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.*

 
AAPL
$112.24
Apple Inc.
-0.41
MSFT
$47.84
Microsoft Corpora
+0.32
GOOG
$509.27
Google Inc.
-1.83

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

calibre 2.13 - Complete e-library manage...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Mellel 3.3.7 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
ScreenFlow 5.0.1 - Create screen recordi...
Save 10% with the exclusive MacUpdate coupon code: AFMacUpdate10 Buy now! ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your... Read more
Simon 4.0 - Monitor changes and crashes...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
BBEdit 11.0.2 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
ExpanDrive 4.2.1 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Adobe After Effects CC 2014 13.2 - Creat...
After Effects CC 2014 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous After Effects customer). After Effects CS6 is still available... Read more
Evernote 6.0.5 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
Command-C 1.1.7 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Tidy Up 4.0.2 - Find duplicate files and...
Tidy Up is a complete duplicate finder and disk-tidiness utility. With Tidy Up you can search for duplicate files and packages by the owner application, content, type, creator, extension, time... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary...
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary with a Bunch of Free Games Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] BulkyPix has | Read more »
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking F...
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking Fever’s new sushi-themed update Posted by Simon Reed on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Lithuanian developer Nordcurrent has yet again updated its restaurant simulat | Read more »
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to C...
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to Celebrate 20 Million Downloads Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Desti...
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Destiny, and Beyond – AppSpy Takes a Look at AAA Companion Apps Posted by Rob Rich on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] These day | Read more »
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Fre...
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Free for the Holidays Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Shift - Photo Filters Designed By You (...
Shift - Photo Filters Designed By You 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Elastic Drums (Music)
Elastic Drums 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Music Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: *** Introduction price 3,99$ instead of 7,99$ *** Elastic Drums is a music app with 6 channels of synthesized drum sounds, a step... | Read more »
Fireworks Simulator (Games)
Fireworks Simulator 1.0.8 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0.8 (iTunes) Description: *** 50% discount – For a short time only *** You can play Fireworks Simulator on these devices: - iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, 6,... | Read more »
Nicky's Gift (Games)
Nicky's Gift 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Everybody! Merry Christmas! There's 48 levels in the game. Let's go! Nicky's Gift | Read more »
The Hit List — Simply Powerful Tasks, To...
The Hit List — Simply Powerful Tasks, To-Dos, Projects, & Reminders 2.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $9.99, Version: 2.0 (iTunes) Description: >> LAUNCH SPECIAL: The Hit List 2 for iPhone is ONLY $9.99... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

It’s 1992 Again At Sony Pictures, Except For...
Techcrunch’s John Biggs interviewed a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) employee, who quite understandably wished to remain anonymous, regarding post-hack conditions in SPE’s L.A office, explaining “... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Pros for...
 B&H Photo has new MacBook Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP as part of their Holiday pricing. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1699... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Airs for...
B&H Photo has 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, for a limited time, for the Thanksgiving/Christmas Holiday shopping season. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: iMacs for up to $...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software: - 21″ 1.4GHz... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac minis availab...
B&H Photo has new 2014 Mac minis on sale for up to $80 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $459 $40 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $629 $70 off MSRP... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac Pros for up t...
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $500 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2599, $400 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3499, $... Read more
Save up to $400 on MacBooks with Apple Certif...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs available for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Save up to $300 on Macs, $30 on iPads with Ap...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
iOS and Android OS Targeted by Man-in-the-Mid...
Cloud services security provider Akamai Technologies, Inc. has released, through the company’s Prolexic Security Engineering & Research Team (PLXsert), a new cybersecurity threat advisory. The... Read more
KMI MIDI K-Board Great Gift for Amateur &...
The K-Board is a MIDI Nano keyboard for music creation for iPad, Android, And computers; the easiest way to make music with iPads & Android tablets, and Mac, Windows, or Linux computers. Ultra-... Read more

Jobs Board

Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.