Affinity Designer – The Next Vector Graphics Tool For The Mac

August 22, 2014

Affinity Designer – The Next Vector Graphics Tool For The Mac → via @_patrickwelker

You probably heard about Sketch from Bohemian Coding by now. It’s a great illustration program for graphic designers which are looking to create vector art outside of the hell that is the Goliath Corporation1 Adobe. It’s affordable, has a solid community which provided tons of plug-ins and it’s growing rapidly.

Well, competition is always a good thing for the customer. That’s why I’m happy to make this post about Affinity Designer by Serif2 to you. It strives to bring you vector bliss to your Mac at a competitive price. Currently it’s in open beta… and already brillant. From the couple of test rounds I can tell that I’ll like it and buy it.

So, if you’re a vector guy and have enough side-projects that allow you to sway away form Illustrator go check it out.

No subscription

It’s free to try, £34.99 to buy. That’s it.

But wait… there’s more. Photoshop and Indesign users don’t have to pull out the handkerchief to wipe away their tears because they were forgotten once again. Matter of fact the guys from Serif have a real little suite for the digital craftsman in the pipeline, including Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo (read: Photoshop alternative) and Affinity Publisher (read: Indesign alternative). You can read more about it on their about site. The forums hint that a public beta for the Photo app is soon to be released, so keep an eye peeled.

Uninteresting side note here:

Sketch is super light in size with 30 MB. Affinity Designer comes second with 290 MB and Illustrator is blustering behind with 510 MB. RAM-wise it’s the same picture: Sketch isn’t that hungry, Affinity and Adobe come in second.

  1. Or was it Conglom-O?… it’s always hard to differentiate between those super large companies.

  2. Nice domain, guys!

Alfred's Fuzzy Search, … Finally!

August 16, 2014

Alfred's Fuzzy Search, … Finally! → via @_patrickwelker

Hi, my name is Patrick. I’m an app horder and I run way to many apps. You need proof? Well, I run my favorite launchers, Alfred and LaunchBar, parallel (= at the same time).

I’m going to publish a separate post on this at some point, so that know why on earth someone is willing to force double the memory consumption on his poor old Mac. But today is ‘Alfred Day’.

Alfred, the trustworthy butler for all things Mac, has now arrived on Version 2.4. Along with it comes some cosmetic polish like a new default OS X Yosemite Light and Dark theme, a sharper status bar icon which respects Yosemite theming, a bit of window blur and lastly the obligatory follow the leader font-family: "Helvetica Neue" typography1.

That’s all nice and good, but for me there’s one point in the change log I’ve been eagerly awaiting and bugging the developers about constantly:

New option to fuzzy match file system navigation results, on by default in Alfred’s Features > File Search > Navigation options


As a LaunchBar guy I’m used to this behavior for ages and I couldn’t understand how any Alfred user could put up with it and navigate to his files successfully without getting annoyed. Admitted, there’s a chance that me being a scatterbrain is to blame for that I often can remember only parts of the folder I’m looking for. Normally Alfred should figure out what destination I’m trying to reach if I teach it well enough. Still, this hasn’t worked for me. And in the end, the app should make it as easy as possible for me to reach my target folder.

If you’re not completely sure what I’m talking about I put together a little screencast with my friend Daniel from the UK.

PS: Since I’m going to write that LaunchBar + Alfred article anyway, feel free to email or tweet me your favorite features or the reason why you decided to use one or the other app.

  1. Sorry, Jony. Still not convinced. You can do better.

Ten Years a Mac Developer

August 15, 2014

Ten Years a Mac Developer → via @_patrickwelker

Steve Harris is the developer behind Together, Feeder and Poster. He’s “in the (indy) game” for over ten years now and his Together is one of those apps I keep installed for a special purpose. It’s my offline Evernote where I keep and gather all things design related from tutorials up to snap shots from inspiring web designs.

To make a living, you need to create something useful that you can sell at a reasonable but sustainable price, and build up over time. Luck and good timing matter too, but a lot of that comes down to being smart about it. Sometimes it takes a while to come up with the app that sticks.

Together succeeded in a niche for me. I didn’t need almighty Evernote as a all-in bucket. Although I tried to use it for my design work, I cam back to Together. The feature I really like is the ability to create tag groups. You can setup tags for certain folders that get automatically applied when you drag files in them. Here’s an excerpt of how I use them:

Inspiration   > #webdev #inspiration
    Portfolio > #portfolio
    Templates > #templates
    Widgets   > #widgets
	    Smart Folders for buttons, forms, galleries, etc.

Together has helped me out there. I like the fact that it’s all local and that I can use my trusted folder structure. You can send files to your Together folder with your favorite Launcher apps (like Alfred or LaunchBar) or if your a I-love-my-mouse guy, you can drag files to the side of your screen where a drawer pops up with your favorite Together folders.

I recommend Steve’s post to new developers - no matter if you’re an iOS-only developer or are strictly Mac dev - because he outlines some scenarios that you might find yourself in one day.

Many Mac devs from that era have now experienced the full bell curve of interest in a platform, starting out as a niche concern, then hyped to the stratosphere, only to be swiftly brought back to earth. It’s hardly that the Mac or those apps are an irrelevance, but it can feel that way when you’re trying to promote your stuff.

You know, history repeats itself. So don’t get bummed out when your app goes through a dry phase and don’t rest on your achievements if you landed in the top segment of the charts overnight.

In addition there’s his seasoned experience about…

… people saying you should sell apps for pennies to get the most exposure…

… and why he entered the iOS market after ten years of developing:

I had to start all over again creating a Mac and iOS app combo to survive in the new world that emerged…

Last words from myself: Good look with Together Steve, also with fixing that pesky iCloud-Sync bugs. And, to my readers, if you’re into (app) history check out the 10 years of Together in this post.

PS: I hope to see an integration with iCloud Drive for the direct version after Yosemite shipped.1

  1. If such a thing is possible at all.

NoteHub – Pastebin with Markdown

August 07, 2014

NoteHub – Pastebin with Markdown → via @_patrickwelker

This brief article is supposed to introduce NoteHub to you, “a free and hassle-free pastebin for one-off markdown publishing”.

Since many people are moving away from all kinds of cloud-service towards self-hosted solutions, this little gem can also be used for the occasional (temporarily) shared Markdown document on the own server (see here). Of course it works out of the box if you don’t want to/need to host the app yourself.


Like the screen shot tells you, it’s also a WYSIWYG editor plus it works like Pastebin in that it automatically deletes older files for you (after 30 days). You can also password protect your shares and view them in all flavors of Solarized.

The popular file sharing services Droplr and CloudApp already come with Markdown support built-in. If you share a Markdown document the receiver will get a nicely rendered HTML document. It’s such a good feature that I wish Timo Josten, developer of my favorite self-hosted sharing tool Dropshare, will consider adding it to his app.

Said services host your shared document forever. If you just want to share a file temporarily then NoteHub is your candidate.

Once your file is published you can do a couple of things with it:

During the note publishing a password can be set. This password unlocks the note for editing. The edit mode can be entered by appending of /edit to the note url. By appending of /stats to any note url, everyone can see a rudimentary statistics (currently, the number of note views only). By appending of /export, the original markdown content will be displayed in plain text format.

The plain original Markdown support is based on the, using the Pagedown.js parser and you can also apply a custom <style>.

I browsed the source code on GitHub and the API but haven’t yet found the line of code which could make it possible to share files longer than the 30 days limit (or even ∞). Naturally someone smarter will figure this out, or if this is crucial to you just contact Christian Müller (@gravitydenier) directly.

Disclaimer: While plowing through GitHub I also found my old friend Brett Terpstra on one of the issues threads who pointed out that NoteHub currently doesn’t support footnotes.1

Update: I should have known better. Brett chimed in on the comment section and pointed out that there’s already a NoteHub CLI written by some unknown mad genius hacker scientist who’s powered by magical robot space oil and cranks out scripts by the hour.

  1. It’s no wonder that Brett already got this on his radar since he’s the-Markdown-guy par excellence.