John Voorhees

862 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John joined MacStories in 2015. He is an editor and regular contributor to MacStories and the Club MacStories newsletters, co-hosts AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps, with Federico, and handles sponsorship sales for MacStories and AppStories. John is also the creator of Blink, an iOS affiliate linking app for the iTunes Affiliate Program.

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Apple Redesigns Mac App Store with iOS-like Editorial Focus, New Product Pages, and More

During the WWDC keynote today, Apple announced a redesigned Mac App Store, elements of which leaked this past Saturday in a 30-second Mac App Store preview video for Xcode 10.1 The video was discovered by Steve Troughton-Smith:

Unlike the iOS App Store, the Mac App Store has never included preview videos, which indicated additional Mac App Store improvements were likely.

Those suspicions were confirmed during the keynote this morning when Apple revealed an ambitious redesign of the Mac App Store. The update takes several cues from the iOS App Store, implementing lessons learned from that store’s successful update in iOS 11.

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Transmit 5: The Gold-Standard of macOS File Transfer Apps [Sponsor]

Transmit 5 by Panic takes the hassle out of managing files on a server and locally. For 20 years, Mac users have relied on Transmit for FTP and SFTP file transfers. That remains one of Transmit’s core strengths, but the app has evolved into much more.

Transmit’s power starts with its design. The clean, two-pane design makes it easy to understand which files are on your local drive and where they’re going. With version 5, Panic focused on every element, refining and modernizing its design, while remaining familiar to long-time users.

The app still works with FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, and S3, but it also works with Amazon Drive, Backblaze B2, Box.com, DreamObjects, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Azure, OpenStack Swift, Rackspace Cloud Files, and more, bringing a native Mac app experience to every service.

The new cloud support opens up all sorts of possibilities. For example, Transmit can see your entire Dropbox, even if you sync only a subset of your files to your Mac. That means if you’re short on storage space, you can turn off Dropbox sync for a folder full of large files with the peace of mind of knowing you can still access them with Transmit.

Transmit 5 has other great features too. It supports:

  • Panic Sync, which provides secure, encrypted sync of your data across all of the Panic products you use;
  • File Sync, which keeps your files in sync across local and remote computers, or even multiple local machines;
  • Batch file renaming; and
  • Yubikey devices and the Krypton iOS app for easy, secure password-less connections.

Transmit is also much, much faster than its predecessor.

Whether you’re managing a server, or even just local files across multiple drives, Transmit 5 is the tool with the flexibility and power you need to get the job done quickly, safely, and securely.

MacStories readers can purchase Transmit directly from Panic using this link to receive 20% off automatically at checkout through June 11, 2018. As announced earlier today, Transmit will be returning to the Mac App Store later this year as a subscription-based app. You will still be able to buy Transmit directly from Panic for an up-front payment, but whether you buy now or subscribe later, be sure to visit Panic’s website to learn more about Transmit 5.


macOS Mojave: The MacStories Overview

During its WWDC keynote presentation today, Apple took the wraps off macOS 10.14, also known as Mojave, which will be released this fall. One of the marquee features of the update is a completely redesigned Mac App Store, which we will cover in a separate article. In addition to a previously-leaked Dark Mode, the update will also include Finder, screenshot, and Desktop updates, the addition of several apps previously-available only on iOS, which Apple ported to the Mac using new frameworks under development for release in late 2019, and other new features.

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How One Apple Programmer Got Apps Talking to Each Other

With WWDC around the corner and speculation continuing about why Apple purchased Workflow a little over a year ago, Wired has published a profile of Sal Soghoian, who worked on Automator at Apple until 2016. The feature piece, also covers the development of x-callback-urls on iOS and the introduction Workflow, which was acquired by Apple in 2017.

As Wired explains:

Soghoian is a guy who's built a long career creating technology that lets users hand the tedium of repetitive grunt work off to their computers in creative ways. In the early 2000s, he created a program that let Mac users turn clunky, multi-step tasks into something that could be run at any time with just a double click of the mouse. This process, and the field where Soghoian's excels, is known as PC automation. Nearly a decade after the original Automator app arrived on the Mac, a group of hungry iOS developers were inspired to hard-code a way for apps to share information between each other. The creation, which built upon Soghian's [sic] work, made iOS more elegant and useful.

Since leaving Apple, Soghoian’s automation work has continued at The Omni Group where he works on a JavaScript-based automation scheme for the company’s apps. Soghoian has also written about automation and created a conference on the topic.

Automation has a long history at Apple. However, in the 18 months or so since Soghoian left Apple and roughly one year since the company acquired Workflow, Apple has been relatively quiet about automation. One of my hopes for WWDC this year is that we start to see signs of why Apple acquired Workflow and its team of talented developers that include the incorporation of some of their automation work into iOS and macOS.

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Retrobatch from Flying Meat Brings Nodal Batch Processing of Images to the Mac

Retrobatch is a new batch photo processing app for the Mac from Flying Meat, the maker of Acorn. Batch processing of photos isn’t new. There are plenty of apps available that let you manipulate collections of photos. What’s different about Retrobatch is how it goes about processing images.

If you’ve ever used Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba, you’ll understand the power of Retrobatch immediately. The app is based on the idea of linking individual nodes together to create complex workflows. Point your new workflow at a batch of images, hit go, and Retrobatch goes about its work, delivering your processed photos to wherever you specify. The power is in abstracting complex actions into simple building blocks that can be strung together and branched as though you were building a flowchart.

That last point is the essential distinction between Retrobatch and other batch processors. Most image processors are linear, moving through a series of steps that outputs modified images. Retrobatch’s nodal structure allows you to start with a folder of images, perform actions on them, and then branch off to different actions at any point in the process.

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AppStories, Episode 57 – Pick 2: Spark 2 and 1Password 7 for Mac

On this week's episode of AppStories, we go in-depth on two recently updated apps. In this installment of Pick 2, Federico covers Spark 2, which has added app integrations into the iOS version and team collaboration to the iOS and Mac versions while John covers 1Password 7 for the Mac, a significant redesign that expands the functionality and flexibility of features like Watchtower and Vaults.

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Agenda for iOS Review

Agenda, which launched on iOS today, is one of the most interesting note-taking apps I’ve used. The app is simultaneously structured around projects, like a task manager, and dates, like a calendar app.

Agenda immediately caught my eye with its beautiful design and unique approach to notes when it launched on the Mac in January. At the time, I was intrigued by Agenda, but the lack of an iOS version was a deal-breaker. Notes apps are one of those categories that benefit immensely from being available everywhere. When I tested Agenda in January, I found myself on my iPad wanting to refer notes that were locked inside Agenda on my Mac almost immediately, so I put Agenda away and waited for the promised iOS version.

On the iPhone, Agenda uses the same sliding panels where they dominate most of the screen.

On the iPhone, Agenda uses the same sliding panels where they dominate most of the screen.

With today’s release of Agenda for iOS, which syncs between platforms, that’s no longer an issue. The Mac and iOS versions are virtually identical in their designs, interaction models, and feature sets. I won’t repeat the details here. You can learn more about the app’s structure and design from my review of the Mac version. Instead, I want to focus on the ways I’ve begun to integrate Agenda into my work over the past week that I’ve had the beta; with an app as flexible as Agenda, concrete examples of how it can be used are more useful than a list of features.

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