https://mcubedsw.com/blog M Cubed Blog 2023-10-02T13:00:00+00:00 Martin Pilkington https://mcubedsw.com tag:mcubedsw.com,2023-10-02:/september_2023 September 2023 2023-10-02T13:00:00+00:00 2023-10-02T13:00:00+00:00 <p>Time for take 2 of the Dev Diary series. I had initially planned to put one of these out every month, but that plan quickly fell apart. I'm going to try and be more consistent with this going forward, trying to get a release out soon after the end of a month.</p> <p>September was a pretty slow month. After finally getting the re-designed website out in August, I decided to take some time off as I was starting to feel pretty burnt out. The initial plan was to take a week off everything, followed by a week working just on the stream overlay, followed by work on the next version of Coppice.</p> <p>Unfortunately that quickly fell apart. The burnout is somewhat more severe than I first thought. I struggled to work through the overlay and struggled even more with Coppice. I've realised I need to take more time to recover and that requires taking things much more slowly.</p> <p>As such I've put the development streams on hiatus. I need to rethink them and how to best utilise them in a way that benefits both you and me. I'm thinking maybe doing four 2-hour streams rather than three 4-hour streams per week, but I'll only be re-starting when I feel I have the energy back.</p> <p>I'm also going to be re-thinking the next version of Coppice. My initial direction was to introduce an expanded theming system with some special themes you can choose from. However, I feel like this isn't going to be as useful as it could be.</p> <p>Instead I'm considering going down a more generic "appearance customisation" route, allowing you to customise things like colours, styles, etc. This will probably end up being something I spend the next few weeks designing but gradually add over several releases as I want to revisit a lot of design decisions prior to starting work on the iPad version of Coppice.</p> <p>I should hopefully have something more visual to share next month with ideas of where things are going. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful October!</p> I'm restarting the Dev Diaries, this month talking about burn out and planning for the future of Coppice tag:mcubedsw.com,2023-08-28:/a_new_m_cubed_website A New M Cubed Website 2023-08-28T14:00:00+00:00 2023-08-28T14:00:00+00:00 <p>So things have been quiet around here for… well, about 8 months. Back in January this year I had a plan of refreshing the design of the M Cubed and Coppice websites, something I thought would take a few weeks to do. The simple refresh ended up turning into something a lot more involved and complicated and, 8 months later, you can finally see the result.</p> <p>I do apologise for the lack of updates in that time. When you're a lone developer working part time on a project (while also working part time on freelancing) stuff tends to fall off the wagon, and updating the blog has been one of those things. Going forward I'm hoping to focus a lot more on keeping you up-to-date on progress here, especially as I'll be starting on some exiting new stuff for Coppice. But more about that later…</p> <h2>What's New on the Website?</h2> <p>I mentioned that the initial plan of a refresh of the design ended up becoming a lot more complex. Of all the projects I've worked on in my career this probably had the most scope creep, but ultimately it is worth it. Almost everything I've built was on the roadmap, they were just more inter-connected than I thought (and so harder to release piecemeal).</p> <p>The most obvious change is the new look. The colours are a lot bolder than before, the navigation is clearer, and there is barely a sharp corner to be seen. Things started to click in the design phase when I looked at using curves to separate sections, especially on the Coppice product page. I won't claim it's the best design ever conceived, but it's certainly a new peak for my own design skills, and for M Cubed Software.</p> <figure style="width:800px; margin: auto"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/new_mcubed_website/website_preview.jpg" alt="Screenshot of Coppice product page" style="width:800px"> </figure> <p>I have also done away with the separation between the Coppice and M Cubed websites. As of today, <a href="https://coppiceapp.com">coppiceapp.com</a> redirects to <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/coppice">mcubedsw.com/coppice</a>. It is still very useful to have the domain, but having two completely separate websites which overlapped in some ways was a pain to manage and confusing for people using the website. This also means I can integrate support resources and this blog into M Cubed as a whole.</p> <p>The 4th page in navigation is the Stream page. This gives details of the M Cubed Dev Stream, including the ability to watch on the page, and an updated schedule. Most of the progress on this update has taken place on the stream, so it's a good place to keep up on what I'm currently working on.</p> <p>Finally, one of the most important goals for the new website was to simplify how many steps it takes to buy <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/coppice#pro">Coppice Pro</a>. On the old website, once you got to the Coppice product page, you had 8 steps just to get to the purchase field. On the new website it's just 4. After you purchase, the old system required 6 steps to activate but the new system can be as few as 2. In total that's down from 14 steps to 6 (excluding the actual purchase part which is the same). That's a big improvement. How did I manage this though? Well…</p> <h2>What's New in Coppice?</h2> <p>Today is also the release of Coppice 2023.1. This is actually not a big release on the feature front, but it does set things up for the future. The biggest new feature is a new license system. A large part of the complexity in buying and then activating Coppice Pro was having to sign up for an M Cubed account and then logging in in Coppice. That is still an option (and offers benefits such as being able to manage your subscription without having to contact me directly), but you will now receive a new licence file when you purchase, which you can add to Coppice to activate your copy of Coppice.</p> <p>There is another benefit to a licence file though, which is that they can be embedded in a URL. This means that the purchase email you receive will contain a button you can press to activate. You will even find a similar button in your M Cubed Account (if you have one) that will activate Coppice on your current machine. Much simpler!</p> <p>The second feature, enabled by this new system, is that Coppice Pro now has a free trial. This is something I've wanted to add for nearly 3 years, but there were a few technical roadblocks. You can try out Coppice Pro for free for 30 days right from within Coppice. And this is an entirely risk free trial. There's no sign up and no need to enter payment details. When the trial ends you'll just go back to regular Coppice (though I do hope you'll consider paying to keep Coppice Pro).</p> <p>Next, Coppice 2023.1 has had a bit of a visual update. You will notice this in 4 places: the About panel, the Coppice Pro info in the inspector, the Coppice Pro settings, and the Welcome screen. I have given these a refresh to fit more closely with the new website design. They are a lot more vibrant and unique than the more standard UIs they replaced and I hope you like them as much as I do. They represent the first step of a larger redesign of the Coppice UI.</p> <figure style="width:649px; margin: auto"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/new_mcubed_website/welcome_screen.jpg" alt="Screenshot of Coppice's new welcome screen. The screen appears like a stylised hill with a title at the top and" style="width:649px"> </figure> <p>Finally, 2023.1 is the first ever change to Coppice's minimum requirements. Previously Coppice supported all releases from macOS 10.15 through to macOS 13 (and soon 14). With 2023.1 I am dropping support for macOS 10.15 and macOS 11. Part of this is to ease development. Testing on multiple OS versions is difficult, especially with 10.15 and how different the UI design is. The other part is Apple introducing new tools for developers, many of which require macOS 12 and higher. While some of these were needed for 2023.1, the real benefit will come over the next few versions.</p> <h2>What does the future hold?</h2> <p>The immediate future is to take a break. I've been working on this update for 8 months, often working 6-7 days a week between freelance and Coppice. I've got to the point where I'm feeling the burnout setting in, so I'm taking a few weeks off from anything related to Coppice, including the stream. Hopefully this will let me recover before I move onto the next big push.</p> <p>Which brings us to the next version of Coppice. As I mentioned above, the new UI is the first step of a larger redesign of the Coppice UI. The second step is to revisit the main Coppice window, in particular Canvases. Ever since the first version of Coppice I have had the idea of canvas themes. But there are only 2 themes (dark and light) and they are heavily influenced by the general design aesthetic in macOS 10.15. I would like to finally change that.</p> <p>So the next version of Coppice (tentatively called 2023.2) will involve me re-building the visual side of canvases, to enable the creation of more themes. The idea is for me to release new themes over time for Coppice Pro users, and maybe (beyond 2023.2) even allow you to build your own themes.</p> <p>It will also involve fixing a long-standing technical issue with text pages, which causes all sorts of rendering issues. Hopefully this will result in a more reliable and performant canvas when you have a lot of text pages visible.</p> <p>Once this redesign is finished, the next steps will be to get Coppice into the Mac App Store, and then bring it to iPad. The Mac App Store release will hopefully be either late this year or at the start of 2024, with the iPad release hopefully mid-late 2024. But as we have all seen with this website redesign, my planned timelines rarely work out.</p> <hr /> <p>I hope this has given you a good overview of what is new and why it has taken so long. There are other technical issues I didn't cover above (such as needing to redesign my database and fix issues with emails) but generally it has just been a case of the project being far bigger than I initially anticipated. The good news is the end result is something I'm incredibly pleased with.</p> <p>If you would like to keep up-to-date on future developments on Coppice then be sure to <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/blog/feed.xml">subscribe</a> to the blog and/or follow M Cubed Software on our new Mastodon account: <a href="https://mastodon.social/@mcubedsw">mastodon.social/@mcubedsw</a></p> The M Cubed website and Coppice got a redesign. Find out what's new and why it took so long! tag:mcubedsw.com,2022-12-20:/coppice_2022_2_released Coppice 2022.2 Released 2022-12-20T16:30:00+00:00 2022-12-20T16:30:00+00:00 <p>I'm excited to announce that Coppice 2022.2 is now available to download. As I talked about <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/blog/post/2022_the_year_in_review">last week</a>, this release has been a long time coming for a variety of reasons, but I wanted to make sure it got out before the Christmas break.</p> <p>This released has focused a lot on linking on canvases. In previous versions of Coppice, links between pages on a canvas have just been simple arrows. They haven't really done much beyond visually linking two pages. You haven't been able to add or remove them beyond clicking links or closing a page. And you haven't been able to have multiple pages link to the same page or have loops of pages. That is, until Coppice 2022.2.</p> <p>Canvas Links are now their powerful tool inside Coppice, letting you map out your thoughts with greater freedom than ever before. Let's take a look at some of their features.</p> <h3>Highlighting Links</h3> <p>Now that Canvas Links are much smarter, Coppice is able to link them back to, well… links. If you hover over any Canvas Link arrow it will highlight all the links that it represents on the page it's linking from. And hovering over a link will highlight any arrows that represent that link.</p> <p>Not only that, Coppice can also detect Canvas Links that no longer have an associated link on a page, drawing them with a dashed line instead.</p> <figure style="width:591px; margin: auto"> <video width="591" height="208" controls title="Deleting a link"> <source src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/coppice_2022_2_released/delete_link.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <h3>Creating &amp; Deleting Canvas Links</h3> <p>You can now create and delete Canvas Link arrows without touching your Pages. To delete an existing Canvas Link just click on its arrow and hit backspace to delete. Creating a Canvas Link to an existing page is as easy as Command-clicking on a link to that page.</p> <p>And for Coppice Pro users you can create a link on a page <strong>and</strong> a canvas in one action with the new Link to Page option in the Canvas menu.</p> <figure style="width:574px; margin: auto"> <video width="574" height="501" controls title="Creating a link between two existing pages"> <source src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/coppice_2022_2_released/link_to_page.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <h3>Multiple Links to Pages</h3> <p>One thing that this flexibility in creating links allowed was the ability to finally link multiple pages to a single page. Previously Coppice had a "parent-child" relationship between linked pages on a canvas, where each page could only have a single parent. Now you can link pages any way you please, meaning that those who prefer to have only a single instance of each page on their Canvas can do so.</p> <p>In fact, if you really enjoy this new way of working with pages, Coppice Pro now lets you make it the default. Go to Settings and enable the new "Link to existing pages by default" and clicking any links on a canvas will link to an existing page over creating a new one (though you can still force it to open a new page by command-clicking the link).</p> <figure class="centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/coppice_2022_2_released/multi_page_linking.jpg" alt="4 pages linked together with arrows. The top left says 'Links highlight when you hover over them', with 'hover over' highlighted. The top right says 'Pages can now have multiple pages linking to them', with two arrows going in. The bottom right says 'And can even be part of loops' with an arrow in and an arrow out. The bottom left says 'And if you remove a link from a page the Canvas Link will change appearance'. One arrow going out has a dotted line" width="617"> </figure> <h3>Other Improvements</h3> <p>I've also added some other great quality-of-life improvements to canvases. The first is that closed hierarchies now open relative to their parent page. Previously, hierarchies would store their absolute position on a canvas. This mostly worked fine, but if you moved an open page and then re-opened the hierarchy then it may appear a distance away from where you expect. Now it shouldn't matter where you move pages.</p> <p>The second big improvement is for accessibility. Those who use accessibility tools like VoiceOver can now use rotors to navigate through all pages or all links on a canvas.</p> <p>Finally, Coppice has a great new icon, thanks to the amazing <a href="https://matthewskiles.com">Matthew Skiles</a>. The old icon has served me well, but it was time to finally update to Apple's new design pattern and Matthew pulled it off perfectly.</p> <figure class="borderless centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/coppice/appicon.png" alt="Coppice Icon" width="256"> </figure> <hr> <p>I'm incredibly pleased with this version of Coppice, even if I may be disappointed with how long it took. Hopefully changes I'm planning for next year will lead to more frequent updates.</p> <p>For now though, I want to wish you a very wonderful end to 2022 and I hope you enjoy any celebrations in your corner of the world. Here's to 2023 and the many Coppice updates it may bring!</p> I'm excited to announce that Coppice 2022.2 is now available to download. Let's take a look at what is new, including link highlighting and multiple links to pages tag:mcubedsw.com,2022-12-13:/2022_the_year_in_review 2022: The Year in Review 2022-12-13T15:00:00+00:00 2022-12-13T15:00:00+00:00 <p>2022 is nearly over and I thought it would be a good opportunity to review the year and what I achieved, as well as what I didn't. I also want to look forward to 2023 and what I hope to do differently.</p> <h3>Coppice Releases</h3> <p>Coppice was simultaneously a success and a disappointment. In the first half of the year I managed to get out version 2022.1, a big update that added numerous new tools for Image Pages, including the ability to link them. It finally got Coppice to the baseline I'd envisioned years ago when I started.</p> <p>Coming next week will be version 2022.2, another big update that changes how linking works on a Canvas. Canvas Links become their own concrete thing, which you can create and delete separately to Pages. It can be a game changer for some workflows.</p> <figure class="centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/2022_the_year_in_review/coppice_2022_2.jpg" alt="4 pages linked together with arrows. The top left says 'Links highlight when you hover over them', with 'hover over' highlighted. The top right says 'Pages can now have multiple pages linking to them', with two arrows going in. The bottom right says 'And can even be part of loops' with an arrow in and an arrow out. The bottom left says 'And if you remove a link from a page the Canvas Link will change appearance'. One arrow going out has a dotted line" width="617"> </figure> <p>That's two major updates that massively improve parts of Coppice, two updates that I am incredibly proud of. Unfortunately, they took a lot longer than I expected. I had hoped to be talking about a 3rd release this year that would get Coppice into the Mac App Store. Unfortunately things got in the way (which we'll get into later) and so development took longer than expected.</p> <p>I'd also planned to improve marketing, with more blog posts, videos, a new website, and more. None of that happened.</p> <h3>Streaming</h3> <p>The highlight of the year for me has been starting streaming. It's helped to give me a stable schedule to work on Coppice and also introduced me to many great new people. On top of that, it's taught me new skills in 3D modelling and Unity development, some of which may be useful for future Coppice plans.</p> <p>It makes a huge difference having a project I can work on where I don't need everything to be at the highest level, where I don't need to worry about things like keeping people's data safe, where it's fun without any stress.</p> <p>If you haven't seen the streams then I highly encourage you to drop in sometime. I stream every Sunday and Monday at 1pm GMT and Wednesday at 6pm GMT over on <a href="https://twitch.tv/pilkycrc">Twitch</a>. Right now I'm focusing on building my interactive 3D overlay, but in the new year I'll be back into Coppice development.</p> <figure class="centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/2022_the_year_in_review/stream_overlay.jpg" alt="A 3D stream overlay with a small white robot with a computer screen for a head in a spaceship environment" width="680"> </figure> <h3>Life</h3> <p>The biggest issue this year has been life getting in the way of things I've wanted to do. I've spent a lot of the year dealing with fatigue. Part of that has been burnout, doing too much between my contract work, Coppice, and other life jobs. I'm hoping a long break over Christmas will do a lot to help me recharge my batteries.</p> <p>Burnout isn't just caused by overwork though, it can also be caused by spending too long on the graft of building something without the reward of releasing anything. My plans for 2023 should hopefully help that.</p> <p>I've also had some health issues that caused my fatigue as well. Thankfully, they seem to have been diagnosed and treated, so I'm now feeling a lot more energetic during the day. This means I'm spending far more time able to work on things that require more thought and less brain fog (such as writing a blog post).</p> <p>So if you've been wondering why there have been so few updates from me this year, besides streaming, it has been primarily down to this. Here's hoping it's all better next year.</p> <h3>2023?</h3> <p>So where do I want to go in 2023? And what do I want to do differently? This next year will be focused on two things: Process and iPad.</p> <p>Process is about building the tools and practices for me to get more content out, faster. The first part of this is smaller releases. I am going to try and focus releases on single features, rather than areas. This means you will get a regular trickle of features rather than a few big splash releases. It also means I get the feeling of accomplishment more regularly.</p> <p>The second part of process is around marketing. I want to build out a process to get out more frequent blog posts, social media posts, and even tutorial videos and advertisements. I'm able to get information out easily while streaming, but I need to share this in a wider away of formats. One example is sharing what I worked on on stream through social media. Setting up a pipeline where that happens after every stream would keep you more informed and ease my workload.</p> <p>Then there is iPad. From day one I've build Coppice with an iPad version in mind. I've not committed to anything concrete before, and I still can't until I've proved that it works, but the next year will be when I embark on that project. I can't say when it will be released. I'm hoping that by this time next year I'm able to say Coppice is available on iPad, but a lot has to happen between now and then.</p> <p>Regardless, I hope I can come back to you this time next year with more good news and fewer problems. Sadly software development always hits bumps in the road, but being open about them at least helps you understand why problems happen. I hope you have a wonderful end to the year and (in a few weeks) a great 2023!</p> Let's take a look at what happened over 2022 and what I would like to achieve over the course of the next year tag:mcubedsw.com,2022-05-09:/coppice_2022_1_released Coppice 2022.1 Released 2022-05-09T14:00:00+00:00 2022-05-09T14:00:00+00:00 <p>I'm happy to announce that Coppice 2022.1 is now available for release. I've been working hard on this since the start of the year, focusing on improving the functionality and usefulness of image pages.</p> <h3>Image Linking</h3> <p>The big new feature in 2022.1 is the ability to link <strong>from</strong> image pages. You can now drag hotspots over sections of an image. These hotspots can be linked to other pages or URLs, just like links on text pages. Clicking on the hotspots when viewing an image page will take you to that page (or open it on a canvas).</p> <p>I'm really excited about this feature as it opens up entirely new workflows inside of Coppice. For example, if you're using Coppice for world building for a story, you can have a map of your world with links out to information about locations in it. Or you could be planning out a home renovation and have a floor plan that links out to various options for furniture or materials.</p> <figure style="width:640px; margin: auto"> <video width="640" height="360" controls title="Creating hotspots on an image page in Coppice"> <source src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/coppice_2022_1/linking.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <h3>Rotation</h3> <p>Sometimes images aren't oriented the way you expect. It's annoying to drag an image into Coppice only to find it's on its side or upside down. Thankfully you can now rotate images directly within Coppice.</p> <figure style="width:640px; margin: auto"> <video width="640" height="360" controls title="Rotating an image 90 degrees to the left and right"> <source src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/coppice_2022_1/rotating.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <h3>Cropping</h3> <p>Sometimes you want to focus down on a particular part of an image, so Coppice now supports cropping image pages. This cropping is fully non-destructive so if you change your mind in the future you can move or resize the cropped region.</p> <figure style="width:640px; margin: auto"> <video width="640" height="360" controls title="Cropping an image in Coppice and then undoing the changes"> <source src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/coppice_2022_1/cropping.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <h3>Pro Features</h3> <p>Coppice Pro users gain a bunch of great improvements too. Firstly, you get even more choice when creating image links. Free users can create rectangular hotspots, but Pro users also gain access to Oval and Polygon hotspots, giving you a lot more flexibility.</p> <p>One of the coolest features I've built to date though is auto-linking for images. As you probably know, Coppice Pro has supported auto-linking in text pages from the start, automatically finding text that matches page titles and creating links for them. Well thanks to the power of machine learning, Coppice can now find text within your images and do the same thing. As an added bonus, this also enables Coppice's search feature to match against text inside an image!</p> <figure style="width:640px; margin: auto"> <video width="640" height="360" controls title="Changing a page title and having an auto-link appear over an image page containing text"> <source src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/coppice_2022_1/imageautolinking.mov" type="video/mp4"> Your browser does not support the video tag </video> </figure> <hr/> <p>You can download Coppice 2022.1 by going to <strong>Coppice > Check for Updates…</strong> in Coppice's menu bar or by clicking the button below</p> <p><a href="https://mcubedsw.com/download/coppice/latest" class="button"><strong>Download Coppice</strong></a></p> Coppice 2022.1 is now available. Checkout what is new, including image linking and editing! tag:mcubedsw.com,2022-02-15:/streaming_coppice_development Streaming Coppice Development 2022-02-15T14:00:00+00:00 2022-02-15T14:00:00+00:00 <p>Software development can seem like a rather opaque practice at times. People tap on keyboards and software comes out at the end. Most people only see the final result, not the many decisions that led to it. You also often don't get much communication with the people behind those decisions, beyond the occasional blog post, tweet, or support email.</p> <p>I've been thinking of ways to help change that with Coppice. Last week you saw one aspect, with the introduction of the <a href="http://mcubedsw.com/blog/dev_diary_january_2022">Dev Diary</a> to chronicle what I have managed to work on the previous month. Another aspect is what I want to talk about today: the Coppice Dev Stream.</p> <h3>Developing Live</h3> <p>When most people think of live streaming services like Twitch they think of people streaming playing games or chatting with people. However, there's a small but ever-growing community of people developing software too. From games to websites to server side code, developers are sharing their process with people all over the world.</p> <p>I've been enjoying quite a few of these streams. In particular I've enjoyed both <a href="https://twitch.tv/piratesoftware">Pirate Software</a> (who is building a game) and <a href="https://twitch.tv/doigswift">DoigSwift</a> (who build their entire streaming environment in Unity). These streams have inspired me to experiment with building Coppice live.</p> <p>There are multiple benefits for me in this. For one, having a regular streaming schedule helps lock my focus down purely on Coppice. I've found that I'm far more productive while streaming than I would have otherwise been because I'm very present in those 2-3 hours of the stream.</p> <p>I also have the benefit of people in chat offering suggestions when I'm stuck on a problem. I would have got to a solution eventually, but I've had several cases where chat has helped speed me up by pointing out the more obvious answer.</p> <p>Streaming can also help work as a "low effort" marketing tool. Marketing is one of the hardest things for an indie developer to do, and it usually takes away from time that could be spent improving the app. Streaming allows me to make the development part of the marketing. It's too early to say how real this benefit will be, but it doesn't cost me anything to do.</p> <p>Finally, streaming offers me a way to give more back to the community. Others can watch and learn how a Mac app is built. They can bring questions along for me to try and answer. Or they can just see out in the open that everyone makes silly mistakes or writes messy code from time to time.</p> <h3>Building the Stream</h3> <p>I want to go a little bit into how I've built up the stream. The first key part is the video. This is handled via OBS (the <a href="https://obsproject.com">Open Broadcaster Software</a>), which lets me build up various scenes. Most of the time I'm on a scene that captures my iMac's screen and adds an overlay and my little robot avatar over the top.</p> <figure class="borderless centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/streaming_coppice_development/obs.jpg" alt="Screenshot of OBS. The top left is a preview of the screen. On the right is a Twitch chat. On the bottom are areas for Scenes, Sources, Audio, and Controls" width="767"> </figure> <p>The little robot avatar is my answer to the fact I don't want to have a camera on me for several hours. It uses an app called <a href="http://veado.tube">veadotube mini</a>, which lets me set up a series of PNGs that will change based on my audio input.</p> <p>Speaking of audio, that is the next key component. For hardware I'm just using my regular gaming headset. Now I did buy this headset because it's meant to have a better than average mic, but I haven't gone for some sort of fancy set up. With a few audio tweaks in OBS it's sounding pretty good.</p> <p>The background music is a bit more involved. First is finding the music, as you need to get royalty free and DMCA friendly music, but thankfully I've managed to put together a playlist. Next is getting the audio into OBS. This is a bit Rube Goldberg-esque, but essentially I use <a href="https://www.shinywhitebox.com/swb-audio-app">SWB Audio App</a> to create a virtual output for OBS to read. It also creates a virtual input for me to pipe the audio from the Music app to, which I do using <a href="https://rogueamoeba.com/soundsource/">SoundSource</a>. A bit awkward to set up, but it works really well.</p> <p>Finally, I have my <a href="https://www.elgato.com/en/stream-deck-mk2">Stream Deck</a>. This is probably the biggest amount of money I've spent on this set up but, to be honest, the stream was just the justification to finally buy something I've wanted for a while. I've configured various actions to let me switch my OBS streams, switch my avatar between states, post messages to the Twitch chat, and even post my "going live" tweets to both <a href="https://twitter.com/coppiceapp">@coppiceapp</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/pilky">@pilky</a>.</p> <figure class="centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/streaming_coppice_development/stream_deck.jpg" alt="Screenshot of streamdeck app. On the left are buttons for controlling OBS, in the middle are buttons for twitter and twitch, and on the right are buttons for controlling avatar expressions" width="476"> </figure> <h3>Watching the Stream</h3> <p>If you want to follow along with Coppice's development, ask questions and provide live feedback as I design and code, learn more about software development, or just chat with me and others watching, then you can follow along live at <a href="https://twitch.tv/pilkycrc">twitch.tv/pilkycrc</a>.</p> <p>Currently I'm streaming twice a week. Every Monday I stream from 2pm-5pm UK time (9am-12pm EST). And each week I alternate between Friday from 2pm-5pm and Saturday 2pm-4pm, to fit around other work commitments. If you follow the pilkycrc account on twitch, you can be notified whenever I start streaming.</p> <p>If you can't catch the streams live then you can watch the videos on-demand. The videos go up on Twitch immediately after the stream ends and stay up for 2 weeks. I've also started a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj33jBsBJ5SpkcNxyW9AsuQ">YouTube channel</a> for Coppice where I'll be uploading each stream a few days later.</p> <figure class="centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/streaming_coppice_development/youtube.jpg" alt="A grid of 6 youtube thumbnails for Coppice Dev Streams" width="680"> </figure> <hr> <p>I hope you'll join me as grow both the stream and Coppice itself. As always, if you want to stay up to date with Coppice then also be sure to follow <a href="https://mastodon.social/@mcubedsw">@mcubedsw</a> on Mastodon and subscribe to <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/blog/feed.xml">The Coppice Blog</a></p> Software development can seem like a rather opaque practice at times. I've started streaming the development process on Twitch to try and make it a bit more transparent tag:mcubedsw.com,2022-02-01:/dev_diary_january_2022 Dev Diary: January 2022 2022-02-01T14:00:00+00:00 2022-02-01T14:00:00+00:00 <p>Back in October <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/blog/indie_development_and_coppice_delays">I wrote about</a> how I wanted to be more transparent about the development of Coppice. There are several ways I'm wanting to do that, but the one I'm focusing on today is a new series of posts called the Dev Diary. This will be a monthly account of what work I managed to get done on Coppice, be that design, development, marketing, or anything else around building and selling an indie Mac app. So let's get started with January's edition.</p> <h3>Recovering from 2021</h3> <p>After the release of version 2021.2 I was feeling dangerously close burnt out. I took the decision to take the whole of December off from working on Coppice, and then take two full weeks off all development work over Christmas. Burn out is a dangerous thing, especially for an indie developer. I've learnt the hard way that it's far better to tackle it early to save yourself in the long run.</p> <p>Thankfully, after this rest I'm now feeling a lot happier, healthier, and more enthusiastic about working on and improving Coppice, which bodes well for the rest of the year.</p> <h3>Starting Streaming</h3> <p>The first thing I worked on this month wasn't actually Coppice itself, but a live development stream. This is a place where people can tune in to watch me work on Coppice live, and bring comments and questions for me to answer as I work. It's another pillar of my transparency strategy and one that is also helping keep me motivated and focused on the task at hand.</p> <p>Most of the work this month was just building the initial stream setup and getting used to the software, but I'm pretty happy with how things are going. I'm planning a more in-depth post next week, but you can check out the stream (including VODs of old streams) over at <a href="https://twitch.tv/pilkycrc">twitch.tv/pilkycrc</a>.</p> <h3>Starting Version 2022.1</h3> <p>The next big version of Coppice is version 2022.1. This will focus heavily on improving the functionality of image pages. The two key areas I'm working on are some basic image editing tools, such as rotate and cropping, and the ability to create links from image pages to other pages.</p> <p>I've already managed to get the rotation functionality built and have made a good start on the cropping functionality. The latter is going to take a lot more time than I anticipated as there are lots of small UX problems to solve.</p> <figure style="width:700px; margin:auto" class="borderless"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/dev_diary_january_2022/image_cropping.jpg" alt="Screenshot of an app displayed inside Coppice. Part of the image is highlighted by a rectangle, with resize handles around it" style="width:700px;"> </figure> <p>I've also started building out the designs around how linking hotspots might look, though this may take a bit longer to implement. One enjoyable thing about this whole version is it's pushing my graphical coding abilities beyond my usual comfort zone, allowing me to explore parts of Apple's APIs I haven't had opportunity to touch in the past.</p> <figure style="width:700px; margin:auto" class="borderless"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/dev_diary_january_2022/image_hotspots.jpg" alt="Screenshot of the Coppice website inside Coppice as a page. A rectangle is highlighted and surrounded by dotted lines with resize handles at the corners" style="width:700px;"> </figure> <hr> <p>That will do it for this month's dev diary. As always, if you want to stay up to date on Coppice then be sure to <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/blog/feed.xml">subscribe</a> to The Coppice Blog and follow <a href="https://twitter.com/coppiceapp">@coppiceapp</a> on Twitter.</p> The first Dev Diary goes into recovering from 2021, starting streaming development on Twitch, and working on the next version of Coppice tag:mcubedsw.com,2021-11-23:/coppice_2021_2_released Coppice 2021.2 Released 2021-11-23T15:00:00+00:00 2021-11-23T15:00:00+00:00 <p>I'm excited to announce that the second major update to Coppice, version 2021.2, is now available to download. This release brings improvements to linking and navigation, plus a huge number of quality of life improvements and bug fixes.</p> <p>You can find a summary of the new changes in the recent <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/blog/sneak_peak_coppice_2021_2">Sneak Peek</a> post, or you can peruse the detailed <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/coppice/release_notes">release notes</a> for a comprehensive list of changes.</p> <p>You can download Coppice 2021.2 by going to <strong>Coppice > Check for Updates…</strong> in Coppice's menu bar or by clicking the button below</p> <p><a href="https://mcubedsw.com/download/coppice/latest" class="button"><strong>Download Coppice</strong></a></p> Coppice 2021.2 is out, bringing improvements to linking and navigation, plus a huge number of quality of life improvements tag:mcubedsw.com,2021-11-02:/sneak_peak_coppice_2021_2 Coppice 2021.2 2021-11-02T15:00:00+00:00 2021-11-02T15:00:00+00:00 <p>After many <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/blog/indie_development_and_coppice_delays">delays</a>, the next major release of Coppice is almost ready. I'm still putting the finishing touches to it but Coppice 2021.2 should hopefully be out in the next few weeks.</p> <p>2021.2 is focused on improving navigation and linking within Coppice. I've also had the opportunity to use Coppice more intensively the past few months. While I've used Coppice throughout its development, this more recent use highlighted a bunch of smaller fixes and improvements that should make using Coppice a lot more enjoyable. So let's take a closer look!</p> <h3>Redesigned Page Selector</h3> <p>The Page Selector is used in many places in Coppice. It can be used for jumping to a Page, adding a Page to a Canvas, and linking to a Page. The initial design was quite narrow with large rows for each search result.</p> <figure class="borderless centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/sneak_peak_coppice_2021_2/page-selector-old.jpg" alt="The old Coppice Page Selector. Each result row has the page title and content on separate lines with large icons on the left" width="450"> </figure> <p>Part of the reason for these large rows was to allow for a preview of Image Pages. Unfortunately, these previews were rather small and not particularly useful, so I've decided to get rid of them. This opened up the potential for reducing the height of each row by moving everything into a single line, letting you see more results in the same space.</p> <figure class="borderless centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/sneak_peak_coppice_2021_2/page-selector-new.jpg" alt="The new Coppice Page Selector. Each result row has the page title, content, and a smaller icon on a single line, allowing more results to be shown" style="width:604px;"> </figure> <p>The next big feature added to the Page Selector is the ability to create Pages. Every Page Selector now has a list of options at the bottom. Selecting one of these will create a new Page, title it with what was entered in the search field, and then perform whatever action you were wanting to do. This makes things like creating a link to a new page far easier, and I can't wait for you to get your hands on it.</p> <figure class="borderless centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/sneak_peak_coppice_2021_2/page-selector-create.jpg" alt="The new Coppice Page Selector. The search field contains the term 'Creating'. The selector shows 2 matching results. Below is a section titled 'Create New…' with options 'Text Page' and 'Image Page'" width="604"> </figure> <h3>Link Inspector</h3> <p>Linking is one of the key features of Coppice. Since its release, Coppice has been pretty good at letting you create links (even helping <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/coppice#pro">find links</a> for you). But the UI for editing and removing links left a bit to be desired, and there wasn't really any way to view where a link points without clicking on it and seeing what popped up.</p> <p>To solve this, I've added a new inspector: the Link Inspector. This inspector only contains one control, but it is incredibly powerful. If you select a link it will show it in the inspector. To change a link you can click the Link Control and start typing. Select one of the suggestions and the link will be updated. And to remove a link simply click the x button to the right of the Link Control.</p> <figure class="centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/sneak_peak_coppice_2021_2/link-inspector.jpg" alt="3 images of the new link inspector. The first shows an empty control with the title 'Click to add link', the second with a link to a text page titled 'Pages', and the third with an external URL to coppiceapp.com" width="700"> </figure> <p>The Link Inspector does more than just let you link to existing pages though. The auto-complete is actually a variant of the Page Selector so gains the same ability to create new pages. On top of that, you can start typing a URL to add an external link, no longer needing a separate sheet.</p> <figure class="centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/sneak_peak_coppice_2021_2/link-inspector-completion.jpg" alt="The link inspector with the word 'Coppice' typed in the control, with an auto complete based on the page selector" width="301"> </figure> <h3>Quality of Life Improvements</h3> <p>As I mentioned above, I've been using Coppice a lot more over the past few months and realised there were a few areas where I could make small changes which improve Coppice in big ways:</p> <p>You can now duplicate Pages, either from a context menu or by holding option when dragging Pages in the side bar. Text Pages now support tables. This adds a lot more flexibility in how you lay out Pages. The Welcome View now lets you drag documents out of its sidebar. This is great for when you want to make a quick copy of a document without opening it or having to search for it in Finder.</p> <p>There are also numerous bug fixes, including:</p> <p>Changing the font size or weight now works more reliably Auto-linking no longer links Pages to themselves and now works with smart quotes Ordered lists now start at the correct number</p> <h3>Pro Features</h3> <p>Finally, Pro users are getting some improvements. The first of these is in the new Page Selector, where you can hold down the option key to display the folders a Page resides in, great for when you have multiple Pages with the same name.</p> <p>You will also find two new options in the inspectors. The first is the ability to exclude a Page from auto-linking. Sometimes you create Pages to act as templates, or maybe they have a common word as their title that is linking too often. Well now you can exclude them with the click of a checkbox. And for those who want to see Page titles permanently on a Canvas, there is now a checkbox to make sure they're always visible, without needing to hover over the Page</p> <p>Finally, I've redesigned the Coppice Pro screen in preferences. Previously, logging into your M Cubed Account to activate Pro left you with a screen that was a bit plain and awkward to parse.</p> <figure class="centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/sneak_peak_coppice_2021_2/pro-screen-old.jpg" alt="The old Coppice Pro info screen" width="551"> </figure> <p>After a quick redesign, everything is better laid out, with additional options such as taking you to your M Cubed Account online.</p> <figure class="centre"> <img src="https://mcubedsw.com/images/blog/posts/sneak_peak_coppice_2021_2/pro-screen-new.jpg" alt="The new Coppice Pro info screen" width="551"> </figure> <hr> <p>There are still a few more bugs to fix and various support documents to update, but I'm hoping to be able to get Coppice 2021.2 and all these great new features out to you in the next few weeks. If you want to be the first to know when it's released, then be sure to <a href="https://mcubedsw.com/blog/feed.xml">subscribe</a> to The Coppice Blog or follow <a href="https://mastodon.social/@mcubedsw">@mcubedsw</a> on Mastodon.</p> Coppice 2021.2 is almost ready, so lets take a look at some of the new features you can expect to see!