New stuff in Sketch 3.4

The update is finally out. Here are the parts from the changelog that caught my attention:

You can now create a quick mask for a selected bitmap just by clicking the Mask button in the toolbar

I thought maybe you can apply a gradient to the mask only, which then will result in fade effect, but that didn’t work. 🙁 Am I missing something?

– Measuring distances between layers now also works with ⌘ (Command) to drill down into groups
– You can now Option-hover layers in the Layer List to measure distances between it and the selected layer

This is very cool, measurement got better.

– Improved Background Blur rendering
– Background-blurred layers no longer have white edges

Better but at the edges it still gets halo.

– Added the ability to drag embedded SVG images directly from the browser into Sketch
– Scrollbar in the layer list no longer obscures the hide/lock icons
– New gradients are now based on the current fill colour
– The Color Picker correctly highlights identical colors among the presets

Finally!

In 3.4 when the color picker is selected you cannot zoom the canvas any more. Which is better than what it used to be, because previously it completely fucked up the zooming.

Also they made improvements to the hierarchy drag and drop. This time we have an Apple Mail-like visual clue where the drop will happen.

As a user of the software I think these tweaks made it better, but I’m interested in their longer term plans, especially what they think of prototyping interactions or designing with constraints.

See what’s next

Client: Netflix
Strategy: Gretel
Design + Animation: Gretel
Typefaces: Gotham Bold, Gotham Book

And then some:

Netflix needed a brand through-line: a conceptual and visual thread to connect everything. Our challenge was to create something broad enough for a global brand but still unique and identifiable. To create something variable yet systematic and bulletproof. It had to be visually striking, adapt to any format, and hold up to interpretation by agencies and vendors around the globe.

Our solution: The Stack, a visual metaphor and an identity system in one.

It’s worth paying attention to this. E pluribus unum.

What’s Object Oriented Programming?

Amogh Talpallikar on Quora:

I haven’t seen a better explanation about OOP till date than the one given by a guy who never had any formal engineering training but always had clear idea about everything he did and preached, be it technology, design or art.

He is referring to Steve Jobs in an 1994 interview for the Rolling Stone:

Objects are like people. They’re living, breathing things that have knowledge inside them about how to do things and have memory inside them so they can remember things. And rather than interacting with them at a very low level, you interact with them at a very high level of abstraction, like we’re doing right here.

Here’s an example: If I’m your laundry object, you can give me your dirty clothes and send me a message that says, “Can you get my clothes laundered, please.” I happen to know where the best laundry place in San Francisco is. And I speak English, and I have dollars in my pockets. So I go out and hail a taxicab and tell the driver to take me to this place in San Francisco. I go get your clothes laundered, I jump back in the cab, I get back here. I give you your clean clothes and say, “Here are your clean clothes.”

You have no idea how I did that. You have no knowledge of the laundry place. Maybe you speak French, and you can’t even hail a taxi. You can’t pay for one, you don’t have dollars in your pocket. Yet I knew how to do all of that. And you didn’t have to know any of it. All that complexity was hidden inside of me, and we were able to interact at a very high level of abstraction. That’s what objects are. They encapsulate complexity, and the interfaces to that complexity are high level.

And here we are in 2015, when Aaron Sorkin made the following lines into a movie:

Steve Wozniak: What do you do? You’re not an engineer. You’re not a designer. You can’t put a hammer to a nail. I built the circuit board! The graphical interface was stolen! So how come ten times in a day I read Steve Jobs is a genius? What do you do?

Steve Jobs: Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.

I have less and less inclination to watch this movie.

FE-Schrift

Wikipedia:

FE-Schrift has been the only typeface used on new vehicle registration plates of Germany since November 2000, except for plates issued to military-registered vehicles, which still use the former DIN 1451 typeface. (…)

The motivation for the creation of the typeface was spun in the late 1970s in the light of Red Army Faction terrorism when it was discovered that with the then-standard font for vehicle registration plates—the DIN 1451 font—it was particularly easy to modify letters by applying a small amount of black paint or tape.

I recommend reading the whole article.

Everything about the new emojis

Jeremy Burge on the new Apple included emojis:

Apple has released the iOS 9.1 update for iPhone and iPad, which includes 184 new emojis. This makes iOS the first operating system to include every single emoji in the Unicode Standard.

My personal favorite in the new set is 🕴 Man in Business Suit Levitating. I also like the miscellaneous tweaks. Too bad, facepalm will be a 2016 thing. The post above omits the following four emojis: ❣ ☠ 🏵 🏺 However, the short post is complete listing all 184 new emojis.

TLDR: “1Password leaks your data”

Dale Myers is concerned:

For those of you who don’t know, 1PasswordAnywhere is a feature of 1Password which allows you to access your data without needing their client software. (…) The file that had issues was 1Password.agilekeychain/data/default/contents.js. Being a curious kind of guy I opened the file to see what was in there. The answer is the name and address of every item that I have in 1Password. Every single one. In plain text.

AgileBits isn’t:

Back in 2008, we introduced the AgileKeychain as a way to help our users better synchronize data across platforms and devices. At this time, 1Password had significantly less processing power to draw from for tasks like decryption, and doing something as simple as a login search would cause massive performance issues and battery drain for our users. Given the constraints that we faced at the time, we decided not to encrypt item URLs and Titles (which resembled the same sorts of information that could be found in browser bookmarks).

I looked at the file in question and indeed, just as Dale pointed out, everything is there. I’m also concerned by the justification of AgileBits, they certainly don’t seem to care deeply about this. Mind you, both parties acknowledge that a new storage format, called OPVault that is supposed to resolve this, will be enabled by default. The reason they hadn’t done so is because of some backwards compatibility (srsly?).

On the Mac you can terminal-magic yourself into the future, but be sure to backup your data first. Dale’s post will definitely push AgileBits to do this more quickly, so I’ll wait until the official migration is out.

The whole thing made me realize that 1Password is a black box at this point. Should they migration fail with my database, I won’t really be able to get my data out of their encrypted files, my only option seems to be reverting to an earlier backup hoping they’ll be able to read that. Now I need to figure out how to back up my data so that I can read it at my own leisure.

Ghost Dog (1999)

I’ve seen this movie at least two times, then yesterday I watched it again. The movie got better after each viewing, I think that’s due to my aging and perhaps understanding the world more. There was one thing I did miss though:

Ghost Dog also makes friends with a little girl named Pearline (Camille Winbush), to whom he lends the book—Rashōmon and Other Stories—he received from Vargo’s daughter. Paralleling a major theme of Rashōmon, Louie and Ghost Dog have different accounts of the circumstances of their meeting: in Louie’s flashback he shoots Ghost Dog’s attacker in self-defense, while in Ghost Dog’s flashback, Louie shoots the attacker just as the attacker is about to kill Ghost Dog.

This detail is certainly there, but I could argue whether the viewer, who is not familiar with the Japanese book and doesn’t look for clues, is able to catch it. (I wonder when Jarmusch observes that during test screenings and exit interviews the audience is not able to catch this part, sees a responsibility to ux it better, so that everyone understands, or is it on a level of finesse where he could just let it go? I wish I could ask this question from him.)

Anyway, I’m going to re-watch Le Samouraï, which was an inspiration for Ghost Dog.

Adobe releases Acumin

Sally Kerrigan over at TypeKit:

Coming in with a staggering 90 different weights and styles, the Acumin family is the latest typeface from Robert Slimbach, the principal designer at Adobe Type. It’s our pleasure to add this to our library for use on the web and for syncing. (…) Type historian John Berry wrote an extraordinary background on the history of neo-grotesques and the design process that Robert went through to shape Acumin. Take a look at the Acumin site for more details, as well as suggestions from Robert about usage and an interactive type specimen.

She is not kidding, the Acumin site is amazing, I’ll set some time aside to enjoy it from A to Z. It’s so great that with my Creative Cloud subscription I’m able to use this font right away.

There are new mice in town

Steven Levy got a rare look inside Apple’s Input Design Lab:

The input device, dubbed the Magic Mouse 2, would look to users exactly like the previous model. But on the inside and underneath, everything would be different, mainly because Apple was switching to a rechargeable lithium battery instead of the previous replaceable alkaline ones.

Late in the process, everything seemed to be going fine. The internal lithium battery was custom-engineered to fit the cavity. The redesigned antenna — necessary to deal with the potential interference from an internal battery — was working well.

But one thing was totally unacceptable.

The mouse didn’t sound right.

Mail aliases under El Capitan

There is a welcome addition to El Cap that I like a lot: in Mail you can finally create and edit mail aliases from the UI. This was previously possible if you edited ~/Library/Mail/V2/MailData/Accounts.plist file and added your aliases as dictionary items (I blogged about this in detail 2 years ago).

This can be found under: Mail – Preferences – Accounts – Account Information – Alias – Edit Aliases…

Why is this useful? If you have custom domains that you’d like to send mails from using your current mail provider as a backend, you can set aliases for that domain. Apple Mail will recognize the recipient list and automatically set that address as the sender address.

For instance, I have a reply from address set to this blog, and whenever get a mail from a reader, I’m automatically replying from this domain. Apple Mail even lets you quickly select from your identities in every mail (just like as if you’d had multiple mail accounts configured).

One thing to note is that you need to provide domain ownership, otherwise your mail will definitely end up being in the spam. This can get technical and messy, but refer to my earlier blog post or reserch DKIM and SPF zones.

iOS 9 GUI from Facebook design

Ever since Teehan+Lax transformed into something different and Facebook-ish, I’ve been all but wonder: what’ll happen to their otherwise fantastic iOS GUI Sketch? Good news is that it’s part of Facebook Design now and it is now meticulously recreated for iOS 9. You can download the whole thing here.

There is more: they made available the diverse Origami device hands, which is also excellent for design work, and they have a good spot for learning about the design at Facebook.

Super Mario Advance 4’s e-Reader Levels Get Resurrected Thanks To Super Mario Maker

Nintendolife:

When Nintendo launched Super Mario Bros. 3 on the Game Boy Advance under the rather misleading title Super Mario Advance 4, it included 30 secret stages – all falling under the banner “World-e” – which could only be unlocked by using the optional e-Reader accessory and a set of special cards.

Given that both of these elements were quite hard to get hold of even at the time of release, not many people got to experience these stages – but thankfully that has now changed as fans Baddboy78 and theycallmeshaky have painstakingly replicated the levels in Super Mario Maker.

I slowly get to see the real value in this game. Here is a good introduction what “World-e” meant in SMA4. There is a level which is super rare to get, even in SMA4: you needed to live in Japan, you needed this card reader thing and you had to actually go into selected stores to get the card and “unlock” the level in your game. This is the “B Dash de Kakenukero!” and it’s pretty hillarious!

Do you love SF? Here is what you need to know.

Apple marketing:

Designed from the ground up for use on all Apple devices, San Francisco has been fine-tuned for optimal readability on a Mac, and looks particularly crisp and refined on a Retina display.

One could argue whether Apple really designed the SF family from the ground up given the almost identical appearance to “Akkurat“, a font designed by the Swiss Laurenz Brunner. Here is a comparison on ExpiredMag:

Back in 2012 on the genesis of Akkurat by Laurenz:

My typeface was an anti-thesis to [graphic design in London in 2002] – a utilitarian typographic notion that, looking back, I was only able to embrace by living a healthy distance from Switzerland, my home country, famed for its modernist heritage.

For a long time I never considered releasing the font – I thought of it as my own personal writing tool. (…) It actually took several weeks for the first license to leave the shop, and it wasn’t until two or three years later that designers started becoming more interested in an ‘objective’ typographic style, reanimating a lot of classic (Swiss) design values. Akkurat became something of a mascot for this movement.

On the other hand Akkurat is very similar to grotesque typeface FF DIN. Apple is know to experiment with humanist typefaces: prior to iOS 9, FF DIN was used in the camera app as the UI font, and another humanist font, Avenir, designed by Swiss Adrian Frutiger, was notoriously used as the font in Apple Maps.

Needless to say, I’m A-okay with the use of SF, and I love the modifications to the original (just check the colon between the time markings), but I’m not so A-okay with the design attribution. Clearly, Antonio Cavedoni, at Apple Type Group, could’ve pushed attributing SF as a font that was based on Akkurat and have been modified as a typeface for Apple’s UI font. Apple in the end has chosen not to.

update: I made some comparison, the difference is more striking here. I think Apple did a good job with the fork, though.