Swift.org Blog Post: ‘Using Upcoming Feature Flags’

May 30, 2023

This will likely be my only post this week not somehow related to next week’s LIVE near WWDC 2023 show.

The blog post I contributed to Swift.org about upcoming feature flags went live today:

Beginning in Swift 5.8 you can flexibly adopt upcoming Swift features using a new compiler flag and compilation condition. This post describes the problem upcoming feature flags solve, their benefits, and how to get started using them in your projects.

You can read the post, Using Upcoming Feature Flags, in its entirety on Swift.org.

I’m really excited about this addition to Swift and after you read the post, I hope you are too! •

Categories: Apple, Software Development, Swift, iOS, macOS

LIVE near WWDC Returns For 2023!

May 16, 2023


Tickets for LIVE near WWDC 2023 are now sold out. Thank you to everyone who purchased a ticket—we're looking forward to seeing you.

We’ve been rehearsing up a storm and I think we’re all going to have a lot of fun next week!

There are still two ways you can join us LIVE near WWDC 2023:

Join the Waitlist

We’re talking with the venue about accommodating a few more in-person attendees.
Click through to join the waitlist and as soon as we know, you’ll know:

Watch The Live Stream

Yes, you read that correctly. For the first time ever, we will be live streaming the show!

The online event will start at 7:30 PM Pacific with the show starting at about 8:00 PM Pacific.

More details about the online event will be posted later this week at https://livenearwwdc.com.

You can also sign up for our low-volume mailing list to get a timely reminder.

James Dempsey and the Breakpoints JDBP Logo
I am beyond thrilled to announce that after a three-year hiatus LIVE near WWDC will return for 2023!

The show will be a benefit concert for Women Who Code on Wednesday, June 7th at the Tabard Theater in San Jose.

Read on to learn more about how this year’s show is shaping up, but the TL;DR is that tickets may go fast, so sign up for our low-volume mailing list to be among the first to find out when tickets go on sale.

A WWDC Tradition Returns

We’re gearing up for a show during WWDC week that you will not want to miss. We’ve been working hard putting together an amazing evening of mingling, music, and laughs to benefit Women Who Code. The show is a full concert of humorous, original, programming-oriented songs performed by our musical band of nerds, geeks, and community luminaries.

We’re also excited to continue the tradition of supporting diversity in tech by making the show a benefit concert with 100% of ticket and merch proceeds going to not-for-profit organization Women Who Code.

A Bevy of Breakpoints

The lineup of the Breakpoints changes every year, depending on who’s in town.

This year, we‘ll have a full stage with many longtime Breakpoints and a newcomer or two (or three), including our rhythm section of John Fox on drums, Todd Moore on bass, with Shloka Kini and Jonathan Penn trading off on rhythm guitar.

The exact lineup is always in flux—right up until showtime—but so far we’ve got Ken Case, Ken Ferry, Emilie on violin, Rob Napier, Sommer Panage, Daniel Steinberg, and T.J. Usiyan with a few more potential Breakpoints waiting in the wings!

A New Venue

We’ve found a historic theater that should be a great venue for performers and audience members alike.

LIVE near WWDC 2023 will be at The Tabard Theater, located in San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose.

Interior of The Tabard Theater showing tiered seating around a quarter-circle shaped stage

The Tabard Theater in lively San Pedro Square, San Jose

There are lots of restaurants and pubs at San Pedro Square for a bite to eat before or after the show as well as a spacious parking garage nearby for all your temporary vehicular storage needs.

Three big differences this year

A more intimate venue

This is the second year of a hybrid WWDC—a small, invite-only event at Apple Park on Monday combined with a week-long virtual conference.

From last year’s experience, there should be some developers traveling to the area for meetings and networking, but nowhere near the number of folks who would arrive for the week-long in-person WWDC conferences of yore.

To account for less folks being in town, we’ve booked a more intimate venue which seats about 140. Tickets may go fast, so if you’re very interested in attending the show, please sign up for our low-volume mailing list. We’ll notify the mailing list that tickets are on sale before we announce it to everyone else.

It’s a theater, so everyone will have a seat

In past years, we’ve held the event at clubs like Mezzanine in San Francisco and The Ritz in San Jose. Those spots have had limited seating and—as expected—more of club feel.

This year, with tiered theater seating, bar seating and cabaret-style VIP tables, everyone with a ticket will have a seat and be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. (Well, don’t lean back on the bar seats, that won’t end well.)

Live streaming!

For the first time ever the concert will be live-streamed so you can be part of the fun no matter where on the planet you happen to be! We’ll send out the link as soon as we have it. The best way to get it is to follow me on Mastadon or Twitter or by signing up for our oft-mentioned, low-volume mailing list


Our sponsors make this show possible. Everyone involved in this event, from planning to performing, sends an enormous thank you to our sponsors for their support. Please support our sponsors by clicking through the links below and checking them out!

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsor

See You There!

I am really looking forward to performing with everyone in June. Many of us haven’t had a chance to perform together since 2019, so it will be quite a reunion!

I hope you can join us on June 7th, either in-person, or watching the live stream! •

You can always find the latest news about LIVE near WWDC at https://livenearwwdc.com.

Oh, and The Liki Song is in the key of C.

Categories: Apple, Mac, Music, Software Development, iOS

No LIVE near WWDC show for 2022

June 5, 2022

Before WWDC22 gets started tomorrow, I wanted to announce that there will be no LIVE near WWDC show for 2022.

Why no show this year?

First, I’d love to do a live show. A live performance has an energy that just isn’t there in an online event, and I’ve missed that a great deal.

That said, this has been a particularly unpredictable year. A fair number of people are coming to the area for the WWDC special event at Apple Park, but when and where to hold a show? How big a venue? Some people are in town for a day or two, some are staying longer. Some folks are staying up in San Francisco, some in the South Bay.

It felt like there were too many unknowns this year to produce a show while hoping all the guesses were good enough to make it a successful one.

Besides unpredictability, another possibly more important reason is weariness. I don’t know if it is just the past two years taking its toll or some other cause, but the year so far has felt like trying to walk quickly while wading through waist-deep water.

And so, for the first time since 1999, I will be attending WWDC without being on stage presenting, performing a new James Dempsey and the Breakpoints Song, producing a LIVE near WWDC concert, or some combination of the above.

This is a big change from how I’ve experienced WWDC for the last two decades. Part of me is disappointed to break the tradition but another part of me is excited to spend the week focused on the conference without the stress of putting on a show.

There will be one bit of music from me this week. I am happy to be performing my ninth annual WWDC Week In Review song on Friday at try! Swift Dub Dub. It’s a lighthearted musical look back at the week.

I’ll be kicking off the virtual conference at 10 am Pacific time. Registration is free and I encourage you to check it out.

Thanks for all of your support of our shows and I and hope to see you LIVE near WWDC in 2023. •

P.S. If you need a James Dempsey and the Breakpoints fix this WWDC here are some links to some past endeavors:

The Liki Song


One More Thing…

Categories: Apple, Mac, Music, Software Development, iOS

Apple Home Page Tabs History—August 2021 Edition

August 31, 2021

The tabs at the top of apple.com have been around for over two decades now.

Looking at the changes over time shows changes in Apple products, priorities, and design. For long-time Apple watchers it also provides a walk down memory lane.

Image of Apple home page tabs

Click for full-sized image

The phrase ‘home page tabs’ itself has become a misnomer as the design has evolved from the original tab styling to a plain, clean navigation menu.

But they were tabs on a tab bar when announced by Steve Jobs at Macworld Expo San Francisco on January 5, 2000:

“We’re adding a tab bar on the top of apple.com. So that we can get viewers more easily and readily to the places they like to go.”

Twenty-one year salute

When the tabs were introduced twenty-one years ago they combined elements of two of the biggest Apple announcements of the day.

At that keynote, Apple announced Mac OS X and demonstrated the Aqua user interface for the first time.

Although the first commercial release of Mac OS X would not be until March 2001, Apple fans could get an immediate sampling of the new design aesthetic at apple.com. The top of the redesigned Apple home page included a row of Aqua tabs.

But what was in these tabs?

The three center tabs focused on online services announced at Macworld San Francisco that year.

Those services were iCards—electronic greeting cards with premium graphics; iReview—website reviews and ratings curated by Apple; and iTools—a “revolutionary new category of Internet services”. The iTools services consisted of KidSafe, HomePage, iDisk, and Mac.com email.

The revolution was not long-lived however, with KidSafe and iReview surviving less than two years. The remaining services were discontinued or replaced as iTools progressed from .Mac to MobileMe to iCloud. Today, legacy mac.com email addresses are the only remnants of the original set of services.

The other four tabs were direct links to the most visited areas of apple.com.

Two of the tabs have had a lot of staying power—the Apple tab on the far left and the ever-present Support tab on the far right. The QuickTime tab led to software downloads and online video content like movie trailers.

In the second position, the Store tab appeared destined to be as long-lived as the Apple and Support tabs. But then it was removed six years ago, never to be seen again. Or so it seemed…

Store tab restored

Like an old friend you haven’t seen in a long while, the Store tab returned to the lineup of the Apple home page tabs earlier this month.

Present from day one, the Store tab lasted for a decade and half before it disappeared in August 2015. At that time the Apple Store became integrated into apple.com product pages and ceased to be a separate site. The Bag icon was added to the far right of the tab bar instead. (Read The Details Here)

But now, the Store tab returns to its former glory as the shopping-focused sidekick of the Apple tab. While purchases can still be initiated from product pages, the restored Store tab leads to a site similar in layout and appearance to the Apple Store app.

Why the comeback? Although Apple did not make an announcement, there are a few likely reasons.

First, from the home page, it’s not obvious where to navigate to make a purchase. A dedicated Store tab makes that very clear.

Second, the store page gives Apple a place to highlight products like AirTags as well as solutions that cross multiple product lines—things that don’t fit logically into the existing tabs.

Finally, the store page provides a place for all shopping-related information: retail store locations; shopping, setup, learning, and support help; payment options and seasonal promotions.

In retrospect, it is surprising the Store tab did not make its reappearance sooner.

Keeping in style

Although the tabs themselves have remained stable for over half a decade, there have been a few stylistic changes along the way.

Most notably, the font changed from Apple Myriad to the system font San Francisco in January 2017.

The original font used in 2000 was Lucinda Grande—the longtime system font of Mac OS X. In June 2007 when the tab bar style no longer mimicked Mac user interface elements, the font was changed to Apple Myriad. This variant of Myriad was used in Apple marketing and was never part of the evolving Aqua design.

The San Francisco font was first used for the user interface of Apple Watch in 2014. Over time all Apple platform user interfaces and marketing have consolidated to use versions of it.

In addition to the font change in 2017, two subtle changes occurred in November 2019. The color of tab bar items changed from white to a light gray. In addition, the icons for Search and Bag became larger.

Changes to come

Six years has passed since the last change to the tab lineup. This is by far the longest the Apple home page tabs have gone without a change to its contents. Previously the longest period of tab bar stability was three years and six months from March 2011 to September 2014, when the Watch tab was added.

With the return of the Store tab, there are now eleven items in the tab bar, the most in its twenty-one year history.

As rumors persist about potential new Apple product lines such as automobiles and augmented reality glasses, will we see another change in the tab lineup soon?

Or as the Store tab reassumes its place in the tab bar pantheon, will this mark the beginning of another era of stability?

Only time will tell what lays in store. •

I’ve been cited as the ‘unofficial Apple home page tabs historian’ in articles at The Loop and Six Colors.  Here are a few past articles on this topic that you might enjoy:

Category: Apple

Where I’ll be at WWDC 2021

June 7, 2021

I’ll be doing a few things this week at WWDC 2021 and wanted to pass along my schedule. Hope to see you at one or more of these happenings!

Wednesday: LIVE near WWDC 2021

James Dempsey and the Breakpoints JDBP Logo
To celebrate the the 20th anniversary of James Dempsey and the Breakpoints, our annual LIVE near WWDC show is a little different this year.

I’ll be joined by a panel of Breakpoints, including Brent Simmons, Jim Dalrymple, Jean MacDonald, and Daniel Steinberg for stories of the past performances, answering questions from the audience, some JDBP trivia and vintage prizes.

Plus, the debut of a new song, Futureproof. After twenty years of writing and performing these songs, it captures some of how I’m feeling at the moment and what I’ve learned is important. The new song has a lot of meaning for me and I hope you can join us to give it a listen.

But the night is more than just stories, music and fun—it’s also a benefit for Black Girls Code. Sign-up for the event is free—we’ll be encouraging attendees to donate to support their mission.

It’s a free event! Click through to get all the details and join the event.

James Dempsey and the Breakpoints, LIVE near WWDC
Wednesday, June 11th, 6:00 PM Pacific

Friday: try! Swift Dub Dub WWDC 2021 Week In Review

try! Swift Dub Dub Logo
I’ll be closing out the week at try! Swift Dub Dub with my eighth annual WWDC Week In Review, a lighthearted musical look back at the announcements and events of the week.

After a week front-loaded with announcements and technical talks, stop by for an easy-going little humorous song.

It’s short, sweet and kicks off the festivities at _try! Swift Dub Dub_ at about 10 AM Pacific on Friday!

try! Swift Dub Dub, June 11, 2021
Opening Session, Friday, June 11th, 10:00 AM Pacific

A Busy WWDC 2020 Week

As usual, it will be a busy WWDC week with plenty of new announcements and technology to wrap our heads around. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and say hello!

I hope you can make it out to one or more of these events—see you at WWDC! •

Categories: Apple, Mac, Music, Software Development, iOS