Using Visual Studio Code as Git merge tool

Visual Studio Code is a neat editor with many good functionalities but I especially like the way it shows Git merge conflicts. Instead of a 2-way or a 3-way split it just shows one window with both changes, nicely highlighted with colors and actions.

I like this feature so much I decided to set Visual Studio Code as my Git merge tool for both the command line and Git Tower.

Command line

Using Visual Studio Code as a merge tool for Git when using command line means editing your .gitconfig. You just need to define a new tool called code and set it as the default merge tool.

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Filling UITableView with data from bottom to top

If you work on something like an chat app, you may need to use the UITableView in a way where data is filled from bottom to top. An example of this is a chat detail screen, where you want the UITableView to show the latest messages at the bottom when loaded, new messages are added to the bottom and immediately shown and older messages are loaded on top when the user scrolls to the top of the UITableView.

There are multiple ways to achieve this, each with some advantages and disadvantages.

Scrolling

The first simplest idea that comes to mind is using the UITableView as is and just scrolling it when necessary:

  • Scroll to bottom when the initial messages are loaded
  • Scroll to bottom when a new message is added
  • When older messages are about to be added to the top, remember the position, add the older messages, scroll back to that position

The first two situations are easy to accomplish, but the last one is not. I could not find a way to make it works without a visible scrolling effect.

Rotating UITableView 180 degrees

Another solution is to rotate the UITableView by 180 degrees; rotating it upside down. Of course you have to also “flip” your data source but that is trivial to achieve. The advantage is that you do not have to do any scrolling when new messages are added to the bottom (which is the top of the rotated UITableView) and if you use batch updates instead of reload neither when older messages are loaded.

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More readable XCode build output for CI

If you use Continuous Integration (CI) builds or build your app from the command line using xcodebuild you know that the output is not pretty and not very readable. Reading the build output is important when a CI build breaks, but it is not easy when it looks like this

Many iOS developers were not satisfied with this so the xcpretty project was created. Xcpretty is a fast and flexible formatter that turn the output from screnshot above to this neatly formatted output

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iOS tip: Wireless debugging from XCode

One of the best XCode 9 features is the ability to deploy and debug iOS app on your device over WiFi, with no need to have the device connected to you computer by a cable. The only requirement is that the device runs iOS 11.

Setting it up is really easy. Connect the device using a cable like you normally do and go to Window | Devices and Simulators. You will see a new checkbox next to your iOS 11 devices called Connect via Network (see screenshot below), so check it. Now you can disconnect the cable and debug on your device over WiFi, the device has to be on the same network as your computer of course.

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Fixing black artifact when changing large titles mode in iOS11

One of the new features of iOS 11 is the ability to display large headers in the navigation bar by setting the prefersLargeTitles property to true. You can set it for the whole app (using the UIAppearance for example) or differently for each view controller.

But there is a problem. If you navigate from a view controller with large titles enabled to a view controller with large titles disabled, you will see a black artifact under the change animation:

The black artifact comes from the navigation controller. If you set the backgroundColor of the navigation controller’s view to any, like red, it will replace the black artifact with an artifact of that color. The solution is to set the color of the color of you UI, white in my case:

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Fixing problems with iPhone USB tethering on macOS

When my ISP had a problem resulting in Internet outage for multiple hours and I needed to work, I wanted to tether the LTE connection from my iPhone 6S to my hackintosh running macOS Sierra. It has no Wi-Fi card so the only was was tethering over USB cable.

The whole process should be easy, just connecting the iPhone to the computer with an USB cable and turning on the Personal hotspot in the Settings. The iPhone immediately registered 1 connection, but Internet did not work on the computer, although everything looked fine in System Preferences

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Creating animations of your apps

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so whenever I create an issue, a pull request or write a blog post about and application or some visual stuff I include a relevant image. Sometimes an image is not enough and an animation is needed to better describe the issue, or show the content of your pull request.

There are some good tools to help you to create animations like this on both Windows and macOS.

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My experience running a hackintosh

A few months ago I decided to take part in an iOS project. The first problem I needed to solve was to be able to run macOS Sierra and XCode. I did not really want to buy an overpriced MacBook without function keys or and underpowered Mac Mini. Especially when I own a more than 3 years old desktop computer that is still usable for all my needs. A few iOS developers I know recommended I go the Hackintosh way.

Hackintosh

Hackintosh is PC that runs macOS. This configuration is not supported by Apple but it is possible if you have the right hardware since Apple has been using a fairly standard PC hardware for the last couple of years. For example you cannot us any new GeForce 10X0 (Pascal) because there are no Apple computers with those new graphic cards so there are no drivers yet (NVIDIA has released new drivers supporting all the Pascal graphic cards). But if you have an older GeForce like me or an integrated one, you will be fine. The tonymacx86.com website, basically the central hub of all the Hackintosh information, regularly publishes a buying guide that can be useful if you want to buy a new computer and install macOS on it.

If you do not wish to install macOS directly on your hardware you can run it in a virtual machine, but the performance will never be very good. Some people do it for Xamarin development when they just need to compile their project and run the simulator, so there are a few tutorial on how to do it. There is also an interesting blog post series about a virtual hackintosh. I tried running macOS in WMWare on my Thinkpad T440s but the performance was not good.

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Using macOS with a Windows keyboard

When you start using macOS after years of using Windows there are some things you expect to work in certain ways. One of those things is the ways the OS handles keyboard input and keyboard shortcuts. This is especially important if you still also use Windows and use a Windows keyboard with macOS. Here are a few things regarding the keyboard that help me when using macOS working on a side project.

Control, Option and Command keys

The fist thing you may notice when using macOS with a Windows keyboard is that the modifier keys are not in the right order. The order of the modifier keys on an Apple keyboard is Control, Option, Command but the Ctrl, Windows, Alt keys on a Windows keyboard map to Control, Command, Option by default. You can fix the order of the modifier keys in System Preferences | Keyboard | Modifier keys

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