Shared development of Cocoa interfaces

Interface Builder is the first GUI builder I’ve ever used that I didn’t really hate. But it still has its drawbacks.

I have quite a few ideas for improving Blapp. I’d love to help Michael McCracken by adding some of these features myself (that seems better than becoming “that pest who asks me for three new features a day”). But that’s going to be difficult, because you can’t really send patches against the objects.nib file.

I suppose this is just a special case of the problems inherent in collaborative GUI development, but it’s still annoying.

Blog dates

James has a real point about Blosxom’s date management. It’s true that the date attached to a blog entry should be a “publication date” rather than the “authoring date” (O’Reilly’s weblog system gets this wrong). But once published the date shouldn’t change. I do sometimes edit entries after publication, to correct spelling or other minor mistakes. But I don’t want the publication date to change.

An additional problem is that blosxom’s permalinks are based on date. If the publication date can change, those links aren’t so perma, are they?

Linking in Blosxom and Blapp

Linking is a pain in Blosxom, but I don’t think it’s Blosxom’s fault. I do, however, wish tools like Blapp would provide some assistance. (That’s not fair … it already does provide assistance, in the form of good drag-and-drop support. I should say I wish it would provide a particular kind of assistance.)

I’m offline a lot, so there are many times when the drag-and-drop doesn’t help much. Plus, my blog entries about particular topics tend to cluster together around particular points in time.

So I’d like Blapp to parse the HTML I write and remember a list of “recent links” that I’ve used. The first time I link to a particular page, I would have to do it manually, or drag it in. But after that, Blapp could just present me with a list of recent links and let me choose one.

There are a lot of possible refinements … perhaps restricting the list (or sorting it) to prefer links that I’ve used in the current category, or something like that.

The late, lamented ACAP

A few years ago, I was excited about a new protocol being developed within the IETF. A close relative of IMAP, ACAP (the Application Configuration and Access Protocol) was designed to allow applications to store preferences and other persistent information (not documents or other big data files, but small stuff) on a server so that it could be accessed from any computer. The classic examples they always talked about were bookmarks and address books. Your browser at work would use and update bookmarks stored on the ACAP server, and then your browser at home could see and maintain the same bookmark list.

For all practical purposes, ACAP is dead. Very few applications use it. Even if they did, organizations and ISPs couldn’t be relied upon to maintain ACAP servers. Too bad. IM clients are the only apps that do a good job of ACAP-style preference storage, and they all use custom mechanisms.

I’m still finding all kinds of things I want to share between computers, though. Bookmarks. RSS feeds. Blog drafts. Notes and reminders. And I also sometimes want to easily share those with others. Not just as in “here’s part of my bookmark list right now”—rather, “here’s access to a portion of my bookmark list; I’ll continue to update it with new stuff that’s relevant to our common interest.”

I’m starting to see that there might be a better way to do this than the ACAP model. Less centralized, less integrated, and more flexible.

Risk management

An alarming proportion of drivers are complete idiots. I know this isn’t news to anybody, but it’s still occasionally amazing.

Today on the way to work I was approaching a toll plaza. This plaza comes fairly soon after a major entrance ramp, so people who enter the turnpike at that entrance have to cross multiple lanes quickly if they want to make it over to the high-speed tolltag lanes. This morning some goon cut across about four lanes, just in front of the toll plaza. *sigh*.

Cutting across multiple lanes isn’t ever a really bright idea. But this was worse for several reasons:

  • Traffic was heavy
  • The lanes were moving at different speeds … most of them were full of people slowing down to drop coins in the toll baskets or to get change from a real live human, but the lanes she was aiming for were heading full-speed through the tolltag lanes
  • There was no room for error. We were all traveling pretty fast, with only about 25 feet left before the concrete pylons that divide the lanes of the toll plaza.

All that to save probably 20 seconds or less.

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