Tuesday, June 18, 2013


A few people have asked me about Mavericks, the soon-to-be-released Mac OS X 10.9. (I'm going to miss the cat names that Apple has used for all their earlier releases.)

From what I've seen so far, there's no reason why Solitaire Till Dawn won't be fully compatible with Mavericks  I intend for the new Solitaire Till Dawn to work with any version of Mac OS X from Lion (10.7) at least up through Mavericks—of course I can't promise anything beyond that at this time, since we have no idea what future OS X releases will be like.

My last post went up only about 24 hours ago, but I have been working since then. I am writing the online help. Yesterday I spent mostly fighting with CSS, trying to get the pages nicely laid out. In the process I got the first few pages of help written in the new style; their actual text content I just copied from the old version, because none of that info had changed much in the new release.

I've learned some useful trivia in the process, such as how to write "⌘" in HTML. (It's ⌘ if you're curious.)

Today I'm starting to design the pages for stuff that has changed. So I have to write new text, but at least I've mostly got the formatting problems solved now. Onward!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Back in the Saddle

No news since March! Time for an update.

The house-moving is done, yay! (Well, it's never completely done, but it's 99% done and the rest isn't urgent.) The family's health issues I've been alluding to are also mostly resolved, and in a good way: we're all doing fine, thanks.

So... does that mean I'm finally back to work on Solitaire Till Dawn?

Yes. Yes, it does. It's taken half of a year to get all of these issues taken care of, but life is finally settling back towards sanity, and I have actually been able to spend time on software development during the last few weeks. Here's where we are:

I am nearly done with adding features (whether new or old). Most recently I completed work on the old "Game Number" feature, where every shuffle has a number that can be used to re-create it. You can share a challenge with a friend, for example, by choosing "Show Game Number" from the File menu and sending the number to your friend, who enters it by choosing "Play Game Number" and entering the number you sent.

I have also finished adding in some missing behaviors. For example, until a couple of weeks ago, selecting "New Game" didn't give you any warning or chance to change your mind if you were in the middle of an unfinished game. Now the old preference settings for that sort of thing are fully implemented, and you do get the warning and chance to cancel if, for example, you clicked the New Game button by accident.

This morning I achieved a really good improvement in startup time. It had been taking 30 seconds or longer to launch Solitaire Till Dawn and present the game window; now it takes about 3 seconds.

So all of that is just to show you that yes, I've been working! But I know that what you really want to know is what's left to do, and how long it will take.

Sorry, but I still can't predict how long it will take to finish. (Pause for loud groans from the audience, and a few people shouting boo! and throwing overripe fruit.) This is because much of what's left isn't up to me.

There's still the polish-and-debug stage to get through; that part is up to me. It will be done when I feel like all of the significant bugs are fixed, and when I'm not finding new ones very often. But I've done a lot of that already, as I worked on other things, so I'm not too concerned about it.

I also have to write the online help. That will take time, but it's pretty straightforward and I don't expect any big difficulties or setbacks; so I'm not too concerned about that either.

Then there's artwork. This is a big deal. When I wrote the first version of Solitaire Till Dawn, most of my customers still had black-and-white Macs with a tiny screen. It was fairly easy for me to provide all the artwork, even though I'm not much of an artist. When the Mac II and larger color screens started getting popular, it was harder (because I'm not much of an artist!) but I could still manage on my own. But when really big, deep-color Macs became common, I started having to hire real artists. Nowadays, the App Store and the high-resolution Retina displays have raised the bar absurdly high. All of the artwork must be of professional quality: not only because users have come to expect it, but because the App Store will not accept apps that look slapdash. (For example, every app must have an app icon in deep color, and sized at 1024x1024 pixels! That's bigger than my cards used to be!) So one of my next tasks is to come up with a comprehensive list of images—card art, app icon, toolbar buttons, dialog images, status bar icons, etc.—and hire somebody to make them. And then wait for them to be done.

And when everything is really done and ready to go, I have to submit it to the App Store. Getting a new app approved can take months, from what I'm told.

So hang in there, if you can. I know that inevitably some of you are going to give up on waiting. I'm truly sorry to disappoint you; I probably want this done myself more than anyone else on the planet; but as I keep saying, it's a big job and it will take as long as it takes.

But I am working on it!