Archive for May 1, 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Scuttlebutt Regarding Apple’s Cross-Platform UI Project

John Gruber:

There is indeed an active cross-platform UI project at Apple for iOS and MacOS. It may have been codenamed “Marzipan” at one point, but if so only in its earliest days.


I don’t have extensive details, but basically it sounds like a declarative control API. The general idea is that rather than writing classic procedural code to, say, make a button, then configure the button, then position the button inside a view, you instead declare the button and its attributes using some other form. HTML is probably the most easily understood example. In HTML you don’t procedurally create elements like paragraphs, images, and tables — you declare them with tags and attributes in markup.


It’s a 2019 thing, for MacOS 10.15 and iOS 13. I would set your expectations accordingly for this year’s WWDC.

Mark Gurman:

Sounds like that‘s referring to a pair of separate projects (known alternately as “Amber,” “Infrared” and “Ultraviolet”) from the Swift team. Not the same as the iOS apps on Macs initiative. There are many moving pieces with a major multi-year, multi-step project like this.

This initiative likely intends to replace NIB files with Swift, linked to Interface Builder, which could allow developers to declare their UIs by hand or by using the existing visual tools, much like XAML on Windows.

Colin Cornaby:

A declarative control API, especially using a markup language like XML, opens up a lot of tooling possibilities. Apple could extend Interface Builder to create these declarative APIs, but I would love them to return to more powerful standalone UI tools. When Microsoft unveiled XAML, they also unveiled a tool called Sparkle, which eventually became Microsoft Expression.

Some kind of higher level declarative API atop Auto Layout sounds great. I really hope it’s not a markup language. That seems only marginally better than what we have now with nibs. The are pros and cons to using data vs. using code, but I think technologies like Auto Layout and Swift Playgrounds can eliminate most of the advantages of data, making it possible to unleash the power of code.

Brent Simmons:

We don’t know what it is. But my guess — based on my 38 years of writing code for Apple computers — is that it’s something you can use along with UIKit and AppKit, and not a wholesale replacement.

Michael Love:

Hmm. I’m inclined to trust @gruber’s sources here to a point, but I nonetheless feel like it’s suicidal for macOS to let this rumor be out there but not launch in 2018.

They could have made a more explicit attempt to tamp down that rumor at the time, for one thing - leak to someone like yourself that no, AppKit is AppKit and UIKit is UIKit and you should keep writing Mac apps.

John Gruber:

In my experience they don’t do that. Because if they did that to handle false rumors they’d give away when rumors are spot-on with their silence. The only rational strategy is silence, with rare exceptions.

Previously: Apple Rumored to Combine iPhone, iPad, and Mac Apps to Create One User Experience.

Update (2018-05-01): Dave Winer:

Reading Brent’s piece about Mac development made me think about the ideal, what I really want from being a developer for as long as I’ve been a developer. The thing that got me started was the independence of it. I could have taken a job at Bell Labs or some big mainframe or minicomputer company, and had a nice career being pushed around by bosses at big companies. But I went for PC development because it was something I controlled. I could do what I wanted. Make my own art. The things I wanted to do were things no company would approve of, they had no way of understanding it. And at first it was lovely. Then the corporate bosses at the PC companies started pushing us around and it turned to shit.

Update (2018-05-02): Mark Bernstein:

When personal computing got started, you could make pretty serious money by creating a good tool that people needed. Dave did that with MORE. Dan Bricklin did it with VisiCalc. Mitch Kapor with Agenda. There were lots more. No guarantees, certainly, and some good and smart people never got the big payday, but it was a real possibility.

That’s gone. The real money in iOS software comes from writing frauds and manipulating sad psychological quirks; it turns out that just about nobody makes a living, much less a killing, designing great iOS software. The economics are better on the desktop, but not much better.

The big fear from the iOS-macOS rumor is that Apple will destroy that, that they’ll cripple the Macintosh so badly that we’ll be left with a complete wasteland of 99¢ junk apps. There’s no place to run, no other viable desktop with a future.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Stop The Madness

Jeff Johnson:

Have you ever tried to copy some text from a web site, but the web site prevented it? Or the web site inserted an advertisement into the copied text? Has a web site ever prevented you from pasting text into an input field? Has a web site ever disabled password autocomplete, for your “security”? It’s madness! But no longer. Today I’m releasing a new Safari app extension called StopTheMadness that stops web sites from messing with the standard Mac user interface features you love and depend on. StopTheMadness is available now in the Mac App Store.

Update (2018-05-01): Jeff Johnson:

Did you know that web sites can hijack your keyboard shortcuts in Safari? command-w, command-q, command-p, etc.

I’m working on stopping that too.

Jonathan Deutsch:

Please be sure to include command-f; I cannot stand it when sites (like @discourse forums!) disallow reasonable in-page find in favor of their global and broken searching. Thanks!

Mermaid: Markdown-like Generation of Diagrams and Flowcharts

Mermaid (via Hacker News):

Ever wanted to simplify documentation and avoid heavy tools like Visio when explaining your code?

This is why mermaid was born, a simple markdown-like script language for generating charts from text via javascript. Try it using our editor.

ScannerPro or Scanbot Pro

Gabe Weatherhead:

I “scan” a lot of documents with my iPhone because I hate to accumulate paper and a lot of the time I’m far from my ScanSnap. I’ve used just about every scanning app available on the iPhone but I’ve settled on ScannerPro. I have no particular allegiance to ScannerPro so I gave the new version of Scanbot Pro a good try. I’m sticking with ScannerPro.

Luminar 2018 First Impressions From a Non-Power User

Kirk McElhearn:

Yes, I’m sure power users will find all sorts of things that Affinity Photo can do that Luminar cannot, but the advantage to Luminar is that all its features are accessible.


What I like about this is that the Raw Develop tool is available all the time; with Affinity Photo, you need to perform the “development” process, then you move on to other editing. With Luminar – as with Apple Photos – these options are always available, so if you want to tweak shadows, highlights, or exposure later, these changes apply to the original raw file, not the JPEG that you convert.


For most of my editing, Apple Photos is sufficient, but Luminar gives me access to a lot more features, and it can be used as an extension within Photos. Many photographers who don’t want to edit much will like Luminar’s ability to make one-click improvements, and others will find the more advanced features to be useful. It can’t do everything, but it can do most of what most people need.