Archive for September 10, 2020

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Facebook and Australia’s News

Kim Lyons:

The country’s proposed News Media Bargaining Code law, which is in draft form at present, stemmed from a 2019 inquiry that found tech giants like Facebook and Google take too large a share of online advertising revenue from media organizations in Australia. The Treasurer of Australia ordered the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to develop a voluntary code of conduct which would force the platforms to pay media companies. The ACCC told the government it seemed “unlikely” that a voluntary agreement could be reached, however.

Under the proposed legislation, Google and Facebook would have to provide publishers with advance notice of changes to their algorithms, with penalties for failing to comply.

Ben Thompson:

The actual draft code for this new regulation is here; this is a bit impenetrable, as Australian law is generally enacted by hard-to-follow directions on inserting and excerpting various lines of text into existing regulation. The Explanatory Materials that accompany the code are more helpful, but for the purposes of this Daily Update, I’m going to focus on this Q&A document from the ACCC.


What makes Google and Facebook different from, say, Twitter or email, when it comes to directing traffic to news media sites? The answer I suspect isn’t volume: it’s the fact that Google and Facebook make a lot of money, of which the Australian news media business feels entitled to[…]


Do you see the absolute absurdity here? This language suggests that Google and Facebook are using their gatekeeping power to gouge news media businesses for sending traffic their way, when in fact they send traffic for free. As I noted in May, if anyone should be getting paid in this relationship it is Google and Facebook (although, to be clear, I am not saying Google and Facebook should actually be paid).

Facebook (Hacker News, Slashdot):

Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram.


The ACCC presumes that Facebook benefits most in its relationship with publishers, when in fact the reverse is true. News represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed and is not a significant source of revenue for us. Still, we recognize that news provides a vitally important role in society and democracy, which is why we offer free tools and training to help media companies reach an audience many times larger than they have previously.


Design and Implement macOS 11 Document Icons


By default, if you don’t specify a document icon for a file type in your app, macOS will automatically create one for you by compositing your app’s icon together with the correct extension name. This is a common pattern for imported document types or non-proprietary file formats that your application can open such as MP3, JPG or PNG.


To create a new custom document icon, you can provide a background fill, center image, or text string. Each of these three elements is optional, allowing you to use just one element or any combination of the three to customize your icon. From there, macOS will automatically layer, position, and mask these elements, then composite them into a page icon with a right corner fold.



Linden Tibbets:

Out of the gate Pro launches with many of your most requested features:

• Multi-step Applets
• Queries and conditional logic
• Multiple actions
• Faster Applet execution


Another change we’re announcing is that only Pro plan subscribers will be able to create unlimited Applets. Our regular free-plan will be able to create up to 3 Applets.

It seems like they are missing a pricing plan between three basic applets for free and unlimited pro ones for $9.99/month. That’s the same as Adobe’s Photography plan, more than Microsoft 365, more than Tower. I don’t need more advanced features. Mostly, I use it to archive subscribed/favorited tweets to e-mail and to post from RSS to Twitter.

It’s never been a great fit for the former (awkward interface, huge e-mails), so I’ll probably look for an alternative. But, for now, I have subscribed.

Paying was interesting:


A Step Back

Nick Heer:

I see these back buttons as a sort of cop-out — an easy way of covering for a lack of deeper consideration. You can see this most clearly in iTunes running on Mojave, in which there are two very different implementations of every view: the Apple Music way, and the local library way. If you open an album from the Recently Added view, it expands to reveal the track list below. If you open an album from Apple Music, you get sent to a new page, presumably because it is not possible to implement the local library style in a way that is performative or works across different platforms. It reveals the web-based underpinnings of Apple Music, it is slow, and it necessitates a back button.

In Catalina’s Music app, the two different implementations of an album view were dropped in favour of the Apple Music style. Now, it always opens an album in a separate view. As in every one of the apps I listed above, this decision makes Music feel like a semi-native wrapper around a collection of webpages, even when many parts of the app are still entirely native.

I do not think it is always wrong for an app to have a back button; it is a mechanism that works just fine in a web browser and in file managers. But I think that this new breed of apps that try to bridge the gap between MacOS and iOS use this specific implementation of the back button as a crutch. It is an inelegant way of dealing with inelegant and unique design problems. Its pervasion is a big flashing CAUTION sign that Apple’s Mac apps are not being lavished with the design attention they once were and still deserve. What bothers me more than what the button is is what it represents: it is, uncharacteristically for Apple, lazy.


Update (2020-09-14): Nick Heer:

Are there any guidelines on when a search field should be in an app’s sidebar in MacOS instead of the toolbar? I don’t see anything in the HIG and it seems to be the case primarily in Catalyst or Catalyst-adjacent apps (e.g. Music). I don’t like it!

Coda to Become Nova


Our next text editor — the follow-up to Coda 2 — couldn’t just add a few features and call it a day. It had to change dramatically. It had to catch up to where things are today. And it had to consider where web development will be tomorrow.


Nova will be $99, or $79 if you own Coda. When you buy it, you own it. Plus, your purchase includes one year of new features and fixes, released the moment they’re ready. After that, you can get another year of updates at any point — even much later — for $49/year. That’s it!

Shipping next week. This seems most similar to the Sketch business model. It won’t be coming to the Mac App Store due to sandboxing issues.


Update (2020-09-18): Panic (tweet):

Can a native Mac code editor really be that much better?

Find out.

Nick Heer:

In a sense, this is how good things are supposed to work. My favourite records are, on a per-listen basis, the least-expensive albums I’ve bought; I would have a different relationship with them if I had to pay for every listen. But software is not like that. It needs constant work, and it can be difficult to patch bugs in free updates while trying to build a worthy major new version. That is especially true for a company as fastidious as Panic. And, since the App Store and Apple’s software, more generally, have eschewed the very concept of paid updates, we’re now stuck with subscriptions as a way to finance ongoing work.


As version numbers become increasingly irrelevant in an era of ongoing patches, bug fixes, and feature updates, this pricing model seems like a fair compromise for users and for Panic.

Update (2020-09-22): Panic:

Here’s a little editor story for fun. During beta we found some bugs in Apple’s text layout engine that we just could not fix. Our solution? Writing our own text layout manager… from scratch. Not only did this fix the bugs, but it also boosted our editor’s performance. We’re not messing around!

See also: Hacker News.

Update (2020-09-28): John Gruber:

The big difference between Nova and Sketch’s ongoing renewal pricing and pure subscriptions is that if you choose to stop paying, the version of the app you already have will keep working until it becomes technically obsolete. (Also noteworthy: this user-friendly, developer-sustaining pricing is not possible on the Mac App Store, and thus neither Nova nor Sketch are on the Mac App Store.)

Mark Bernstein:

We’ve been using [this upgrade model] for 20 years and we’re still here.