TweetFollow Us on Twitter

March 97 - Newton Q & A

Newton Q & A: Ask the Llama

Q I recently saw the announcement of two new Newton devices -- the MessagePad 2000 and the eMate 300 -- and I have a few questions. First, will my application run fine?

A If your application was written correctly for Newton OS 2.0, for the most part it will work fine on Newton OS 2.1, which is what the new devices use. "Correctly" here means that you call only documented functions, including platform file functions where appropriate. It also means that your application works with different screen sizes by using GetAppParams in combination with minimum and maximum sizes.

Q What are the most important things to check in my application to ensure that it's completely compatible with the new devices?

A There are four broad areas to check: speed, screen size, views, and PC cards.

Speed. The new units are faster than the current ones. In the case of the MessagePad 2000, the difference is quite large. Unfortunately, it's possible for some things to be too fast. The new OS takes care of several speed issues for you -- scrolling, for example -- but there are still some areas you should check.

Check those places where you're doing repeated actions from a viewClickScript. A typical usage would be a button that will continually perform an action as long as the user presses it. If you use a loop in a viewClickScript to do the repetition, you may find that there are too many repetitions or that the repetitive action occurs too quickly. The same problem can occur if you don't use the scrolling API provided by the system, as scrolling is one area that has deliberately been slowed down on the MessagePad 2000.

Loops can also cause problems when they're used for timing. In general, you shouldn't use loops for this purpose; use Ticks instead. If you must use a loop, set the counter for that loop based on a known reference like Ticks or TimeInSeconds.

Operations that used to be long enough to require user feedback may now happen fast enough that no feedback is required. This can happen in two places:

  • You may have been deliberately turning on the busy box. The result can be a busy box that flashes very briefly, which can be distracting.
  • You may have implemented progress bars using DoProgress, protoStatus, or even a protoGauge. Try removing the progress indicator and checking whether the operation is now fast enough. Note that most of the progress indicators take time to draw and update -- in some cases significantly longer than the time to do the operation for which the progress is being displayed.
Screen size. Be sure your application works properly in both portrait and landscape orientation, with the button bar on both the left and the right. In addition to the size of your overall application on the screen, check areas where you use complex justification or dynamic allocation of view children. Check that the children are correctly aligned -- and that there are the correct number of children.

Also, be sure your borders don't go outside the application area. Note that borders are drawn outside the view. You can find your global bounds with the borders by calling GlobalOuterBox.

Views. The most likely problem related to views is assuming that the top left of the application area is always at (0, 0) in global coordinates. This is no longer the case since the button bar, which is 46 pixels wide, can be on the left side of the screen. A typical place for this problem to occur is in a viewClickScript where you do something with a point that's actually 46 pixels out from where you expect it to be. Rotate to landscape orientation and put the button bar on the left; then try tapping on the right side of your application. One sure way to cause problems is to forget to send SyncView to your base application view after a ReorientToScreen message has been sent.

Another possible view problem is that any view can be the keyView. Don't assume that the keyView can accept text input; in particular, don't use calls like SetValue to jam the text slot (which may not be there). You may want to check the class of the keyView.

PC cards. You should check that your application works when two PC card slots are being used for storage. Search for the following pieces of bad code:

GetStores()[1];   // BAD -- 0 is the only number documented to work

Length(GetStores());      // doesn't tell you the number of PC cards
If you have code like this, you'll have to change it. The first case -- assuming there's a store at the second position in the array -- is not a good idea. Even if there's a store at that position, it may not be the same store that was there the last time you checked. Also note that the positions in the array do not correspond to physical PC card slot positions. The second case can fail for similar reasons. That is, checking the length of the array returned by GetStores doesn't tell you how many PC cards are currently installed.

Along the same lines, if you're still using the action (routing) picker to move items to the card, you should change to using the filing interface. Also, make sure that you use the FileThis method to move items to different stores, and that you look at the arguments provided by FileThis; some application code seems to assume that there are only two stores. For adding soup entries, remember to call AddToDefaulStoreXmit instead of using the store directly.

You might also encounter a problem with endpoints that could use PC card modems. To set up your modem endpoint, call MakeModemOption, which will construct the correct options based on the user modem preferences and available PC card modems.

Q Are there any features that are important to support in the new devices?

A The most important thing is to make sure your application works. After that, there are some important updates you can make to support features in the new devices.

First, make sure your application can be dragged, assuming of course that it's not full-screen in all orientations. You can do this by changing your base view to a protoDragger with either some sort of status bar (preferably newtStatusBar) or a protoLargeCloseBox. Remember to make sure the borders of the protoDragger will be contained in the application area; you can use GlobalOuterBox to check this. And while you're at it, you can check that your application will handle any screen size.

You may also want to see whether you can improve your use of screen space. Note that your major layouts (for example, detail and overview) don't have to be the same size. The Names application is a good example of this.

Another important feature to support is the use of the keyboard. Add the required keyboard commands to your application. As of this writing you can find this information in the "User Interface Guidelines for Newton OS 2.1 Keyboard Enhancements" document. If your application is based on NewtApp, most of this work is done for you; otherwise you'll have to add almost all the keyboard commands yourself. Once you've supported the required set, add other commands that make sense for your application. Don't forget keyboard navigation in your overview.

A related feature that's good to support on both Newton OS 2.0 and 2.1 devices is conditional display of embedded keyboards. You can use the KeyboardConnected global function to check whether a keyboard is connected; if it is, don't display embedded keyboards unless they're highly specialized.

If you're using the infrared (IR) communications tool, you should use IrDA if possible. This will give you a faster transfer rate and a much more robust protocol. If your application might be communicating with older units, be sure to give your users a choice of IR connection types, since older units can only use the ASK protocol. Newton OS 2.1 still supports all the IR options from 2.0. Note that using the action menu to beam information will do the right thing.

You should also take advantage of the grayscale feature, by using the new RGB-based gray shades (that is, kRGB_Gray1 through 15) instead of the dithered gray patterns. Dithered patterns are usually specified as vfGray, vfLightGray, and so on. You can also change your own patterns to use grayscale. Although the dithered patterns still work, the true gray RGB shades look a lot better. You'll want to wrap the specification in a check to make sure that grayscale is available. Naturally you'll want to update important parts of your application to use grayscale -- for example, your splash screen and Extras icon.

Finally, if you're targeting the eMate and the education market, you should update your application for multiuser mode. This could be an extensive change, since you'll have to modify your interface and the names of all soups that you save.


The llama is the unofficial mascot of the Developer Technical Support group in Apple's Newton Systems Group. Send your Newton-related questions to dr.llama@newton.apple.com. The first time we use a question from you, we'll send you a T-shirt.*

Thanks to jXopher Bell, Bob Ebert, David Fedor, Ryan Robertson, Jim Schram, Maurice Sharp, and Bruce Thompson for these answers.*

If you need more answers, take a look at the Newton developer Web page, at http://www.devworld.apple.com/dev/newtondev.shtml.*

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Little Snitch 3.5.3 - Alerts you about o...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Cocktail 8.4 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
PDFKey Pro 4.3 - Edit and print password...
PDFKey Pro can unlock PDF documents protected for printing and copying when you've forgotten your password. It can now also protect your PDF files with a password to prevent unauthorized access and/... Read more
Kodi 15.0.beta1 - Powerful media center...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 6.4.12 - Catalog your d...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast. Finder-like intuitive look and feel. Super-fast search algorithm. Can compress catalog data... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.3.0.0 - Monitor and c...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
Lyn 1.5.11 - Lightweight image browser a...
Lyn is a lightweight and fast image browser and viewer designed for photographers, graphic artists and Web designers. Featuring an extremely versatile and aesthetically pleasing interface, it... Read more
NeoOffice 2014.11 - Mac-tailored, OpenOf...
NeoOffice is a complete office suite for OS X. With NeoOffice, users can view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, PDF files, and most Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. NeoOffice 3.x... Read more
LaunchBar 6.4 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Remotix 3.1.4 - Access all your computer...
Remotix is a fast and powerful application to easily access multiple Macs (and PCs) from your own Mac. Features Complete Apple Screen Sharing support - including Mac OS X login, clipboard... Read more

Crossy Road Devs Hipster Whale are Bring...
Hipster Whale, the minds behind the rather popular (and rather great) Crossy Road, have teamed-up with Bandai Namco to create PAC-MAN 256: an absolutely bonkers looking maze runner chaser thing. | Read more »
Meet the New Spotify Music
Spotify Music  has a lot going on. They're introducing 3 new modes to serve all your musical needs, with the "Now" start page  gives you curated playlists based on your particular tastes. As you listen the app will learn more about your tastes and... | Read more »
What the Apple Watch Gets Right, and Wha...
| Read more »
Celebrate PAC-MAN's 35th Birthday W...
BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America is celebrating PAC-MAN's 35th anniversary by releasing updates for PAC-MAN and PAC-MAN Lite for iOS. [Read more] | Read more »
Strike Wing Episode 2 has Landed on the...
Strike Wing: Raptor Rising is an exciting space combat simulator by Crescent Moon Games, which was recently updated to continue the story with Episode 2. [Read more] | Read more »
Kiqplan Expands its Interactive Coaching...
The makers of Fitbug have been hard at work on their Kiqplan lineup, and have added four new summer themed plans to help you get the most out of your workout. [Read more] | Read more »
Make a Photobook in Minutes with Pictyea...
What happens when you can't stop taking photos and have an urge to create a photobook? Pictyear saves the day. [Read more] | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: May 18-22, 2015
May Days at 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the... | Read more »
Biz Builder Delux (Games)
Biz Builder Delux 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Ah, there's nothing like the rhythmic bustle of a burgeoning business burg... especially when you're the one building it... | Read more »
Auroch Digital is Bringing Back Games Wo...
| Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

What Would the ideal Apple Productivity Platf...
For the past four years I’ve kept a foot in both the Mac and iPad camps respectively. my daily computing hours divided about 50/50 between the two devices with remarkable consistency. However, there’... Read more
New 13-inch 2.9GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1699.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from... Read more
12-inch MacBook stock status for Monday, May...
The new 12″ Retina MacBooks are still on backorder at The Apple Store with a 3-5 week waiting period. However, a few models are in stock today at Apple resellers. Stock is limited, so act now if you’... Read more
New 27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac in stock with free...
Adorama has the new 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac in stock today for $1999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Adorama will include a free copy of Apple’s 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan. Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: New 27-inch 3.3GHz...
Best Buy has the new 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1899.99 this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary... Read more
OtterBox Maximizes Portability, Productivity...
From the kitchen recipe book to the boarsroom presentation, the OtterBox Agility Tablet System turns tablets into one of the most versatile pieces of handheld technology available. Available now, the... Read more
Launch of New Car App Gallery and Open Develo...
Automatic, a company on a mission to bring the power of the Internet into every car, has announced the launch of the Automatic App Gallery, an app store for nearly every car or truck on the road... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: 13-inch 1.6GHz Mac...
Best Buy has the new 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849 on their online store this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: 27-inch 3.5GHz 5K...
Best Buy has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2099.99 this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary.... Read more
Sale! 16GB iPad mini 3 for $349, save $50
B&H Photo has the 16GB iPad mini 3 WiFi on sale for $349 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more

Jobs Board

Architect / Senior Software Engineer, *Apple...
Changing the world is all in a day039s work at Apple . If you love innovation, here039s your chance to make a career of it. You039ll work hard. But the job comes with Read more
*Apple* Pay Support Readiness Project Manage...
Changing the world is all in a day039s work at Apple . If you love innovation, here039s your chance to make a career of it. You039ll work hard. But the job comes with Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
**Job Summary** The Apple Watch team is looking for a Hardware Design Validation Engineer. This person will be part of the Apple Watch hardware team with Read more
Sr. Payment Program Manager, *Apple* Pay -...
**Job Summary** Apple Pay is an exciting environment and a…devices in a simple, private and secure way. The Apple Pay Team is looking for an experienced Senior Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.