November 16th, 2014

How Microsoft Office’s codebase is being reworked to adapt to the new multi-platform requirements is the most interesting thing you’ll watch today, if you’re a programmer. Contains some nice breadcrumbs about how Mac Office development may be tilted on its head, and some brash admissions that the way forward will not be features that only work on one platform, because it’s hell going forward.

Via: Herb Sutter’s usual C++-will-solve-all-your-problems ditty from this week’s Microsoft developer hullabaloo, which contains a slideware admission that you can’t reach 95% of customers by doing Windows versions, but that you need Windows, OS X, iOS and Android to reach 95% of customers. It’s becoming a cliché to chalk all of this up to Nadella at this point, and it really doesn’t matter either way. The point is that the part of Microsoft that previously made damn sure you wrote to something somehow dependent on the Win32 API is now bending over backwards – relatively speaking – to support other things as well.

I Feel Fantastic and I’m Still Alive

November 9th, 2014

Just checking in. Yes, I am still alive.

Furthermore, yes, I am aware that the mode buttons in ThisService on OS X Yosemite has had some sort of pidgin Cthulhu-Klingon accent thrust upon them by an unfortunate accident with bezier path glyph rendering code, lack of foresight specifying an explicit font and a pair of rubber bands. The precise details of the accident are not important because no one has ever managed to duplicate the exact circumstances under which it happened… you get the point, I can still paraphrase the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at the expense of actually getting the intended message across. [Personality authentication complete.] Thank you.

Anyway – a fix for that issue will be forthcoming because just using modern Xcode versions to rebuild the same project with the minor fix in place introduces different behavior in a number of places, and I need to fix these things too.

Ad Absurdum

September 22nd, 2014

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

—Steve Jobs

We have always thought about design as being so much more than just the way something looks. It’s the whole thing: the way something works on so many different levels.

—Jony Ive, about iOS 7.

The recent Apple TV update (7.0) looks like iOS 7/8. Looks like. In fact, there was a beta where the only noticeable change was that before, it looked like iOS 6 and after, it looked like iOS 7/8. Even Apple’s change notes say it’s a “fresh new look“.

Every button is where it were and every list behaves the same. All the animations, all of the timings and all of the physics are the same, despite ostensibly the elements on the screen being made up of different materials.

On a ~4″ screen, it makes sense to keep clutter and transparent layers to a minimum. On the other hand, a 40″+ flat panel screen is where you could use some transparency to show information transiently and concurrently with video. In a phone containing many apps, having the same utilitarian design language including simple (too simple) icons is constricting and confusing. On the edge of a TV, it’s a reasonable way to distinguish the tone and vibrancy of a program from the user interface popping up every now and then.

iOS 7/8-style could make Apple TV fly. What we have now is a skin job, no different in theory or execution from a Winamp skin — swap all the graphics and all the fonts and call it a day. Maybe it’s not worth getting upset about, but as an idea and an expectation, it’s probably worth putting out there. Sometimes, even hobbies deserve more.