I was also able to contribute to the new Triggers feature (which lets you run your own code in response to Tuple events) by making a “mini app” for testing your scripts without constantly asking for coworker to call you 😂 And of course, the toolbar icons were an extension of the new settings pane set.
I recently started a new job at Tuple (!!) and had the pleasure of refreshing our settings pane icons. We made variants for both light and dark appearances, as often icons drawn for one end up looking odd (read like a photograph negative) in the other.
We use different tools, but this is also how work is done at Shiny Frog.
We use Sketch to get an idea roughed out (and for creating assets), and then move quickly to Xcode. Sometimes we’ll make a prototype project, but as much as possible design happens in the real app’s codebase.
One way in which this is a huge benefit and time saver is with themes in Bear: there are a lot and it’s critical to quickly see how a design holds up across them all. Doing that in Sketch would take forever and require a sophisticated system that need always be kept in sync with the real code.
Last week Bear released Bear 2 Beta on TestFlight and, as a big Bear fan, I downloaded it to try. The editor was rebuilt from scratch, adding features users were asking for a long time. One of my favorite features is backlinks, something all Obsidian users know well. Currently Bear supports [[WikiLinks]], allowing one to link another note (as Obsidian does), but the new version implements backlinks, showing which pages link the one selected. It also shows pages that mention the page but don’t link them (Unlinked Mention). This is big! I exported all my Zettelkasten notes from Obsidian and imported on Bear and will use it for now on. And it’s a native application, and I’m a sucker for good native applications.
Really happy to hear that the backlinks feature is working for you @email@example.com! And that’s a huge deal if it can pull you from Obsidian. It was a difficult feature, as none of us really use backlinks, so this is encouraging to hear. Please let me know if there’s anything missing though, or something that could be done better!
I was using Micro.blog to cross post my blog entries to Mastodon, but the way they translated wasn’t great. My biggest beef was how all in-line links were stripped, appending only the first one at the end of the toot.
I love links, so I decided to make a custom solution that would list them all. It also limits the text to 500 characters and links directly to posts with a title without showing any of the content (since those are usually longer).
There are plenty of rough edges (e.g. what if the link list itself is >= 500 characters), but it works well enough for now. I think the next steps would be to omit links that aren’t present in the truncated text, and find a better way to determine if the latest post has been published to Mastodon.
But why go to all this trouble? I want to keep as many of my posts as possible on my blog, but also make them available on Mastodon without sacrificing the thing that interests me most on the internet: links.
I decided to set my headings in ITC Garamond (Condensed) as a homage to Apple circa 1984. I think it looks appropriate next to my Finder-y avatars, and actually jives quiet well with the rest of the site’s design.
I tend to go a little overboard with links, so I took a page out of Matthew Butterick’s Practical Typography—or rather stole it—and marked them with a degree symbol:
Vigorously styled hyperlinks on a page tend to move to the foreground of a reader’s attention, like an HDTV in a hotel bar. (See also maxims of page layout.) The red circle is meant to be noticeable while you’re reading the sentence that contains the link. Otherwise it disappears, so as not to distract.
This superscript design is used for links that take you away from my site—a slight homage to the right-and-up arrow. Internal links are then marked in bold,1 which means emphasis is left to italics (thankfully Concourse has true ones).
Orion’s not quite enough to pull me away from Safari (yet), but it’s so nice to see a browser built on top WebKit instead of Blink. They also took the time to build the UI rather than reskin Chromium. More of this please!
Append an ellipsis to a menu item’s label when people need to provide additional information before the action can complete. The ellipsis character (…) signals that another view will open in which people can input information or make choices.
The critical part is (rightly) emphasized, but I tend to latch onto the last bit: “signals that another view will open”. So here is another rule of thumb I find helpful:
If the title implies further input/processing (e.g. “Manage Passwords”, “Find in Page”), or that a new dialog/sheet/alert/window/etc. will be opened (e.g. “Open Bookmarks”), omit the ellipsis.
The ellipsis-worthy example I always think of is “Print…”—the name implies it will do what I want, but before it can, more info is needed (like which printer to use).
Apple has recently licensed fonts from type foundries such as Commercial Type, Klim Type Foundry and Mark Simonson Studio to be used as system fonts on Mac OS Catalina. But since these fonts are an optional download, many users of Mac OS X are not even aware they have access to them for free.
To see and install these optional fonts, open the FontBook application and switch to “All Fonts”. Browse the font list and you will see lots of font families that are greyed out — either because they were deactivated or they weren’t downloaded yet. If you right-click on a font or font family that wasn’t downloaded yet, you see an option to download the individual font or entire family.
Dan Moren of Six Colors writes about iCloud Keychain in Chrome: “[…] I end up using Chrome a decent amount for sites that Safari doesn’t support well or at all […]”.
It isn’t Safari that doesn’t support the sites, it’s the sites that don’t support Safari. When Mac software breaks because of OS changes, the developer doesn’t say “sorry, macOS doesn’t support my app”. It is on them to make sure their stuff runs on the platform(s) they target.
This whole thing made me think of a good thread I read recently by Rasmus Andersson. In it he says, “The contemporary idea of a web browser is an abstraction layer for technology to allow some document or software to be available to anyone using a web browser. If your website only works in Chrome it’s really not different from say only working on macOS.”
That NeXT competitive advantage became Apple’s competitive advantage, and, later, iPhone’s competitive advantage. This is the competitive advantage a native platform from Apple has over the web; it would be such a shame to half-ass this transition to Marzipan and concede defeat to web apps on the desktop instead of letting native apps reach the heights they deserve.
So far, Catalyst (the official name for Marzipan) apps aren’t that great. Not even the Apple ones. But they are getting better, and that’s encouraging.
SwiftUI is maturing nicely too, and it seems to be a better option for creating quality cross-platform software. Apple also seems to be putting more focus on it than Catalyst, which is a good thing.
Oh, and one more thing: I can now run iOS/iPadOS apps on my M1 Mac. Buckle up.
I design software, and much of that work is done in Sketch. I’ve used it my whole career and will continue to do so as long as it stays a native app. Lucky for me, I think it will. (Kudos to whoever set that headline in ITC Garamond Narrow, and shame on whoever set the text in it.)
This also isn’t a time to try to simulate the office. Working from home is not working from the office. Working remotely is not working locally. Don’t try to make one the other. If you have meetings all day at the office, don’t simply simulate those meetings via video. This is an opportunity not to have those meetings [emphasis added]. Write it up instead, disseminate the information that way. Let people absorb it on their own time. Protect their time and attention. Improve the way you communicate.
Software tends to march steadily downhill as it accumulates more and more features (read crap). I think one good way to fight the bloat, especially in a corporate environment, is to remember that your project/feature is not the most important thing.
Driving that one home is not easy, but it is critical if you are to preserve the software’s integrity.
The risk with these shortcuts is that they encourage typographers to satisfy themselves with numerical justifications—I used the golden ratio, therefore it must look good!—at the expense of developing visual judgment. When your headings look right, they are right—and if so, the ratio matters not a whit.
It’s always felt narrow to say that design is problem-solving; there’s more to it than that. Design can inform, yet that very often needs to begin by seducing. That’s the aspect of design I find most fascinating.
Sometimes I feel guilty about focusing on aesthetics, but that is silly. Lest we forget, form and function are both important aspects of design. Two sides of the same coin.
Good work is grounded in an attention to detail and knowledge of and respect for the materials. The more experience I gain, the truer this proves itself. Pay attention, respect the material, listen to how it guides you, and be gentle. You’ll be surprised by what you can do and how flexible it all can be.
This reminds me of another piece by him, “The Web’s Grain”, which talks about design that respects the medium.
Come to think of it, this also reminds me of his article “What Screens Want”. Am I sensing a trend here?
Living in Paris has changed me. The fast pace, pride and hardness that comes from living in a tourist-filled city has begun to rub off. It’s been a slow, creeping change, but sure enough I recognize myself a little less when I stop and reflect.
Slow down. Smile at a stranger. That’s who you are.
Being able to peak under the hood, tinker and figure out how it all worked was what got me started as a web developer. Come to think of it, it is still how I learn and work. I’m afraid we might be losing some of that, however.
Lesson learned: the discoverable and understandable web is still do-able — it’s there waiting to be discovered. It just needs some commitment from the people who make websites [emphasis added].
I guess part of this over-complication and inadvertent obfuscation might come from the fact that we are pushing the web to—and maybe beyond—its limits. I say that like it is a bad thing, and maybe it is, but mostly I just don’t know.
A great article by Martin Pilkington, covering much of the breadth of UI controls available in AppKit. Also, this article by Brent Simmons does a great job of describing the value in using stock interface elements.
You don’t get to decide the truth. Other people have their own experiences, just as valid. This is easy to forget. Your slice of life seems so large and unmistakeable, but it is your job to not confuse your small piece for the whole. Life is big—much bigger than just yours. This is the only note to self: other people are real. That’s all there is to learn.