Saturday, May 24, 2008

Over the previous weeks Fern has been working hard backstage to add features and further refine his interface and now he is ready to take on the public. I'd like to introduce Fern 0.2 for Developers and Testers. This is what has been added and fixed in version 0.2:

Title System Working
New Progress Indicators
New Delete System
Update System Working
'New Post' feature added
Refined Application Messages
New NSTextView Editor (Not Finished)
Other minor fixes and changes.

What can you do with this version? You can login, select your blogs, view the posted entries, update or delete those entries or post a new one. The text support is still limited as you need to know some HTML to add links and change font styles but page breaking is done automatically.

What's coming in Version 0.3? A editor that doesn't require minor html knowledge to do things like bold and italic text and a better system for adding links. If you know any great resources of WYSIWYG editors for Cocoa, please drop a comment :) As well as other things, over the next few updates you will hopefully see a new login interface, saving drafts to disk, post statistics, comment viewing and support for images. It all takes time.

Why am I releasing a work-in-progress product to the public so early? I have been having some conversations with some people that wanted to use version 0.1 now so I decided to push 0.2 out a little early with mainly interface refinements. That way they can use and test each update of Fern as I go along. Please note that this is an Alpha release and not intended for professional or general use but recommended for beta testers and developers. If you do download Fern please drop a comment, it's quick and easy and I then I know who has downloaded it and what you think. Saying that, if you find an issue or have a feature request that was not mentioned above, please drop a comment to this post. Fern 0.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5.2. Enjoy!


Alex Mills

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fern 0.1 Completed

It's not a very momentous occasion but for those of you who follow the Fern development process I thought I would take this opportunity to announce that I have finished the first working version. (Fern is my native cocoa app for editing blogger blogs). Fern Version 0.1 is still very basic and is basically a rebuild of the google data API example but with a much nicer interface (my opinion anyway). The only other feature I have added for this release is that new posts can have titles, something that was not available in the example app. I have tested HTML with this version and as you can tell from the test blog that it works without fault, even images that were pre-coded from the web interface. The API is very intelligent and makes my job heaps easier. Check out the screenshot here and please note that the interface is no where near the final design, it was built to make sure I can get the basics working, but please let me know of any comments, tips or feature requests. I'm not making it just for me :)

Unfortunately I'm not posting this with Fern as I still haven't sorted out the google accounts issue as described in the post below. Check out the Blogger Help Group for my message if you know how to help or just leave a comment to either of my blog posts. Stay tuned here and on the test blog to keep track of development.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Google works in mysterious ways?

Don't get me wrong, I love Google, I use just about everyone of their services including blogger but something keeps bothering me. Ok a quick update and what the hell I'm talking about, I'm working on a little cocoa app for blogger codenamed Fern, at the moment it's still almost non-existent as I only get to work on it in between school, work, personal events and making widgets. I'm still learning the basics of cocoa and programming as well as the GData API (and API's in general) so if you know of any good sources of information, let me know :).

At first while testing an early build of Fern I thought it wasnt working becuase when I put the login details for this blog into it, nothing would happen, the same with the example google app that comes with the source for GData. I have a secondary gmail address for random things so I set up a new blog on that account and now the applications work as they should, perfectly. It's like google hasn't registered this blog with my account but yet I can do everything from the web interface. I have searched the options for blogger, gmail, google accounts but cant seem to find anything. I have to do some more research into this but I just thought you guys might like to know this little bit of weirdness in case you come across a similar issue. Stay tuned as I will provide another post once I have fixed the issue. Why make a blogging app if I cant use it to blog??

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

WWDC 2008 Countdown Widget

Last years WWDC widget is stunning but the 2008 version making the rounds is awful, the guy has basically set the date and added some text to the default countdown widget design. I have made widgets before the Dashcode days so I thought this would be a good chance to try something new. Its basically just a fully customized countdown widget for the 2008 World Wide Developers Conference with extra code that opens websites in your default browser when their buttons are clicked. Check it out and let me know what you think! Oh and its free, everyone loves free stuff! It's also the first mac project I have announced on this blog, it is a good day! :)


Update: The widget is now on the Apple Dashboard Downloads page here. Unfortunately the images wont show up on the page which basically defeats the point of submitting it for the site in the first place. But hey if I get a few more downloads means a few more people will see my blog :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Times, My first look...

Previously I had used a combination of the Firefox feed bar and iGoogle to keep track of my news feeds, which is quick and easy but to actually read the posts I have to go to the actual site. I know there are some decent news readers out there for the mac but I had never taken them seriously enough to buy one, until now. Times from Acrylic Apps is a brand new, absolutely stunning Leopard news reader that takes advantage of core animation to build a brilliant user experience. No longer are you forced to use readers that look like mail apps, Times makes your reading experience much like reading a news paper, with different 'Pages' for different genres of news and the option to create your own custom pages.

Times costs US$30 is definitely worth it, you can view all the text, images and videos related to the posts. With this application you will no longer have to use a web browser to view blogs and news sites as you can comment posts as well as email and add to various sources such as facebook. Its really hard to explain the kind of experience Times provides, along with the stunning interface and well built features make you wonder why someone hasn't done this before. You really have to try it to fully experience it. Times is available as a free trial for 14 days, but I can almost guarantee you will buy it, unless your a full hardcore netnewswire user or something. Quite frankly, Times is brilliant and I highly recommend it. When you get it, don't forget to add my blog to your feeds :).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What has been going on?

It has been a while since I have posted here or updated my status, there are a number of reasons for it. School has been taking an incredible amount of time and now I find out that my family and I are moving to a new station this week so I have had to make some changes to my priorities. I wanted to wait to I had discussed with my fellow crew members before announcing that I'm putting my Windows development to the side for a while to focus on the premier platform, Mac OS X. I will be learning to code, design and deploy mac applications that are focused on design and usability, something which all too often gets pushed away. My major project on at the moment is code-named 'Fern' and will be a Leopard desktop blog editor, so keep stay tuned here to keep track of it.

I'm trying my best to keep projects going alongside school and my work with Computer Sciences Corporation, this recent move to a new station also throws a spanner in the works. I have copped a lot of flack for leaving windows but with Mac being my main platform, and being a much more enjoyable experience, it was all too obvious what I have to do as I just don't have the time. Some recent advice from a friend "You only get one chance at life, you should live it the way you truly want to", which got me thinking about my current situation, and is the main reason for my changes. But frankly I don't have to answer to anyone yet, I might as well make the most of it by doing what I want and enjoying it. I will definitely be returning to windows development at the end of the year when I start my courses at TAFE.

Stay tuned as I start my journey of mac development and the life lessons along the way. Thank you.