flickery v1.9.45 with critical bug fixes now available

flickery icon

flickery v1.9.45, a critical bug fix release, has just been released both on the Mac App Store and via the app’s update mechanism.

What’s flickery?

flickery is a full-featured desktop client for flickr, allowing you to manage your photo stream, favorites, albums, galleries and more.

That’s still around?

I admit, flickery hasn’t seen an update in quite a while (the last one on October 24th, 2014 – it’s quite embarrassing).
Managing and maintaining five different apps is quite a task for one person, and in the case of flickery, one thing just lead to another and I somehow was never able to keep updating it regularly.

I had started development of version 2.0, but as that Yahoo sale happened, I paused again, not knowing where things would go.
Now flickr is in the hands of SmugMug, and after a very brief first conversation with them, I’m thinking flickr’s in a good place. Let’s see where things go from here.

What’s New in flickery v1.9.45?

  • A crash was fixed that occurred when loading galleries (which sometimes lead to a crash during authorization)
  • A crash was fixed when cancelling an upload
  • A bug was fixed where you couldn’t take screenshots anymore from within flickery’s upload section
  • Due to the Mac App Store’s API restrictions, flickery now uses AVFoundation for its video playback instead of QuickTime, leading to increased system requirements (macOS Lion 10.7.3 or newer is now required)

Increased System Requirements

flickery used to use the QuickTime and QTKit frameworks for video editing and playback. Trying to compile that code lead to several errors, as the frameworks are not available anymore on macOS High Sierra (possibly earlier), so (with invaluable help from Phil Dennis-Jordan (twitter) ) I had to copy them over from macOS Snow Leopard, since that’s the version of macOS I was targeting.
Building worked, and I was confident I could release right away, but then this happened:

Xcode warning: Deprecated API usage

Apparently, Apple no longer accepts apps that use the QuickTime or QTKit APIs (even if you’re targeting very old versions of macOS). So back to Xcode I went, assessing how much work it would be to move everything from QuickTime/QTKit over to AVFoundation.

The most critical parts were, of course, video playback so you could watch videos posted to flickr. Other parts where I used those APIs were recording photos and videos with your Mac’s FaceTime camera and trimming videos that were longer than allowed for upload, but I decided to scrap those features for now so I could release quickly. I’m guessing they were rarely used anyway, if at all.

Updating the remaining code turned out to be a couple of hours of work (it wasn’t all that difficult, to be honest), but resulted in increased system requirements, as AVFoundation is only available on macOS Lion (10.7) and up.

I wanted to keep supporting macOS Snow Leopard (10.6) with flickery 1.x, but I would have had to take out video playback for that build, and I didn’t want to.

Availability

Version 1.9.45 of flickery is a free update for existing customers of the app, both on the Mac App Store and from the website.

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Developing flickery 2.0 – Part 2: Upload

(I apologize for the delay with this post, I had to work on updates for Yoink, ScreenFloat and Briefly and of course lots of work happened on flickery 😉 ).

To finally continue with my promised series of blog posts about flickery 2.0’s development, here I am back with: Uploading.
A minor disclaimer before we start: Any interface you see below isn’t anything near final, subject to change, etc etc. 

If there is one part that’s integral to any flickr client, it has to be uploading. So with 2.0, I want to make darn sure that it’s the best you can get.
Let’s dive in! 

Activity (Background Uploading)

In flickery 1.x, uploading blocked the entire app so you couldn’t do anything else but wait. Sure, you got a beautiful sheet window to look at with the currently uploading image slowly transitioning from blurry to focused representing the upload progress, but it wasn’t very user-friendly.
I wanted to change that with 2.0, so now uploads will be in the background, in the app-wide Activities panel where you can track the progress and potential errors of Up- and Downloads.

Activityview

It’s out of the way, you can close it and leave it running in the background (and of course the little image also transitions from blurry to focused 😉 ). When the activity (Up- or Download) is finished, you’ll get an OS X notification letting you know the activity is done.

Notification

Another advantage of background uploads is that you can queue them up. You can begin one Upload and while that is running work on the next. And when you start that one, it will wait for any previous Uploads to finish and then begin uploading.

Adding to Photosets and Groups

Adding to Photosets or Groups for uploads is not very straightforward in flickery 1.x for Uploads. You can’t assign photosets right from the Upload view but have to wait until the upload finishes and the button bar at the bottom changes to “Add to Set” and “Add to Group”. By the time the upload is finished, you might not know anymore which photos you’d like to add to which photoset or you forget altogether. It’s not really a “set it, then forget it” approach.

This is going to change in flickery 2.0. Here, you’ll be able to set everything up beforehand and once the upload itself is done, photos are added to the photosets and groups you have set. So you can set everything up and leave it to flickery to do its thing.

Screenshot of flickery  03 04 2014 18 02 34

Location and Maps

In flickery 2.0, it will be even easier to assign locations to selected items (both photos and videos) using Apple’s MapKit features.

Screenshot of flickery  03 04 2014 18 20 01

The big improvement here is that you can now search for locations and flickery will reverse-geocode that info into a latitude/longitude pair that Maps can understand. If you have a camera without GPS and want to assign a specific location, this comes in very handy.

Sorting

I’m adding better sorting to flickery with version 2.0. As you can see in the screenshot below, you can sort by Date and Title (booooring) but also by location, for example, based on the distance from the selected item. Items without a location will be sent to the end of the list.

Screenshot of flickery  03 04 2014 18 26 00

Using Google’s Maps APIs (because Apple’s reverse-geocoding is a little bit limited), flickery will also let you sort by Country, City and ZIP/Postal Code.
This comes in very handy when you’re deciding which photosets to add to, for example, or just for the general order of the uploaded items and how they will appear on flickr.

Sadly, Google’s APIs are limited as well (2,000 requests per day per IP address), but it’s better than Apple’s limitation (which gives out after about 50 consecutive requests – bug report filed! – and yes, I am not geocoding all items at the same time but one after the other, as “demanded” in Apple’s CoreLocation documentation). But I don’t think too many will run into issues with that.

Filtering

Dealing with many items for upload, it can become overwhelming trying to keep track of everything. With flickery 2.0 I want to simplify that by implementing filters, so you can quickly view only photos or videos, items with or without description, tags, location and if you’ve assigned a photoset/group or not.

Menu

That wil make it easy for you to keep on top of everything and make sure you’ve done everything you had planned for your upload.

Importing unsupported files

Just like in flickery 1.x, flickery 2.0 will let you quickly convert RAW files (which flickr doesn’t accept) to JPEG files, trying to keep as much EXIF data as possible (which is new in 2.0).

Import

Trimming videos has been in flickery 1.x as well, but is now done with AVKit instead of QuickTime and is quicker and more reliable. It offers the same trimming interface you already know (and hopefully, love) from QuickTime Player:

Trim

Editing

I’m not sure yet about how deep I want to go into editing (if at all) with flickery 2.0. I figure, most items will come from iPhoto or Aperture anyway, already post-processed by an app that can do it better and is focused on it more than flickery ever would be.

Perhaps I will include very basic editing functionality like rotating and mirroring, but I think that will be about it.

Quick Uploads

With all this detailed uploading stuff, there needs to be a way to quickly upload something into your stream, a photoset or a group.

So with flickery 2.0, when you drag an image- or video file onto your stream, a photoset or a group it won’t fuzz about and just directly, quickly upload it without you having to do anything else.

 

I think that’s it for this time, I’ll see you next time with some more insights on flickery’s development 🙂

Thank you for reading!
Take care and I hope to see you again next time 🙂

—-
My name is Matt, and I’m the developer of Eternal Storms Software. You can follow me on twitter here: [twitter-follow screen_name=’eternalstorms’ show_count=’yes’]

Developing flickery 2.0 – Part 1: The Past

As I am now back working on flickery after a short hiatus – sometimes you need a little distance from a project to be able to reflect on it and maybe get a new perspective on some things, I figured I’d talk about the process as I am working on it, not after, in a so-called “post-mortem”, as my memory is now fresh and “in medias res”.

Before going into about what’s coming though, allow me to go back to see what’s been.

A New Beginning

Starting from scratch is usually admitting to having screwed up before. In flickery’s case, I wouldn’t say I screwed up completely. I am, however going to say that I could have done some things better. In some parts, a lot better.

Creation Date of flickery 1

I started developing flickery 1.0 in early 2008. That’s a long time ago. I’ve become (I hope) a better programmer with a deeper understanding of how things work and are supposed to work. I have (a lot) more experience in Cocoa and a better understanding of UX and UI. I don’t let myself get away with things that work ok but could be better that easily anymore.
This is a good time to start from scratch.

Why start from scratch?

flickery 1 crashlog

They say the way your desk looks, your mind looks. If you apply that to the code base of flickery 1.x, you’d commit me. It is not a pretty sight.
It’s really hard to look at, it’s difficult to follow and understand… it’s a fine mess, to be honest.

So one part of the reason why I started from scratch is that I didn’t see the forest for the trees (the app for the code) anymore.

Additionally, things have changed a lot in OS X since 2008. Which makes version 2.0 a good point to get rid of all the legacy code (individual code paths for OS X Leopard and every iteration that came after) and create clean code for OS X Mavericks and newer. (Mavericks is a no-brainer, it’s a free upgrade, everyone should go and get it.)

There’s blocks, ARC and Objective-C 2.0, just to name few. Going back to flickery 1.0’s code and re-working all the parts might very well have taken just as long (if not longer) as starting anew. It was totally worth it.

New Back-End

ESSflickr classes in flickery 2

Absolutely essential for flickery is it’s communication with flickr’s API. Incidentally, in flickery 1.x, that was the #1 cause of crashes and bugs.
I’m not going to tell you how I did it back then; it’s just too embarrassing.

This time around, I’m not making the same mistakes again (all the while hoping I’m not making any new ones).

Let’s just say, in the old backend, I handed NSDictionaries et.al. back and forth. I didn’t use any XML or JSON parsing, I did it all with NSString’s rangeOfString, etc., not always checking if a range existed before working with it. As I said – embarrassing.

So the first thing I did was switch from getting XML from flickr’s API to JSON and not parsing it myself, but letting the system do it. That’s a huge load off my mind right there.

Secondly, I’m done with handing NSDictionaries, NSArrays, etc., around. The new back-end returns proper objects that contain the necessary info in an easily accessible and understandable way.

There are a few Objective-C wrappers for flickr’s API out there, but I didn’t like any of them. They let you do this (pseudo-code)

NSDictionary *responseDict = [SomeFlickrWrapper executeMethod:@“flickr.photos.search” withParameters:someDictionary];

Aside from also handling OAuth and signing methods, etc., this is all they let you do. So you have to remember the methods, the parameters – it’s really not a wrapper, it’s an access point to the API.

What makes my back-end different is this:

- (ESSflickrGallery *)createGalleryWithTitle:(NSString *)title
description:(NSString *)description
primaryPhoto:(ESSflickrPhoto *)photo
error:(ESSflickrError **)alert;

You call the method and the back-end does all the parameter and method stuff for you. It’s much neater. In this example, you can also see the use of custom classes instead of dictionaries. ESSflickrGallery, ESSflickrPhoto and ESSflickrError are all wrappers for responses from the API, neatly packed up in an easily accessible class.

I guess I could have used one of the available back-ends as a back-end for my back-end, but I figured, if I’m going through the trouble of matching all available flickr-API-methods, I might as well do the OAuth and signing stuff myself as well.

This new back-end doesn’t only make things easier to develop, read and understand, it also improves the app’s stability and performance (mostly because it’s easier to develop, read and understand 😉 ).

As you can imagine, this has taken up the most time up until now. Now comes the fun part of using it to create the next version of the app.

I hope you’ll enjoy this upcoming series of posts about the development of flickery 2.0 and some of the design decisions behind it.

Upcoming in Part 2

In part 2, I’ll talk about uploading to flickr with flickery 2.0. Lots of suggestions will make it into the new version 😉

Thank you for reading. Enjoy your day!

My name is Matt, and I’m the developer of Eternal Storms Software. You can follow me on twitter here.