Posts tagged with "developers"

For the Good of the Business

Curtis Herbert has some wisdom for indie developers running a business:

What happens when the developer, designer, and the "evil" business/marketing person are all one in the same? You get a blog post out of it! Welcome to my inner struggles with Slopes as I've tried to turn it into a serious business.

Over the last few months I've learned that there is a need to compromise on some of my ideals. Well, compromise might not be the right word. I think some of the things that we think compromise our ideals actually don't, when done right. I think as a designer / developer I was too quick to dismiss things I needed to implement to help my business be healthy just because of some preconceived "Apple would never do this" notion.

I would say that this applies to a lot of creative endeavors online. Many of us are fixated on ideals of elegance and perfectionism that aren't healthy for the business, which ultimately results in failure to monetize and survive. A great product doesn't sell by itself.


IBM Swift Sandbox

Hi, I’m John Petitto, one of IBM’s Swift developers located at IBM’s Mobile Innovation Lab in Austin. We love Swift here and thought you would too so we are making our IBM Swift Sandbox available to developers on developerWorks.

The IBM Swift Sandbox is an interactive website that lets you write Swift code and execute it in a server environment – on top of Linux! Each sandbox runs on IBM Cloud in a Docker container. In addition, both the latest versions of Swift and its standard library are available for you to use.

Neat idea by IBM to write and execute Swift code in any desktop web browser. Too bad the web app is barely usable in iOS Safari because of text selection issues. I'd love to have something like this as a native iOS app eventually (if Apple allows it; but if they allow Pythonista, why not a Swift interpreter now that the language is open source?).


Craig Federighi Talks Open Source Swift

Writing for Ars Technica, Andrew Cunningham interviewed Craig Federighi on Swift going open source and how Apple is approaching open development:

The Swift team will be developing completely in the open on GitHub,” Federighi told Ars. “As they’re working day-to-day and making modifications to the language, including their work on Swift 3.0, all of that is going to be happening out in the open on GitHub.”

So instead of getting a big Swift 3.0 info dump at WWDC 2016 in the summer and then digging into the Xcode betas and adapting, developers can already find an “evolution document” on the Swift site that maps out where the language is headed in its next major version.


Apple Open Sources Swift

As promised earlier this year, Apple today officially open sourced Swift, its new programming language unveiled at WWDC 2014. The now open source Swift is available on Apple's GitHub page for everyone to try:

Swift is a high performance systems programming language. It has a clean and modern syntax, and offers seamless access to existing C and Objective-C code and frameworks, and is memory safe (by default).

Although inspired by Objective-C and many other languages, Swift is not itself a C-derived language. As a complete and independent language, Swift packages core features like flow control, data structures, and functions, with high-level constructs like objects, protocols, closures, and generics. Swift embraces modules, eliminating the need for headers and the code duplication they entail.

This is big news for developers who have been looking forward to experimenting with Swift. Interestingly, Apple has also publicly posted a repository to track the ongoing evolution of Swift, which should reach version 2.2 by Spring 2016 and version 3.0 by Fall 2016.

This document describes goals for the Swift language on a per-release basis, usually listing minor releases adding to the currently shipping version and one major release out. Each release will have many smaller features or changes independent of these larger goals, and not all goals are reached for each release.

Clearly, open sourcing Swift has been a massive effort for Apple's teams, and they're committing to it.


iCloud for iOS Onboarding

Sebastian Kreutzberger has posted a plea for developers to consider implementing iCloud authentication in their apps in lieu of traditional emails and passwords. The idea is that iCloud is inherently secure and anonymized, making for a superior solution to login information reused across multiple services.

The “magic” of iCloud authentication lays in its invisibility to the user.

With iCloud an app does not need to ask the user for an email address or a password to be able to uniquely identify who is running the app (and to later spam the user in marketing campaigns).

With the built-in, invisible iCloud authentication every app (developer) automatically can get a secure, globally unique representation of the currently logged-in iCloud user from iOS itself which it then can use to replace email and password as identifiers.

I don't know if iCloud authentication would work for every web service with an iOS app, but I certainly am annoyed by having to create online accounts for almost every app I try these days. I have relied on iCloud signup for a couple of apps so far, and the experience has been really nice. I would like to see it used more.


Sketch Is Leaving the Mac App Store

Sketch, the popular image creation and design tool for OS X and winner of an Apple Design Award in 2012, is leaving the Mac App Store. Developer Bohemian Coding has announced the move in a blog post today:

Today, we’re announcing an important change in how you receive updates to Sketch. After much thought, and with a heavy heart, we’re moving Sketch away from the Mac App Store. If you’re a Mac App Store customer, all you need to do is download Sketch from our website, launch it and enter your email address to receive your license.

As for the reasons behind this decision, Bohemian Coding mentioned a few usual suspects:

There are a number of reasons for Sketch leaving the Mac App Store—many of which in isolation wouldn’t cause us huge concern. However as with all gripes, when compounded they make it hard to justify staying: App Review continues to take at least a week, there are technical limitations imposed by the Mac App Store guidelines (sandboxing and so on) that limit some of the features we want to bring to Sketch, and upgrade pricing remains unavailable.

Sketch is, quite possibly, one of the most popular image editing apps for professionals who use Macs nowadays, and it's yet another high-profile departure from the Mac App Store. Bohemian Coding doesn't rule out returning to the Mac App Store if things change, but, for now, they are going to be selling the app directly on their website.

At this stage, we are far beyond the point of acknowledging there is a problem on the Mac App Store. We are not talking a bunch of isolated cases anymore – leaving the Mac App Store has become an accepted trend among developers, which is compounded by the sad state of abandon in which Apple has left it and other issues developers illustrated in the past.

The simple reality is that, gradually, developers of the best apps for OS X are finding it increasingly hard to justify doing business on the Mac App Store. I hope Apple also sees this as a problem and starts doing something about it.


Facebook SDK for tvOS

Chris Pan, writing on the Facebook developer site:

The new Apple TV brings the App Store to the big screen, and today we're introducing the Facebook SDK for tvOS beta to help you build immersive social experiences on that platform.

The key feature of the Facebook SDK for tvOS apps is an easy way to log into apps without having to type emails and passwords with the Siri Remote:

A fast and easy way for people to log into your app and for you to provide rich, personalized experiences. To log into an app with their Facebook account, people can simply enter a confirmation code displayed on the TV into their smartphone or computer, rather than entering their username and password with the remote.

For developers who don't mind adding Facebook code to their apps, this seems like a decent stopgap solution until Apple builds something similar for iPhone users (as I assume it would be nice to log into apps with iCloud Keychain and Touch ID).


The Worst App

An odd App Store story by Allen Pike:

One of the various things I do at Steamclock is provide support for our apps. Our music apps don’t require much support, and much of the email we get is positive, so tending to support is generally pleasant.

Or at least it was pleasant, until recently. On September 30 I received a very concerning support email.

I don't know what the solution to these App Store problems is, but it doesn't seem right to me that developers have to spend time dealing with them over the course of several weeks.


How Readdle Launched Their First Mac App

Readdle's Denys Zhadanov has put together a good article detailing how Readdle launched PDF Expert for Mac (which Graham likes) and got to #1 in the Mac App Store. I particularly liked this bit on how they positioned the app in the research stage:

Many people told me that it doesn’t make sense to build a product that already has some decent alternatives. But honestly, I like competition. Healthy competition indicates that there is a good addressable market out there. Having a superior product that does things better and is differentiated enough can lead to a successful and sustainable business.

Thanks to our research and preparation, we were able to position PDF Expert for Mac really well. It steps in where Apple Preview is too basic and Adobe Acrobat is too cumbersome. With PDF Expert, people can actually do their PDF work much faster and easier, including reading, annotating, form filling, and signing documents.

As I argued on Connected last week, too many developers think that making a good app is all it takes to achieve "success". Preparation, research, and understanding the position of an app beforehand are just as essential. Denys has some other practical tips and fascinating stats, so make sure to check out his post.