A Quick Ulysses Tip For Beta-Testing Software

If you find yourself often beta-testing software, you might find yourself often cross-checking feedback with the developer’s release notes to make sure you’re not encountering a problem they’re already aware of.

Fortunately, with Ulysses (Mac and iOS), you can simplify this task. One thing I’ve gotten into the habit of is creating a new note in the sidebar of the document I jot developer feedback into, and paste the latest release notes from the developer.  This way, I can write down an experience/problem in Ulysses, then quickly cross-check it right in the sidebar to make sure it’s not already a known issue.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 3.40.53 PM
Adding the developer’s release notes as a note in your Ulysses document can make cross-checking issues substantially easier.

Certainly not a very complicated tip, but one that I can say has saved me quite a bit of time and checking between e-mails and Ulysses!

“Mercury” from Sufjan Stevens’ new Planetarium Album

Sufjan Stevens’ newest project, Planetarium, has him teamed up with classical music composer Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner from The National. In this album, Sufjan has taken the cosmos as his inspiration to write a series of songs that range the gamut across several styles, but all sharing an unmistakable texture that evokes…otherness.

This recording for NPR of Mercury, the album closer, is absolutely beautiful.

Project Phoenix: Twitterrific for macOS

Late last week, Iconfactory launched a Kickstarter campaign to develop a new Twitterrific client for macOS:

While the project is relatively sparse on details, the promise of a new Twitterrific client for macOS is exciting. Iconfactory is a veteran Mac developer who has been churning out work for over a decade, and make some of the best designs & applications out there.

I currently use Tweetbot on Mac & iOS, however I primarily do that as I feel “locked in” to that ecosystem as cross-platform syncing is important to me, and iCloud has worked far better than TweetMarker in my experiences. That said, I think that Twitterrific, while a very different client that Tweetbot, is pulling ahead of the others when it comes to innovative & intuitive features. They’ve implemented some smart ideas: some, such as facial recognition to better position image previews, are clever enhancements. Others, such as their “muffle” feature which acts similar to “muting” but instead of removing the content from your timeline completely it leaves it intact but minimized. That way if you still want to see the content, just tap to return it to your timeline proper.

The original Twitterrific was an OS X app just a few months after Twitter launched, and it came to define many of the characteristics of Twitter today. The storied pedigree of Iconfactory & the long history of Twitterrific have combined in a project that I was more than happy to support. Another option for a Mac-iOS Twitter ecosystem that approaches it from a distinct enough angle will be positive for the platform.

Why Kickstarter? Iconfactory’s Craig Hockenbury summarized it on the latest “Release Notes” podcast:

The basic problem is we don’t know if there’s a market for a Mac social networking product right now. […] It’s not clear that there’s a market for that any more.

He elaborates about how a lot of social media use has moved onto mobile products (of which Twitterrific is well received), and how web apps have improved dramatically from a few years back. The lack of any clear idea if there’s much of a market means that by utilizing Kickstarter they can gauge whether or not they’re right.

So Iconfactory is asking for $75,000 with stretch goals at $100,000 and $125,000 dollars. It sounds like a lot of money, but for a team of 4-5 people developing for 6+ months, it’s clear that this is a labour of love that they want to see if there’s any economic feasibility to. So, for $75,000 dollars, they’re planning:

  • Unified home timeline
  • Multiple account support
  • Composing, replying, and quoting tweets
  • Muffles and mutes
  • Streaming
  • Themes
  • Delete and edit your own tweets
  • Sync timeline position with iOS
  • VoiceOver Accessibility
  • Keyboard control
  • Attaching images to tweets
  • Timeline search (text filter/find)
  • Open links to other tweets, profiles and media in your browser

At $100,000:

  • Direct messaging
  • Read, create, delete saved searches
  • Read lists
  • Built-in Twitter search
  • Built-in quick media viewer (images, GIFs, videos)
  • Built-in conversation and threaded tweet viewer
  • Built-in viewer for user profiles
  • Alt-text attachment when tweeting images
  • Searching for and getting suggested users while composing

This list makes it pretty obvious that $100,000 should be considered the base minimum for a functional modern Twitter app. And at $125,000:

  • Simple list management (create, edit, delete)
  • Manage drafts and sync them with iOS
  • Dock-less mode
  • Built-in profile editor so you can change your bio, avatar and more
  • Trends
  • Video upload
  • Geolocation

Those are certainly nice-to-haves but not necessary.

What sort of life it takes on after Kickstarter will likely be a mix of how well it does through this process combined with how much attention it’s able to get outside of the crowd-sourcing bubble. That said, Twitterrific is a very popular iOS client, so there could easily be a channel to advertise the macOS availability there.

All that to say, I happily pitched into this project. Not only do I think Twitterrific is an innovative client whose presence helps make Twitter better for everybody, and not only because I think the ecosystem could use more competition, but also because I know Iconfactory does fine work and that I’m happy to support creators who are striving to make something excellent.

You can check out their Kickstarter here, and you can see Twitterrific for iOS here.

U.S. appeals court revives antitrust lawsuit against Apple

From Reuters:

iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple Inc over allegations that the company monopolized the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the App Store, leading to higher prices, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

It’s pretty hard to get much less expensive than free. I’ve spoken first-hand to developers who can’t make their app sustainable at even $0.99, so they have to make it free with garbage ads supporting it.

Take it further and the plain fact is that Android is the donminat platform and has no such restrictions. Hardly a monopoly.

That said, you do buy directly from Apple, not the developers, so this is probably the right move. They don’t have a chance of winning, though.

→ U.S. appeals court revives antitrust lawsuit against Apple

From Reuters:

iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple Inc over allegations that the company monopolized the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the App Store, leading to higher prices, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

It’s pretty hard to get much less expensive than free. I’ve spoken first-hand to developers who can’t make their app sustainable at even $0.99, so they have to make it free with garbage ads supporting it.

Take it further and the plain fact is that Android is the dominant platform and has no such restrictions. Hardly a monopoly.

That said, you do buy directly from Apple, not the developers, so this is probably the right move. They don’t have a chance of winning, though.