Previously titled: The history and current state of AppGrid, Zephyros, Phoenix, Hydra, Penknife, and Mjolnir
AppGrid was my first window manager. At first I didn’t like window managers, like SizeUp and Divvy. But then I found Slate and finally wrote a config that I was actually happy with. So I ported my Slate config to hard-coded Objective-C, wrote a nice little GUI for it, and tried to sell it. Didn’t work out, so I abandoned it.
AppGrid is officially “done”, in the sense that it does exactly what I had originally envisioned it to do. But if anyone wants to fork it and add more features, you’re more than welcome.
Zephyros was my first attempt at a configurable window manager, like Slate. I pretty much went crazy with it, throwing in every suggestion from every user. I also extended it to be scriptable over TCP, so that you could control it with any language. Eventually it became a giant beast, both in performance and in implementation, so I stopped using it personally.
Zephyros is officially abandoned, but if anyone wants to take over maintaining it, just email me and I can transfer the repo to you.
Hydra was the next iteration of my window manager, which I started
after I had discovered Lua and really began to apprecaite its
minimalism and simplicity. I released Hydra 1.0 after a few months of
work, but there were tons of usability issues. For one thing, it was
“minimalist” in the wrong way, not having a built-in GUI at all. Also,
unrelated features were tightly coupled to Hydra’s release cycle
(i.e. users were waiting for me to release Hydra 1.1 which contained
new changes in the
window module, but I was waiting to release
Hydra 1.1 until the
events module was done, even though these are
I’ve taken all Hydra downloads down while I work out these problems.
Once I’d finally found an extension language for my window manager that I was actually happy with, I decided to get serious about picking a name I would be happy with long-term. I couldn’t use Hydra because of trademark infringement issues.
So for a few days, the new name for Hydra was tentatively Penknife, but I really hated that name so I decided to change it again. And that brings us to…
Mjolnir is the current incarnation of my extensible automation utility.
I realize it’s controversial name, but I’m very happy with it, and life’s too short, so the name Mjolnir is here to stay.
For one thing, nearly all the Lua modules Hydra came with are being
extracted out into opt-in third party extensions. For example,
window will become
core.window. None of these will be installed by
default or even included in Mjolnir. This also allows me to release
updates to one extension without users needing to wait for me to
finish working on unrelated extensions.
Also, it now has a convenient built-in GUI that should clear up 99% of the questions and confusion users initially had with Hydra. Part of this new GUI is an extension manager to handle downloading and installing extensions.
Another difference is that Hydra 1.0 was open-source (released under the MIT license) while still “requiring” the user to purchase a license-key. This was a social experiment, where I was perfectly okay with anyone cloning it locally and removing the license-checking code. But it proved to be way too confusing for users. So Mjolnir will be donation-ware and will not be nag-ware.
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.|