The Shape of Everything
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December 31, 2013

Some highlights from this past year, as well as a small preview of things Flying Meat is working on for 2014.

Acorn Stuff

In late April, we released Acorn 4. It included non-destructive filters with an on canvas HUD (aka "Merlin"). We also added an awesome new user interface, a curves tool, compositing changes with tremendous speed improvements, tons of vector tool improvements with boolean operations, and much more. And with an Editors' Choice award from Apple on the day it was released, Acorn sales shot into the stratosphere on both the App Store and from our own store.

Update: I can't forget great reviews from Macworld (+ 4.5 mice!), MacStories, and The Verge. Acorn also won a "Mac App Store Best of 2013" from Apple, and it was the only image editor to do so.

We didn't stop there of course. In August we released Acorn 4.1 which included CMYK support, new filters such as Background Blur and Mirror, a new Spotlight importer so your layer names and text boxes are indexed by OS X, improvements to the Levels tool, pure vector PDF exports, and the Quick Config popover for shapes. We also added (but didn't mention) support for 16 bit per component images. So if you opened a deep image (more than 8 bpc), Acorn would pop into a 64 bit workflow and keep those super detailed colors looking good.

In December Acorn 4.2 "For the Pros" was released, rounding out the 16 bpc workflow by giving an option to change the bit depth in the Image menu, as well as importing RAW images into a 64 bit workspace if deep pixels were available.

The compositing engine was also reworked in 4.2 such that all pixels are piped through OpenGL. This added speed improvements and also laid the groundwork for taking advantage of the super amazing GPUs that are shipping in the new Mac Pros as well as other Macs.

A reworked pencil tool, new crop options, new filters, color picker improvements, and other small improvements also showed up 4.2.

The response was great, and Acorn 4.2 is a hit. It currently has a perfect five star review in the App Store (though I'm sure I just jinxed that by pointing it out), and new users are discovering and falling in love with Acorn every day.

So what's coming up next for Acorn? We'll be pushing out a 4.2.x release shortly with some bug fixes, and then work on the next 4.x version will begin. RAW import will be getting some improvements, and there are some more compositing improvements that I've been working on in the lab - but I'll keep the other plans close to my chest for the time being.

I will add one more thing though- in 2014 I really want to put a focus on fixing the little bugs that have built up over the years. Crashers, data loss, and other critical bugs are always fixed right away of course, but the little bugs that most people don't see tend to get pushed off for a later date. No software is perfect- but I'd love for Acorn to get as close to it as possible. And thus "Project Oak" was born a little while ago in the FM labs.

VoodooPad Stuff

In November I handed off VoodooPad development to my friends at Plausible Labs. As I explained in my announcement, it was a really hard decision to make but I believe it was the right one. With all my attention on Acorn, VoodooPad was suffering.

I still find myself hacking on VoodooPad though, by using the public plugin APIs in VP - both in Objective C and with Cocoa Script (aka, JSTalk). I didn't expect to be doing this, but it's kind of awesome and I'm super happy I opened up VoodooPad in this way. I'll have to push some of my additions up to GitHub in the near future, and eventually some new ideas that I want to push into VoodooPad as well.

I've also come to see VoodooPad in a new light as well. As soon as I handed over the source code, I felt a little bit of dread knowing that I wouldn't be able to change its internals anymore. We use VoodooPad extensively for our documentation, and even the pages you are reading right now were written in VoodooPad. Having that loss of control is a bit odd, but at the same time a bit freeing.

I no longer get the bug reports, and I no longer see the little warts that drive me crazy (in part because people are always pointing them out to me), and in turn VoodooPad looks more awesome now than when I sold it, even though little has changed yet. I've also come to the conclusion that if you're not using VoodooPad to write your documentation, you're doing yourself a disservice. OS X rich text support, automatic linking, web export, you can even share a document between multiple people over Dropbox. What could be easier and more awesome? You can even publish as a PDF or ePub - and while it's not the most amazing output, it's a single app that can do glorious things.

Anyway, I still love VoodooPad just as much as before. And I've got some feature requests I need to send in…

Cocoa Script aka JSTalk stuff

So I've renamed JSTalk to Cocoa Script. Just now. That's the formal announcement. The GitHub page is here. I wanted to make this change this past summer but I had too much on my plate at the time. Hopefully I'll make that formal transition in 2014.

If you've got existing JSTalk scripts, they will work just fine. If you are a dev and you've embedded JSTalk into your app, I've put in shims to make things work mostly the same - but you'll have to change some some class names.

There's no rush to update to the latest version, but I thought it deserved a mention.

Other stuff

Hopefully I'll also finish up a first draft of the open SQLite based image format I've discussed previously. I've started work on it- but not enough to get an initial release out there. It's all pretty much organized in my head, I just need to type all the code out and make something available for people to send feedback on.

So from where I'm sitting, 2013 was pretty awesome. And I expect 2014 is going to be just as awesome too.