I’m not the best driver in the world, but I do drive cautiously (or as Nikki would say, like an old lady). When driving, I always get from point A to point B safely. That isn’t to say, however, that the road always has my full, undivided attention when I’m driving.
Much of the time, my mind begins to wander elsewhere, maybe toward the project I was working on, maybe towards figuring out what to eat for dinner, maybe towards my life’s goals, all sorts of stuff. But I’ve got a good feeling this is pretty common. However, even when I’m not paying full attention, I always stop at stop signs, slow down when a light turns yellow and wait for it to go back to green, and never run over pedestrians.
How do I manage this amazing feat of following the rules of the road without sacrificing my own mind? Simple: consistency. In fact, this same consistency is the key behind the Cocoa platform1.
When driving my car toward a red light, the red color and the position of the light signal to me that “this is where I need to stop.” And when the green color is in the position, it lets me know “hey, I can go ahead and drive now.” Not much thinking is involved, most of it is in subtle visual and audible clues. This is the same concept that allows Mac users to go about accomplishing tasks without becoming computer experts. For example, when opening an application, scrollbars are (almost) always the same color, and in the same place. They all accomplish the same task.
However, this concept goes beyond simple widgets. Placement, for example, plays a large part in Mac OS X. When a sheet or modal panel comes up asking if you want to perform an operation, such as quit without saving, the default button is always on the right side, and it never will involve data-loss if you click it. There are also guidelines that specify when to use a bottom-bar (the gray bar on the bottom of the iPhoto window which lets you drag it around) and what/when widgets should go inside of it.
Among many other tiny details which add up, this little bit of information is specified in the Human Interface Guidelines. This goes to show that Apple is taking strides to make sure that developers write in a consistent manner, so that the user never has to wonder what a blue or purple light means in an intersection. This way, a Mac user can safely click around, performing tasks successfully left and right (granted they are using applications which conform to the consistency standards), and not be forced to remember how things work per-application. To me, this will (might I say, has already?) create the ideal platform for humans.
Earlier, I mentioned that this is the “Cocoa” platform. I hesitate to say Mac OS X platform, because Carbon and wxWidgets, et al, simply don’t show the same consistency with as little amount of effort. (And trust me, many many developers are only willing to put as little effort into an application as is required of them by their immediate supervisor, which means the less effort to achieve a goal, the more likely it is to be achieved.) Cocoa strives to unify the Mac experience, and from my personal experience of working with Cocoa during the past few years, it’s doing a fantastic job. ↩
My name is Steven Degutis, and I've been writing software professionally for a decade. During that time, I've written many apps and websites, quite a few technical articles, and kept up-to-date with the rapidly evolving software industry.
If you have software needs for web, mobile, or desktop, and are looking for a seasoned software professional, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a phone call.
- Self-employed – present
- Clean Coders – 5 years
- 8th Light – 2 years
- Big Nerd Ranch – 1 year
- Self-employed - 1 year
- Web: full-stack
- iOS (UIKit)
- macOS (Cocoa)
- REST APIs
- AWS / EC2 / ELB
- HTML5 / CSS
Over the past decade, I've written a total of 172 technical articles on various programming languages, frameworks, best practices, and my own projects, as I kept up-to-date and active in the software industry.
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- 2017 — "Clean code" isn't actually clean
- 2017 — Passion in your field is overrated
- 2017 — What I learned in 5 days of writing an experimental website
- 2014 — Age of the Polyglot
- 2013 — How to Program
- 2013 — Ignore the Naysayers
- 2013 — Writing Clearly
- 2012 — Reinvent the wheel
- 2010 — Good usability
- 2009 — Twitter is the wrong tool
- 2009 — We're all pretty bad at driving
- 2008 — Why I Code
|August||NDD: Narrative Driven Development|
|August||The truth about TDD|
|August||Macroframeworks vs Microframeworks|
|March||Notes on Haskell Extensions|
|February||Second thoughts on front-end tools|
|February||First thoughts on front-end tools|
|February||Some thoughts on GUIs|
|February||First thoughts on OCaml|
|February||First thoughts on Haskell|
|August||Age of the Polyglot|
|August||The history of Mjolnir|
|August||Quitting the GUI wars|
|June||Lua: my new favorite extension language|
|January||My programming life-goals|
|January||Lingua Latina, Pars I|
|January||Allocating an AST on the stack|
|April||Ruby Accessors Considered Pernicious|
|March||Reinvent the wheel|
Here are some of the projects I'm most proud of. They were created using a variety of technologies, running on several different platforms and OSes. They're all finished products, and many of them are open source.
I made Docks in 2009 for users who wanted to swap out icons in their Dock with a single click. Its unique functionality and design aesthetic attracted the attention of Apple, Engadget, MacWorld, and led to an acquisition of my start-up by Big Nerd Ranch.
This toy was made in a weekend to entertain my 1 year old daughter. It lets you create bubbles with your fingers, which then simulate physics by bumping into each other and falling.
When I couldn't find an app in the App Store that let me make very simple lists extremely quickly, I made one myself. I use it almost every day to organize and track my activities.
I created this app to increase my productivity by letting me move windows around in macOS using keyboard shortcuts. It grew into a community-driven highly extensible app, using Lua for its plugin system.
Implementing this elite social network gave me experience integrating both Apple Pay and credit card payments (via Stripe.com) seamlessly into web apps, for a frictionless and pain-free payment experience.
This isn't just any chatroom. In this web app, you can see what everyone is typing while they type it. I made this in order to scratch my itch for making real-time apps and games, and learned how to use WebSockets in the process.
This was written in 2009, before the time of Slack, when IRC was the main way for programmers to get short-term assistance from each other. Its purpose was to be a beautiful app with an emphasis on simplicity and usability over technical power.
This is an app I actually use every single day. It lets you move windows with global keyboard shortcuts. Since it uses Vim-like key bindings, it should feel pretty natural to any programmer. There's no configuration needed; it Just Works™.
As an evolution of Phoenix, Hydra was my first attempt at embedding a full Lua virtual machine into an Objective-C app, to make a lightweight and efficient window manager that focused on speed, low memory usage, low CPU usage, and overall being gentle on laptop batteries.
These may be tiny, but they're interesting technical feats.
|Lua4Swift||Swift framework for embedding Lua with a native Swift API.|
|choose||Command line fuzzy-matching tool for macOS that uses a GUI|
|music||Command line music daemon for macOS that only speaks JSON|
|hecto||Command line text editor with an embedded Lua plugin system|
|ZephSharp||Window manager for Windows using Clojure for scripting|
|management||Minimalist EC2 configuration & deployment tool in Ruby.|
|go.assert||Assertion helper package for writing tests in Go.|
|go.shattr||Go library for printing shell-attributed strings to stdout.|
|OCDSpec2||Objective-C based testing framework with Xcode integration.|