turing complete with a stack of 0xdeadbeef
Large Xcode projects can be difficult to navigate, especially when you are making a large change across a large number of files. Depending on how your project is configured, modified files will be spread across multiple nested directories and multiple targets.
When debugging a large project in Xcode that a large team works on, the console can get quite busy. Logs are everywhere! It can be difficult to sift through the noise, particularly when you have a number of breakpoints configured to log messages, execute debugger commands, and continue after evaluating rather than pause.
Since iOS 15 and and macOS 12, or whenever Apple launched the new “Start Page” for Safari, I’ve had various issues getting tabs to sync across my devices. It seems to be a common problem.
When working on large iOS apps, all the tasks you need to perform before you even get started writing code can begin to consume a lot of time. I’m talking about all the preparation that happens in your terminal — pulling the latest changes, bootstrapping the project, etc. During this wait, I usually take a moment to follow-up on emails or Slack messages. But the problem with that is I inevitably end up getting pulled deeper into those tasks and forget to return to the terminal, open Xcode, and start working.
In my previous post, I explained how to use symbolic breakpoints to discover when view controllers load their views into memory. Often breakpoints are specific to a project. You’ll create one for a specific class that only exists for that particular app. However, what I discussed in that post would be useful in any project. Unlike regular breakpoints, symbolic breakpoints (at least when set on system frameworks) are more or less universal.
While working on a very large iOS client project, I was investigating the causes for our slow app launch time. We had a hypothesis that part of the problem was that too many view controllers were getting loaded in memory, in particular, ones that were not even being presented to the user during app startup. What could cause view controllers to load too early? How might you discover this happening? And how do you fix it? Let’s find out.
When I wrote about joining Mastodon, I said I would stay on Twitter for the moment and see what happens. Well, unsurprisingly, the service has continued to erode. It really is a shame, because I’ve found the software developer community there very helpful over the years. I met a lot of friends on Twitter, and later met them for the very first time in person at WWDC.
I was reminded today of Apple’s ‘Get A Mac’ ad campaign from the early 2000s (thanks to Jeff Johnson’s recent post). Now well over a decade old, those Mac vs PC commercials depicted a “Mac” played by Justin Long and a “PC” played by John Hodgman. They were incredibly popular and entertaining — and successful. I remember getting my very first MacBook around the time this campaign started.
After upgrading to macOS Ventura, I decided to upgrade my Ruby version and ran into issues trying to build my site locally.
I finally upgraded to macOS Ventura recently — about a month ago. As usual, I waited until the first point release, 13.1 (22C65). Although I have experienced few severe issues with upgrading over the past few years, a couple of bad experiences and others’ reports of bugs leave me skeptical and apprehensive each year. I miss the old days of OS X when I would upgrade on day one without any concerns at all.
If you have ever worked on an iOS app, you have definitely used
UINavigationController. It has been around since iOS 2 and is a fundamental component in UIKit. Yet, there is one very powerful API that you might not know about.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely noticed that my blog posts are automatically tweeted for me. There are multiple services you can use to do this, like Zapier and IFTTT. I use both services for various automations. Each has built-in actions for listening to an RSS feed and then tweeting new items as they appear. Sadly, neither service has a built-in action for Mastodon. However, we can achieve the same results with a generic webhook action on both platforms.
I finally decided to create an account on Mastodon. You can follow me at @firstname.lastname@example.org. I put this off for so long because I was skeptical and I did not want to manage another social account, but it has turned out to be pretty fucking awesome.
The main appeal of building apps in SwiftUI is being able to share UI code across platforms, in particular iOS and macOS. It is not perfect and you often have to do some
#if os() checks, but when it works it is truly great. Before SwiftUI was around, you could already share a lot of (non-UI) code between iOS and macOS. Many of the system frameworks are available on both platforms, for example Foundation and Core Data. Occasionally there are API differences, but they rarely impose a significant burden.
On iOS the operating system employs a watchdog that monitors for and terminates unresponsive apps. If your app is blocking the main thread for too long, the system will kill it. In crash reports, you can identify watchdog terminations via the termination reason code
0x8badf00d (“ate bad food”).
One of the most important parts of software development is tracking changes. Documenting what is going into a release is necessary not only to simply know what changed and inform your users by writing good release notes, but also to track down issues when something goes wrong. If there’s a new bug or a new crash in your latest release, you need to be able to quickly find the change that introduced the problem.
This is a follow-up to my previous post regarding my website getting de-indexed by Bing, and thus DuckDuckGo. (Sorry for the delay, I’ve been away.) It turns out that a number of sites were experiencing this issue, including my friend Jeff Johnson. While I do not have concrete data on how widespread the issue was, anecdotally it appears to have been a significant problem.
I have been mostly offline for about two months. Or, at least I have not been writing here like usual, nor posting on Twitter. I have been very disconnected, particularly from work but also the internet in general, starting right before WWDC this year. I still have not watched a single WWDC video, not even the keynote. I have hundreds of unread posts in my RSS reader. And, I am a month behind on reading iOS Dev Weekly.
I wrote an essay in 2018 reflecting on the 15-year anniversary of my sister’s death. I still think it’s one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve written. Today is her birthday. Amy would have turned 35.
I’m happy to share that Nimble 10.0 has been released. It includes a number of fixes, improvements, and new features. It joins the latest release of Quick. For both of these libraries, these are the first releases in almost a year.
When I first wrote about DocC, I lamented the fact that it was incompatible with static hosting on GitHub Pages. Much has changed since my last post, so let’s take a fresh look. While there have been many welcome improvements to the tool, there are a few remaining issues that prevent me from adopting it for my open source projects.
According to various reports (, , , ), GitHub is suspending accounts of Russian developers and organizations linked to or associated with organizations sanctioned by the US government over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But it appears that GitHub did not think this through entirely, because these account suspensions are fucking up my projects.
My website is still missing from DuckDuckGo’s and Bing’s search indexes. And now other sites are reporting similar issues.
If you develop for Apple platforms and use a third-party testing framework, you are very likely using Quick and Nimble. Otherwise, you have probably at least heard of them. I don’t use any third-party testing frameworks in my personal projects, but I have worked on teams that do. And I currently work on a team that uses Quick and Nimble, which is why it was important for me to get a recent critical bug fixed in Quick.
If you are using fastlane to automate your release process, you might be using the
increment_build_number actions to bump your version and build numbers, respectively. However, if your Xcode project is configured to use
xcconfig files, then you are out of luck. Shockingly, fastlane does not seem to support projects that use
xcconfig files and there is a surprising dearth of information online about how to make fastlane work with Xcode build configuration files.
My previous post sparked some questions and discussion around release branch strategies. There are two main strategies that I know about that I’ve used on different teams and projects. I think it’s worth elaborating on the differences between the two, especially when considering different types of automation for managing releases, which was the topic of my previous post.
A typical release process for Git workflows involves creating a release branch, performing various tests on that branch, and applying any necessary fixes or changes to that branch. Once stable and ready to release, you create a build from the release branch, create a git tag, and finally merge the release branch changes back into your main branch.
I discovered earlier this week that my website is no longer being indexed by Bing and DuckDuckGo. In fact, it appears that it has been deliberately removed from their search indexes. On Bing, rather than display a “no results” message, it displays a “Some results have been removed” message, which is very concerning. Notably, however, Google search is working fine.
I previously wrote about writing a custom shell command to quickly switch between Xcodes. But recently, I needed to determine the version of Swift that is bundled with Xcode — specifically the version of Swift that is shipping with the current Xcode 13.3 beta. I was pretty sure that it is Swift 5.6, but I wanted to know for certain.
I have been experiencing bizarre kernel panics with my Mac lately. I have a 2020 Intel MacBook Pro, the last Intel model before the M1 debuted. It has generally been working fine. Despite poor software quality and numerous bugs lurking around in macOS, I rarely see kernel panics anymore. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had a kernel panic before this issue. There have been no major changes on my machine and I’m on the latest version of Monterey.
In Swift there are 13 numeric types. Like most other programming languages, Swift provides signed integers of various sizes, corresponding unsigned integers, and a few floating-point types. But if you’ve been developing apps for Apple platforms for any amount of time, you’ll recognize another numeric type —
NSDecimalNumber). When we build the model layer of an app, it’s important to choose the right type for the task we want to accomplish. For example, if we are counting ticket sales for an event, then
Int (or possibly
UInt) would be the most appropriate type. But if we are calculating sales tax, then we’ll need to use a floating-point type. You likely know that
Double is more precise than
Float, but what about
Decimal? When should you reach for
A recent post from Tom Harrington explores the issues with optional and non-optional values in Core Data regarding how the framework interacts with Swift. It’s a good overview. You should read it. The post shares some workarounds to improve the situation, but I want to share how I solve these issues in a more robust way.
As a user, the recent issues with iCloud are extremely frustrating — especially if you’ve paid for iCloud and paid for apps that use iCloud. It seems like the iCloud team is having a difficult time preventing and avoiding clusterfucks. The lack of reliability should be a concern to everyone.
You may have heard that Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh passed way on January 22. A true loss. I started reading Thich Nhat Hanh a few years ago. I have especially enjoyed the Mindfulness Essentials Series, which I continue to re-read. It’s nice to read one or two passages a day as I drink tea or coffee in the mornings. His writing has had a profound impact on me, and has been incredibly helpful over the years.
Speaking of drunk software and not being in service to our possessions, Screen Time on iOS and macOS has been shockingly buggy for me lately. It reports that I spent over 22 hours on my devices in a single day last week, and nearly 10 hours on another day this week. In both instances, a significant portion of the usage is supposedly occurring after midnight.
After reading Moxie’s post about web3, I looked around and found another piece of his writing from 2012 titled, The Worst. It’s also worth reading.
I mostly avoid interacting with and discussing the world of NFTs and cryptocurrencies — it’s not for me. However, a couple of blog posts caught my attention recently and I highly recommend reading them.
In today’s issue of iOS Dev Weekly, Dave wrote “What it does prove, though, is that people don’t care much about privacy.” I agree with Dave’s sentiment here, but I don’t think this is entirely true. There is more to the story. I think people do care very much about privacy. What software over the past decade has actually proven is that people do not understand privacy — or perhaps more broadly, they do not understand software nor the various technologies they use daily.
iMessage is in the news again recently with a revival of years-old stories about “green bubbles” versus “blue bubbles” — and the social dynamics among teens who prefer blue bubbles while ostracizing their peers with green bubbles. There’s a lot to like and dislike about iMessage, but one thing that amazes me is that there is still no way to easily report abuse and the process for blocking spam is needlessly difficult.
As I wrote previously, I really like iOS App Library. Automatically organize all of my apps for me? Yes, please and thank you. However, I’ve recently experienced some bizarre bugs with it in iOS 15.
One of the things I mentioned in my Apple Watch first impressions post was how awful third-party apps seem to be. This week Uber silently dropped support for its watch app in a comically terrible way — opening the app now displays a poorly-worded message and a sad face emoji. What a ridiculous thing to do.
Well, it appears my saga of obscure errors with Time Machine continues. The first issue I had was in 2020 with macOS Catalina and “error 45”. That error was fixed (for me) in Big Sur in 2021. As of this week, the error is back, though this time on macOS Monterey.
To finish off this year, here are my most popular posts of 2021. You can find previous years here under the #top-posts tag. As you likely know, I use GoatCounter for analytics for my site. (You should check it out!) All of my analytics data is publicly available so you can view it too.
Here are the books I read this year, in 2021, the worst year of the century so far. You can find previous years here under the #reading-list tag. Similar to last year, I’m a bit disappointed in myself for continuing my trend of reading even less than the previous year. But I’m trying to not be so hard on myself. After two years of a fucking pandemic, I’ll consider literally anything an accomplishment — so managing to find the focus to finish each of these books is something for which to be grateful.
Despite the many things about Apple Watch that I enjoy, there is one major issue — wrist tattoos. For users like me, the full functionality of Apple Watch is still encumbered by wrist tattoos. Specifically, wrist detection fails to work properly.
I decided to finally get my first Apple Watch with the Series 7 this year. I am typically never one to get a first-generation product — my first iPod back in the day was the iPod Photo and my first iPhone was the 3G (or maybe the 3GS?) — but I rarely wait this long if I’m interested in something. The original Apple Watch had little appeal to me at the time, and the mere existence of the $10,000 gold Edition model made the entire thing feel all the more ridiculous. But over the years as the watch hardware and watchOS improved, and as I got more into fitness, I became more interested. I’ve always felt like there’s a lot of hype around the Apple Watch — people really seem to love it. After wearing and using one for about two months, now I understand. It’s pretty damn good.
As many of you know, this site is open source. Most of the time, this does not cause any trouble. But occasionally, it does.
Everyone in tech seems to have a “terrible tech interview” story. The topic quietly orbits in the ether of our industry and periodically bursts through the atmosphere in the form of a tweet or blog post that goes viral. Despite universal loathing of our industry’s impetuous and heedless interview processes, few seem willing to improve the current standard. A recent tweet in my timeline reminded me of a story that I’ve never told.
Sometimes living in the Bay Area, the home of Dreamforce, is like sleep walking through life. Mostly because you want to fall asleep when a nearby stranger starts talking about their new startup idea or how cryptocurrency is definitely not a pyramid scheme.
Bob Black published his essay The Abolition of Work in 1985, though it is as prescient as ever. You can find it freely available at The Anarchist Library. As you might anticipate, it is a critique and criticism of work. The first sentence of the essay is “No one should ever work.” — a sentiment I fully endorse and which I suspect the careerist workaholics in Silicon Valley will shun as sacrilege.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about this bizarre Xcode 13 crash when running tests. I just discovered the root cause for one of the issues I mentioned in that post — I think. At the very least, I have a “fix”. The issue happens when running unit tests. Sometimes the full test suite will complete, sometimes not, and then LLDB will crash. This occurs with all of my projects. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, the crash always happens. It has been driving me crazy.
Peter Kropotkin wrote and first published The Wage System in La Revolte in 1888. It was translated for Freedom newspaper in 1889. Surprisingly, the essay is not available at The Anarchist Library. However, you can find it in Why Work? Arguments for the Leisure Society, a collection of essays (re)published by PM Press. The essays focus on dissecting “work”, its form under capitalism, and the possibilities for an alternative society.
If you are working on a multiplatform SwiftUI project, you will start accumulating
#if os() checks and
#if canImport() checks. Overtime, these start to accumulate and — in addition to being unsightly — they make your code much more difficult to read. When possible, I have started to encapsulate these preprocessor directives to improve code organization and readability.
As of iOS 14 and macOS 11, you can define the entry-point and app lifecycle of your app in SwiftUI with the
App protocol instead of using the traditional
UIApplicationDelegate protocol from UIKit. However, SwiftUI is still missing the majority of APIs from UIKit. For any serious app, you’ll need to provide an app delegate.
This post started out as a “how to” for SwiftUI, but as I started testing and verifying I realized it is just an Xcode 13 bug. Historically, if you wanted to restrict your iOS app to specific device orientations, you would check or uncheck the various “Device Orientation” options in your project settings. You can find these by selecting your Xcode Project > App Target > “General” tab.
I’ve spent this past week diving into SwiftUI, seriously, for the first time. As you know, I’ve been keeping my eye on it since it was released, but I’ve avoided it due to a combination of hesitancy, apprehension, and just being too busy with other projects and work. However, while taking some time off from contracting work, I decided to dive in.
I’ve decided to deprecate one of my open source libraries, PresenterKit. The library has been in a sort of “maintenance mode” for awhile now. It never really became what I hoped and anticipated. I think it implemented some neat ideas and helped removed some boilerplate from UIKit, but I don’t think what it provided necessarily justified a library anymore — at least not given the lack of activity around the project.
I discovered a bug in Xcode 13 where tests crash for framework projects, preventing unit tests from successfully running on CI. The issue is due to some obscure code signing or debugger error that did not occur on Xcode 12. Fortunately, I have found a workaround.
I came across a situation today where I needed to run an iOS test suite for a Swift Package. Previously, this required you to have an Xcode project but it no longer does.
Ever so often an iOS developer asks me how to get started with making their own blog or portfolio website. Or, I’ll see a software developer from another community on Twitter ask the same thing. Often they are earlier in their career, or unfamiliar with web development, or unsure whether to build from scratch or use a platform, or all of the above. I find myself consistently making the same recommendations to folks. For this post, I want to share what I think is a great approach to get started, and how you can dive deeper once you master the basics.
In last week’s issue of iOS Dev Weekly, Dave linked to this tweet from Mohammad Azam, which linked to this StackOverflow post on resetting your app between UI tests by completely deleting it. It’s a very clever idea! This post offers an improved version of the code and some thoughts on when to use this.
After the second worst fire season ever recorded, we are now facing unprecedented disastrous storms in California. I was watching reports last night from various local Bay Area news stations. In one segment, a reporter casually mentioned that police would be doing extra patrols to prevent looting. The same thing happened in Louisiana. Don’t let them loot, they said, as their streets became rivers.
Using git aliases came up at work the other day. It’s been awhile since I’ve written about git, so I thought it might be a good time to share all the aliases I’ve built up over the years.
Periodically, I go back to add updates to older posts. I’ve been doing this for some time now, although not as often as I would like. I aspire to be as good and diligent as Michael Tsai, but that’s an incredibly high bar. (How does he do it?!)
This post continues from my earlier post on label-based GitHub Actions workflows. A common and tedious task in a typical pull request workflow is updating your branch with changes from the default branch of your repo. In many scenarios, you may want to rebase your pull request on the main branch or merge the main branch into your pull request.
Here in Oakland and the rest of the Bay Area, more and more restaurants, bars, venues, and various events are requiring that people show proof of vaccine before entering. (As it should be.) Thankfully, all businesses and events allow showing proof digitally rather than carrying around your physical COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card from the CDC. This means you can take a photo with your phone and present that instead of your singular paper copy. This is great, but the tediousness of tapping around my phone to find and display it has been annoying. So, I made an iOS shortcut to present it instantly.
My current team has started using GitHub Actions to automate some tedious tasks for pull requests. In particular, we use labels on GitHub to categorize pull requests or highlight important metadata about them. Most of the time, a machine can figure out which labels are appropriate to add or remove. This is a great use case for GitHub Actions.
When GitHub actions first launched, the recommended way to cache your Bundler dependencies was to use GitHub’s cache action. However, that is no longer the case. You should be using the Ruby team’s setup-ruby action instead.
After I wrote and released Foil, my library for implementing a property wrapper for
UserDefaults, one of the criticisms on Twitter was that a mechanism for observing such properties should have been included. I disagreed. In the post I argued that this was easy enough for clients to handle on their own, but more importantly that there are too many options for how to do this and I didn’t think Foil should impose any one of them on clients.
I previously wrote about implementing Dark Mode in an older codebase, specifically how Dark Mode works (or doesn’t) with
CGColor. I recently fixed a bug in the same project that was difficult to track down because it manifested in such a strange way. After finding the problematic code, I realized that it is an extremely common scenario in iOS codebases — so you might have this bug in your code as well!
I was recently working on a project that uses modern collection views on iOS — that is, using diffable data sources, snapshots, and cell providers. I hooked up all the components and my collection view was working, or so I thought. I started to notice some very odd, unpredictable behavior when the collection view was updated. Some of the time, the cells were updated correctly. Other times, I would see duplicates and missing data. Here’s what went wrong.
This year at WWDC, some significant improvements and changes were announced for
UITableView. You can watch 10252: Make blazing fast lists and collection views for all the details, but I want to highlight some of them here.
I’ve been following what’s going on with SwiftUI since it was released with iOS 13 at WWDC 2019 and have even taken extensive notes, but I have avoided using it. As I wrote before, I mainly wanted to avoid dealing with bugs and workarounds that might make me less productive compared to using UIKit, which I know quite well. I’m very interested in learning and using it, I’m just hesitant given some of Apple’s history, like early years of Swift. I have no doubt that SwiftUI will be the future of Apple platform development, the question is when that future will arrive. This year the framework is debuting its third major release in iOS 15. How far has SwiftUI come, and is it ready for building serious apps?
I recently became acquainted with The United Front Against Displacement at an event in Oakland. UFAD is an anti-gentrification organization and there is a Bay Area chapter along with chapters in a few other major cities.
I was very excited at this year’s WWDC when Apple announced DocC, their new “Documentation Compiler” tool that generates documentation from comments in your source code. Unfortunately, it’s not going to work for the majority of open source authors.
Lately I’ve been upgrading and making improvements to my website and blog. As part of that work, I was updating and refining how my RSS feed gets generated with Jekyll. And then I realized something that I had not given much thought to previously. When including the full content of blog posts in an RSS feed, if you link to other posts or pages on your site should you be using absolute URLs or are relative URLs ok?
For the past few weeks I have been debating on whether or not to distribute a new Mac app via the Mac App Store or independently. I have arrived at a crossroads in development where I need to make this decision. I am mostly code-complete for my MVP 1.0 release. The question I am facing is how I want to spend the remainder of my time to cross the finish line.
I think App Library is one of the best features added to iOS in the past few years. I’m not being sarcastic, I know some folks dislike it. However, I absolutely loathe trying to organize apps on my phone into folders, because many apps do not have a singular, definitive category.
I upgraded to Big Sur three months ago. I know I’m (fashionably?) late to this party, but here I am. This is the longest I have ever waited to upgrade macOS. It feels weird, considering WWDC is next week where we will see what is next for macOS. Big Sur still feels new to me, and announcing the next major release already feels too soon. I was avoiding Big Sur based on various reports about bugs and instability. There were not any ‘killer’ features I was eager to have, thus the main reason I upgraded was because Xcode 12.5 required it.
Previously, I wrote about Time Machine “error 45”, an obscure bug in macOS Catalina. I still have no idea what was causing backups to fail, nor what “error 45” means. However, I am happy to report that I think this issue has been fixed in Big Sur.
A few months ago, I shared my notes and resources for learning about compilers and LLVM. It turned out to be pretty popular and folks seemed to find it useful. So I decided to do it again, but this time for SwiftUI. However, unlike learning about compilers and LLVM, I am not declaring bankruptcy with learning SwiftUI. While I have still not written a single line of SwiftUI code, I know I eventually will.
Despite the fact that closures (and functions) are reference types in Swift, they cannot be compared using
===. But why?
One aspect of using OmniFocus involves maintaining an archive of your data (if you choose). Over time — think years of using OmniFocus as your main task management tool — your local database of projects and tasks will grow very large, because OmniFocus keeps a record of everything you have completed or dropped. You can think of it as archiving your emails instead of putting them in the trash.
Over the past few years, Apple seems increasingly willing to cooperate with authoritarian governments, uninterested in protecting its own users, and unwilling to actually standup for human rights in broad terms, as often portrayed by its marketing department or direct statements from CEO Tim Cook.
UserDefaults is one of the most misused APIs on Apple platforms. Specifically, most developers do not handle default values correctly. In fact, I have never worked on a single production codebase at a company where this was done accurately. Most libraries get it wrong, too.
Lately, it feels like every few days someone is sharing a new Xcode tip on Twitter or on their blog. They range from hidden settings to features I simply never knew about. I started saving links and planned to add a new “Xcode tips” section to my TIL repo on GitHub to reference later. But as I started, I realized that the resulting markdown file would not be easily discoverable or shareable. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if the iOS and macOS developer community had a single place to find and share Xcode tips?
As I continue to pursue Mac app development more seriously, I can build on and borrow from my many years of iOS experience. While many aspects of writing Mac apps are very similar to iOS, or at least somewhat familiar, other aspects are quite different. One of the big differences is testing, and deciding how many versions of macOS to support.
I have a few Swift scripts to automate tedious tasks for maintaining my blog. I updated one today to use pipes. It took me a minute to figure out, because it did not feel very intuitive. I’m not sure if I feel that way because the interface is actually that clunky, or if I’m just inexperienced with Swift scripting. In any case, here’s how it works.
Xcode’s UI testing framework has had its ups and downs over the years. Most recently, it has been much more robust and reliable in my experience. However, tests still tend to flake sometimes. Here are some ways that I have been able to reduce flakiness in UI tests.
I did not expect that I would have to follow-up on yesterday’s essay so soon, but I can’t say I’m surprised. In the past 24 hours, there were two mass shootings in the US. It is shocking and horrifying, yet somehow entirely predictable.
I have been periodically deleting my tweets for a while now. Yesterday, I finally found a reliable solution for deleting my Twitter “likes” as well and I spent some time deleting all of them. Long ago, I also deleted all of my content on Facebook and Instagram. If you are interested in purging your social media accounts, here are some options.
Oakland has been anything but normal over the past year during the pandemic. But we are starting to see glimpses of normality. Little by little, the whole country is returning to “business as usual”, as they say. And the first real indication that normality is on the horizon for the US was a recent story out of Arkansas.
This post is mostly for posterity, for anyone currently experiencing these bugs on macOS, and to praise Titanium Software’s excellent Mac utility app OnyX.
The Touch Bar on my MacBook started freezing and experiencing UI glitches recently. It was completely unresponsive. At the time, the only way I knew to fix it was to reboot my entire machine, which felt ridiculous. Luckily, there is a better way.
I’ve written about my web host before. I’ve used NearlyFreeSpeech.net for years. It’s very “bare bones”, very DIY, and very no-bullshit. I highly recommend them, especially if you only need to host a static site. It is so inexpensive you could say it’s nearly free.
Earlier this year, I decided to re-implement analytics for my site after discovering a viable privacy-aware (and open-source!) alternative to the user-hostile spyware garbage that we call Google Analytics. I have really enjoyed using GoatCounter and I highly recommend it. Now that I have this data, I thought it would be fun to share my top 10 most popular posts in 2020.
Continuing my (still somewhat recent) tradition, here are the books I read in 2020. You can find previous years under the #reading-list tag. I really thought I was going to be able to read a lot more this year, but fuck this pandemic and fuck 2020 all around. There were many weeks where I simply could not focus on much of anything.
Today I cleaned up my various projects and todo’s in OmniFocus. I am always collecting links and resources for potential project ideas, or for general learning. Sometimes, however, it is best to acknowledge that I will likely never have enough free time to even begin some of these endeavors.
As a brief follow-up to my previous post, I thought it would be helpful to enumerate the various types of “self” in Swift. It is an overloaded term. As we’ve seen, it can be quite confusing.
This is a first for me. I returned to my MacBook after leaving it for a couple of hours, and it was shutdown even though I left it powered on. The machine was idle. I didn’t have any specific tasks running. I figured it might have been a macOS kernel panic, but upon rebooting I discovered that the crash was caused by bridgeOS.
Last month, the largest strike in history occurred in India, breaking the record for the second time.
This is a quick follow-up to my previous post. The client project I’m working on is also using Bitrise for CI, which I must say is quite good. If you are looking for a hosted CI service I would highly recommend checking them out.
Part of the joy of having a ‘bare bones’ DIY host is that sometimes you have to figure shit out on your own. I am not a great web developer, nor a Ruby expert. But, I learn more each time something breaks — you know, Type II fun. Most recently, I came to understand and fix a new error on my web server:
env: ruby26: No such file or directory.
After reading my recent satire piece, a good friend of mine (and tech worker) asked if I had a list of books or other resources to learn more about labor history and capitalism in the United States, and how the tech industry operates in this broader context. I had been meaning to write about this, and I figured others would likely be interested, too. So, if you are interested in these topics then this is post for you!
Dear COMPANY NAME team:
Hello employees — or should I say independent contractors?! (More on that shortly.) I’m writing to you from my second mansion located in ECONOMICALLY DESTABILIZED COUNTRY IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH EXPLOITED BY UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM! I see the poor children here, and it just reminds me how privileged all of us are to live in a virtuous place like Silicon Valley (at least when I’m there, lol) where we pretend homeless people simply don’t exist. And if they do, it’s because they didn’t try hard enough to do a startup or they didn’t have enough generational wealth to do financial crimes.
In today’s episode of Swift Unwrapped, JP and I had Jordan Rose on the show to discuss his recent blog posts on implementing the Swift runtime in Swift.
I was never a fan of failable initializers in Swift. I do not think this is the correct place to fail and return
nil most of the time. Of course, there are exceptions where a failable initializer is appropriate. But there is another behavior of which to be aware. When constructing a class via a failable initializer,
init?() — or a throwing initializer,
init() throws — the deinitializer,
deinit, is not called if initialization fails or throws, respectively.
You know, the thing that is actually most disheartening, disappointing, frustrating, and plainly sad about Apple’s surprise announcement today is that we will not receive any sort of response to our collective dismay. There will be no public acknowledgment, much less an apology (not that it would help much). Only silence.
Today Apple announced at their media event that the final public release of iOS 14 ships tomorrow, which came as quite a shock to all third-party developers.
I’m currently reading Marquis Bey’s Anarcho-Blackness: Notes Toward a Black Anarchism. These are some reflections on and excerpts from the fourth chapter, titled Unpropertied. This post comes against the backdrop of continued protests and uprisings here in Oakland and the rest of the Bay Area in solidarity with Minneapolis, Kenosha, and the broader fight against police violence.
Out of nowhere today, when I tried to run
pod install on my machine, it could not be found. Uh… what?
A while ago, GitHub added a new option for “watching” repositories, the setting that determines which events on a project trigger a notification for you.
Xcode 12 was released and it includes a change to how tabs and navigation work. In Xcode 12, the tabs have their own tabs. It makes no sense to me. I know we are supposed to be nice to each other about software, but this new UI/UX is beyond incomprehensible. What made it worse is that this new “tabs within tabs” was the default setting (overriding preferences I had previously set) and I could not figure out how to restore the previous (desired) behavior.
The release notes for Xcode 12 beta state that the release “supports on-device debugging for iOS 9 and later, tvOS 9 and later, and watchOS 2 and later.” I am not sure if that means support for building and deploying for iOS 8 is completely removed, but it sounds like it. Who is still deploying to iOS 8, anyway?
This is a brief follow-up to the post I wrote about Time Machine failing on macOS Catalina.
While debugging some code the other day, I wanted to verify the behavior of global variables and static members in Swift. I vaguely remembered from the early days of Swift, that
static let members and global constants were atomic and computed lazily — one of the many improvements over Objective-C.
I like to keep my devices for a long time — as long as possible, actually. I do not need (nor want) a new iPhone and MacBook every year, or even every other year. (Or more!) Putting Apple’s issues aside, the company is quite good at keeping old hardware running the latest software, and generally their hardware is very high quality (except for the utter clusterfuck that was “keyboard gate”). I find it pretty easy to keep devices for 4-6 years, if they are taken care of.
I try to have only one Xcode installed at a time for simplicity and tidiness. But such a setup is rare as we often must manage stable releases and beta versions simultaneously.
Swift’s strict initialization rules are great. They help prevent an entire category of bugs that were especially common in Objective-C. However, when working with Objective-C frameworks, particularly
UIKit, these rules can be frustrating.
I am infuriated. Yesterday morning I woke up to the news that in my hometown of Louisville, KY Breonna Taylor was murdered by the police while she was sleeping. Because she was Black. She was shot 8 times. I do not need to list the names of every innocent and unarmed (or sleeping!) Black human being who has been murdered on the streets or in their own homes by the police in this country. You already know them. This has happened so many times before, from the lynchings in the 1800s to LA in 1992 to Louisville today.
The other day Slack went down and I tweeted to express my dissatisfaction and sarcastically comment that non-native apps are the future. I should have known it would get as much attention as a tweet about Elon Musk. People argued about the merits of native versus non-native app development, which seems like a never-ending a controversy. However, I really do not care which technologies are used to make an app. I only care about the quality of an app and the user experience it provides — which is the problem with Slack.
I removed Google Analytics on this site over two years ago. It was doing more harm than good. I did not want to jeopardize readers’ privacy. I did not want to be part of the bullshit web. I did not want to contribute to Google’s massive data collection and its take over of the open web. I did not want to be Google’s product. (Because fuck Google.)
I rarely even looked at those analytics back then. However, since going independent last year, I have more interest in knowing and understanding the traffic on this site. I found a fantastic solution for analytics that is simple, private, and open source called GoatCounter.
I am happy to share that I was just approved for GitHub sponsors. You can now support my open source work and GitHub will match contributions for the first year.
A fews days ago I changed the permalink structure on my site. I think everything went smoothly, because it looks like no one noticed, which is exactly what you want to happen with a potentially breaking change like that.
Today I am deprecating my open source library, JSQDataSourcesKit. I have already marked the CocoaPod as deprecated and archived the repo on GitHub. I will not be taking additional contributions.
I few months ago I wrote a script to override status bar display settings in the iOS simulator using the new
simctl status_bar feature in Xcode 11. This was great, but it still required that you manually run the script after launching simulators. This was not ideal, as Dave pointed out in iOS Dev Weekly when he challenged me to automate this anytime a simulator launches.
It is clear that the current administration is not interested in providing aid and support for our communities in response to this public health crisis. They have no plan. Some state governments are stepping up, though not enough, while others are laughably incompetent.
When I first upgraded to macOS Catalina, there was a “Relocated Items” folder on the desktop. Well, actually it was an alias to
/Users/Shared/Relocated Items/. This was expected, given the new “security features” in Catalina, which includes a new read-only system volume. What I did not expect was to see this folder reappear with every single update.
I have started using GitHub Actions for CI for my newer open source projects. I recently setup Danger for the first time on GitHub Actions and it was quite easy. Here is how to do it.
I’ve been working on two small libraries for building menu bar Mac apps and now they are both open source with initial 1.0 releases.
For an iOS project that I am currently working on, I am implementing Dark Mode. The codebase is approaching 7 years old, it is mostly Swift with some legacy Objective-C, and it currently supports iOS 11 and above. Aside from the tedium of ensuring the updated colors are being used throughout the codebase, I expected this task to be straight-forward. However, there were some unanticipated issues.
I recently wrote about using SwiftPM instead of CocoaPods, which included a list of pros and cons. While working on one of my projects that is using SwiftPM, I realized another issue with how SwiftPM currently integrates with Xcode.
JetBrains recently released a new typeface for developers and I wanted to give it a try. I switched to JetBrains Mono in my two primary editors, Xcode and Sublime Text. Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I think it is a great typeface. But I quickly discovered that I hate ligatures.
Last year Xcode 11 was released with integrated support for the Swift Package Manager. For a couple of small projects of mine, I decided to try using it to manage dependencies instead of CocoaPods. Overall, using SwiftPM was a great user experience, but (as expected) it has clear shortcomings due to its lack of maturity.
I recently discovered that unit tests and UI tests for a macOS Xcode project will fail with obscure error messages if the hardened runtime is enabled. It took me awhile to realize what the actual source of the problem was, because the error messages led me in the wrong direction. Hopefully this will save you some time.
Every open-source author, maintainer, and contributor knows the importance of fostering a positive environment for collaboration and providing adequate resources for folks to seek help and contribute in a meaningful way. These resources include providing a Code of Conduct, a Contributing Guide, issue templates, and more. GitHub refers to this collection of documents as community health files, and they have been slowly improving their support for them. I recently spent some time creating defaults for these files, including crafting a completely new Contributing Guide for all of my projects.
Xcode has a great UI for setting and editing breakpoints. I use breakpoints all the time while working and debugging, but I want to share another, unconventional way that I use them.
I love OmniFocus. It is an indispensable app for me and a great Mac app. For managing and organizing to-do lists and personal projects, there is nothing better. Being a great Mac app means adopting behaviors that users expect, conforming to macOS UI/UX paradigms, and for the truly great mac apps it means being scriptable. I want to share two AppleScripts that I wrote for OmniFocus to automate one of my common workflows.
I recently needed to determine when the user has manually switched between dark mode and light mode on macOS. In my menu bar app, Lucifer, the icon reflects the current appearance setting when you change it from the app — an inverted pentagram for dark mode and an upright pentagram for light mode. But there’s a bug. If the user manually changes the appearance setting from System Preferences, or if they are using the new “auto” setting in macOS Catalina, the icon gets stuck in its previous state.
I have started using GitHub Actions for CI on a new project as a replacement for my usual setup on Travis CI. It generally seems to be much faster and more reliable so far. It also has an equivalent feature set, as far as I can tell. But one issue that I have run into is selecting a specific Xcode version, which is a bit cumbersome and not fully documented.
Here’s the list of books I read in 2019. (You can find my 2018 list here.) They are roughly ordered by how much I liked them, and grouped by non-fiction and fiction.
I recently wrote about overriding iOS simulator status bar display settings using
simctl status_bar. In that post I provided some ways we can improve the tool, but I realized we can do even better.
The Bay Area Council Economic Institute recently released a report titled Bay Area Homelessness: A Regional View of a Regional Crisis. Unfortunately, I did not have time to read the entire report, but the executive summary contains some interesting bits. If you have time to read at least that, I’d recommend it.
Notes and excerpts from The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.
Unfortunately, iCloud does not have a good reputation for being reliable, especially during beta releases of iOS and macOS. Yet a lot people still use it, often without any problems. I still use it, despite a few bad experiences in the past, because the best alternatives are questionable for other reasons. I’ve had good luck with iCloud Drive for the past few years, but I am terrified and paranoid of getting caught in the middle of an iCloud clusterfuck, so I backup what I have in iCloud periodically using
With version 11 of Xcode, the IDE ships with a new feature in the
simctl tool that can override status bar values for iOS simulators. This allows you to take better screenshots for the App Store without having to worrying about the time, battery level, etc. It is a great improvement, but there are some significant shortcomings. I’ve written a script to fix at least some of those.
As some of you may know, I recently quit my job in San Francisco to pursue personal projects, freedom (sort of) from our collective capitalist nightmare, and self-determination. But I’ll write more on that later. This post is about dealing with health care as an independent software developer in the United States.
JP and I released a special, off-schedule episode of Swift Unwrapped today. We welcomed Doug Gregor from the Swift Core Team back to the show to discuss the major new features coming in Swift 5.1.
I’m excited to share that my good friend and talented artist, Lisa Sy, and I have released a new sticker pack for iMessage! It is based on her excellent web comic, plurals and noun — a comic about queer and weird things that happen. It’s free and you can download it here.
I recently released a menu bar Mac app called Red Eye. It’s free and you can download it here. It prevents your Mac from going to sleep. Yes, it is a clone of the beloved Caffeine. And yes, it is the second menu bar app that I’ve made recently. It is notarized by Apple, so you shouldn’t have any problems installing it. I hope you enjoy it!
I’ve been eating vegetarian (and often vegan) for a decade now. I don’t talk about it much. This is a choice I’ve made for myself and my own reasons. What I never imagined happening is the growing popularity and wide availability of vegan/vegetarian food. It is simply remarkable.
I just pushed a small update to Lucifer. You can download it here.
Continuing from my previous post, there is a bug in
NSStatusItem that I forgot to mention. Thanks to Michael Tsai (tweet) for pointing out this workaround.
This isn’t complicated, but I found it confusing. Perhaps I am spoiled by the more modern APIs in
UIKit. When writing Lucifer, a menu bar app, I wanted to have different actions for left-clicking and right-clicking on the button in the menu bar. To my surprise, this was much more cumbersome than I expected.
I deleted my LinkedIn account, well sort of. I kept my account open, which I will explain below, but I left it mostly empty. You could say I am now officially linked out.
A friend recently sent me The short instructional manifesto for relationship anarchy by Andie Nordgren. It is short and a good primer on relationship anarchy if you are not familiar. Take a look.
I made my first Mac app — Lucifer. It is a menu bar app that allows you toggle Dark Mode on and off in macOS Mojave. To be honest, it feels like a stretch to actually call this a Mac app. It is less than 100 lines of code in a single
AppDelegate.swift file and the meat of the program is an AppleScript that tells System Preferences to enable or disable Dark Mode. As an iOS developer, much of the experience was familiar. The most salient aspect, however, was learning the frustrating and obscure details of app sandboxing, the “hardened runtime”, and app notarization — altogether it was like visiting hell and giving Satan a bubble bath. Appropriate, I suppose.
I intend to start a new series of posts called Reading Notes where I publish notes, excerpts, and thoughts on what I’m currently reading. My goals are to better document my notes and thoughts on what I’m reading for my future self, and give myself a reason to write more blog posts (in general, but also more non-technical ones). I also hope to inspire you, dear reader, to read some of these books and essays.
I tweeted a joke about estimating software engineering projects while I was at work during a team meeting for a retrospective on a project we recently shipped. The project was not completed within our original estimations. (Did I even need to say that?)
Here’s the list of the books I read in 2018. There are 36 in total. At first it seemed like a small number to me. However, that averages to three books per month, which actually feels like a lot. In fact, I’m not sure I could read more than three books each month. There was never a time last year when I wasn’t reading something, and I often read multiple books at once.
Over a weekend recently I built a tiny Mac app (more on that later). What I was trying to achieve required executing AppleScript, like so many things on macOS. It seemed simple enough, but of course new app sandboxing restrictions in macOS Mojave got in the way.
The other day I was debugging a crash in a UI test for an open pull request at work. The bug turned out to be extremely subtle and difficult to notice. I spent way too much time staring at the changes, trying to understand what was wrong. Let’s see if you can spot the error.
There’s a place called North Berkeley Frame in downtown Berkeley on Shattuck. It’s a framing shop and gallery (sort of) run by this guy named Lars. He’s older, probably mid-fifties or early sixties. He has gray hair, a gray beard, and a gentle face. I’ve had him frame some prints and other artwork for me. He’s always helpful in choosing the right frame, and his work is excellent. Like many older folks I know, he loves to talk.
Fifteen years ago today my sister died. Most people don’t know about her — Amy. I don’t talk about her much, because talking about death makes people uncomfortable, especially when the loss was so traumatic for those left behind. I was 14, she was 16. It feels like it happened a lifetime ago and that it just happened yesterday, all at once.
I haven’t read the book, The Four Agreements, but I will eventually. However, simply knowing what the Four Agreements are has been tremendously helpful for me. They may help you, too. I want to write them down to share, but also to remember them better and have a reference to revisit in the future.
A common scenario in app development is to build up a list of objects, perhaps to display to the user or for another purpose. Maybe you’re fetching data from a database to display, or constructing fields to display for an interface. Consider the iOS Calendar app, for example. When you add a new calendar event, the form displays all the fields you can fill-in — title, location, date and time, notes, etc. However, when viewing an existing event all you see are the completed fields while the uncompleted fields are hidden.
The mayor of San Francisco called out feces on the sidewalks as a core problem to address in the city and wants homeless folks to “at least have respect” and “clean up after themselves”. It’s an unfortunate response, but I’m sure a lot of folks agree with the sentiment. No one relishes walking through the dirty streets in this city and it certainly is a concern, but this kind of rhetoric is actively harmful. It deliberately shifts responsibility for the problem onto the victims and away from the system that produced it. Homeless folks are among the most vulnerable in our society. In addition to their lack of housing, persistent precarity, mental health issues, and emotional struggles, the city is now going to ask them for respect and cleanliness?
One of the major changes in Swift 4.2 is a change to the calling convention. But what exactly does that mean? Why is it important and why would you want to change it?
I’ve known about the Tor Project for a long time, but I guess it’s been awhile. 😅 The last time I was actively using Tor was with Vidalia, which was apparently discontinued about 5 to 6 years ago. Ha! Whoops.
Net Neutrality is officially over in the US. As the EFF notes, it will likely manifest as a slow, painful decline of the Internet. We can call congress to demand that they reverse the decision and act in the interests of the people. But whether or not that succeeds, everyone should be using a VPN regularly now to fight against the growing threats of Internet surveillance and censorship. We know better than to trust corporations and governments.
I finished reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. You should read it. As well as We Should All Be Feminists while you’re at it.
Swift Unwrapped recorded two episodes in the Podcast studio at WWDC this year. We had Greg Heo on to talk about our reactions to the announcements from the Keynote and Platforms State of the Union. Then we discussed Swift 4.2 and beyond with Ted Kremenek.
I recently discovered a preference in Xcode’s Navigation settings that makes the ‘Assistant Editor’ much more useful, especially when writing Swift.
I had a great time at WWDC this year, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. Those experiences are the ones that matter the most to me. The newly announced tech is interesting and fun, but ultimately fleeting and ephemeral.
In a recent episode of the podcast, JP and I discussed the implicit escaping of closures in Swift. As Swift has matured and evolved, the default behavior of closure parameters in functions has changed. Prior to Swift 3, closures parameters were escaping by default. After SE-103, the default was changed to non-escaping.
I’ve removed Google Analytics from this site. I was in a similar situation as Ash Furrow, who just wrote about doing this. I’m removing it because it simply causes more harm than good.
I just updated my blog to use Bootstrap 4.1 from v3.3.7. Its a major version with lots of breaking changes, so it took me a few hours over a few Saturday afternoons to get everything fixed up. That’s also partially why I missed posting something last month.
I’m not interested in being an advertising product for Google to exploit. I’m also not interested in the company’s unsavory practices, in general. I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for over a year now, and I’m incredibly happy with it as a replacement for Google Search — not only for personal usage, but also for implementing a custom search component for this site.
When you file a radar for a bug on one of Apple’s platforms, you should (usually) always attach a sysdiagnose. A sysdiagnose provides a lot of helpful information for the person who is trying to understand how the bug happened. Amongst other things, it contains logs from various parts of the OS, and all recent crash logs. Without it, the person on the other end of your report inside Apple may not be of much help. On macOS running sysdiagnose is somewhat common, but what about iOS?
Next week’s issue of Swift Weekly Brief will be its 100th and final issue. I started this newsletter a little over two years ago, covering the initial open sourcing of Swift, the 3.0 release, the 4.0 release, and many significant milestones in-between for the language and the community. With few exceptions, there was a new issue every week thanks to the other amazing writers and contributors. The newsletter quickly became an important resource for the Swift community. Because of this, I’m sure many of you will be saddened to hear that the 100th issue will be the last. At least, Issue #100 will be the last issue for me, for now — but if someone from the community is willing to take over this project, it can continue.
ε. The fifth letter of the Greek alphabet. In calculus, an arbitrarily small positive quantity. In formal language theory, the empty string. In the theory of computation, the empty transition of an automaton. In the ISO C Standard,
1.19e-07 for single precision and
2.22e-16 for double precision.
The other day I was attempting to use
FLT_EPSILON (which I later learned was laughably incorrect) when the Swift 4 compiler emitted a warning saying that
FLT_EPSILON is deprecated and to use
.ulpOfOne instead. What the hell is
ulpOfOne? I read the documentation and then everything made sense — ha, just kidding. The
FloatingPoint.ulpOfOne docs generously describe the static variable as the unit in the last place of 1.0 — whatever that means. Let’s find out.
PlanGrid is a productivity app for construction fieldworkers. The easiest way to explain it to software developers is that it’s like an IDE, Git, and GitHub or JIRA — but for construction. Think of all the amazing software tools we have to do our jobs as programmers. The equivalent tools for construction simply did not exist before PlanGrid, and they still have a lot of room to grow.
As software developers, we build software for specific purposes. We anticipate that people will use an app in certain ways. Yet, we often discover that users are behaving differently than we expected. They hack a custom, “unsupported” workflow to workaround an app’s unintended limitations. Once we realize this, we have the power to turn these user workarounds into first-class features. However, sometimes we find that our apps are being used in totally different, unimaginable ways.
At PlanGrid, we recently discovered that the app was being used as a digital archaeological tool.
The Swift type-checker remains a performance bottleneck for compile times, though it has improved tremendously over the past two years. You could even say the type-checker has gone from being drunk to sober. To help users debug these issues, awhile back Jordan Rose added a frontend Swift compiler flag that would emit warnings in Xcode for functions that took too long to compile, or rather took too long to type-check. In Xcode 9, there’s a new, similar flag for checking expressions.
This site used to be hosted via GitHub Pages, but I decided to move to a dedicated host to have more control over how I develop and deploy the site, and how it’s configured. A number of limitations and quirks eventually drove me to migrate away from GitHub pages to my excellent and inexpensive bare-bones host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net. I was also interested in learning to do all of this on my own, rather than relying on GitHub Pages “magic”. If you’re looking to setup your own Jekyll-powered site, or if you’re looking to migrate off of GitHub Pages, hopefully this is helpful.
Data & Society recently released a stunning report, Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. I highly suggest you read it if you care about understanding the rise of neo-fascism, the ‘fake news’ phenomenon, and manipulation of the media that plagued the 2016 US Presidential Election — and how Silicon Valley, particularly social media platforms, facilitated the rise of the alt-right movement and the spread of fascist propaganda. Don’t let the more than 100 pages deter you. The core report is only 50 pages, followed by a few pages of case studies, and finally a whopping 45 pages of citations and bibliography. (Direct download)
The Swift community has been through some rough migrations. It is frustrating when your project no longer compiles because of API and syntax changes, but it is an entirely different story when your project seg faults the compiler. When that happens, you cannot simply run a migration tool or apply fix-its — your project is broken and there’s little you can do until a fix is released. This is why the swift-source-compat-suite project was created.
Beginning immediately, JSQMessagesViewController is no longer officially supported or maintained. In fact, you may have noticed that it has been neglected for the past year. The most recent release was published almost exactly one year ago today. This is an incredibly difficult post for me to write and I have not made this decision carelessly. This open source project had a great run. There was (and still is) a great community around it, and I’m sorry for bringing this to an end.
Protocols in Swift and Objective-C are a powerful tool to decouple your code. They allow you to specify a contract between classes that consume them, but defer a concrete implementation to conformers. They allow you to segregate interfaces and invert control. One interesting aspect of protocols in Swift and Objective-C is that protocol members can be optional (
optional in Swift or
@optional in Objective-C). Unfortunately, this comes with a number of disadvantages and diminishes the robustness of your code, so it is often avoided. However, having optional members is sometimes the right conceptual model for your design. How can you design your protocols to provide optional semantics without specifying them as
In a previous post I discussed strategies for using singletons in a cleaner, more modular way. Singletons are a fact of software development, especially in iOS. Sometimes the design pattern actually is the right tool for the job. In those situations, how we can improve the way we write our own singleton classes?
Earlier this week, the Tech Workers Coalition and UNITE HERE! in San Francisco hosted a panel discussion on how we can use our power as consumers to support hotel workers in the Bay Area and across the United States. The tech industry is full of remote workers, as well as conference organizers that host thousands of conferences each year — meaning thousands of programmers, designers, product managers, and others travel all the time to attend these conferences or attend their own company’s events. By choosing to stay at a fair hotel, you can make a significant impact on an industry where workers are struggling to negotiate fair wages and benefits.
There has been a ton of debate on the swift-evolution mailing lists about access control in Swift. A couple of days ago, the proposal SE-0159: Fix Private Access Levels was rejected. I want to share my thoughts on this, as well as thoughts on the larger story for access control in general. But first, let’s begin with a brief history of access control in Swift.
A few months back, JP Simard and I decided to start a podcast about Swift — the language itself, its evolution and development, the Swift.org open source projects, and general Swifty news. There are a ton of great podcasts out there about developing for Apple platforms and Apple news, but there’s nothing exclusively about Swift the language. In many ways, this podcast is an extension of and commentary on the Swift Weekly Brief newsletter. However, we’ll be doing deep dives on various topics and elaborating on concepts in greater detail. I’m excited to share that we launched Swift Unwrapped yesterday with Spec.fm!
In my previous post I mentioned writing adaptive code. That is to say, writing code that is easy to change, code that is malleable. It’s like creating adaptive user interfaces but for all of your classes, modules, and other components.
In software development, singletons are widely discouraged and frowned upon — but with good reason. They are difficult or impossible to test, and they entangle your codebase when used implicitly in other classes, making code reuse difficult. Most of the time, a singleton amounts to nothing more than a disguise for global, mutable state. Everyone knows at least knows that is a terrible idea. However, singletons are occasionally an unavoidable and necessary evil. How can we incorporate them into our code in a clean, modular, and testable way?
Today I found out that I’m part of a class action lawsuit against a service that I never signed up for called TalentBin. As you have likely experienced, most recruiting in the tech industry is debase, disingenuous, boilerplate garbage. But this — this is definitely a new a low.
Let me list the ways that burnout happens in this industry, and especially in open source. No, I don’t need to. Because you know them already. I’m not burnt out, I promise. I’m reprioritizing, just letting you know.
A few months ago, I spoke at Swift Summit in San Francisco. The conference has a reputation for providing high-quality talks, and this year was no different. Fortunately, I was able to see nearly all of the talks and not a single one disappointed me. It was such a great conference. The video and full transcript of my talk are now available. The videos of the other talks will be coming online over the next few weeks. I would recommend watching all of them!
OCMock is a powerful mock object unit testing library for Objective-C. Even if you are using Swift, as long as your classes inherit from
NSObject, you can use some of its features. But what if you are writing pure Swift code which does not have access to the dynamic Objective-C runtime? Or, what if you don’t want your Swift code to be hampered by
NSObject subclasses and
@objc annotations? Perhaps, you merely want to avoid dependencies and use ‘plain old’
XCTest with Objective-C. It’s relatively easy and lightweight to achieve the same effect in some testing scenarios without using
I previously wrote about writing great documentation in Swift. If you haven’t read that post, head there now to catch up. This post is a follow-up with updates for GitHub’s new way to publish docs. This is how I’ve setup all of my Swift open source projects.
As you may know, I spoke at FrenchKit a couple of months ago. The organizers have been working hard to get all of the videos edited and uploaded, and my talk is now available here. 😄
You may have noticed that I did not write the last few issues of the Swift Weekly Brief. I took some much needed time off, and I was able to unplug and relax thanks to the wonderful JP Simard and Brian Gesiak. They took over for those weeks and I can’t thank them enough! Bas Broek also made regular contributions, which was super helpful.
I recently spoke at the FrenchKit conference about Swift Evolution. The talk, 140 proposals in 30 minutes, was originally intended to be an overview of the process and each of the proposals. However, as I was writing the talk, it evolved into something much more interesting. I ended up writing some code to analyze the proposals instead.
I’m happy to share that all of my open source Swift libraries have (finally) been updated for Swift 3. If you’ve been waiting for any of these final releases, you can now run
pod update or
carthage update and relax — sorry it took so long! I wrote about migrating to Swift 3 a few months ago and this post shares the final results of the process that I outlined in there.
Last week I attended and gave a talk at FrenchKit in Paris, France. As expected, it was an amazing conference — especially considering it was the first FrenchKit ever. I think the organizers are already thinking about FrenchKit 2017, so keep an eye out and definitely go if you can. I know I will.
One of the most common patterns I see in software design with Objective-C (and sometimes Swift), is the use of enumeration types (
enum) as configurations for a class. For example, passing an
enum to a
UIView to style it in a certain way. In this article, I explain why I think this is an anti-pattern and provide a more robust, modular, and extensible approach to solving this problem.
I spent most of my free time last weekend and a few days of last week on migrating my Swift code to Swift 3.0 — I migrated my open source projects as well as my private side projects. Overall, I would say my experience was “OK”. It definitely could have been better, but I think the largest problem was overcoming the cognitive hurdle of seeing all the changes and errors from Xcode’s migration tool at once. The best thing to do is wipe away the tears, put your headphones on, and start hacking. 🤓
What’s my favorite thing about Swift 3? Not maintaining third-party libraries that make Cocoa more “Swifty”. Swift 3 sherlocked my libraries, and I couldn’t be happier.
As developers, we’ve been lamenting the continued existence of the inferior A5 system-on-a-chip for the past couple of years. Both iOS 8 and iOS 9 continued to support iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and iPad Mini 1 — devices that struggled to run the OS itself. I had hoped that iOS 9 would finally drop support for these less powerful devices, but it didn’t. Today, we can finally say goodbye to the A5. Well, almost.
A few days ago I was (finally!) updating a project to use Swift 2.2 and I ran into a few issues when converting to use the new
#selector syntax introduced by proposal SE-0022. If using
#selector from within a protocol extension, that protocol must be declared as
@objc. The former
Selector("method:") syntax did not have this requirement.
I recently had an incredible experience with one of my open source projects that I’d like to share. It’s a story of openness and collaboration that I hope other open source project maintainers will find valuable. This post continues the theme of “building successful open source projects” from my previous article on documentation.
The Swift community is ecstatic about Swift. There are so many new libraries being released each week that some have created package indexes — even IBM. But of course, a library is only as great as its documentation.
Earlier this month I had the incredible opportunity to speak at the try! Swift conference in Tokyo, Japan. 🇯🇵 It was such a fun and rewarding experience. A video of the talk is now online over at Realm’s blog, where it is synced with my slides. If you have not already seen it, go check it out!
A few weeks ago, I spoke at Realm in San Francisco at the Swift Language User Group (#SLUG) meetup. A video of the talk is now online over at Realm’s blog, where it is synced with my slides. If you haven’t already seen it, go check it out!
Do you love writing code? Are you passionate about open source? Do you want to get more involved, but have yet to find a project to which you want contribute? Are you interested in contributing to a widely used, impactful project? Then I have a proposition for you! I am looking for dedicated core contributors to help maintain JSQMessagesViewController!
In case you are late to the party, I finally found some time to give the Swift Weekly Brief a proper home. Starting this newsletter kind of happened by accident when I first wrote about the Swift open source announcement. Since then, it was kind of bootstrapped here on my personal blog and started to feel awkward. I hacked together the new site in a couple of nights and moved all the previous posts over. Today’s issue #5 is the first one to be originally published at swiftweekly.github.io. However, there is more here than just organization and a nice separation of concerns.
Now that the holidays are over, things have started to pick up again on Swift.org. If you are following any of the repos on GitHub, you have probably noticed. I’m not sure how I missed this before, but this week I just discovered SwiftExperimental.swift. For now, it defines a bunch of custom unicode operators for
Set. It’s really cool. I would love to see more APIs like this in the standard library. Anyway, here’s the weekly brief!
As expected with the holiday season, things are slowing down for a bit on Swift.org. I have been traveling for the holidays as well, so this issue will be shorter than usual. If you haven’t already, be sure you take some time away from coding to enjoy the holidays and avoid burnout. Now, the weekly brief!
The Swift.org community is finishing up its second full week of open source development. If you were hoping for a quiet week, you will definitely be disappointed. There is still a ton of activity with no signs of slowing down. The Swift team continues to work openly and to be encouraging to contributors. This week brought more crash fixes and more Swift Evolution proposals. Let’s get to it — the weekly brief!
It looks many developers in the community enjoyed my previous post detailing my thoughts and observations on the activity around the Swift open source project. So, I’m going to try to do this weekly — every Thursday, since the open source announcement was on a Thursday. Each week I’ll provide a high-level summary of what’s been happening, updates on interesting statistics, and links to interesting content. If you have any suggestions, please let me know! And now, the weekly brief!
It has only been a few days since the announcement of Swift going open source and the activity around the project has been incredible. When Apple revealed that Swift would be open source at WWDC earlier this year, I do not think anyone anticipated a release like this.
In iOS development, the core of nearly every app rests on the foundations provided by
UITableView. These APIs make it simple to build interfaces that display the data in our app, and allow us to easily interact with those data. Because they are so frequently used, it makes sense to optimize and refine how we use them — to reduce the boilerplate involved in setting them up, to make them testable, and more. With Swift, we have new ways with which we can approach these APIs and reimagine how we use them to build apps.
Surprisingly, I have not seen anyone talking about what I just discovered in the iOS 9.0 API Diffs. (Well, actually what Max von Webel discovered.) There’s a hidden gem in the UIKit diffs. We no longer have to suffer through tracking down obscure bugs due to non-zeroing weak references.
Recently, I came across a case (pun intended) where I needed to compare two instances of an
enum type in Swift. However, it was an
enum where some cases had associated values. At first glance, it is not obvious how to do this.
Mike Ash has a great Friday Q&A on namespaced constants and functions in C. It is a powerful and elegant technique to avoid using
#define and verbose Objective-C prefixes. Although Swift types are namespaced by their module, we can still benefit from implementing this pattern with
enum types. I’ve been experimenting with this approach for constants in Swift and it has been incredibly useful.
I recently gave a talk at the Swift Language User Group (#SLUG) meetup at Realm in San Francisco. A video of the talk is now online over at Realm’s blog, where it is synced up with my slides. If you haven’t already seen it, go check it out! Realm does an absolutely amazing job with posting these meetup talks — in addition to the video and slides, there’s a full transcript and subtitles.
In a previous post, I discussed how Swift’s failable initializers could be problematic. Specifically, I argued that their ease of use could persuade or encourage us to revert to old (bad) Objective-C habits of returning
init. Initialization is usually not the right place to fail. We should aim to avoid optionals as much as possible to reduce having to handle this absence of values. Recently, @danielgomezrico asked a great question about a possible use case for a failable initializer — parsing JSON. Given this problem’s popularity in the Swift community, I thought sharing my response here would be helpful.
The observer pattern is a powerful way to decouple the sending and handling of events between objects in a system. On iOS, one implementation of this pattern is via NSNotificationCenter. However, the
NSNotificationCenter APIs are kind of cumbersome to use and require some boilerplate code. Luckily, Swift gives us the tools to improve
NSNotificationCenter with very little code.
As I continue my work with Core Data and Swift, I have been trying to find ways to make Core Data better. Among my goals are clarity and safety, specifically regarding types. Luckily, we can harness Swift’s optionals, enums, and other features to make managed objects more robust and more clear. But even with the improvements that Swift brings, there are still some drawbacks and limitations with Xcode’s current toolset.
Core Data is probably loved as much as it is shunned by iOS developers. It is a framework of great power that often comes with great frustration. But it remains a popular tool among developers despite its pitfalls — likely because Apple continues to invest in it and encourages its adoption, as well as the availability of the many open-source libraries that make Core Data easier to use. Consider unit testing, and Core Data gets a bit more cumbersome. Luckily, there are established techniques to facilitate testing your models. Add Swift to this equation, and the learning curve gets slightly steeper.
A few weeks ago I published the sixth major release of
my our messages UI library for iOS. This release closes the door on a major milestone for this project, so I wanted to take the time to highlight its significance, discuss its new features, and examine its design. Of course, this would not have been possible without our amazing open-source community and the contributors to this project.
I’m incredibly happy and incredibly proud to share that Rosetta Stone is an open-source software contributor. Since I started working at Rosetta Stone a little more than a year ago, I’ve been encouraging and advocating for the company to get involved in open-source. Today, we did just that. Today is a big day for Rosetta Stone.
Swift is still young and ever-changing. With each release, we have seen dozens of tweaks, additions, and deletions. And there is no reason for us to think that this rapid evolution will decline anytime soon. To remind us of exactly that, the latest post on Apple’s Swift Developer Blog introduces a new feature in Swift 1.1 in Xcode 6.1 — failable initializers.
When the App Store launched, there was one iPhone with one screen size and one pixel density. Designing your user interfaces was relatively simple and the technical debt of hard-coding them was cheap. Today, developers and designers face many challenges in creating apps that must work on dozens of different devices. Long gone are the days of 480x320. We can no longer depend on physical screen sizes and must always be prepared for the next generation of devices.
When I find my code is slow or troubled, friends and colleagues comfort me. Speaking words of wisdom, write in C. It is understood that foregoing the features and abstractions of high-level programming languages in favor of their low-level counterparts can yield faster, more efficient code. If you abandon your favorite runtime, forget about garbage collection, eschew dynamic typing, and leave message passing behind; then you will be left with scalar operations, manual memory management, and raw pointers. However, the closer we get to the hardware, the further we get from readability, safety, and maintainability.
As Apples to apples, Part II made its way around the web, it was praised as well as critiqued. The latter largely consisted of questions regarding the real-world applications of these benchmarks. In general, benchmarks should be taken with a grain of salt. I want to take a minute to clarify my thoughts on benchmarks and how I think they can be valuable.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Practice makes perfect. These proverbs have encouraged us all in many different contexts. But in software development, they tug at our heartstrings uniquely. Programmers persevere through countless nights of fixing bugs. Companies march vigilantly toward an MVP. But after 1.0 there is no finish line, there is no bottom of the 9th inning. There are more bugs to be fixed. There are new releases ahead. The march continues, because software is not a product, it is a process.
You have spent countless hours, days, months, or maybe even years perfecting your app. There has been plenty of blood, sweat, and tears. Your relationships and your health have suffered through the development process. You are ready for 1.0 and the time has arrived to prepare all of your content for the App Store — app icon, keywords, description, localizations, and screenshots (and soon app previews).
When Craig Federighi arrived at his presentation slide about Objective-C during this year’s WWDC keynote everyone in the room seemed puzzled, curious, and maybe even a bit uneasy. What was happening? As he continued, he considered what Objective-C would be like without the C, and the room abruptly filled with rumblings and whispers  as developers in the audience confided in those around them. If you had been following the discussions in our community about the state of Objective-C (and why we need to replace it) during the previous months, you could only have imagined one thing: Objective-C was no more — at least not as we knew it.
XKCD’s posts on saving time and automation are precisely how this blog came to be. Until now, I never had the time or motivation to write on a regular basis, though I considered it often. I’ve been developing for iOS for a few years now and I’ve become increasingly involved in the Objective-C open-source community via GitHub and CocoaPods, and was lucky enough to attend (my first!) WWDC this year on its 25th anniversary. It was an awesome experience. With that said, I can’t think of a better time or better reason to begin writing about my experiences with iOS and Objective-C (and now Swift), as well as my involvement in open-source. I hope to share worthwhile and interesting things here.