Half-assed Followup

Uncategorized Mar 06, 2022

I never know when it’s better blogging etiquette to update a published post with new information or to publish a followup post instead. But given the chance to use “Half-assed” in two consecutive article titles, I think the prudent choice is to seize that opportunity.

After I posted “Half-assed Mac Apps” a few days ago in response to this article from Riccardo Mori, Christian Tietze wrote his own take on the matter, which spawned this Hacker News thread.

Be sure to scroll all the way to the end of Christian’s post as he’s adding additional reactions and links on this topic as he finds them.

Riccardo followed up with another piece earlier today as well.

I also want to clarify a potential misunderstanding Steve Troughton-Smith took away from my original post:

‘Half-assed Mac apps’ is correct, but you’re pointing at a symptom, not a cause.

As I replied to him:

If my post implied Catalyst was a cause, then I worded it poorly. My point was to explain why Catalyst is in an uncomfortable middle ground that encourages low quality Mac apps – even if the tech existing at all does give us more apps we wouldn’t otherwise have.

I think Catalyst was (is) a clever and creative technological response to try and improve macOS software diversity by leveraging the massive iOS developer base and their enthusiasm, but failed (is failing) for the reasons I wrote about.

I’m sad that Catalyst isn’t the panacea that the absolute best-case scenario of the tech could’ve been, but hey, clearly a lot of work went into trying. Ten points to Gryffindor for effort!

Finally, in irony that only makes sense to me right now, this whole conversation couldn’t have had better timing as I (accidentally) built my first Catalyst app last month. I hope to share more about it some other time, but the summary is…

I built my own drawing/sketching app for iPad based on my own weird workflow and feature requirements. It’s just for me – no intention to ever distribute it. It’s 100% vector-based, with multiple infinite canvases you can spatially arrange in a card-style layout. Syncs to JSON files over iCloud. It’s nerdy.

Anyway, I made it for iPad. And after I finished, thought, “I wonder if this whole Catalyst thing works?”

And it did. Thirty minutes later it was running on my Mac. Bravo, Apple.

But the flip side – that aligns with my original thesis – is that while it works and is serviceable as a Mac app, it’s a terrible Mac app. Unfortunately, because it does cross over the threshold of being just good enoguh for my needs, I have very little reason or motivation to ever make it any better on macOS since that’s not my target platform for this app. That it works at all on a Mac is a happy bonus.


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