const app = {
lines: document.getElementById('lines'),
textbox: createTextbox(),
lineTemplate: createLineTemplate(),
}

const socket = connect(
`ws://${location.host}/app`,
{

initial({ lines, uuid, charLimit }) {
app.uuid = uuid
app.charLimit = charLimit
lines.forEach(addLine)
},

added(line) {
addLine(line)
},

removed(i) {
app.lines.children[i].remove()
},

server.onclose = (ws) => {
if (ws.line) {
const i = lines.indexOf(ws.line)
lines.splice(i, 1)
server.sendToAll({ removed: i })
}
}

server.commands = {

begin(ws) {
const line = {
hash: ws.hash,
uuid: ws.uuid,
text: '',
}

ws.line = line
lines.push(line)
server.sendToAll({ added: line })
},

run() {
console.log(`Running on port ${this.port}`)

this.wss = new WebSocket.Server({
port: this.port,
verifyClient: this.verify.bind(this)
})

setInterval(
this.prune.bind(this),
this.pruneInterval * 1000
)

this.wss.on(
'connection',
this.connection.bind(this)
)
}

Steven Degutis

Full-stack software developer for hire

Easter Eggs and Attention Spans

May 28, 2017

This is the settings box of our app Quick List.

Dismissing Quick List Settings Box

(The full video that this gif was taken from is in the app store preview video.)

Looks fun, right? Except, there's a big problem with it, and you most likely didn't even notice it. In fact, that's kind of the problem:

There's an easter egg, but nobody knows about it. See where it says "Throw Settings Box to Dismiss" at the bottom? Well right when you throw it to dismiss, it says "Wait! Catch it!"

I tried to make that very obvious by making it show up right when you fling the box. But none of our 3 beta testers (my mom, my dad, and my wife) noticed it when they dismissed the settings box!

We learned a few things about people's attention span from this:

  1. People don't keep staring at the bottom-bar words when they throw it, they watch the box. In hindsight this is obvious, since that's where the movement is when you throw the box. It was meant to be a fun little way to dismiss the box, and it worked! Too well in fact.

  2. Some of them didn't even notice the words in the first place. It may be a kind of ad blindness or something, but it took them a few seconds to figure out how to dismiss the settings box.

  3. When they do read the words, they assume it'll never change, so they never look back down at it. I was hoping the growing of the black box would hit their peripheral vision, but that just doesn't happen in practice.

It's hard to know what's a better way to get their attention while still being subtle enough that 50% of users won't figure it out. I've come up with a few solutions but they each seem to have problems:

  • Showing the text after a period of time won't work since there could be a huge variance in how long people look at this box.

  • Putting the text somewhere "more visible" could be too jarring to the user experience and put them off.

  • Making the text bigger doesn't solve the third problem. Plus it creates an inconsistent look and just looks amateurish.

  • And we can't put the text inside the box, since it's already at its maximum height to fit on an iPhone SE; any taller and words will be cut off.

Overall I think dismissing a popped-over view by throwing it is the way of the future for a lot of smaller views.

  • It feels natural to "fling" a hovering view out of the way to reveal whatever was under it at first.

  • It's easier to reach than an "x" button, since every pixel on the view is a valid place to start the swipe.

  • And because it's a agesture rather than a control, there's no need to worry about placement, size, appearance, etc. so it's much easier to make it consistent.

But not a lot of apps we've tried seem to use this technique yet. Once more apps start to use this, I feel like there's a good chance Apple will standardize it like it standardized the pull-down-to-refresh idea that Tweetie popularized 7 years ago.

In the meantime, there's still a lot of pioneering to do for this technique, including paying closer attention to where people's attention goes during the dismiss process.

If you want to try the app to get a feel for what I'm talking about (or perhaps find the easter egg! ;) the app is free on the app store.

About me

My name is Steven Degutis, and I've been writing software professionally for almost a decade. During that time, I've written many apps and websites, quite a few techical 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 sbdegutis@gmail.com to set up a phone call.

Work Experience

  • Self-employed – present
  • Clean Coders – 5 years
  • 8th Light – 2 years
  • Big Nerd Ranch – 1 year
  • Self-employed - 1 year

Platforms

  • Web: full-stack
  • iOS (UIKit)
  • macOS (Cocoa)
  • REST APIs
  • AWS / EC2 / ELB

Languages

  • JavaScript
  • HTML5 / CSS
  • Swift
  • Objective-C
  • Clojure

Frameworks

  • Node.js
  • Express.js
  • React
  • Vue.js
  • Electron

Technical articles

Over the past decade, I've written a total of 169 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.

Subscribe via RSS / Atom.

Chronological

Portfolio

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.

CleanCoders.com

Website - Online Video Store

I wrote this web store for Robert "Uncle Bob" Martin, using Clojure for the back-end, and JavaScript for the front-end. Over the course of 5 years, I took the site from a simple three-page website to a full enterprise-ready business solution, with nearly 100% test coverage.

  • Clojure
  • Datomic
  • jQuery / D3.js
  • JavaScript
  • ClojureScript

Docks

macOS app - Dock Utility

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.

  • Apple.com Staff Pick
  • MacWorld 4/5 Rating
  • MacWorld Gem of the Year
  • Featured on Engadget.com

Leviathan

macOS app - Clojure IDE

Source Code

While working on CleanCoders.com, a website written completely in Clojure, I increased my productivity by building a custom IDE for macOS designed specifically for Clojure projects.

  • Objective-C
  • Clojure
  • C / C++
  • Cocoa
  • Themeable

Zephyros

macOS app - Hackable Automation

Source Code

This began as an experiment to see how many languages I could use to script a custom macOS window manager using our custom TCP protocol. Eventually it had bindings for Clojure, Ruby, Python, Go, JavaScript, CoffeeScript, Node.js, Chicken Sceme, and Racket, as well as other community additions.

  • TCP / Unix sockets
  • Custom protocol
  • Highly Scriptable
  • 10+ language bindings
  • Open source community

Bubble Maker

iOS app - Bubble simulator

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.

  • SpirteKit
  • Custom art
  • Physics simulation
  • iOS
  • tvOS

Quick List

iOS app - Todo list app

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.

  • In-app purchases
  • Custom UI / UX
  • Social media
  • App Store artwork
  • Spring animations

sdegutis.com

Website - Personal Portfolio

Source Code

This very site itself was written from scratch in about a day. It uses best practices for modern responsive web design, and a custom build phase to compile the sources into a single HTML file.

  • Node.js
  • Pug / Jade
  • LessCSS
  • HTML5
  • WebSockets

2048

Java app - Game

Source Code

The game 2048 (created by Gabriele Cirulli) is so fun that my kids wanted their own copy. So I wrote this version in Java 8, using JavaFx for attractive graphics and silky smooth animations.

  • Java 8
  • JavaFx
  • Modular code
  • Customizable
  • Animations

Mjolnir

macOS app - Window Manager

Source Code

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.

  • Objective-C
  • Embedded Lua
  • Plugin system
  • Fully documented
  • 5,000 GitHub stars

AffluentConfidante.com

Website - Social Network

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.

  • Clojure
  • Elastic Beanstalk
  • PostgreSQL
  • Stripe.com
  • Apple Pay

HyperChat

Website - Live Chatroom

Source Code

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.

  • JavaScript
  • WebSockets
  • Node.js
  • Vue.js
  • CSS

Bahamut

macOS app - Music Player

Source Code

As iTunes went through many user interface changes, I wanted an app that was consistent, intuitive, and easy to use. So I created Bahamut, a minimal music player for macOS with a custom user interface.

  • Objective-C
  • Custom UI
  • Cocoa
  • Core Data
  • AVFoundation

Chatter

macOS app - Chat (IRC) Client

Source Code

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.

  • Async networking
  • Core Animation
  • Core Text
  • IRC Protocol
  • UI Design

AppGrid

macOS app - Window Manager

Source Code

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™.

  • Minimalist UI
  • Simple UI
  • Vim-like Hotkeys
  • Global Hotkeys
  • Zero-configuration

Hydra

macOS app - Lua window manager

Source Code

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.

  • Embedded Lua
  • Generated docs
  • Lightweight
  • Memory efficient
  • CPU efficient

Phoenix

macOS app - JavaScript window manager

Source Code

As an evolution of Zephyros, Phoenix was my attempt to use Cocoa's native JavaScript bindings to make a more lightweight and efficient window manager, that focused on speed, low memory usage, low CPU usage, and overall being gentle on laptop batteries.

  • JavaScriptCore
  • JavaScript API
  • Lightweight
  • Memory efficient
  • CPU efficient

Smaller projects

These may be tiny, but they're interesting technical feats.

Lua4SwiftSwift framework for embedding Lua with a native Swift API.
chooseCommand line fuzzy-matching tool for macOS that uses a GUI
musicCommand line music daemon for macOS that only speaks JSON
hectoCommand line text editor with an embedded Lua plugin system
ZephSharpWindow manager for Windows using Clojure for scripting
managementMinimalist EC2 configuration & deployment tool in Ruby.
go.assertAssertion helper package for writing tests in Go.
go.shattrGo library for printing shell-attributed strings to stdout.
OCDSpec2Objective-C based testing framework with Xcode integration.