May, 08 2023

Every block of stone

I admit, I’m not a designer. I’m a coder. But like the critic longing to write his own novel, I have this craving to design. Starting with my very first computer with a graphical user interface, I fell in love with icon design. Back in the days when app icons were 32 × 32 pixels of black and white, things were easy. Also, 256 colors I did manage. Then app icons started having up to 1024 × 1024 pixels, thousands of colors and Skeuomorphism came along the way. And with that, I reached the end of my skill set. My adventures into the world of icon design were over.

While working on the last major update of Posterino, I realized that the app icon was no longer in line with the visual language of modern macOS. I knew, something needed to be done. Since the days of the hight of Skeuomorphism, time has passed and macOS has materialized into being much more flat. Flat for me meaning: The design being more approachable for people with a limited skill set like me. So, I allowed myself to give it a try.

The game was afoot.


Dissecting the current app icon of Posterino, it became obvious to me. The cutter knife was still as sharp as in its first days, but the rest of the icon no longer fit the shape.

Naturally, I first tried to stick with the concept of the existing icon and keep the idea and the frame.

But those sketches felt like a dead end. It was time to step back and reflect on what the app icon should be all about. For me, the idea, the icon should represent is, and always was:

“Assemble a new whole from individual parts in endless ways of creativity”

This essence is rooted in my vision for Posterino and in the meaning of the term collage:

“A technique of art creation by which art results from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.”

The core ideas here are assembling, individual parts and new whole. I stepped back and tried again.

Previously, all Posterino app icons featured tiny “photos” as the building blocks of the collage. This idea was lost by the new approach. Or wasn’t it?

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” — Michelangelo

Then it hit me. The idea was not lost, it was still there. But on a much more abstract level. The new sketches reminded me of something also built from individual parts, and also forming one pice of art. I approached my material under the new angle and tried to reveal, what was inside it.


Then the pieces fell into place.

The new icon consists of tree parts: A canvas, a “blossom” and a cutter knife. All by themselves references to the process of collage creation.

The canvas is the foundation on which the individual parts of the collage are arranged. The frame holding the composition. Here, as a square with rounded corners, referring to the way apps look like on macOS and iOS today. Making the icon instantly recognizable as an app.

The cutter knife as the principle tool of the collage artist. The original knife of the app icon was designed by Marcelo Marfil for Posterino 2. Thanks to the wonderful work of Marcelo, the knife still fitted perfectly, and I just did some cleanup and color adjustment to align it with the style of the new icon.

And finally the blossom. It reminds of stained-glass windows. Where small pieces of colored glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures. Held together traditionally by strips of lead. The individual photos – which were recognizable in the previous Posterino app icons – are now an abstract concept. The individual parts making a new whole.

The basic building blocks of the blossom aren’t circles. If you follow a “strip of lead”, you can see, it is an infinite loop. For me, a reference to the infinite possibilities of creativity or creativity itself. The endless loop, to be exact, is a Hypotrochoid, a special type of Cycloid. A subtle hint to the name of my company, Zykloid Software.

Examples of a hypotrochoid

I think, the new app icon is not only a refinement of the identity of Posterino, but also a vision for its future.

To rephrase Michelangelo:

“Every app concept has an iconic representation inside it, and it is the task of the designer to discover it.”

Just as Michelangelo saw the statue within a block of stone, designers envision the icon within the app’s concept. With careful exploration, ideation, and execution, designers can reveal the essence of the app in its icon, capturing its unique personality and features. It’s the designer’s job to reveal the app’s “statue” in the form of a compelling, memorable, and recognizable icon that communicates the app’s core message to users.

For me, the design process has been about careful exploration, patience, and not being intimidated by the fact that I lack serious design skills. Looking at the new icon now makes all appear so obvious, so easy, so simple. Forgotten are all the failed attempts. Forgotten is all the doubt.

I’m still not a designer. But I still love to design.

For questions, comments, tips, or feedback, find me on Twitter, Mastodon, or just email me.
Apr, 25 2023

Tame your media library

Posterino 4.2 has just been released. The new version is all about improvements to the built-in media browser. For example, you can now add image folders to the browser. Furthermore, the media browser displays handy information, like the number of images in an album or highlights which images are already used in a document.

Image folders

One of the most requested features for Posterino 4 was: „I want to see my image folders from Finder in the built-in media browser“. Now you can. Add an image folder to the media browser via File > Import Images. Or by dragging a folder from the Finder to the album tree of the media browser. As a small bonus, the content of the image folder will automatically update if the images in the folder on disk change.

Album Tree

The number of images in an album is now displayed on the album tree. This information is very hand when you are about to determine the number of images you need for a new collage. You can show or hide the media count using the album tree context menu or via the main menu at View > Media Browser > Show Media Count.

Image Browser

The media browser now displays the number of times an image is used in your document. The number is displayed as a badge in the top-right corner of the images in question. This badge helps to answer the question: Which of the images in my album did I already use for my college? You can show or hide the media usage count using the context menu or via the main menu at View > Media Browser > Show Media Usage.

The number of selected images is now displayed in the bottom-left corner of the media browser.

You can now select an image in the image browser and show it in your document via a context menu command. If you think of a collage of, e.g., 50 or more images, the new command makes locating one or more image so much easier and faster.

And you can sort the images in the browser by creation date. To change the sort order, use the context menu or got to the main menu at View > Media Browser > Sort by.

General

If you don’t plan to use Photos at all, you can switch off Photos support entirely. This cleans up the album tree and just leaves your image folders in place. You are asked about your plan for using Photos on the very first start of Posterino. Later, you can alter this setting under Posterino > Settings > Media Browser.

The media browser now restores the last selected album. Say you are currently working with images from your „Vacation in Venice“ album. On the next document you open, Posterino will default to „Vacation in Venice“. This works even if you did quit Posterino and open again days later.

For questions, comments, tips, or feedback, find me on Twitter, Mastodon, or just email me.
Nov, 14 2022

Posterino v4 now available

From Apple Silicon support to document handling. From image browsing to template picking. Posterino improved in many areas. The user interface received a fresh new look and the inspector has been integrated with the effects picker, also …

  • A bunch of new templates
  • A fast new built-in image browser
  • Improved document handling
  • Document previews in Finder
  • A new document file format
  • A unified inspector
  • Streamlined template creation
  • Better organized template browser
  • A fresh new look
  • A nice new application icon
  • Apple Silicon support
  • Full support for macOS Monterey and Ventura
  • Well, and there is always more …

But the star of v4.0 is surely the new Square-Grid layout. It bridges the gap between a completely automatic and a manual layout method. And I think it does this in a fun and enjoyable way. See for yourself:

Find out all about it on the Posterino v4 product page.

For questions, comments, tips, or feedback, find me on Twitter, Mastodon, or just email me.
Oct, 25 2022

Posterino v4 Public Beta

I’m pleased to announce, that a public beta of Posterino v4 is available now!

Square-Grid Layouts

  • Drop your images on the document background: Distribute image on the free space available on your document
  • The Square-Grid layout features a set of drop options depending on the mouse position on top or between the squares. Just move your drag objects around a bit to discover the different options.
  • On the window toolbar there are two new action: Scale Down and Scale Up. Use these to scale your Square Grid document to hold more or less free spaces and thereby images.

License & Upgrades

  • The app is fully functional, if you try to export or share a document, the shop will pop up. These are no real purchases yet! Just choose what looks good and proceed to your export. Since the purchase is not real, the information will be lost when you quit Posterino.
  • If you are a long time Posterino user you can do me a favor and verify that the license upgrade system is working for you. Please have a look at Posterino > License… > Upgrade Offer and verify that you can enable an upgrade offer using your current App Store purchase of Posterino or a license you bought on my web-site.

Beta Limitations

  • English is currently the only user interface language supported
  • The online help document is sill for Posterino 3
For questions, comments, tips, or feedback, find me on Twitter, Mastodon, or just email me.
Oct, 17 2022

Posterino v4 Preview

From Apple Silicon support to document handling. From image browsing to template picking. Posterino v4 improved in many areas. The user interface received a fresh new look and the inspector has been integrated with the effects picker, also ..

  • A bunch of new templates. For some samples see the “Template Gallery” below.
  • A fast new built-in image browser
  • Improved document handling
  • Document previews in Finder
  • A new document file format
  • A unified inspector
  • Streamlined template creation
  • Better organized template browser
  • A fresh new look
  • A nice new application icon
  • Apple Silicon support
  • Full support for macOS 12 Monterey (and the upcoming macOS 13 Ventura)
  • Well, and there is always more …

But the star of v4.0 is surely the new Square-Grid layout. It bridges the gap between a completely automatic and a manual layout method. And I think it does this in a fun and enjoyable way. See for yourself:

For questions, comments, tips, or feedback, find me on Twitter, Mastodon, or just email me.
Nov, 04 2021

Posterino 3.11 and Monterey

Here comes my regular note regarding the state of Posterino and the latest member of the macOS family “Monterey”, released a couple of days ago.

Looks like Apple is back in its usual OS release rhythm and we get the new macOS in October. I am working full-time with the new macOS since the second beta and I really can’t complain. This release is solid!

As I expected, the new streamlined tab bar of Safari caused a bit of controversy. Followed by some feature back and forth but in the end we can choose the model we personally like best. I think that’s a good move for an app we use every single day.

To enjoy Posterino on macOS Monterey I suggest to update to the latest version 3.11 via the software update channel of your choice or by downloading right from the web.

Let’s round up this post with a short list of useful background information regarding macOS Monterey:

– macOS 12 Monterey: The Ars Technica review This one is epic. If you want the complete picture, this is it.

– For just a short teaser go to: 10 Great macOS Monterey Features Worth Upgrading For

– And if you are ready to jump in, there is a tiny detail about the macOS Monterey installation process you might want to know: How to Clean Install macOS Monterey Easily Using the New Erase Mac Option

So much for now. I’ll keep you posted.

For questions, comments, tips, or feedback, find me on Twitter, Mastodon, or just email me.
Nov, 16 2020

Posterino 3.9 and Big Sur

Here comes my regular note regarding the state of Posterino and the latest member of the macOS family released a couple of days ago.

This year the macOS beta phase lasted a bit longer than usual but I think the result was worth waiting for. Big Sur deserves the new number, the 11, in front of it. A sound user interface overhaul started closing the gap between macOS and iPadOS and the advent of Apple Silicon based Macs clearly marks a new era.

Posterino on macOS Big Sur

I have been working with macOS Big Sur beta for several months now and I must say I’m very pleased. Apple did spare use the hiccups the beta of macOS Catalina showed last year and Big Sur beta was mainly a smooth ride on a solid crafted OS. Well mainly, it has been in beta after all ;) 

I took my time to make sure Posterino 3 is running smoothly on Big Sur and Apple Silicon based Macs. So, feel free to update to Posterino 3.9 via the software update channel of your choice or by downloading right from the web.

Let’s round up this newsletter with a short list of useful background information regarding macOS Big Sur and the new Macs:

– The most important question is of course: Will Big Sur run on your Mac? You’ll find the answer on Apple’s Big Sur web page near the bottom in a section called “See if your Mac can run macOS Big Sur”.

– macOS Big Sur Features by MacRumors, a solid overview about what’s new and changed in Big Sur

– The Apple Silicon Buyer’s Guide, just in case you feel tempted ;)

– A visual comparison of macOS Catalina and Big Sur; I especially love this one, an epic collection of side by side screenshots of Catalina and Big Sur

So much for now. I’ll keep you posted.

For questions, comments, tips, or feedback, find me on Twitter, Mastodon, or just email me.
Dec, 12 2019

Posterino event calendars

So, what’s new in Posterino v3.7? In a nutshell: Events, more control over the look of the calendar and new calendar templates. For example, here is my holiday and birthday color coded calendar poster for next year:

I posted a couple more samples here on Twitter. Originally I planed to release this feature next year but then it occurred to me, that this may be extremely useful for you right now: In case you need some last minute gifts etc. ;)

For questions, comments, tips, or feedback, find me on Twitter, Mastodon, or just email me.
Aug, 20 2019

Welcome to the Dark Side

I admit it. At first I haven’t been the biggest fan of macOS Dark Mode. But now, when I see Posterino vested in its new dress, I just love it. Today I’d like to give you a quick look on what is taking shape on my developer’s desk:

In real life it even looks better because the sidebar has a nice discreet material design. While I was at it I gave the whole UI a bit of love. Everything looks lighter, fresher and more modern now. As a nice addition I made Posterino pick up the system accent color. As usual a beta version will be ready for you soon. If you can’t wait for it and need to see more, have a look at the screenshots I posted on Twitter ;)

For questions, comments, tips, or feedback, find me on Twitter, Mastodon, or just email me.