Monthly Archives: April 2010

NetNewsWire production process

I like “this Flickr set from Brent Simmons”: showing the stages of building NetNewsWire for the iPad. It’s exactly the process I’m going through right now with my new app. Get some placeholder views and tables in there, then iterate, each time filling in more of the missing pieces.

iPad interface design is also proving to be much more difficult than I thought it would be. Concepts that work on the iPhone don’t necessarily translate to the larger device, and there are very few iPad apps to draw inspiration from. There’s no standout app from Apple’s lineup either, at least not in the way that iTunes 1.0 defined nearly every Mac app to follow. With the exception of some very basic ideas like splitviews collapsing in portrait mode, and a generous sprinkling of popovers, I’ve yet to see much consistency from new touch apps.

Apps that have had the biggest influence on me so far: from the iPhone, Birdfeed and Pastebot; and on the iPad, Mail and Twitterrific. Send me a reply “on Twitter”: if you have any other recommendations.

New iPad hackers

My first reaction when I started reading “The Kids Are All Right”: on Daring Fireball was: Well, I had to disagree with a John Gruber essay eventually, might as well be this one. There was no developer program fee when I started building Mac apps! You could write whatever you wanted and share it with friends.

But then I thought more about the $99 hurdle. What was I doing as a teenager and would the procedures Apple has in place now have stopped me? (For context, I’m 34.)

I started programming for the Mac with THINK Pascal, a beautiful little development environment. Then I moved to C with Dave Mark’s book, which came with a C compiler on a floppy inside the back cover. Eventually I saved up and bought Symantec C++. Even at an educational discount these were expensive compared to the free Xcode of today.

At that point I’m pretty heavily invested in the Mac, but the killer was the documentation. I’m sure I spent hundreds of dollars on “Inside Macintosh”: books. Our senior year in high school, my friends and I would meet at a restaurant before class for coffee and breakfast. I remember I’d get there early and sit in the booth with one of my oversized volumes of Inside Mac, taking in too much caffeine for my own good while I devoured every page, even the advanced topics that were still over my head.

I lived and breathed this stuff pretty heavily for a few years. To imagine letting a $99 iPhone dev fee and some locked-down APIs prevent me from building apps is laughable. Great computers inspire people to build new software. That’s how it was when I got my first Mac, and I’m sure it’s that way for the new generation of young iPhone and iPad tinkerers.

One day I hope the App Store will be more open. But it is what it is. I’ll point out where I think Apple can improve, and then I’ll build and ship anyway. It makes no sense to sit around and complain on my blog about the good old days while some kid half my age is taking his or her idea all the way to the top of the App Store and owning the platform of the future.

Quiet rejections, no big news

It appears I was too optimistic “in my last post”: about the App Store getting better.

The iPhone version of Snowtape, in development for months, “was rejected”: because it could let users record and share audio from the internet:

“His sole words were, that there are lots of things missing in the SDK agreement and that they can not foresee any circumstance that leads to a denial of an app. That’s right! We did not violate any paragraph of the SDK, yet they forbid us distributing our app.”

The developer removed the ability to transfer audio files off the phone and then Apple let the app through.

Then there’s this post “on the developer forums”: about an iPad app rejection because they recreated a UI innovation from the new Photos app. Apple said:

“The application uses a tap and a pinch to expand feature that is present in Apple iPad Applications. This action is associated solely with Apple applications, and we kindly ask that you update your app appropriately.”

I’ve been doing a bunch of iPhone and iPad development this week. The more I work with it, the more I love the platform. But it just takes a couple rejections to sour the whole experience.

And yes, I realize I’m posting this on one of the most exciting days in the history of the App Store. The first round of iPad apps hitting the store today look fantastic.