Small progress

Looking again at the Manila RPC spec, I see I’ve missed something that might enable populating a drop down list of news item categories. Comforting after I’ve hit so many walls with other feature implementations over the last few weeks. I’m now looking at “manila.sitePref.get” which allows retrieving named portions of site preferences. I can grab the department list using “newsitems.departments” as the preference name, but now I have to see how to parse the reply using AppleScript. Dig we must…

I’m looking at the source code for RadioService now. The author took an opposite approach to mine–most of the code is Objective C with just one AppleScript. But he did answer some of my questions about how to address the keychain and other tricks with Objective C. The answer is it looks really hairy and I’ll be figuring it out for a few days.

Inconsistency and bugs

I’ve finally figured out why Manila Envelope occasionally gets stuck in spinning progress bar hell. It has to do with how I handled user notification in the code.

Basically, there are three types of function involved: one gets user input, one executes a series of Manila function calls, and one wraps a SOAP call to a particular part of the Manila API. Unfortunately, I was reporting user errors via dialog boxes in all three functions in the chain.

Shows why my app was blowing up.

This sequence diagram shows the problem–I was letting the Manila handler do the notification to the user. This caused timing problems in the window controller that kept it from successfully stopping the progress indicator and returning control to the user.

Some progress

I got the first part of the Blogger API working in Manila Envelope. I’m starting with the prefs–there will have to be a major overhaul of the whole app to make this work, including restructuring the preferences file. But hey–I got the blogger.getusersblogs call working. Baby steps…

One problem: If you have a regular Blogger site, the API calls go to the Blogger server. If you have a Moveable Type or Radio site, do you send the API calls to the Blogger server or somewhere else?

Slow news day

I’ll be in and out today–I have a lot of errands to run before we head to Belgium for the weekend. I’m working on my own version of a Pictures tool for Manila Envelope. I’m really feeling the curve here… I thought about using AppleScript to hook into the Manila pictures API months ago but had difficulty making it work right.

I think I’m going to have to ask for some feedback from the users of Manila Envelope about how to proceed with incorporating the Blogger API. Look for a “survey” with some linked proposed screen shots in the next week or so.

Manila Envelope and Radio Userland

I’ve had feedback from a few people who have tried to use Manila Envelope with Radio, either against their desktop website or on The short version is that Manila Envelope doesn’t work very well with Radio right now.

The long version is that Radio 8.0.1 doesn’t support the Manila API for SOAP calls, just the Blogger API. I didn’t start testing Radio until after its release, and just started to figure out some of the issues around the time that I did my 1.0 release.

The good news is that people had already requested the Blogger API as an option, and I’m looking at it for a future release. So this isn’t a permanent incompatibility, just a short term issue. I’m somewhat intrigued that people want to run Manila Envelope against their local Radio site; I didn’t think the Radio user interface through the browser was that bad, but I understand the desire for a consistent user interface.

Getting serious

In doing this project, I’m continually reminded of things that I knew once and have subsequently lost. For instance, making sure that I follow a consistent process for building and publishing. I just realized that the build I made yesterday still showed 1.0A1 as the version number in the About box. As a result, I started a checklist for my build and deployment process. Our old configuration manager at AMS would be so proud…

A slow day

Snow falling in Boston tonight. A slow day waiting for the snow to start.

I fixed some bugs in Manila Envelope the last few days, including a dumb error with the icon this morning. I’m a very junior developer, but I’m finding that it’s difficult to get a good icon creation program. Apple ships IconComposer, which allows editing four sizes of icons. Then there’s Iconographer, which would be perfect if it would automatically scale images that were pasted into its icon windows. I had to use both to fix the icon problems I had today–the masks weren’t working very well and the icon was surrounded by a black outline at certain sizes. I will be releasing the bugfix Monday or Tuesday.

Crossing the Ocean

This is pretty cool: Manila Envelope got picked up by FrTracker at Bluedays Software, a software tracker in French. And the app isn’t even localized… If anyone out there wants to help me translate Manila Envelope into your language of choice, please let me know. (Hint: the biggest issue will probably be the Help file.)

Thanks, and bugs

I love the Mac community. The people who blog from the Mac are willing to try new things (about 171 people have downloaded my app from VersionTracker, not counting the ones who went to my site) and ready to tell you when they find bugs. I am really glad that you guys are out there–I was panicked that I had no testers, but I do now and they’re piling up the bug reports! Look for a new version soon to fix the initial bugs.