News from Flying Meat
News from your friends at Flying Meat.
Dec 31, 2013

Some highlights from this past year, as well as a small preview of things Flying Meat is working on for 2014.

Acorn Stuff

In late April, we released Acorn 4. It included non-destructive filters with an on canvas HUD (aka "Merlin"). We also added an awesome new user interface, a curves tool, compositing changes with tremendous speed improvements, tons of vector tool improvements with boolean operations, and much more. And with an Editors' Choice award from Apple on the day it was released, Acorn sales shot into the stratosphere on both the App Store and from our own store.

We didn't stop there of course. In August we released Acorn 4.1 which included CMYK support, new filters such as Background Blur and Mirror, a new Spotlight importer so your layer names and text boxes are indexed by OS X, improvements to the Levels tool, pure vector PDF exports, and the Quick Config popover for shapes. We also added (but didn't mention) support for 16 bit per component images. So if you opened a deep image (more than 8 bpc), Acorn would pop into a 64 bit workflow and keep those super detailed colors looking good.

In December Acorn 4.2 "For the Pros" was released, rounding out the 16 bpc workflow by giving an option to change the bit depth in the Image menu, as well as importing RAW images into a 64 bit workspace if deep pixels were available.

The compositing engine was also reworked in 4.2 such that all pixels are piped through OpenGL. This added speed improvements and also laid the groundwork for taking advantage of the super amazing GPUs that are shipping in the new Mac Pros as well as other Macs.

A reworked pencil tool, new crop options, new filters, color picker improvements, and other small improvements also showed up 4.2.

The response was great, and Acorn 4.2 is a hit. It currently has a perfect five star review in the App Store (though I'm sure I just jinxed that by pointing it out), and new users are discovering and falling in love with Acorn every day.

So what's coming up next for Acorn? We'll be pushing out a 4.2.x release shortly with some bug fixes, and then work on the next 4.x version will begin. RAW import will be getting some improvements, and there are some more compositing improvements that I've been working on in the lab - but I'll keep the other plans close to my chest for the time being.

I will add one more thing though- in 2014 I really want to put a focus on fixing the little bugs that have built up over the years. Crashers, data loss, and other critical bugs are always fixed right away of course, but the little bugs that most people don't see tend to get pushed off for a later date. No software is perfect- but I'd love for Acorn to get as close to it as possible. And thus "Project Oak" was born a little while ago in the FM labs.

VoodooPad Stuff

In November I handed off VoodooPad development to my friends at Plausible Labs. As I explained in my announcement, it was a really hard decision to make but I believe it was the right one. With all my attention on Acorn, VoodooPad was suffering.

I still find myself hacking on VoodooPad though, by using the public plugin APIs in VP - both in Objective C and with Cocoa Script (aka, JSTalk). I didn't expect to be doing this, but it's kind of awesome and I'm super happy I opened up VoodooPad in this way. I'll have to push some of my additions up to GitHub in the near future, and eventually some new ideas that I want to push into VoodooPad as well.

I've also come to see VoodooPad in a new light as well. As soon as I handed over the source code, I felt a little bit of dread knowing that I wouldn't be able to change its internals anymore. We use VoodooPad extensively for our documentation, and even the pages you are reading right now were written in VoodooPad. Having that loss of control is a bit odd, but at the same time a bit freeing.

I no longer get the bug reports, and I no longer see the little warts that drive me crazy (in part because people are always pointing them out to me), and in turn VoodooPad looks more awesome now than when I sold it, even though little has changed yet. I've also come to the conclusion that if you're not using VoodooPad to write your documentation, you're doing yourself a disservice. OS X rich text support, automatic linking, web export, you can even share a document between multiple people over Dropbox. What could be easier and more awesome? You can even publish as a PDF or ePub - and while it's not the most amazing output, it's a single app that can do glorious things.

Anyway, I still love VoodooPad just as much as before. And I've got some feature requests I need to send in…

Cocoa Script aka JSTalk stuff

So I've renamed JSTalk to Cocoa Script. Just now. That's the formal announcement. The GitHub page is here. I wanted to make this change this past summer but I had too much on my plate at the time. Hopefully I'll make that formal transition in 2014.

If you've got existing JSTalk scripts, they will work just fine. If you are a dev and you've embedded JSTalk into your app, I've put in shims to make things work mostly the same - but you'll have to change some some class names.

There's no rush to update to the latest version, but I thought it deserved a mention.

Other stuff

Hopefully I'll also finish up a first draft of the open SQLite based image format I've discussed previously. I've started work on it- but not enough to get an initial release out there. It's all pretty much organized in my head, I just need to type all the code out and make something available for people to send feedback on.

So from where I'm sitting, 2013 was pretty awesome. And I expect 2014 is going to be just as awesome too.

Nov 6, 2013

The great folks over at Plausible Labs have taken over development of VoodooPad.

Both VoodooPad and Acorn have grown over the years into much more than I can handle as a single developer. And because of this one of my two apps was going to be neglected, and obviously VoodooPad has gotten the short end of the stick lately.

This isn't fair to my customers, it isn't fair to VoodooPad, and it was driving me insane. I use VoodooPad every single day, and I love it to death. I want it to grow, and that wasn't happening so something needed to be done.

Why Plausible Labs?

I first approached my friend Mike Ash a while back about taking over VoodooPad. I've known Mike for about a decade now and he's been using VoodooPad for about that long as well. He's a good guy, a solid coder, and one of the few people I would trust with VoodooPad's future.

So I asked Mike if he was interested, and he said yes but then came back with an even better idea. How about having his company, Plausible Labs, take over VoodooPad?

So you're saying that maybe more than just one awesome person would be working on VoodooPad?

Um, hell yea?

Why this is awesome for VoodooPad users

Development on VoodooPad is going to happen at a quicker pace now. And instead of a single developer focusing attention on VoodooPad, it now has a team.

And it's not just any team- Plausible Labs has serious brains and talent and experience. And most importantly, I trust them to do the right thing with VoodooPad. It's all in their hands now.

Why this is awesome for Flying Meat

I'm sad to let VoodooPad go, but at the same time I'm excited about being able to focus 100% of my energy on Acorn. Having to split my brain up on two major apps has probably been slowing me down- hopefully this won't be the case anymore.

VoodooPad turns 11 in February

When I started VoodooPad I certainly never expected it to grow[1] and to be able to support myself and my wife- yet that's exactly what it did. It was the first real project that I cut my teeth on, and it launched my indie career. I'm forever grateful for the customers who purchased licenses and upgrades and sent in feature requests and bug reports and everything.

So many smart people have been VoodooPad customers over the years as well- it's been amazing. VP has been used for simple things like keeping notes on the super secret development of the first Intel Macintoshes, to building web sites and books, and all the way up to world building for one of the most popular console games of all time.

VoodooPad has a strong history, super loyal fans, and now an incredibly bright future. I'm super excited to see what happens next.


  1. Fun fact: when I first started charging for VoodooPad, I hoped to be able to make enough money to buy an Apple 22" Cinema Display. Remember that beauty?  ↩

Oct 22, 2013

The latest versions of VoodooPad and Acorn run fine on OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Mostly. There's a bug with Acorn when trying to use the File ▸ Export… menu item on 10.9 with the App Store versions of Acorn. We've sent a fix to Apple and it's currently waiting for review.

As a workaround until then, you can use the File ▸ Web Export… menu item, or grab the direct version of Acorn.

There have been a ton of great improvements to OS X in version 10.9, most notably to OpenCL and Core Image. Things got faster, and with it so did Acorn. So just updating to Mavericks will result in a nice performance increase for Acorn. And 10.9 is a free update, which we're pretty excited about. So go start your update engines because it's pretty awesome.

Aug 16, 2013

Acorn 4.1 came out a couple of days ago for direct customers, and it became available via the Mac App Store this afternoon.

There's some fun new features (and of course bug fixes). A new Background Blur filter, CMYK export for JPEG images, new commands to flip the whole canvas, support for multipage TIFF files, PDF vector export, a new spotlight importer, and more. As usual, you can read the release notes for all the details.

A bit more on the Background Blur filter, which I though up after the iOS 7 introduction a couple of months ago. iOS 7 has a new look in some areas where the background gets blurred out so you can focus on what's in the foreground. This has always been possible to mock up in image editors, but it can be a bit of a pain to get right and if you want to change things around then that's a pain as well. So I came up with a new filter which would do exactly what you wanted, and was super easy to use. It's a bit hard to explain so make sure to watch this quick video which goes over it:

Did you know we've got a bunch more video tutorials in Acorn's documentation? Here's another recent one I made, which shows how to clip images using vector layers:

So grab Acorn 4.1 if you haven't already. And we're already getting started on Acorn 4.2, which is going to have something rather awesome packed in it which I can't wait to tell you about.

May 1, 2013

Acorn 4 is out, and I'm slightly proud of this bit of code. a A brand new UI, non destructive filters and layer styles merged together in one great bag of awesome, curves, much improved vector tools, and speed. And that's just some of the big stuff. There's a ton of little things which when added all together make Acorn feel and work better than it ever has.

Do me a favor- if you've written Acorn off in the past, give version 4.0 a try. You just might be pleasantly surprised. And if you've been using Acorn for years, I think you're really going to love what we've done with it.

For the month of May, we're offering upgrade pricing on Acorn 4 to everyone- $29.99. If you'd like to move from the Mac App Store to the direct version of Acorn, or the other way around - you can do so without having to repurchase Acorn all over again. At the end of May, we'll be raising the price back to normal levels.

And finally, for fun, here's a little video I whipped up of the new filter UI in action:

Jan 22, 2013

Acorn 3.5.1 is out for both direct and App Store customers.

There's nothing huge in this update, just some good old fashoned bug fixes for everyone. We'll have the more amazing stuff later ready for you sometime later.

If you've purchased Acorn via the Mac App Store, we'd love it if you could leave a review for the latest release while you're waiting for it to download.

Jan 15, 2013

Pixa is a handy app to organize your images, and the latest update just added support for Acorn. I've been using it quite a bit - it's a great little app that just got better.

Oct 10, 2012

And just like that, Acorn 3.5 was released on the App Store, hurray!

Oct 9, 2012

We just pushed up Acorn 3.5 for our direct customers. The big focus for the release was bug fixes, but we managed to slip in some new features as well. A new non-contiguous option for the magic wand tool, File ▸ Layer Export, new layer blend modes (Divide, Lighter Color, Darker Color, Hard Mix, and Subtract ), and a new filter for making fancy sunbursts.

There were a handful of changes, as well as new APIs for scripters. Visit the release notes for the full details.

Sep 17, 2012

VoodooPad 5.1.1 was finally cleared for sale on the App Store, hurray! (Yes, we skipped 5.1. But 5.1.1 is obviously better anyway, because it has an extra 1 on the end. And more is always better).

We've also submitted VPiOS 2.0.3, which has support for the new 4" iPhone as well as some bug fixes and the ability to set Markdown as your default new page type.