped support for Objective-C. That speaks volumes. It’s obvious they feel strongly about the future of Swift.

Is a movement to an all Swift Apple Framework in our future? Your guess is as good as mine, but it is obvious Apple is embracing Swift as its language of choice for future software development.