Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Hard life of an Apple developer

For about 13 years we have been running and extending our free conversion utility Units Converter (converter of physical units, see the section Converters on the CADforum.cz portal) with more than 750 different measurement units, including historical and international units (asian, south-american, roman, greek, austro-hungarian), including conversion of roman numbers, etc.

It is certainly no programmer's miracle, rather a day-to-day effort collecting various interesting units of measure, but when you quickly need to transfer pressure in pounds per square inch to something normal, or to find out what is the mass of a grain of salt, or how many pints have you drunk last night, this converter may be useful for you.

We offer the same converters also as an add-on application (palette) for AutoCAD (see Autodesk Apps, over 5000 downloads), as an add-on for Inventor (part of X-Tools), for Fusion 360 (part of F-Tools), and since the last year also as a mobile application for Android devices - see their appstore Google Play. One of the goals was to maintain the same, compatible appearance on all these platforms. Porting the original web application to each platform was very easy in most these cases.

About a month ago, we decided - based on a couple of customer requests - to launch this simple app also for the minor mobile platform, Apple iOS.

After the actual development, or rather modification of the app for iOS and its testing, came the moment of the actual publishing of the app to the Apple App Store (iTunes). Apple's entire infrastructure of application definition, upload, and verification is terribly complicated and confusing - especially when compared to the competing Google Play. In addition, not only the development but also the full administration of their apps must be performed on a Mac (Google is tolerant and you can use any device for this).

Being a novice to this development platform, we were expecting some technical hitches - digital signatures, iOS version compatibility and such things. But what was our surprise when Apple has completely rejected our app as "Design Spam".



After several rounds of pointless e-mail discussions, we asked for a telephone consultation. But talking to Apple's own certain Ms. Eweline was rather rough. Right at the first contact with a paying customer, this lady appeared very arrogant claiming that the application violates their rules, is not unique and that she rejects it, while hinting we have copied it somewhere.

Despite repeated inquiries, however, she was unable to say which specific rule we have violated, she just repeated vague "snowflake" wording about great user experience, ensuring security (security? of a converter with no permissions?) of AppStore visitors, about usefullness (for Eweline?), about safe and enjoyable experience, entertainment (entertainment?) value of this conversion tool, about lack of uniqueness (that thay already have other converters on their AppStore, sic! don't say), including a fascinating recommendation of "giving the app different content and different features" (like shooting Klingons while Lady Gaga singing?). I would understand any specific rules and requirements (their house, their rules) for colors, fonts, logos, compatibility, etc., we already know similar requirements from Autodesk Apps, but not that some Ewelina pulls ad-hoc rules out of the air.

The essence of their complaints is best expressed by the quote - we don't have any specific rules, but you have violated those rules and until you correct the violation, we will not approve your application - a pure Catch-XXII case:

„We understand that there are no hard and fast rules to define useful or entertaining, but Apple and Apple customers expect apps to provide a really great user experience.“



We do not intend to re-create this freeware application just because of some strange (non)rules for the Apple App Store, disrupting its compatibility with the other supported platforms. We will also write off our developer account fee, as Apple does not refund money when the app is rejected. We are sorry to thousands of users of our Units Converter, but you will not find this application on your iOS.

PS: A detail illustrating this company's business conduct - they wanted to know when to call when we asked for a phone consultation. In eager anticipation of an important phone call from the very Apple, I proposed a very benevolent availability schedule in my Monday message: call me anytime between 8:00-11:30 or between 12:00-15:00 local time (GMT+2, Prague). They replied: OK, we will call within 3 business days. They called on Friday at 11:43...

A strange and weird world of Apple, I do not recommend to dare to go into it for anyone with technical mindset and thinking.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Comparing performance of SHX and TTF text fonts



There is no longer a recommendation for using the simplest SHX font to quickly display texts in AutoCAD DWG drawings - i.e. the Txt.shx font. With the help of our new freeware utility CMDtimer - see the tip - we have compared performance of regeneration of a drawing containing an extensive text array containing a total of about 210,000 words.

This comparison has brought quite surprising results - with the super simple font Txt.shx, it took about 0.7 sec to regenerate this test drawing, while with the TrueType font Arial.ttf it took a mere 0.5 sec. This value has not changed even when we tried to "disturb" the TrueType fonts by setting a nonstandard font width factor/oblique angle. SHX fonts contain significantly fewer vectors, but they are displayed directly by AutoCAD, whereas TrueType fonts are displayed by the Windows graphical engine according to AutoCAD requirements.

Specific results will, of course, depend on the CPU speed, video card performance, screen resolution, zoom level, memory performance, probably also on the AutoCAD version, but victory of the TrueType TTF fonts will not be affected. So trust the default Test Style settings in the AutoCAD DWT template - the preset TrueType font is not only nicer but also faster than older SHX fonts.

Specification of the test PC: HP Z240, i7-6700 3.4GHz, 32GB RAM, nVidia K620, Win10, AutoCAD 2019