Apple Home Page Tabs History — June 2015 Edition

Last fall, I posted A Brief History of Apple Home Page Tabs which showed a visual history of each change in the tabs on the apple.com home page since they were introduced in January 2001. That post also called out some of the major changes and common themes in both interface style and products over the years.

On June 8th, 2015, about 9 months after the previous change, the Apple home page tabs have changed again.

Image of Apple Home Page Tabs

Click for the full-sized image.

With the introduction of the Apple Music service, the iPod and iTunes tabs have been replaced with a single Music tab.

The Apple home page has had iTunes and iPod in a tab for almost twelve years.  The iTunes tab first appeared in September 2003 with iPod being added for a combined iPod + iTunes tab the very next month in October 2003.

They shared a tab together for close to a decade before being broken out into separate tabs in March 2010, where they have remained until being combined into a single Music tab last week.

Music tab on the Apple home page is not entirely new, nor is the term Apple Music.  A Music tab first appeared at the introduction of the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003.*  In addition, posters commemorating the launch listed the site address AppleMusic.com.

That tab lasted until September 2003, when it changed to an iTunes tab.  Time will tell if the Music tab and the Apple Music brand hang in there longer this time around. •

Poster of Gibson ES-335 electric guitar with AppleMusic.com in upper right corner of poster.

Poster of the original AppleMusic.com from 2003.

I used the Internet Wayback Machine to help track these changes down. If I’ve missed any changes, please feel free to let me know!

*The original post listed the addition of the original Music tab in May 2003, which is the earliest archive I found in the Internet Wayback Machine.  However, this change almost certainly went live on the day the iTunes Music Store was introduced on April 28th, 2003. 

Where I’ll be at WWDC 2015

I’ll be doing a few things next week at WWDC and wanted to pass along my schedule. Hope to see you at one or more of these happenings!

Monday: NeXTEVNT Fundraiser for the Cartoon Art Museum

NeXTEVNT Logo
I’ll be doing a short set of James Dempsey and the Breakpoints songs at this fundraising event at the Cartoon Art Museum.

This event has been a lot of fun each year, always with great speakers and plenty of time to meet and mingle with very interesting folks. If you are a fan of comics, cartoons, or animation — or have an interest in where the technology we use every day comes from — this is a great event for a great cause.

I highly encourage you to check out the details and come to the event.

NeXTEVNT Fundraiser for the Cartoon Art Museum
Monday, June 8th, 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Wednesday: LIVE near WWDC 2015 (aka The Big Show!)

Logo for James Dempsey and the Breakpoints, LIVE near WWDC 2015
Our LIVE near WWDC show is the biggest James Dempsey and the Breakpoints performance of the year — and this year’s show is our biggest ever.  Thanks to our fabulous sponsors, we’re at a bigger venue and the drinks are on us!

The event is free, but registration is required.  We are handling admission the way AltConf does.  Registration does not guarantee admission.  For general admission registrations, we will fill the venue on a first come, first admitted basis.

You can read all of the details and register for the event here.

James Dempsey and the Breakpoints, LIVE near WWDC presented by Capital One
Wednesday, June 10th, Doors open at 7:30 PM, show starts at 8:00 PM. Event goes until 10:30 PM

Friday: Closing session at AltConf 2015

AltConf Logo
I’ll be closing out the week at AltConf 2015 again this year with an easy-going look back at the announcements of WWDC 2015 and their possible implications in a session entitled So, That Just Happened.

This session is a talk about the week in review and not a set of James Dempsey and the Breakpoints songs.

However, there may also be a bit involving a ukulele.

AltConf 2015, June 8 – June 12, 2015
Closing Session, Friday, June 12th, 3:15 PM, Theater 15

A Busy WWDC 2015 Week

It will be a busy WWDC week as we walk around with our heads swimming trying to soak in all of the new announcements.

I hope you can make it out to one or more of these events!  And if you do, please say hello! •


Learning More About Xcode Build Settings with BuildSettingExtractor

Last week I posted about BuildSettingExtractor, a utility that makes it easy to pull the build settings out of an Xcode project file and into xcconfig build configuration files. (The post also mentions some xcconfig file benefits with links to ‘how to’ information. Read the earlier post here.)

I also wanted BuildSettingExtractor to be useful for anyone who wants to learn more about the build settings in their projects. To that end, the latest version, available on github, generates build setting descriptions gleaned from the installed version of Xcode.

For example:

// Framework Search Paths
// 
// This is a list of paths to folders containing frameworks to be
// searched by the compiler for both included or imported header
// files when compiling C, Objective-C, C++, or Objective-C++, and by
// the linker for frameworks used by the product. Paths are delimited
// by whitespace, so any paths with spaces in them need to be
// properly quoted. [-F]

FRAMEWORK_SEARCH_PATHS = $(DEVELOPER_FRAMEWORKS_DIR) $(inherited)
	

// Info.plist File
// 
// This is the project-relative path to the plist file that contains
// the Info.plist information used by bundles.

INFOPLIST_FILE = BuildSettingExtractorTests/BuildSettingExtractorTests-Info.plist

Inline Build Setting Info

To learn more about build settings, Apple provides the Build Setting Reference (Apple developer documentation links are notoriously fragile, just search for the document) as well as Quick Help in Xcode when a build setting is selected. (In Xcode choose View > Utilities > Show Quick Help Inspector (Cmd-Opt-2))

In addition to these ways of learning more, BuildSettingExtractor gleans the build setting info from Xcode and puts it inline in the generated xcconfig files. This has a few benefits:

  • Read about each build setting without selecting setting one by one in Xcode
  • Read about only the build settings currently set in your project and targets
  • Information about build settings is available wherever you are looking at the xcconfig file: github, text editors, diff tools, etc.

What if I don’t want this lovely but verbose feature?

If you want BuildSettingExtractor to generate pithy xcconfig files without the build setting info, Choose BuildSettingExtractor > Preferences… (Command-,) for the new preferences sheet and turn it off.

BuildSettingExtractor Preferences Sheet

Happy Building! (and a call for help)

I hope you find BuildSettingExtractor useful, either as a learning tool, or to get rolling with xcconfig files. If you do find it useful, please spread the word about it: https://github.com/dempseyatgithub/BuildSettingExtractor.

As for the call for help, if you would like to help out with a basic app icon for BuildSettingExtractor, the utility can emerge from the primordial world of the generic app icon. Contact me if you are interested. •

Generating Xcode Build Configuration Files with BuildSettingExtractor (xcodeproj → xcconfig)

The most recent NSScreencast covered using build configuration files to specify build settings in Xcode. (Episode #154)

Using build configuration files—or xcconfig files as they are known—has some definite benefits.  However, as seen in the screencast, the initial process of copying the current build settings out of an Xcode project into xcconfig files is tedious and potentially error-prone.

Screenshot of Build Setting Extractor 1.0

Nuthin’ fancy. Drop an xcodeproj file on it—it spits out xcconfig files.

To aid in that initial extraction process, I wrote a utility app called BuildSettingExtractor.  It is available on github at https://github.com/dempseyatgithub/BuildSettingExtractor.

The app is a simple droplet utility: drop an xcodeproj file on it, choose a destination folder, BuildSettingExtractor will extract the build settings from the project and generate xcconfig files.

A set of files is generated for each target in the project and for the project itself.  Each set of files includes one xcconfig file per build configuration and one xcconfig file of shared settings. For example, a typical Xcode project will generate nine xcconfig files: three sets of files for the app target, test target, and project with three files for Debug, Release and Shared in each set.

I hope you find BuildSettingExtractor useful. Even if you are just curious about project build settings, this is an easy way to inspect a project’s build settings without fear of accidentally changing them.

A little more about xcconfig files

By default, Xcode stores all build configuration settings in the project file itself. However, you can tell Xcode to base a build configuration’s settings on a build configuration file instead.

A build configuration file is a text file of key-value pairs. An xcconfig file can also contain comments and include other xcconfig files.

//
// Project-Debug.xcconfig
//

#include "Project-Shared.xcconfig” // Include other xcconfig files

// An xcconfig file is a text file of key-value pairs.
// Use comments to record why you are using certain build values.
// The /*comment*/ and #comment styles are not valid in an xcconfig file.

COPY_PHASE_STRIP = NO
GCC_DYNAMIC_NO_PIC = NO
GCC_OPTIMIZATION_LEVEL = 0
GCC_PREPROCESSOR_DEFINITIONS = DEBUG=1 $(inherited)
GCC_SYMBOLS_PRIVATE_EXTERN = NO
MTL_ENABLE_DEBUG_INFO = YES
ONLY_ACTIVE_ARCH = YES

There are some benefits to using xcconfig files:

  • Build settings are not in project file—this removes one source of project file merge conflicts
  • Build settings can be documented using comments
  • An xcconfig file of shared settings can be included in each build configuration

There are also potential drawbacks to using xcconfig files.  One potential pitfall is that the build settings for a configuration are based on the xcconfig file—but settings set in Xcode override the xcconfig file settings. This can leave you with unexpected build behavior because an errant build setting set in Xcode is overriding the xcconfig file setting.

This issue is compounded by the fact that when new Xcode versions update project settings, the settings are added to the project, not to an xcconfig file.  So when using xcconfig files, some vigilance is required to keep an eye out for build settings being added to the project.  These stray build settings should be moved from the project to the appropriate xcconfig file.

What Next?

BuildSettingExtractor generates xcconfig files from a project—it does not set your project up to use them.  Here are few resources that walk through that process:

I was inspired to release BuildSettingExtractor by Episode #154 of NSScreencast. The episode is a step by step demo walking through the process.

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with NSScreencast, I recommend taking a look. Ben Scheirman (@subdigital) presents weekly bite-sized screencasts covering a wide range of development topics. Some screencasts are free and some, like Episode #154, require a subscription. (Ben also plays guitar with James Dempsey and the Breakpoints, but that has yet to be the subject of a screencast.)

The blog post Using xcconfig Files For Your Xcode Project by Jont Olof Lyttkens (@jontolof) explains how to set up a project to use xcconfig files in Xcode 6.

Finally, Building the Build System by Rob Napier (@cocoaphony) is an older post, written for an older version of Xcode, but the overall concepts and explanation of the benefits are still relevant.

In each of these walkthroughs, instead making a bunch of xcconfig files by hand and then copying and pasting from the project into the correct file, you would use BuildSettingExtractor instead. •

Lyrical November

The response to Backtrace has been fantastic, and I wanted to thank everyone who has shown their support by purchasing the album and helping to spread the word. You made Backtrace the #1 comedy album on iTunes in the US, UK, and Canada.  You also made it debut at #5 on the Billboard Comedy Album Chart. I cannot thank you all enough!

Since releasing Backtrace last month, I’ve gotten numerous requests for the lyrics to the songs.

For the rest of November, I’ll post lyrics to a song a day (or thereabouts) and we’ll make our way through the album. I’ll be tweeting when each song page goes live as well as some of my favorite lyrics. You can follow me at @jamesdempsey .

Each song page contains its liner notes—lyrics, song notes, and full credits for the very talented people who brought these songs to life. Below are links to the liner notes for each song – each link will go live as Lyrical November progresses.

And of course, If you haven’t checked out Backtrace on iTunes, I invite you to give it a listen.

Modelin’ Man
Almost Dropped My iPhone
Model View Controller
Gonna Needa Pasteboard
The Accessibility Song
The Liki Song (Minawana Meika La’a Likiko)
The Designated Initializer (Got the Better of Me)
The Fetch Spec Song
Goto Fail
Hold Me, Use Me, Release Me
Endian Reservations
I Love View
Anti-Patterns
Model View Controller (Legacy Mix)
Relationships
The Liki Song (Greybeard Mix)

Album Art for James Dempsey and the Breakpoints Album 'Backtrace'

iOS Device Summary: iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 Update

It’s been a busy few weeks with Apple announcements and Backtrace, our new album of iOS and Mac development songs, hitting the Billboard charts. I’ve updated my iOS Device Summary to include the recently announced iPads.

Check out the iOS Device Summary page for the rationale behind the summary as well as PDF downloads—including optimized files for printing.

The new iOS devices introduced this fall presented some challenges for the summary chart:

The iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 have identical processors and screens. The devices appear on the chart as a single entry, split to reflect the different supported OS versions.

We have not seen a revised iPod touch in two years. With the traditional Apple fall events behind us, it is unlikely we will see a significant update until next fall at the earliest. Since the iPod touch line ends at the A5 chip and the multiple-model iPhones start at the A6 chip, these have been combined into a single row.

Finally, the new A8X chip pushes the number of columns to the limit, so I’ve dropped the ARM chip and the iPhone 3GS and 3rd Generation iPod touch from the chart.

Since the chart is starting to have trouble cleanly representing devices on a single page, I am looking at more dynamic ways of presenting this information in the future.

Until then, I hope you find this version of the summary chart helpful. •

Chart depicting iOS devices by screen size, processor and supported OS version
Check out the iOS Device Summary page to learn more and download printable PDFs of the summary.
And check out Backtrace, the only album of iOS and Mac development tunes ever on the Billboard charts.

Introducing Backtrace

Album Art for James Dempsey and the Breakpoints Album 'Backtrace'

We are beyond thrilled to announce the release of Backtrace,
the debut album from James Dempsey and the Breakpoints.

It feels great for this to be finally out in the world.

We hope you love every track.

And if you do, please don’t keep it to yourself.

We hope you spread the word.

(tweet, facebook, review and blog like the wind!)

Now available for download worldwide via iTunes

Download on iTunes

Breakpoints in Vegas — Album Preview Jam

Last Friday night, just a stone’s throw away from where Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack performed their legendary shows, James Dempsey and the Breakpoints made their Las Vegas debut. The jam featured songs from the upcoming album Backtrace.

Album Art for James Dempsey and the Breakpoints Album 'Backtrace'Taking the stage for the first time as Conditional Breakpoints were Jean MacDonald (@macgenie) founder at App Camp for Girls, on guitar for Goto Fail; and Matt Smollinger (@mattsmollinger) of Skaffl on backing vocals for The Liki Song.  Josh Smith (@kognate) of AllTrails made a switch from blues xylophone last month to guitar.  Adding to the excitement, Jonathan Penn (@jonathanpenn), recent hire at everyone’s favorite fruit factory, flew in just in time to don his trademark sunglasses, tune up and jam. Finally, Daniel Steinberg (@dimsumthinking) of Dim Sum Thinking delivered his excellent keynote before jumping in on slide-advance keyboard.


Coming this fall

This fall will see the first album release of James Dempsey and the Breakpoints and Breakpoint Jams from coast to coast. Sign up for updates to keep up with the fun!

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A Brief Visual History of Apple Home Page Tabs

This week brought announcements of new iPhones, Apple Pay, and Apple Watch, as well as the quiet departure of the iPod classic, the last remaining click-wheel product in the iPod lineup.  It also brought something that happens much less often than new product announcements—changes to the look and lineup of tabs at the top of the page at apple.com.

We can see a few different things by looking at how these have changed over the last fourteen years.

Apple Home Page Tab History

Click for the full-sized image

First, we see how the user interface has evolved.  The tabs begin with the natty pinstripes and bubblicious tabs of the original Aqua interface, appearing on the home page immediately after Aqua was introduced in January 2000.  This was the first production use of Aqua elements by Apple—the release of Mac OS X, 10.0 was over a year away.  Through the next fourteen years, we see the designs become simpler as the candy look becomes more subtle before disappearing entirely.  With the removal of dividing lines between items, the original tabs have finally morphed into a simple menu bar.

This week’s update also ended the reign of Lucida Grande as the font of choice—the honor now belongs to the Apple variant of Myriad.

The content of the tabs shows an interesting progression as well.  The Apple logo, Store, and Support tabs are a common thread throughout with Search appearing surprisingly late in the game in 2007.  These unchanging outer items are like bookends around the changing world of Apple over time.

For the first seven years, the inner tabs mainly focused on software (QuickTime, Mac OS X, iTunes) and different incarnations of online services (iReview, iCards, iTools which became .Mac).  The first hardware to appear on a tab was iPod, but it had to share a tab with iTunes for almost seven years before getting a tab of its own.

With the release of the iPhone in 2007, the tabs became more hardware-centric, with Mac and iPhone getting their own tabs.  With the introduction of the iPad in early 2010, the center of the tabs became all hardware lines, with the exception of iTunes (both software and a service).

And, of course, this week Watch joins the lineup. It seems a little odd not to use the full product name Apple Watch or <Apple logo>Watch, especially since Watch is both a noun and a verb.

Although the appearance and focus of the tabs have changed over time, it is interesting to note that almost all tabs name something that has been an enduring part of the Apple ecosystem (the exceptions being iReview, iCards, and the Switch campaign).  Details may have changed—iTools begat .Mac begat MobileMe begat iCloud, Mac OS X is now OS X—but there are some very consistent through lines.  Here’s hoping the Apple Watch is one of those through lines for a long time to come.•

I used the Internet Wayback Machine to help track these changes down. If I’ve missed any changes, please feel free to let me know!

iOS Device Summary: iPhone 6 Update

I’ve updated my iOS Device Summary to include the new iPhone 6 models.

Check out the iOS Device Summary page for the rationale behind the summary as well as PDF downloads—including optimized files for printing.

At $199, the 16 GB 5th generation iPod touch is still the most affordable compact iOS 8 device.  It allows you to test on the slowest processor supported by iOS 8, with a screen resolution shared by the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s. There is, however, no iPod touch that provides a less expensive way of testing the new screen resolutions on a device.

Of the two new iPhone 6 models, the iPhone 6 Plus seems to be the more important device to have on hand for testing, with both a new scale factor and a greater likelihood of providing a modified user interface to take advantage of all that lovely screen real estate. •

Chart depicting iOS devices by screen size, processor and supported OS version

Check out the iOS Device Summary page to learn more and download printable PDFs of the summary.