Archive for February 6, 2016

Saturday, February 6, 2016 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Massive and Tiny View Controllers

Soroush Khanlou:

The idea of Massive View Controller all started from one simple tweet. It feels like the most obvious and pressing issue in terms of code quality in our industry.


These techniques won’t solve Massive View Controller on their own, but taken together, but they will take you a lot of way there.

Soroush Khanlou:

Instead of rejecting view controllers, what if we embraced them? We could make lots and lots of small view controllers, instead of lots of lots of small plain objects. After all, Apple gives us good ways to compose view controllers. What if we “leaned in” to view controllers? What benefits could we gain from such a setup?


We have a general principle that we like to follow: prefer composition instead. Luckily, Apple gives us a great way to compose view controllers, and we’ll get access to the view lifecyle methods too, for free! Even if your view controller’s view is totally invisible, it’ll still get the appearance callbacks, like -viewDidAppear: and -viewWillDisappear.

Highway Gothic to Clearview—and Back

Joshua Yaffa:

The letter shapes of Highway Gothic weren’t ever tested, having never really been designed in the first place. “It’s very American in that way — just smash it together and get it up there,” says Tobias Frere-Jones, a typographer in New York City who came to the attention of the design world in the mid-1990s with his Interstate typeface inspired by the bemusing, awkward charm of Highway Gothic. “It’s brash and blunt, not so concerned with detail. It has a certain unvarnished honesty.”


The standard FHWA typefaces, developed in the 1940s, were designed to work with a system of highway signs in which almost all words are capitalized. The designers of Clearview sought to create a typeface adapted for mixed-case signage, initially expecting it would be based on an existing European sans-serif typeface. Instead, using a similar weight to the FHWA fonts, a new font was created from scratch. Two key differences are much larger counter spaces, the enclosed spaces in letters like the lower case “e” or “a”, and a higher x-height, the relative height of the lower case “x” to the upper case “X”.

Federal Highway Administration (via Thomas H. Ptacek):

Though research initially gave us hope that Clearview would make signs easier to read from greater distances and at night, years of additional research have not supported this conclusion.

Early successes we noted were credited to the new font, but the years since have shown those successes were likely due, at least in part, to the fact that older, worn signs had been replaced with new, cleaner ones using brighter materials. After more than a decade of analysis, we learned that retro-reflective sign sheeting materials that direct a vehicle’s headlamp beams back to the observer were the primary determining factor in improved nighttime visibility and legibility.

Among other things, we also learned that Clearview compromises the legibility of signs in negative-contrast color orientations, such as those with black letters on white or yellow backgrounds like Speed Limit and Warning signs.

The ideas behind Clearview sound good, but I do not find it very attractive, and I think the spacing looks weird.

My iPhone Home Screen

David Sparks interviewed me about my iPhone home screen.

Update (2016-03-09): I had said that RescueTime was not available for iOS. Dan Frakes recommends Moment for tracking iPhone usage.

A Conversation With Erik Spiekermann

Om Malik interviews Erik Spiekermann (via John Gruber):

Because we were German, we were very much about implementation. Making sure you had rules that you could actually follow, because it was monolithic. There was no internet. The English were good at concepts, and then they lost it. That’s actually a good combination, the English with their creativity and their weird ideas and then you get a German to make it work. To tighten all the bolts. […] We’re not creative in Germany; we’re good at making things. Too good. We always make things 120 percent. You buy anything from us, it’s always over-engineered.


I did some work for Apple in ’86, ’87. I got the first LaserWriter as payment, which at the time was like 20,000 marks. It was more than a Golf, the car.


There are physical limitations as to certain size. It’s nice to read 10 words a line, 50 to 60 characters. This is science. This is not me. This is something that we like, the way our eyes move in little segments. There are physical limitations to our eyes: the curvature of our eyeballs, the space we have in front of us, the distance from the eyes. That’s human, and no machine can ever change that.


I open [the paper version] and I find things that I wasn’t looking for. On the screen, you have to have a hierarchy, because you can’t fit so much. You have to look for something. Whereas I open the [printed] page and I will find something I wasn’t looking for, I would have never looked for. I wouldn’t know what to look for. I find things that I wasn’t expecting, and that is enriching.


Mobile fonts are doable, but for some reason are behind there. […] It’s ignorance, because these are engineering companies. Essentially, so is Apple. Jony is a mate of mine, and he is a good designer, but he is more of an engineer. He is surrounded by these kids in their twenties, and they go for whatever is trendy. For some reason there is nobody in management to tell these guys to go to us for some advice.