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Date: Monday, 30 Nov 2009 00:24
I've had a blog (I hate that word) at gusmueller.com for 9 years now. I've been itching for some new digs for a while, and finally came up with a name and a new URL: http://shapeof.com/. The first post explains what the name is about.

I'll update the news feed in a few days to point to the new one.

Same guy, same crap, new location. Plus, it gives me a chance to play with Slicehost.
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Date: Sunday, 29 Nov 2009 02:12
Joshua Nozzi: Your Very Own Drag Show with JLNDragEffectManager

"Cocoa developers were treated to a nice Interface Builder makeover in version 3. One effect we’ve all been admiring is dragging an item from the Library palette onto a window. It’s actually not too hard and just takes a little showmanship. I’ll show you how it’s done."

I played with it a little bit this evening. It's pretty easy to use.
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Date: Sunday, 29 Nov 2009 02:08
This is what Acorn's Type palette looks like:


And here is what I'd imagine it would look like, if the controls were done by the deviantART guys:

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Date: Wednesday, 25 Nov 2009 02:05
Milton Glaser: Ten Things I Have Learned.

"Everyone always talks about confidence in believing what you do. I remember once going to a class in yoga where the teacher said that, spirituality speaking, if you believed that you had achieved enlightenment you have merely arrived at your limitation. I think that is also true in a practical sense. Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable."

Lots of great stuff in his list. Found via Bobulate.
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Date: Friday, 13 Nov 2009 21:03
Manton Reece: The only 2 fixes for the iPhone platform:

'''This is so important for a small company. I want my software to fail because it sucks, or is buggy, or doesn't have the right features, not because Apple can shut me down over a minor difference of opinion.'''
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Date: Friday, 13 Nov 2009 18:16
SuperMegaUltraGroovy (aka, Chris Liscio): Swimming in OpenCL.

'''Please excuse the vague post, as I don’t have anything specific I’d like to share just yet. However, what I’d like to do here is call attention to my new favorite part of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard—OpenCL.'''
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Date: Thursday, 22 Oct 2009 21:53
Coming soon, NaNoDrawMo.
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Date: Wednesday, 21 Oct 2009 04:57
Wil Shipley: Lost in Translations.

Wil was nice enough to let me use his DMLocalizedNibBundle code a while back, and I've been bugging him off and on to make a post about it. I'm glad he finally did- it's great for localizing code, and VoodooPad 4 has been using it for over a year now without any problems. Localization is a PITA, but DMLocalizedNib makes it much much easier.
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Date: Friday, 16 Oct 2009 19:40
Acorn 2.1 is out, with bug fixes, a new hex color picker, optimized png web export (via pngcrush), and AppleScript support. All the gory details are in the release notes.

I'm especially interested in seeing what folks do with the new AppleScript support. I've put up a bunch of examples for people to start with. Appl scrt wass aton offn tooo writ.
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TapLynx   New window
Date: Wednesday, 14 Oct 2009 17:56
Brent Simmons introduces TapLynx:

"TapLynx is a framework for building media-based iPhone apps without needing to do any programming.

It’s a tool for developers, though — you still use Xcode to build the app. You configure it via a property list file, add artwork and feeds, build it, upload it. (You build a fully-native Cocoa app: it’s not like compiled Flash or something like that.)"

Looks cool!
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Date: Tuesday, 13 Oct 2009 04:12
VoodooPad 4 added the ability for plugin authors to add support for specific data types in VoodooPad, which would be saved as a page in the document it was created in. So for instance, if you wanted to support some strange data type, that could be done. Or a custom image viewer, you could do that too. Maybe you fancy an outliner? Or maybe you wanted a little editor for JSTalk pages, which are saved right in the document where you got your syntax highlighting and a little run button.

OK, no big surprise, I just wrote that last one, and here's a movie of it in action: JSTalkInVP.mov. It's not built into VP yet, but I'll get that done for a future release when I'm happier with the UI. Source is here on github.

If you wanted to write your own plugin to do something similar, subclass VPItemController (which is a subclass of NSViewController), register yourself it VP so it knows about your data type, and implement some methods for loading and unloading data, and load a nib of your choice for the UI. It's quite simple, and of course welcome feedback on how to make it better.
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Date: Friday, 02 Oct 2009 23:32
One of the biggest gripes that folks have about the built in unit testing for Xcode is that it's a pain to setup and debug. I've also hear from folks that this is the reason they don't write tests, which is a shame. But I'm going to share a little secret with you today: thanks to Objective-C, it's pretty darn easy to roll your own solution.

Here's some code for you: CallTestMethods.m.

I've got that in Acorn's App delegate, stuffed inside a category, and hooked up to a debug menu (named "Sanity") which will run through various tests. All I do then is have methods in my category that start with "test", run the various operations, and then fail with a big fat NSException if something goes wrong. (Bonus points go to the developer who uses the __FUNCTION__ and __LINE__ macros to narrow where the exception is being throw).

And if I want to debug the tests using gdb, there's no targets to change or any fancy environment variables to set. I just launch Acorn with gdb, and run my tests. I've even got it hooked up to my build process these days; I launch Acorn from my build script with a -runtests argument, and away it goes. I'm not sure how much easier it could be. It's very low friction and easy to debug, which is important to me.

It's also not hard to imagine writing your own macros to do the checking, and look! NSAssert is already there!

So consider writing your own if Xcode's SenTest framework isn't working out for you.
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Date: Friday, 02 Oct 2009 22:42
The betas of Acorn 2.1 now have support for AppleScript. You can grab a test version of Acorn 2.1 from the latest builds page. I also have some AppleScript samples up in the documentation.

If you're one of the folks who has been wanting AppleScript support in Acorn, like really really badly OMG I'll kill if I don't get it HERE TAKE MY FIRST BORN ER I MEAN HOW ABOUT THIS TASTY CARROT I SHOULD HAVE TRIED THAT FIRST, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at the dictionary, try it out a bit, and then sent me some feedback if you have any. I still can't seem to read people's minds; so if there's a feature you'd like to see, let me know.

Also, check out Script Debugger if you do any serious AppleScripting. It's pretty nice.
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Date: Tuesday, 29 Sep 2009 06:01
I'm a little late on this one, but a big congrats to Brent on getting NetNewsWire 2.0 for iPhone out. NetNewsWire Premium is available as well.

My favorite news reader for the Mac also got an update.

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Date: Tuesday, 22 Sep 2009 22:04
One of the things that Acorn 2 added was the ability for developers to add their own image types to Acorn. So "The Stig" has written a plugin for Acorn which opens up Painter RIFF files (including the layers). Since RIFF isn't an open format, it uses Painter's frameworks to get this done (so you'll need Corel Painter or Sketch Pad installed for it to work).

You can check out ACRIFFLoader on GitHub. (I haven't tested it out myself though).

Someone needs to write a multi-layer TIFF IO plugin next.
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Date: Monday, 21 Sep 2009 23:35
Did you know you holding down cmd-option-shift when moving a selection in Acorn will repeatedly copy + move your selection? This is great if you want to change the size of some UI elements: Command-Option-Move.mov. Holding down the shift key moves it by 10px each time. Letting up on the shift key will move it by 1px each time.

And new to Acorn 2.0.2; when using the brush tool, hold down the spacebar and Acorn will draw 3x slower than it normally would. This is great if you want to be a little bit more detailed when drawing with your brush.
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Date: Friday, 18 Sep 2009 20:10
A nice little piece from Manton Reece: It's okay to ignore the iPhone.

"Imagine for a moment that Yellow Box for Windows wasn't killed off — that we could build Windows apps using Cocoa. Should I make my apps cross-platform just because it's Objective-C? No. Writing software for a platform I don't use would be like still supporting Mac OS X 10.2".
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Date: Thursday, 17 Sep 2009 22:02
I just made a little tutorial for Acorn 2, titled "How to Fade Out Your Image, and Other Interesting Techniques Using a Duck".

Someone asked the other day how to do some liner transparency effects in Acorn, so here it is. At the end of the tutorial, I also show a technique on how to use layer groups to have local compositing- sort of like cheap layer masks.

I should also note, that for Acorn 2 all the documentation has moved into a VoodooPad document, which has been a lot easier to add to than the Wiki I had before. And you can download that VP document, using a link found at the bottom of all the document pages.
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Acorn 2   New window
Date: Monday, 14 Sep 2009 17:36
So I committed the changes, ran the scripts, and Acorn 2 is finally live.

You can grab it from Acorn's website, and the full release notes are available as well.

I won't go over everything that's new, but rather, here are the things that I think are interesting:

Acorn 2 is 10.6 only.
Most of the development of Acorn was done in 10.5 though, even though I had planned all along to go with 10.6. The reason for this was simple- my testers weren't on 10.6 yet. However, I still coded away on 10.6 things, and commented out code that wouldn't work with the 10.5 SDK. Once 10.6 came out Acorn 2 no longer ran on 10.5, and I got to flip the switch on some code optimizations that had been held back. I love Blocks and Grand Central Dispatch. The new Perlin (aka "Render Clouds") filter is done with Blocks + GCD. I love Blocks and GCD, and if you're a developer you will too.
Render Clouds

Acorn 2 is 64 bit.
And yes, there are performance improvements with it. Running the Gaussian Blur filter is now 15% faster in 64 bit. Opening JPEG files is 20% faster than 32 bit (measured by scripting operations via JSTalk of course). Is Acorn the first 64 bit image editor for the Mac?

Layer Groups
I've wanted this forever. Now you can group layers together in hierarchal groups, which is awful handy for my next favorite feature.

Layered Screenshots
It's a new preference, and it's turned off by default since it'll make some pretty big images- but you can now take screenshots where every window gets its own layer, and the layers are organized by applications in layer groups.

So now you can take a screenshot, and not worry because your background has something funky in it, or you are surfing porn in another window that accidentally got included in. Just delete or uncheck the visibility for that layer. TADA. It's also awesome for grabbing parts of windows when you are doing UI mockups.

A new look
Mostly designed by Brandon Walkin (excluding the areas it looks bad because I didn't always listen to him).

Acorn's New Palette
Well I think it looks nice.

The icons are pretty much done by myself, but the layout and colors and borders and such are all Brandon.

JSTalk Support.
You can now script Acorn 2 by way of JSTalk. Technically, you could do this with Acorn 1 as well, but it required a plugin you had to install yourself. That plugin now comes bundled with Acorn 2.

I actually came up with JSTalk specifically for Acorn. I was looking at adding AppleScript support to Acorn, since scriptibility was a big feature request, but I've always found AppleScript to be too cumbersome. And I hate writing examples in AppleScript, so JSTalk it is. And you can even run JSTalk scripts within Automator to talk to Acorn! (JSTalk Editor comes with the Automator action, and an example on how to do exactly that).

You can also write the plugins in JSTalk, and just dump them in Acorn's Plug-Ins folder. Here's "Resize Layer to 50%.jstalk":

function main(image) {
  return [image imageByApplyingTransform:CGAffineTransformMakeScale(.5, .5)];

The Python support that came with Acorn 1 is still there as well, so now you have your choice of two great languages!

It's faster.
Besides being a 64 bit application and picking that up for free, Acorn is faster because of some optimizations. Coalescing undo changes (changes are written to a sqlite database- if you're an image editor, you don't want to keep your full undo stack in memory), general architectural changes, and performance tricks. Acorn is also slowly moving away from its Core Graphics base, and relying more on Core Image, which helps with things.

It's also faster at saving images with lots of layers. This is because I switched from using a plist based file format, to using SQLite. It's a whole lot faster to just update a single row, rather than the whole file. The "file format" is also documented a bit in the way of Acorn's open source QuickLook plugin. It's part of the Acorn SDK.

Speaking of the SDK, you can now write plugins to support your own file formats. I've even included as sample code Acorn's PSD importer.

Acorn 2 is free. Sort of.
At one point there was an app named "Acorn Free", which was built alongside Acorn. It was obviously a free version of Acorn, just like I give away VoodooPad Lite.

My motivation for this was everyone who kept on asking me to include image editing features into VoodooPad. You could already double click an image in VoodooPad and have it open up in your favorite image editor, but most people didn't care enough about filters and such and didn't really want to invest in another app, just to be able to resize or crop an image. So I figured, well- I'll just let you use it without some of the advanced features enabled.

And it turns out I've got developer friends who get asked for some of the same things, and I thought- hey, I could also write a framework which you can code up something like:

[ACImageAgent editNSImageInAcorn:[myImageView image] fileNameHint:@"From My App or whatever" withDelegate:self];

And when the user saves in Acorn, you'll get this callback:

- (void) acornImageDidUpdate:(ACImageAgent*)agent {
  myImageView setImage:[agent NSImage]];

Seems pretty handy to me. Add instant image editing for your app if your user has Acorn 2 on their Mac. (Developers will need AcornImageFramework.zip to do this, which includes source).

So how does the "free" work? There's a more detailed description on the website but I can describe it pretty quickly here. After 14 days when your trial period is up, Acorn 2 goes into "free mode", where it shows a little button at the top of the window that says "upgrade", and disables some advanced features like Web Export, custom brushes, etc.

But there's no watermark drawn over the image. No restriction on the number of layers or image size, or anything that you'd expect a basic image editor to have. Acorn is still a very useful image editor, even after the trial period is up.

And there's more.
That's not all Acorn 2 has to offer. There are new things like Rulers, RAW image import, tools (Dodge, Burn, Clone, Smudge), improvements to the transform and crop tools, new options in the Text palette, and lots more. The release notes have all the gory details.

The price remains the same as for Acorn 1 - $49.95. And if you're upgrading from Acorn 1, then the price is $19.95 (and this includes anyone who got Acorn from MacHeist). If you bought Acorn on or after July 2, 2009- you get a free upgrade.

If you're expecting a Photoshop clone, you're going to be disappointed. However, if you'd like a lightweight, but powerful image editor built specifically for Mac OS X, then Acorn 2 might be right for you.

Check it out.
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Date: Sunday, 13 Sep 2009 01:33

Speaking of JavaScript and JSTalk, I just put up a new website for it.
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