Archive for July 6, 2018

Friday, July 6, 2018

Shortcuts Beta

Michael Rockwell:

Shortcuts may feature some new actions and tweaks to the interface, but it’s every bit the Workflow we’ve grown to love.


The app does offer the ability to share shortcuts, but it looks like the option to generate a unique URL is gone. I hope this returns in a future release.


IFTTT, Evernote, Slack, Instapaper, Pocket, and GIPHY actions are no longer available. Hopefully we’ll see them return. Especially IFTTT — it opened up an entire world of web services and applications that would otherwise be difficult to integrate with.

There are a number of new actions available in Shortcuts. Run JavaScript on Safari Web Page, Markup, Send and Request Payments, and Share with iCloud Photo Sharing are the most interesting to me. And with their newfound access to private APIs, there are now actions for toggling Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, Cellular Data, Do Not Disturb, Low Power Mode, and Wi-Fi.

Jordan Merrick:

Siri Suggestions is an interesting feature. Based on your behavior, it offers a selection of actions that you’ve done before, such as view an article in Apple News or open an email you’ve recently read. These are actions you can’t replicate in Shortcuts, but they’re a bit limited in scope for the time being.


Some of my workflows no longer work, though exactly why is a bit of a mystery. Granted, these are really complex workflows, but they run fine in Workflow. I need to dig deeper into Shortcuts to see what might be causing it.

Federico Viticci:

More highlights from Shortcuts beta:

- Scriptable Do Not Disturb (!!) and other device settings

- Third-party URL schemes fully supported

- Show Result for Siri with Magic Variables

- New payment actions based on SiriKit

Previously: Apple Acquires Workflow.

Update (2018-07-06): CGP Grey:

I’ve only been able to play with the new shortcuts app for a bit but I’m going to double down on what I said on Cortex: this may be one of the best software acquisitions ever. Apple is lucky to have the workflow team on board and smart to have given them such free rein.

Twitterrific Braces for API Shutdown

Ged Maheux (tweet, MacRumors):

If you purchased the Push Notifications Advanced Features on iOS at any point in the past, you will continue to receive notifications until Twitter deactivates their API. Sometime after August 16th, 2018, Twitterrific won’t be able to receive and display notifications natively.

When this happens, you won’t be notified when someone likes one of your tweets, quotes you, replies to you, retweets, sends a direct message, or follows you. Since these notifications also power the Today view and Twitterrific’s Apple Watch app, we will be retiring both.


Twitter will also be removing the live-streaming service for third-party apps. This means that after the API is shut down, tweets and direct messages will be delayed by a minute or two, instead of displaying in real time.

Previously: Twitter Shutting Down APIs.

Panel Discussion on Moving to Subscriptions

AltConf (tweet):

Major software products have moved to a subscription business model in the last couple of years - some successfully, some attracting considerable customer backlash.

We’ve seen many indie Mac developers considering it but unsure how to do it, from figuring out and testing the best pricing and billing models to avoiding backlash to managing the technical aspects of running both one-off customers and recurring subscriptions in parallel.

To help developers considering that approach, I propose a fireside chat where I would moderate a discussion with several leaders of awesome Mac products who have both strong opinions, and real life experience in that tricky move. […] The fireside chat will be moderated by Christian Owens (CEO at Paddle) and joined by Pieter Omvlee (Founder & CEO at Sketch), Max Seelemann (Founder & Head of Development at Ulysses), Oleksandr Kosovan (Founder & CEO at Setapp), Mark Pavlidis (Founder & CTO at Flixel) and Denys Zhadanov (Founder & VP Marketing at Readdle).

Previously: Productivity Apps and Subscription Pricing.

Be File System Retrospective

Andrew Hudson (Hacker News):

The Be operating system file system, known simply as BFS, is the file system for the Haiku, BeOS, and SkyOS operating systems. When it was created in the late ’90s as part of the ill-fated BeOS project, BFS’s ahead-of-its-time feature set immediately struck the fancy OS geeks. That feature set includes:

  • A 64-bit address space
  • Use of journaling
  • Highly multithreaded reading
  • Support of database-like extended file attributes
  • Optimization for streaming file access

A dozen years later, the legendary BFS still merits exploration—so we’re diving in today, starting with some filesystem basics and moving on to a discussion of the above features. We also chatted with two people intimately familiar with the OS: the person who developed BFS for Be and the developer behind the open-source version of BFS.


Beyond that BFS has lots of annoying problems, which are very understandable in the context of it being rushed into use over such a short period of time and with really only one key person doing much of the work, but they don’t vanish just because they have an excuse:

The metadata indices are clearly aimed at end user operations like “Where’s that file with the client’s name in it?” or “What songs do I have by Michael Jackson?” but they’re designed in a way that wastes a lot of space and yet also has poor performance for such queries - because they’re case sensitive for no good reason. They also incur a LOT of extra I/O so if you don’t need that feature you’d really want to switch it off, but you can only really do that at filesystem creation time.

Fragmentation is a really nasty problem. This is an extent-based filesystem, so that’s somewhat inevitable, but BeFS almost seems to go out of its way to make it worse, and provides no tools whatsoever to help you fix it. It’s actually possible to get a “disk full” type error when trying to append to a file which is badly fragmented, even though there is plenty of disk space.

Unix files often have an existence that transcends the mere name on the disk, but BeFS takes that a step further, allowing application software to identify a file without knowing its name at all. There are a few scenarios where this is quite clever, but if you ever want to retro-fit actual privilege separation to the OS (which has been a long term ambition for Haiku for more than a decade) this produces a Gordian knot - permissions are associated with names, but software can simply obtain (or guess!) the anonymous number for the file and sidestep such permissions altogether.

Previously: Practical File System Design.