Software Dev

Clarity is (even) more important than brevity

I have published a post or two about the powers of brevity. But we programmers sometimes take it too far.

Can someone tell me what these integers represent?

case upc(Int, Int, Int, Int)

No? Me either.

This is how associated values are pretty much always done in Swift. But thanks to this post by Marco Eidinger via iOS Dev Weekly, I discovered something new and clarifying: it turns out that you can actually label your enum’s associated values too. People just don’t do it for some reason. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Can you tell me what the integers represent now?

case upc(numberSystem: Int, manufacturer: Int, product: Int, check: Int)

Isn’t that a little easier to understand?

I run into the assumption sometimes where people mistake brevity for efficiency. Brevity shouldn’t mean sacrificing valuable context for slightly fewer words. Thanks to the Marco Eidinger post for pointing this out explicitly. πŸ‘

Clarity is more important than brevity.

Marco Eidinger
Apps · Practical · Software Dev

UX teardown: make your own guides in ο£Ώ Maps

I always found the “favorites” feature in Apple Maps to be too general and dissatisfying. I quit using that feature once I had 48 places saved all across the world. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Before that, I saved specific lists of places in Google Maps, but found their mobile app to be cluttered and confusing. πŸ˜– So I gave up and started using Trello.

Trello is cool for some things like trip planning and small projects, but it did not scale well and didn’t handle lists of places well. So I gave up on that. 😒

ο£Ώ Maps guides

I’m happy to have just discovered that you can save your favorite places as “guides” in Apple Maps. Finally, this is genuinely useful!

I just set up my own guide for coffee places open early for when I’m looking to get our early. Quick and easy and right to the point! 🀩. I can immediately see all the places I saved and their hours. Check it out for yourself! (This is my own personal guide, so it’s focused on Austin, TX.)

Of course this guide automatically syncs to my iPad and Mac as well. βœ…

Rechecking Goole Maps

Forgive me if I sound like an ο£Ώ fanboy, but out of genuine curiosity I went back and I did the same thing in the latest Google maps. It was a bit painful. 😒

Notice how the “main” screen is oddly not a map but more of a picture of a cup of coffee and therefore not useful to me.

And even when I drilled into an actual map view, the places I care about are unlabeled in favor of (1) a notification that HEB has an offer and (2) the Texas Capitol and Congress Ave. Bridge exist. Again, not useful.

I just want to know where a coffee shop is open at 7am! Now that would be useful. πŸ‘†

Software Dev

“Sketching” out an app prototype

I’ve learned a lot making apps for big companies, mostly about process: how a good continuous integration process works, how code reviews can be productive (or not productive), how to break a big app into smaller components so lots of people work on related things at the same time.

Still, it’s helpful to do something fresh and new 100% on your own from time to time. Doing something new all your own, you get to try any architecture you want, go all in on the latest asynchronous programming techniques, fully embrace the amazing new(ish) declarative/reactive view layer, and even try out a new CI framework to two.

But the most fun part of all is developing the idea of your app. What does your app do? How exactly does it work from a user perspective? And what do the screens look like in detail?

πŸ‘‰This time around, I’m prototyping my new app idea on my phone so that I can get a feel for how it works in my hands before writing all that code. ^

I tried out a few prototyping tools. After looking at some basic options and some pretty involved options (arguably too involved), I landed on a pretty “sketchy” Mac app that handles full-on detailed UI design and kind of does mobile prototypes through its “mirroring” iOS app. Perfect. πŸ‘Œ

πŸ‘‰ Sketch | mirroring app

I will say that Figma looks pretty promising as well. What nudged me over to Sketch was Apple’s Sketch-compatible design resources. There are some third-party iOS design resources for Figma, but I’d rather go with Apple’s official offering. Sorry, Figma. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

So my new design process is this, now that I’ve finally learned Sketch:

Rough sketch on paper ➑ realistic visual design in Sketch ➑ prototype on a phone ➑ code

My instinct is to talk about the app itself while it’s in progress, but sorry… that’s top secret for now. πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™€οΈ