Pretending You’re Not Busy As Hell

You know those last few weeks of a project where it seems like every ball you own is up in the air? Your desktop looks like bomb went off: stuff like “website comp (with hero)-20160414-final-2.1 copy.psd” and “DO NOT DELETE YET” scattered all over the place. You’re busy as hell.

And then you realize that you need to take product screenshots. Or do a screencast.

While doing screenshots for my upcoming book, I solved this problem by writing a simple shell script. It updates an undocumented Finder preference that controls whether the desktop is created or not. Without the desktop, all of your icons disappear (don’t worry, the files are still there!)

Simply typing finder_icons off in your Terminal lets you pretend that you’re working in complete zen and take the shots you need. Doing finder_icons on quickly brings you back to reality and lets you create an even bigger mess.

Enjoy!

Updated April 29th, 2016: Dr. Drang points out that this technique also works well for screen sharing. I try to avoid the use of killall when dealing with the Finder because you never know when it’s in the middle of a file operation (such as copying a file or deleting a folder.) Using the AppleScript quit command lets the Finder determine when it’s safe to shut down.

Going Deep

If you haven’t already, check out my in-depth analysis of the new iPad Pro display. I think it tells us a lot about the future of what we’ll all see on Apple’s devices.

This is clearly a time where our tools and APIs need to evolve. Here are some things that you’ll need to watch out for as you start using color management on iOS:

  • rdar://25836820 – Color management support is not consistent across devices
  • rdar://25836842 – Color profile conversion by Xcode is not documented
  • rdar://25836912 – Current color profile for display is not available
  • rdar://25836961 – Quartz 2D Documentation about iOS color spaces is incorrect
  • rdar://25837000 – Color Management Best Practices for iOS is incorrect
  • rdar://25837030 – There is no way to turn off True Tone
  • rdar://25837065 – The CGColorSpace documentation needs to be more explicit about new color spaces
  • rdar://25837117 – PNG assets can’t have an embedded color profile

Of course, I’ll be covering these issues and a lot more in my new book. Sign up for the A Book Apart newsletter (at the bottom of the page) and you’ll be notified when it’s ready.

A Responsive Factory

Back in May 2014, we introduced a new Iconfactory home page. One of the main design goals for that site was to make the layout a responsive web design: the same site looked great whether you were looking at it on a desktop PC or an iPhone. Reading Ethan Marcotte’s book was a revelation.

Of course, that site was just a beginning. We run a lot of web sites (including some you’ve probably never heard of before). Clearly we had to pick our responsive battles.

We started with an update to our blog in January 2015. In October, we updated our iOS and OS X app catalog. And yesterday we launched a responsive design portfolio.

A year and a half after our first responsive design, we’ve hit a milestone. All of the sites listed in the Iconfactory’s red navigation bar are responsive designs and will display correctly on any device. Woo hoo!

Along the way, we cleaned up some of our branding elements and worked toward a more consistent experience across all the sites. Check out the post at the Iconfactory about the new SVG icons in Safari to see what that’s all about.

It’s clear we’re at a point in time where the vast assortment of screens is daunting. If you haven’t thought about how your site works on this wide variety of devices, now is a great time to start.

iPulse 3

ipulse

When I first started exploring the brave new world of Cocoa and Unix running on a Mac, I had no idea that the code I was writing would be something I relied on 14 years later. Sometimes you scratch an itch that never goes away.

While I welcomed the introduction of System Integrity Protection (aka “rootless”) at WWDC 2015, I also thought that it would be the end of iPulse. Luckily, an Apple engineer responded to a Radar and pointed me at libproc.

The rest, they say, is history. And by history I mean a couple of months work overhauling an ancient codebase :-)

With the help of Talos Tsui, all the icons and graphics now follow the latest user interface guidelines and are Retina quality. The app no longer looks like it’s over a decade old!

I know there are a lot of fellow developers out there who love iPulse as much as I do (and boy, did I hear from all of you when it stopped working in El Capitan!) You’ll be happy to know that you can download the updated version directly from the Mac App Store. This is also the app’s first paid upgrade and it’s only $10.

There’s more information and a screenshot on the Iconfactory blog.