Mobile sketcher overhaul in progress

sketchmmds_ipadThe molecular drawing capabilities introduced with the Mobile Molecular DataSheet (MMDS) app are still unique in the mobile chemistry space insofar as the user interface allows for precise drawing of manuscript-quality diagrams (i.e. perfect bond lengths and angles), on an incredibly tiny screen (the original iPhone form factor), and also very quickly. This sounds like a violation of basic engineering principles (i.e. fast, cheap, good: pick two), but there is of course a down side: the interface is different from the conventional industry standard paradigm, and takes some getting used to. While the capabilities have been regularly improved over more than 4 years since it was first released, a significant overhaul of the “onboarding” experience is long overdue, starting with more targeted adaptation to multiple screen sizes. Continue reading

Second impressions of Swift: making Objective-C look good

I held off writing this post since Apple’s new Swift language was at version 1.0, and it was clearly rushed to market/probably should’ve stayed in beta for quite awhile longer, but now that 1.1 is out, I can say that things are not looking good from a performance point of view. The reason I was excited about the language from the moment I read the specification (other than wanting to see the end of Objective-C) is that the design takes into account the notion of having a clean high level syntax that provides enough information for the compiler to understand what is, and isn’t, trying to be accomplished in a given block of code, and optimise accordingly. A reading of the spec suggests that Swift is, among other things, a better Java: all the safety and convenience of bounds checking and automatic memory management, but with clever ways to reduce or eliminate the performance penalties that come with it. Continue reading