inessential by Brent Simmons

March 2018

The Omni Show #10: Dave Lonning, Documentation Wrangler

In this episode we talk with Dave Lonning, who writes documentation for Omni apps. Dave’s a long-time fan of role-playing games — running them and creating them — and he lived for years in Japan before making his way to Omni.

Among Dave’s hobbies is painting miniatures:

Dave, it should be noted, is a cat person — but, importantly, he’s learned to love the Omni dogs. They’re good dogs, Dove.

Marketing Human

I’ve got some career-change news that might sound weird at first but that I promise will make sense in a minute: I’m quite happily still at Omni, but I’m switching from engineering over to marketing.

I am the new Marketing Human, a new member of the Design department.

If you think of me as an engineer, you’re not wrong — but the secret, hidden in plain sight, is that throughout my career I’ve done a whole bunch of design and things that could be called marketing.

Blogging could be called marketing, after all, and today I wrote my first post for the Omni blog.

(For whatever freakish reason, writing has never been a chore to me — I love it. Sometimes I think I only make apps just to have something to write about.)

But the new job isn’t just blogging — I’m also doing a podcast. I’ll help figure out the marketing points behind the release of OmniFocus 3. I’ll write some ads. I’ll create new websites. I don’t even know what all the different things are yet.

I’ll also help with defining future versions of our apps, which is super-exciting for me. This keeps me close to the process of app-making — at a different level, sure, but at a place where I’m quite happy, since I’ve done this kind of work with Frontier, NetNewsWire, MarsEdit, Glassboard, Vesper, and now with Evergreen and back to Frontier.

In other words, I’m using the skills I’ve learned as an indie and sort-of-indie over decades — just not the skills I write about here that often.

Make sense? Cool. :)

* * *

For now, until OmniFocus 3 ships, I’m splitting my time: doing this and continuing to work directly on the Mac app. After that I’ll be a full-time Marketing Human.

If you want to get in touch with me, you can email me at marketing at The Omni Group’s domain name.

* * *

One interesting part of this — at least for me — is that, for the first time in decades, I’ll be back to writing code purely for fun. I’ll continue to work on Evergreen and other apps on nights and weekends, for sure. And I’ll keep writing about code on this blog.

But engineering will just be my hobby. I love that.

Greenwood: Unfinished Microblogging System

A year ago I was working on a microblogging system and wrote a bunch of it, but I didn’t actually finish it.

When I realized it’s not what I actually want, I shelved it.

But interest in microblogging has grown since then — thanks to Micro.blog — and so I posted my code on GitHub just in case somebody else wants to fork it and do something with it.

The app is called Greenwood. Partly because I like the freshness it evokes — it’s a great name for a fresh, simple start — and partly because Greenwood is the neighborhood next to mine (I’m in Ballard), and I’ve been giving things Pacific Northwest names lately.

* * *

Blog posts are stored as separate files on disk. There’s a place for attributes at the top of each file, and then the rest is Markdown.

It’s written in Ruby; it’s a Sinatra app. It’s fast. I tested it using eight years of inessential.com’s files.

My plan was to put it in front of a caching Nginx server, so it would essentially run as fast as a statically-rendered site.

There’s surprisingly not much code. And, well, that’s because it’s unfinished.

And — as it says at the top of the README in the repo — DO NOT DEPLOY THIS APP AS-IS. IT IS NOT SECURE.

Script Debugger 7

Script Debugger has long been the secret weapon of people who write AppleScript scripts — and now it’s at version 7. Better than ever!

Plus really cool new icons!

Evergreen is AppleScript-able. So are Omni’s Mac apps. So is Acorn. And MarsEdit. And so many others.

(Bonus tip: FastScripts is a great utility for running AppleScript scripts. I use it all day every day.)