Thursday, October 28, 2004

Keyboard Navigation in 2.6

One of the things I tried to address in MacJournal 2.6 is better keyboard navigation. For those of us with laptops, keeping our hands on the keyboards as long as possible is very advantageous and programs that make every attempt to facilitate this prove a lot more usable than those that don't. To that end, you can do just about everything you want in MacJournal from just the keyboard. The biggest sticking point is getting the window focus where you need it easily. To do that, you can now use the F-keys to move around the window. F1 puts the focus in the main text view, F2 for the topic field, F3 for the last drawer opened, and F4 for the search field. You can also use the Tab key to move between the first three things listed (as an aside, it's not really possible to tab out of a toolbar item right now, but this is a limitation of the operating system itself). Obviously pressing tab in the main text view will give you a regular text tab, but you can use Shift-Tab to get back to the topic field (Shift-Tab is like reverse-tab). If you have multiple drawers open, you can press F3 multiple times to cycle through them, and pressing tab inside the drawer should get you out of it.

With a little help from Full Keyboard Navigation in Panther you can access all of the menu items and toolbar items to access all of the sheets (some have keyboard equivalents too). I'd like to bring the Keywords sheet up specifically, as that used to be impossible to navigate with the keyboard. Now when the sheet drops down the focus should be on the table view. From here you can tab down to the "+" button to add a keyword, or you can just start typing. If the focus is on the table view you can just start typing and your keystrokes will get added to a new keyword. I wish more tables worked like this.

Talking about things I wish more tables did, all of the tables in the drawers now support type-selecting. This means that you can start typing the first few letters and the app will look through any visible items and select whatever matches. It's important to note that it only searches the visible items. This means that entries inside journals that are not expanded will not get taken into account (but items that are just not on the screen but would be visible if you scrolled down are). This is to reduce the "noise" that might make it hard to find exactly what you want.

It was impossible in 2.5 to use the arrow keys in the journals drawer in 2.5. This was because you couldn't select journals so you couldn't move past any journal. This restriction has been removed and you can now move about the journals like you would any hierarchical view in the OS. Use the Right arrow key on a journal to expand it (will unlock if necessary). And, special to MacJournal, you can use Command-Up to move up a level in the hierarchy (from an entry to its parent journal). Command-Down also works as expected. This will become very helpful when nested journals arrive. And, just because there isn't a better place to mention it, press Option-D to cycle through the view modes for that table (Date, Topic, Text, Combined).

Keyboard navigation is one of the areas that improved by leaps and bounds in 2.6. There may be a few other things that I'm not thinking of right now, but those are the large areas.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

MacJournal 2.6 Post-Mortem

MacJournal 2.6 has finally been released and so far the reaction is fantastic. I've gotten a lot of good e-mails and no serious bugs so far (or non-serious bugs, for that matter). This release is a big success. I'd like to thank everyone that helped out during the development process, such as localizers and anyone that used the beta versions and sent in bug reports. Your help is appreciated and I couldn't have done it without you.

I'm currently trying to get the word out to a few different Mac news sites. I sent a press release-y thing to MacNN (I'm not good at writing those), and I'm trying to do the same for MacCentral. I don't know whether or not I'll post stuff in forums about it; it might look a little cheesy if the developer starts a thread in a forum to talk about his own product. But I'm just trying to let people know that this is a final, released version and that it is safe to use (in fact, safer than any previous version). Tell all of your friends! :-)

In terms of the future, I will now branch the sources and start working on 2.7. I always planned to do a 2.6.1 release, but so far I don't have a very compelling reason to do so. If any bugs get reported that warrant a dot-dot release like that (even if they aren't that serious) then I'll pull it together. Another potential reason for 2.6.1 will be to pick up additional localizations, especially those that didn't make it into 2.6 (Dutch and Icelandic were in 2.5 but are not in 2.6). As for 2.7, I'm shooting for a January release for that. I'm going to aim for the MacWorld Expo as a target date, partly because just having a concrete and immobile date helps in the planning. No plans yet for any pre-releases (alphas or betas), but that doesn't mean there will never be; I just haven't gotten there yet.

So here's a cool tip about 2.6: the Hidden Preferences window! That's right, all of those crazy hidden preferences have their own window now in the final version of 2.6. The Hidden Preferences page has the details, but essentially you need to set the key "IncludeHiddenPreferencesMenuItem" to "YES" in the Terminal. When next you launch MacJournal there will be a new menu item for the Hidden Preferences. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

MacJournal 2.6 has been released!

Download it here (1.6 MB), or English only (640 KB).

Welcome to MacJournal 2.6! This release is a followup to MacJournal 2.5.2, which came out late last year. 2.6 features a lot of improvements, both in stability and in new features. Here is an outline of the new features in 2.6:

  • Enhanced Exporting:
    • export any set of entries or journals
    • export journals with one file per entry
    • export entry to Word documents (Panther only)
    • HTML exporting now supports more styles and colors
    • checkboxes can be exported to any format
  • Improved Importing too:
    • Import or drag folders of files in to create entries with those files
    • New Service to append selected text in any application to any entry in MacJournal
  • LiveJournal enhancements:
    • iTunes button to get the currently playing song in iTunes
    • Change who can view the entry as you upload it
  • Performance and stability enhancements, especially for large data sets
  • Interface improvements
    • Greatly enhanced contextual menus for both drawers
    • Mail-style "Add" and "Action" buttons
    • Use Combined view in the Journals drawer (previously only seen in the Entries drawer)
    • Lots of small improvements to enhance user experience
  • More workflow options
    • Preferences to automatically close journals that you aren't working in
    • Hold down the Option key to bypass most warnings on a case-by-case basis
    • Copy a style in some text and then select some entries in a drawer and use Paste Font to paste that style onto the selected entries
    • Spring-loaded Entries: Drag text onto an entry and that entry will become current into which to drop the text
  • Improved Keywords sheet
  • Improved Undo functionality
  • Improved options for setting the default text and topic for entries (including font and color)
  • You can set a background picture (as well as randomizing through a whole folder)

There are many more small improvements. The included Version History file has all the details on all of the changes that have been made. That and this Release Note are always available from the Help menu.


While MacJournal is freeware, donations are accepted and appreciated at Thank you for supporting the development of MacJournal!

Reporting Bugs

Please let me know about any bugs you find in this release as soon as possible. New in 2.6: use the "Report A Bug" menu item in the Help menu to see a list of known issues for your current build (as they arise). You can also automatically create a new e-mail.

If MacJournal crashes on you, look for a crash log in ~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter and include that in your report. If there's some funny behavior, try looking in the Console (in /Applications/Utilities/) and include any output related to MacJournal in your report. Please be specific about things that you are doing that aren't working out, whether it's a crash or a behavior that you don't like. Also, include what release of MacJournal you are using in your e-mail. I appreciate your feedback!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Mechanics of a Release

So I know I said I'd get 2.6 out this week come Hell or high water, and it still might happen (depending on your definition of "week"). But you can't always predict everything, such as when work is going to blow up and take all of your time. These things happen. However, I do have good news: the code is finalized and ready to go. The final candidate went very well and only minor modifications were needed. So that's all done and ready for release. But unfortunately there's more involved in a release than just code. I'm going through the release notes right now and some of the build scripts. I think I'll make an English-only release available on the website this time as well (it's about 640K vs. the full 1.6MB download). There's also the possibility for some kind of press release to publish on news websites, which I'd have to pull together. And the website needs to be updated, which is probably the biggest hurdle. As I've mentioned before I tend not to give the website a lot of attention as web design is not my forté. A very nice person volunteered an alternate design that's better, but I haven't had the time to work with her yet. I may use the one that I linked to here a while back temporariliy and get the better one online next week at some point so 2.6 can come out sooner rather than later.

Be back soon with more details of the release....

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

As promised...

You can download the final candidate build of MacJournal 2.6 at this link:

"Final candidate" means that this could be the final release itself. I have full confidence in it and I think it's a great build (but the normal warnings about pre-release software apply). But I'm providing this build while I do final testing just to make sure everything is sound before the general public gets their hands on it. This won't show up on the main website or in the in-application update mechanism. Please don't inform any version tracking sites about this either as the final version will be out soon enough.

There are a large number of changes from beta 5, but they're all for the better and everything should be good. The issue with typing accented characters has been solved. There is also a new hidden preference to activate a window containing the rest of the hidden preferences for easy access. Please read the included version history for all of the details. Let me know your experiences with this build: whether or not everything went smoothly for you. If you've noticed any problems in the past, check them out again and let me know if they are all fixed now.

I'm looking to release the final version on Friday. I will continue to test until then. This build will expire approximately 2 weeks from now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Final Candidate tonight

Check back later tonight (or maybe early morning for you East Coasters) for the Final Candidate build of MacJournal 2.6. It will only be posted here; it will not show up in your in-application update mechanism. Along the same lines, please don't post this build anywhere or notify any version tracking sites about it. The final version will be out later this week and that's what I want everyone to hear about and use.

Until tonight then....

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Status update

The only thing that will prevent the release of MacJournal 2.6 next week will be my untimely death.

After that will come MacJournal 2.7. I decided that there were enough features that could be implemented rather quickly given the work that went into 2.6 to justify a quick 2.7 release. 2.7 will likely still support Jaguar (although the minimum may be 10.2.8 vs. 2.6's 10.2). 3.0 will not support Jaguar.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Searching Upgrade

The final candidate build of MacJournal 2.6 is still in the any-day-now phase, but in the mean time I had the opportunity this past week to implement one more small feature. When searching for an entry, words are now considered separately. So the order of the words doesn't really matter any more. This also helps when searching for dates, as you can just search for "16 July" to get everything from July 16th. There is one additional feature in there: to group words together into phrases, use quotation marks. To get the previous behavior, enclose the whole string in quotation marks. There won't be any Boolean operator support (AND, OR, or NOT) in 2.6, so don't ask. Everything is AND for now.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Progress Update

I had intended to have 2.6 out today in a final release, but some external issues forced me to push the release to next week. But I've been testing things for a while now and it is going well. I actually rewrote the part that imports text files and tries to separate out entries (the "Discover entries" button) and it's a lot better for it. I also ran it through a few hoops on Jaguar to make sure it still runs there. Jaguar and MacJournal won't be together for that much longer, but 2.6 will definitely run well enough on it. I'll keep testing things over the weekend and I'm still pondering the possibility of quietly posting a final candidate build for people to try out.