Monthly Archives: July 2013

Cocoa Controls is my one stop shop for open-sourced iOS and Mac UI components

07.16.2013

“Don’t reinvent the wheel”. That’s probably one of the most important rules I follow as a developer. I save time by leveraging the hard work of other generous developers and using their open-sourced code in my apps. Simple Google searches will turn up code that can help your app do everything from simplifying network operations to leveraging GPUs for enhanced image processing.

Screen shot 2013-07-16 at 6.56.03 PMCocoa Controls is like a Google search on crack for custom iOS and Mac UI components. At the time of this writing there are 1,369 components listed on their site. They make it easy to search for components that are licensed appropriately and provide screenshots of the controls so you can see what they look like without having to download and run the code. In working on LunchTimer, I found I needed a UISlider with 2 handles to input the lunch window. So I browsed over to Cocoa Controls, did a quick search, and before long I had NMRangeSlider up and running. Here’s what it looked like after I customized it:

HOTTTTTT

Perhaps my favorite part of Cocoa Controls is their Apps section, which lists apps using controls from Cocoa Controls. It feels good when you’re in the company of Evernote, Facebook, and Vine, just to name a few.

Power users looking to manage their favorite Cocoa Controls components may also want to check out CocoaPods. CocoaPods is a dependency management tool for iOS and Mac that makes it dead easy to include custom controls in your app. Cocoa Controls conveniently includes the pod declaration for each supported component, making the process of using custom controls in your app even easier.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

07.12.2013

Ninety percent of LunarLincoln’s app ideas come while walking to get coffee. These idea’s usually come about like this:  “I was so annoyed today when” and then usually end with “wouldn’t it be great if…” Working through problems. Making life easier. Or maybe not easier, but better, happier, certainly more convenient through apps is something we want to do, and CAN do here at LunarLincoln.

The list of app ideas is long, the market is fast, and let’s be real, some ideas are better, much better, than others. Luckily we have the tools, brains, and skills to make some of these into a reality. Our first foray into the world under our own banner is a little app called LunchTimer.

The app’s clothes are done, the guts are being built, and even now, I find myself wishing that it was done, merely to help my own scatter-brained self along. How, you ask?

I find myself running errands, lots of errands during lunch. Or grabbing food with friends, or sitting in interminably long business lunches, and in each of these situations, I don’t have the time, or forget, or it’s rude to continually check my phone to see if it’s time to head back to the office. Is lunchtime over yet?

Is it now?

Now?

Now?

How about now?

After looking at my phone 15 times in the last 20 minutes of lunch, only to see the time inching by and then later whizzing, LunchTimer was created.

The short and sweet: LunchTimer automatically knows when you leave work (with low-enegy gps tracking), and then begins the clock for the length of your lunchhour. It notifies you at a preset time (5 minutes/10 minutes) when its almost time to head back.

Voilà. No more being late getting back, no more sitting your phone on the table rudely, no more constant wrist checking. I hope you guys think this is a good of an idea as I do, and if not. Well, I’m still going to use the shit out of this app.

 

Font-tastic

07.05.2013

Similar to colors, font’s can make or break your design. It’s often the things that are the most subtle, that make the most impact.

Font selection, kerning, line height, style, these are all things you definitely should be thinking about. With the wonderful invention of FontFace, you no longer are limited to the standard web fonts.

Comic sans the whole site! Or don’t. Please don’t.

Or use this wonderful resource of “new” webfonts. Or convert one of your favorite fonts to a “webfont” with FontSquirrel (a font aggregator with great taste).

Now, I recognize I have a serious problem with fonts – similar to Pokemon, I feel, I’ve “gotta collect them all”. 52 body styles of Neutra? Bring it on! 100 different “handwriting fonts”? Why not? Fonts based purely on dingbats? Sh’yeah.

At the end of the day, though, less is more.
Build your app or website with no more than 3 fonts:

  • A display font (the fun/elaborate one for titles & big things)
  • A body font (basic serif or sans serif)
  • And maybe a third one for variation – pull quotes, sidebars, submenus, etc (another simple complementary serif/sans to pair with the body).

After selecting the “look” of your fonts, then you can get down the nitty-gritty – the “science of fonts” if you will. This article pretty much sums up the extremes you can go to, in creating the ideal font spacing, sizing, etc. Review it, think upon it, and go forth and make beautiful typography. 

“The better we get at getting better, the faster we will get better.” – Engelbert

07.04.2013

Have you ever had the battery die in your optical, wireless mouse and not had replacement batteries. Try getting anything done on your computer without a mouse. Pretty impossible eh?

Doug Engelbart, the inventor of the mouse, creator of early GUI elements, pioneer of ARPANET,  and 1,000,000 other visionary, smart things you will never achieve died Tuesday.

He was even creating epic, future-predicting, keynote presentations, years before you were born. To steal from NPR, who said it best:

In a video from 1968, Engelbart demonstrated the capabilities of not only the mouse but also of the power of networked computing. Titled “A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect,” the presentation gained a more informal name over the years: “The Mother of All Demos


I can only hope that we have more brilliant, passionate people like this in the future of engineering.