Goldenseal Pro Progress- Breakdowns & Cocoa (Dec 21)

Last week we finished redoing the basic windows setup in Goldenseal Pro for Mac. This time we built the code with the latest OS version (and the latest version of Apple’s Xcode development tool). Xcode now gives better log messages for improper setup, so we could eliminate the errors, one by one.  Finally, everything was proper.

As a result, Goldenseal Pro now runs fine for all OS versions. The former crashes are gone. All windows are also resizable, now. They used to be stubbornly fixed-size, probably because their constraints weren’t valid.

There is still one more big hurdle to overcome.  Our staff has started on breakdown tables several times, but every time we get stuck. Most things work OK, but the basic interface is just not right. We want to have an editable text field appear promptly when you click in a cell. Unfortunately, that basic task has been extremely challenging to pull off.

What we finally figured out is that Apple’s table class (NSTableView) is designed for Finder-like lists.  To change a file name in the Macintosh Finder, you click in the text, then wait a second, then click again. It works that way so you won’t accidentally rename files when you really just want to double-click to open a file, or click-and-drag to move it.

Unfortunately, click-wait-click is not a good fit for Goldenseal Pro. That behavior is deeply baked into NSTableView.

To solve problems like this in C++ and PowerPlant, we would set breakpoints in the code, and then step through line by line to see how the library works. Eventually that leads to a clear understanding of the mechanics. Then, eventually, we can write code that does the job reliably.

Unfortunately, Apple’s Cocoa library is header-only.  Stepping into it show machine language. It is much, much harder to understand than C or C++ code. Even worse, it doesn’t show any of the comments that good programmers add, to help others understand their code. As a result, Cocoa is pretty much a ‘black box’. We have to try things, and see what they do. Then try other things. Maybe we can eventually understand the code, and maybe not.

Best guess right now is another week until we get the breakdown tables working properly, when you click on a cell. After that it will go much faster. Most of the rest is already programmed.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director

Author: Dennis Kolva

Programming Director for Turtle Creek Software. Design & planning of accounting and estimating software.