Friday, May 24, 2024

Redesigned Apple Developer Forums

Apple:

The Apple Developer Forums have been redesigned for WWDC24 to help developers connect with Apple experts, engineers, and each other to find answers and get advice.

Apple Developer Relations and Apple engineering are joining forces to field your questions and work to solve your technical issues. You’ll have access to an expanded knowledge base and enjoy quick response times — so you can get back to creating and enhancing your app or game. Plus, Apple Developer Program members now have priority access to expert advice on the forums.

I don’t understand what “priority access” means. Is this another way of saying that some sections (e.g. related to new stuff announced at WWDC) will be hidden if you aren’t logged in?

It seems like Apple keeps reskinning the forums, but the core problems remain. They’re really slow, the interface doesn’t work as well as Stack Overflow or Discourse, and most questions never get good answers, if any at all. With a few notable exceptions, Apple doesn’t seem to pay its engineers to hang out there and answer questions. Sometimes that happens for a little while during WWDC but then stops.

Craig Hockenberry:

So where is the switch to disable the help in the new Apple Developer Forums?

It’s a nice idea, but in a world where I use multiple browsers on multiple devices, it’s repetitive and intrusive.

It never remembers that I’m logged in, so I keep seeing the annoying, Apple ID–specific login sheet. It always suggests entering the password for my non-developer Apple ID and has no keyboard control to select the Use a different Apple ID button that doesn’t look like a button.

Previously:

Author:

Dave Verwer:

But what about my only request? Four years seems like a good amount of time to see if Apple employees are being encouraged and given time to participate. The good news is that plenty of Apple folks are active, made obvious by the little Apple badge added to any thread where they are talking. Taking a couple of popular categories, I found that ~30% of recent threads had Apple involvement. That’s much better than I expected, and those categories all had threads spanning more than two weeks, so it’s not just a flurry of activity related to the launch of this refresh.

Looking at reply and view counts on threads in those same categories, it appears they are not particularly well visited, and most threads only had two-digit view counts.

Fatbobman:

Historically, as an official platform of Apple, this forum has not achieved the desired levels of activity. Despite recent efforts by Apple to boost engagement through the introduction of a points system, the impact has been limited. For many developers, this forum is not the preferred choice for technical exchanges. Insufficient popularity, overly detailed categorization, a lack of a unique community atmosphere, and unappealing incentive mechanisms have all hindered the development of the forum. More importantly, the expected advantage of active participation by Apple engineers, a hallmark of an official forum, has not been fully realized.

In the new version of the forum, Apple engineers are now identified by a uniform symbol (an Apple logo on their avatar), replacing the previous method of signing their posts. However, this approach of answering under departmental identities has inadvertently increased the distance between engineers and developers, making the interactions less personal and lacking in emotional engagement, which is not conducive to fostering a welcoming forum atmosphere.

See also: Antonio Strijdom.

Update (2024-05-29): Craig Hockenberry:

I saw this half a dozen times yesterday and a few times today.

If you work on Developer Forums, or know someone who does, please make it stop.

(Also of note: developers have a pretty good understanding of how forum software works - we’ve used everything from phpBB to Stack Overflow. A single page summary of what’s different would be much more effective.)

Update (2024-06-12): Marcin Krzyzanowski:

🪄 magical 2 weeks of the year when Apple employees allowed to answer technical questions on Apple Developer Forum for whole 2 weeks

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The biggest problem with the forums is that outside of Quinn, Apple employees mostly ignore it. The interaction is on-par with filing a feedback.

Negatives: The organization is wonky. "Programming Languages" doesn't include a tag for Objective-C nor Applescript? "UI Frameworks" lists a "General" tag before UIKit and AppKit (but buggy and useless SwiftUI gets the first listing).

Positives: RSS links on each forum. Would be a double-positive if Apple employees were required to sub to forums for tech they worked on and answer questions about it.

I don’t understand why they redesign this thing so often but it always gets worse every time they do it. Hopefully this time it will be different but I have low expectations.

No ObjC section for real? If so I probably won’t use it.

> Would be a double-positive if Apple employees were required to sub to forums for tech they worked on and answer questions about it.

It could also help justify the $99 subscription and the 30% tax.

Wow I just checked it out. The main page is way worse now. Everything is so small. Horrible use of space. Swift is the only programming language so I'm not sure why the "Programming Languages" section is plural. Is that a joke? No ObjC, C++, C, javascript etc.

There is only "Safari and Web" I don't see a "Webkit" topic. What about extensions (Safari extensions, Finder extensions, Action Extensions, and so on). No topics for any of these?

You can find tags on posts which I guess are user defined now (haven't made a post myself in awhile) but everything looks harder to find now.

For me, the best was when they ran old school mailing lists. So many Apple employees participated back then.

@bob Yes, the mailing lists were amazing. They were the main way I learned Objective-C and Cocoa.

It's funny, redirecting Apple sites to Vivaldi is on my list to do today. Every single time I decline "sign in?" Safari has autofilled the account I want to use.

I could've sworn escape cancels those sheets, but I've discovered that these new-type alerts (like TCC requests) only work with shift-tab, for both types of keyboard access. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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