Harry McCracken: “And for close to seven years, I’ve used an iPad in a keyboard case as my primary computing device. In all the years that I’ve been raising my arm to the screen to tap icons, scroll through text, and perform other actions, it’s never felt like an ergonomic burden, or even something I give much thought to one way or another. There are certainly instances when using a mouse or trackpad might have felt easier—for selecting large chunks of text, for instance—but that has less to do with inherent problems with touchscreen computing than it does the design of iOS and iOS apps.”
I like to visit a local Starbucks when I’d like to get out of the house while working. When I do I have a habit of counting the devices I see around me and what type they are. Are they MacBook’s are they PC’s? I’ve run across a fair number of folks using touchscreen Windows boxes, most notably Surface Pro’s. They’re great computers. The display is basically a tablet with a detachable keyboard. Think about iPad Pro with an Apple Keyboard. Yeah, just like that, but in this case the computer is running full blown Windows. I know it’s blasphemy to you like Windows in the Apple ecosystem, but I really do like the Windows Operating system and Microsoft’s developer tools. They’re both top notch. If I were writing Windows applications everyday I’d pick up a Surface Pro as my daily driver. It would be powerful enough for building code and I could detach the keyboard and use it as a tablet. Oh, did I mention the Surface Pro has a pointing device? That’s a big bonus for fine grained selection.
In conclusion you can lump me with the “I’d love to see a MacBook Pro with touchscreen or a new product based on iOS that is deeper, richer, than ever before” crowd. A version of iOS with a trackpad and mouse pointer that can run Xcode — optimized for iOS — and other tools.
Six Colors: “Now, a new report suggests that Apple may once again veer into color territory, with the current metallic options joined by different shades, including blue and orange. Frankly, it’s about time.”
If Apple drops an orange MacBook Pro on the market, oh my. Take my money, as long as the keyboard works.
a sweet, yellowish paste of ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites, often colored and used to make small cakes or confections or as an icing for larger cakes.
a new Apple Framework for building Mac and iOS Apps from the same source code.
A unified Apple Framework makes sense. By this time AppKit is fairly old, it began life at NeXT and moved forward as Apple’s new framework on macOS. When Apple created iOS it made sense to reconsider the user interface and user experience for a touch based interface. Having support for mouse clicks and menus didn’t make a lot of sense for something so small controlled with your finger. Enter UIKit.
To say iOS became a shooting star, Apple’s crowning achievement, would be an understatement. It’s wildly popular amongst users and developers alike. So much so Apple has kind of pushed macOS into the background and allowed its younger brother to take center state. It’s not that macOS isn’t popular — because it is — it’s just that iOS is much, much, bigger than anyone could’ve estimated. As a result Apple spends most of its time working on iOS, or at least it seems that way.
Obviously that would be hugely upsetting for the Mac and iOS ecosystem. But on the flip side it would give developers a clean slate to work with. Something designed to work for touch and mouse and keyboard input. It would give Apple the chance to shake off years cruft and reimagine applications and frameworks without the constraints imposed by Cocoa or Cocoa Touch.
Am I crazy? Yes, a little. I know current developers — especially Mac developers — would lose their minds. It would be the second time Apple changed direction on them in a potentially radical way. This wouldn’t be quite so egregious. The move from Mac OS 9 to Mac OSX was monumental. A brand new OS and a brand new way to code, not easy to adjust to after years of working with an OS and API. Carbon eased folks into it, but the transition was still extremely difficult for some development shops, like Adobe.
Of course they don’t have to go all in. I doubt they’d be that extreme. There are simple things they could do to unify Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. An extremely simple example I can think of is unifying NSColor and UIColor. Over time we’ve seen some text attributes move to their NS* counterparts, why not start with the simple things and work down the stack?
I also don’t consider going from iOS to macOS cross platform. I know they’re slightly different but they are in the same family. If you’re doing iOS development macOS should feel somewhat familiar to you. Sure the controls are different on the platforms and there’s the matter of touch vs. mouse driven, but I believe calling Cocoa based applications cross platform between Mac and iOS is a bit of a stretch. If you’re taking one set of code from iOS to Windows that is what I’d consider cross platform.
Post WWDC 2018 Thoughts
I penned everything above quite a while back, March 11, 2018 to be exact.
While on stage at WWDC Apple announced UIKit for Mac. Four UIKit for Mac applications will ship with macOS Mojave this fall; News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos. This is great news for anyone interested in bringing their own iOS Applications to macOS. It means Apple is dogfooding UIKit for Mac while it’s in active development. From all reports it’s really rough around the edges but we can all hope some of those edges are smoothed out before Mojave makes its debut but it’s ok if the applications and framework are a bit rough at first. Why? Apple said on stage UIKit for Mac wouldn’t be generally available until 2019 and that it was a multiyear project. This tells me we should expect a gradual move of UIKit downward into AppKit until UIKit either becomes a part of AppKit architecturally or the Mac specific bits of AppKit become a part of the “new” UIKit for Mac.
In many ways it feels like UIKit for Mac is the right direction. It’s been running on macOS for 10 years. If you’re a developer you’ve used the Simulator everyday to run your iOS Apps on your development machine.
Any developer will tell you shipping software is difficult, especially if you’re driven by deadlines and not feature sets. Given Apple have already announced four applications shipping with Mojave they’re going to have to make really tough decisions to make sure these select applications are ready by fall. It seems reasonable to expect these first UIKit on Mac applications will have a decidedly wonky feel, not quite native. There will be telltale signs, little things, that drive native app seeking people crazy. Things like seeing a UIAlertController instead of an NSAlert when an app needs to inform you of something or ask a question. It makes the application feel unnatural.
At the beginning I’d expect UIKit for Mac to either reach down into AppKit to do the work or reach under the hood and use the same lower levels AppKit uses. Conceptually this is how UIKit living on top of AppKit looks. It’s a way to bootstrap your new Framework into being. Leveraging what AppKit already does seems a reasonable way to just make it work.
As time goes by I would expect more of AppKit to move upward into UIKit. UIKit becomes the new preferred framework for building applications on Mac. Maybe it gets a new name? Maybe not? As that transformation begins taking shape we’ll see UIKit itself transform to feel native on each platform. Mac apps will feel like Mac apps and iOS Apps will feel like iOS Apps. It’s not rocket science. Applications for each OS should feel like they belong. No compromises. Hell, we can write Electron Apps if we want compromise.
As Craig Federighi pointed out on stage at WWDC this is a multiyear effort. Expect things to be ugly at times from the user perspective and the developer perspective. In fact I expect it to be the development effort going forward for iOS and Mac UI Frameworks. Until — of course — the next shiny framework comes along.
A couple weeks back my WordPress weblog started doing funny things. Apparently someone was able to gain access to it via my Jetpack login and install a bitcoin mining service. Joy.
When you’d visit my site you’d occasionally get booted to another site, typically one that wasn’t nice, but on occasion it was what appeared to be a nice weblog. I’m not sure who’s it was but it wasn’t wanted.
So I disabled the site and put up a temporary placeholder page while I figured out what to do about it. This is the second time I’ve had to make changes because my WordPress site was broken into. It makes having a blog a lot less fun when idiots break you stuff.
I decided I’d install Hugo and figure out how to use it to automagically post on my server. I found a nice page documenting how to use git with git triggers to publish a Hugo based weblog and went about trying it out. It works fine, but there is something I can’t figure out.
When publishing I would like to have my front page contain some number of blog posts with permalinks to those posts. E.G. Clicking on the title would take you to a URL like
. Notice the yyyy/mm/dd format in the URL. I want that exact thing for my Hugo pages so I can import what I already have and not mess up links to my existing posts. Hugo looks like it can do this, but there’s one thing that bugs me and I haven’t been able to figure it out.
Can someone please let me know if Hugo can generate a standalone HTML file and drop it into a directory with yyyy/mm/dd format so I can maintain what I already have? If I can do that I’m all in with Hugo. Otherwise it’s off to find a fully baked blogging system that can do what I want.
If Apple does go this route I can only see one possible candidate for the switch: the 12in MacBook.
The 13in and 15in MacBook Pros could be a mistake to convert for all the reasons John outlines on the show. Most of the developers I work with at Agrian use 15in MacBook Pros for development. Most are backend developers. We don’t use desktop computers.
I maintain two of our old .Net services so I run VirtualBox with Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2017 in addition to Xcode for iOS App development and all my other Mac tools; multiple terminal windows, SourceTree, Evernote, Slack, and BBEdit as well as multiple tabs open in Safari. Yeah, there’s a lot going on and my MacBook Pro handles it without batting an eye.
Add the MacBook Pro to the list of devices Apple needs to keep in mind when it comes to Pro users. Not all Pros use desktop computers.
It’s worth noting I’m still using the 2014 MacBook Pro I was given when I started work at Agrian. I recently opened it up and replaced the 256GB SSD with a 1TB model. It works great. I’m not sure I could do that with a modern MacBook Pro.
I know the latest Apple event was focused on Education, but anyone using the iPad as tool outside of the technology world will benefit.
I work for a small company called Agrian that builds software and services for Agronomists. You may think that just a fancy word for farmers but it’s a lot more than that in this day and age.
Large farming organizations and crop retailers may have hundreds of employees working out in the field. They do everything from collecting soil samples to scouting crops to baiting and trapping for critters. When they’re out in the field they can use our software for any one of these jobs, and it’s best used on an iPad.
At one point we recommended purchasing iPad Mini’s because it was the best bang for the buck. With the introduction of the new 9.7-inch iPad we can start recommending that device. It’s not that $329 is cheap, but it sure beats the price of the Pro models and it’s plenty powerful enough for use with our software.