Archive for the 'OS X' Tag

Advance Notice: PowerPC Support Going Away

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Support in my apps for PowerPC Macs will be dropped as of Feeder 2.2 and Together 2.5, which will be released as the year progresses. Poster only runs on Mac OS X 10.6 and later and is therefore already Intel-only.

The reason, quite simply, is that Apple is transitioning their developer tools and has dropped PowerPC support from the new versions, which will make it impossible to both build apps for PowerPC and take advantage of the new features in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, out later this year.

Personally, while I can understand why Apple is doing this, I think the move is a tad premature. I would rather wait until such a time that I choose to drop support for Mac OS X 10.5, the last version of Mac OS X to run on PowerPC.

The final versions of the apps to run on PowerPC will always be available to download from this site.

Snow Leopard Compatibility

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is publicly available today. Both current releases of Feeder (2.0.5) and Together (2.2.11) are fully compatible. If you are installing Snow Leopard, please ensure you are using these versions, which can be downloaded through the Sparkle automatic update system built into the apps, or from their respective product pages.

You may notice that the Services menu has been cleaned up in Snow Leopard and this affects Together users. You can now choose which items to show and set shortcut keystrokes for the Services menu in System Preferences. Unlike the mess of before, Snow Leopard only shows the services that are relevant to the current selection.

An additional enhancement is that items in the Services menu now appear in contextual menus. This is intended to replace contextual menu plugins across the system, as those will not work with 64-bit applications.

Speaking of which, I plan to make both Feeder and Together 64-bit applications on their next major release (Feeder 2.1 and Together 2.3). Together will be released first and Feeder will follow. Feeder is much more reliant on a number of third-party components than Together, so that transition will take longer.

I plan to take advantage of more Snow Leopard technology in my apps in due course, while retaining Leopard compatibility for a while.

I’ve been using Snow Leopard for a while now and my favorite enhancement has got to be the improved Exposé, especially the way an app is put under the spotlight when dragging to its Dock icon. I think Snow Leopard is my favorite release of Mac OS X since 10.3 Panther. Big headline features are great, but a focus on thoughtful enhancements and improved performance always seems to make me smile.

So, if you’re installing it today, I’d like to wish you a happy Snow Leopard day!

More Quick Look Generators in the Wild

Monday, December 10th, 2007

This post on Ars Technica’s Infinite Loop features SneakPeak Pro by Code Line Communications, a Quick Look plug-in for previewing Illustrator, InDesign, and EPS files and some information about them. Unlike other Quick Look generators I’ve seen to date, it’s a commercial product normally priced at $19.95, but you can get a $5 discount by purchasing now.

Also in the comments of that post I noticed a link to a site called QLPlugins, which lists some of the Quick Look plug-ins released so far. That could turn into a very handy site.

Update: I also found found about another site, Quick Look Plugins List, which has some not on QLPlugins.

Back when Tiger was released, Apple had a section on their downloads pages for Spotlight generators, which is still there. I’m surprised they haven’t created one for Quick Look yet, as it works on exactly the same principle.

Feeder Now Requires 10.4 or Later

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

I released Feeder 1.4.9 earlier today, which includes some fixes for issues discovered in the GM version of Leopard and will add atom:link tags to all feeds. This was made a recommendation in the RSS Best Practices profile on October 15 and is now required by FeedValidator, which shows warnings for feeds that do not include it.

The other big change is that Feeder now requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. This has been the case anyway with the outstanding issue of compatability introduced by QuickTime 7.2, which Apple doesn’t seem in a hurry to fix. In order to make Feeder fully Leopard compatible, Panther had to go.

This was something I was planning to do anyway in the next major version as Panther support is holding Feeder back and my testing burden just doubled with the launch of Leopard. Panther usage is minimal these days, anyway.

Leopard UI vs Usability

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

In a post entitled, Satisfying UI Design is Often Illogical, Scott Stevenson defends recent changes to Leopard’s UI. Under a heading of “A Design Strategy” he writes:

So we need a fresh experience. What’s the criteria?

There are tens of millions of existing Mac users all over the world, and millions of new ones waiting in the wings. They need to an experience that is both brand new, and yet familiar. Stop short, and it will not spark the user’s interest. Go too far, and you may alienate your user base. So the task is finding the balance.

This is additionally complicated by the fact that Leopard must look like it belongs in the same universe as the iPhone, iPod, the Apple Store, and a wide range of Mac applications. It’s difficult (impossible?) to come up with something which satisfies all tastes, so compromises have to be made.

I think it’s a mistake, though, to assume that the shipping designs are ever reached via apathy for a particular audience. Finding the perfect balance is hard, but some version ultimately must ship to keep things moving forward. The goal, I think, is maximum user satisfaction for the target audience. This may mean making changes that some audiences would disagree with (because not everyone experiences things in the same way), but I really doubt it’s apathy.

However, rather than the subjective views to which he alludes throughout the post, much of the criticism about Leopard, voiced very consistently by developers and users alike, is that many of the changes actually degrade usability, making the user experience less satisfying.

Some examples:

  • The new folder design makes it more difficult to recognise folders at a glance.
  • The new Dock’s “lights” do a worse job at showing an app’s running status than the triangles in the previous versions of the Dock, by offering less contrast.
  • Stack icons in the Dock make it more difficult to see which folder is represented.
  • Stacks can only access a limited number of items in a folder before falling back to the Finder; the pop-up menu listing all items is gone.
  • The menu bar is harder to read with some backgrounds.

You’ve read such a list a thousand times by now, I’m sure.

None of these things are so terrible that your Mac becomes unusable and overall Leopard looks good, but people expect better from Apple. The impression is that Leopard’s UI designers were unable to fuse form and function as well as we have come to expect. It’s both disappointment and frustration fuelling the complaints.

On the plus side, I would say Spaces, the unified window style, new Finder (undoubtedly my favourite change) and Spotlight results window are generally regarded as worthwhile improvements.

Taken as a whole, it appears more was lost than won with Leopard’s UI changes.

Scott ends with this:

If history can be used as a benchmark, the UI discussion cycle we’re currently in with Leopard is a natural part of the process. Any sort of change will bring disagreement from some users, but eventually it all settles down as people get used to it and various tweaks are made. That’s been my experience, anyway.

I would agree that some changes require an adjustment period and various issues will be addressed in time. Normally, this would happen in the next major version of the OS, but maybe we will see some changes sooner thanks to all the discussions going on.