Every Mac developer that uses iCloud has a dirty little secret:

They don’t fully test their software before they ship it to customers on the Mac App Store. It’s because Apple won’t let them.

iOS developers, on the other hand, can upload a build to TestFlight and use the app with the iCloud production servers to make sure everything is working great before it gets sent to the App Store for review.

TestFlight has been available to internal developers since iOS 8 was announced in 2014. The system was opened up to external testers who have an iTunes account in the early part of 2015.

Mac developers have never had access to TestFlight, either internally or externally. It’s “coming soon”, and until that day comes, there’s no way to test apps that use the iCloud servers. Which sucks for both the developer and the customer.

But wait, there’s more.

Apple is touting analytics as an awesome new feature for developers that use the App Store to distribute their creations. It’s a huge benefit to our businesses, but only when you’re selling solely on iOS. This feature is nowhere to be found on the Mac App Store. Again, it’s “coming soon”.

Just yesterday, Apple did something great for developers. They now block reviews on beta OS releases. Unless that operating system is for the Mac.

Let me guess: it’s “coming soon”.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that Apple is doing something it rarely does: a half-assed job.

As developers, we completely understand how much work it is to announce these kinds of initiatives and get them working on multiple platforms. It’s not easy and takes a lot of resources. But it’s clear that these precious resources are not being allocated.

Apple needs to change its priorities for the Mac App Store or just shut the whole thing down. As it now stands, developers who are tired of being second-class citizens are making that decision for them and leaving on their own.

This is a pity because the Mac App Store is a great way for customers to download and purchase software. No one benefits from this half-assed job.

Updated July 23rd, 2015: I think the thing that bothers me most about this situation is the inequality. Mac developers aren’t getting the same value from the App Store as their counterparts on iOS. We all pay Apple 30% of our earnings to reach our customers, we should all get the same functionality for that fee.

Dupe this Radar if you agree.

discoveryd Clusterfuck

I usually keep things fairly clean on this site. I have a simple metric: would I be embarrassed if my Mom read this post? As you’ve probably guessed from the title, this post is going to be different.

So, Mom, it’s time to stop reading. I’m pissed off and you know how I get when that happens.

In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, look at this shit. A network process using 100% of the CPU, WiFi disconnecting at random times, and names, names (1), names (2), names (4). All caused by a crappy piece of software called discoveryd.

I started reporting these issues early in the Yosemite beta release and provided tons of documentation to Apple engineering. It was frustrating to have a Mac that lost its network connection every few days because the network interfaces were disabled while waking from sleep (and there was no way to disable this new “feature”.)

Regardless of the many issues people were reporting with discoveryd, Apple went ahead and released it anyway. As a result, this piece of software is responsible for a large portion of the thousand cuts. Personally, I’ve wasted many hours just trying to keep my devices talking to each other. Macs that used to go months between restarts were being rebooted weekly. The situation is so bad that I actually feel good when I can just kill discoveryd and toggle the network interface to get back to work.

Only good thing that’s come of this whole situation is that we now have more empathy for the bullshit that folks using Windows have suffered with for years. It’s too bad that Apple only uses place names from California, because OS X Redmond would be a nice homage.

It’s no secret in the tech community that discoveryd is the root cause of so many problems. There are even crazy workarounds. With so many issues, you’d expect some information from Apple explaining ways to mitigate the problems.


The only explanation I can come up with for this astounding lack of information is that there’s some mid-level product manager at Apple who’s covering their ass. I hope this person who’s responsible for withholding advice feels good about themselves, because the rest of us hate them with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Being stingy with knowledge in an engineering organization is a fucking stupid career move.

To give you an idea of how helpful a tiny piece of information is towards people’s productivity, let me give you a simple example that’s already saved me hours of frustration.

For months, I’ve seen bullshit like this in Bonjour:


That shows the xScope service on the Mac that provides data for the Mirror on iOS. In that screenshot, the service is being shown as available on three devices: one with just an IPV6 address, one with no IP addresses, and one with a duplicate IPv6 address and a valid IPv4 address. The name “CedarX” was the only way I could find to prevent names from incrementing (and breaking things that use the host name of that device.)

The “funny” thing is that this Mac is running the latest version of 10.10 with fixes for “WiFi issues”. And after tweeting about it in frustration, I got this response:

I followed Hendrik’s advice and guess what? No more network issues.

Bonjour keeps a cache that’s shared amongst devices on the network. This is so that if the device is asleep, another one that’s awake can provide the necessary information. I suspect that a device running an older version of discoveryd poisoned this cache. For some reason, the invalid cache information couldn’t be corrected by a newer version of the software which screwed things up in the first place.

But this is all just conjecture because Apple hasn’t written that fucking tech note.

This situation also shows another important aspect of the discoveryd clusterfuck: this code is all over the place. It’s in use by iOS, OS X and presumably whatever is running on the Apple Watch. As such, any one of those devices can poison Bonjour for everything else on your network.

This workaround is fairly simple if you’re on a home network where you have direct physical access to the all the devices. But as we all know, wireless networking is essential in places like an office, an airport or a coffee shop. Good luck rebooting everything in that kind of environment. And what happens when someone running an older version of OS X connects to that network and poisons it? Time to reboot!

You also can’t rely on software updates to fix everything: I have both an Airport Express and Apple TV that are no longer receiving fixes. Having to buy new hardware because of crappy software adds insult to injury.

Ironically, these issues are most likely to affect Apple’s best customers. The more devices you have, and the longer you have them, the more likely you are to get an unstable network. The only advice I can offer is to restart your entire network.


China Attacks

Robert Graham built a tool to analyze the traffic causing the DDoS attack on GitHub. He then used it to prove that the machine is “located on or near the Great Firewall of China”.

One has to wonder when politicians will take these virtual attacks as seriously as physical ones. As Robert points out, this attack is against a key part of the United States’ Internet infrastructure. What would we do if China took out all the Interstate highways leading into California?

“Must Fix for Next Release”

In the current version of xScope, there is a memory leak caused by a change in OS X 10.10.2. While the Loupe is in the background grabbing the screen, something in the frameworks is leaving images in the autorelease pool. The fix is literally two lines of code that forces the pool to empty.

But that’s not why I’m writing now.

This fix was submitted two weeks ago on February 2nd. A week later it went into review and was quickly rejected. The problem was that a buy button was accessible from our Help window.

The bulk of the help is static and built into the app, but there is a part online that we can update easily. This makes it really easy easy for us to add tips and other useful information for our customers. But since it’s just a web browser, it’s possible to wander into a part of our site that shows a header with mentions the word buy which is not allowed per rule 7.15. (Yes, the buy button is for something the customer has already purchased and is actively in the process of using, but technically it’s still a violation.)

My issue is the way that we must fix these problems. In this particular case, the issue was resolved by editing some HTML on our server, not by changing anything in the app itself. But we still must submit a “new” binary and go through the lengthy review process again. This is a huge waste of time for both developers and app reviewers (who are clearly lagging behind these days.)

I think there’s an easy way to fix these minor transgressions that would benefit both parties: add a new kind of approval with strings attached. A “Must Fix for Next Release” state where the app can go into “Ready for Sale” but the issue remains in the Resolution Center. At that point, both the app reviewers and developer know that an issue has to be dealt with before it’s approved the next time.

It would be like getting pulled over for a broken taillight on your car. You don’t need to visit your mechanic immediately to get the problem fixed. But you’ll certainly have to get things in order the next time you register the vehicle.

Please be sure to dupe Radar #19921616 if you agree that this would be a good change for iTunes Connect.