In the wave of macOS Catalina, Mac App Store highlights apps built with the Catalyst Project

Apple engineers and developers talk more about the Catalyst Project

We've talked a lot, here in , over the Catalyst Project Apple's ambitious plan to unify app development for macOS and iPadOS (and iOS in general). We have a full article giving details of how the tool works and covered an interview with two of Ma's top executives talking about it, but we had not heard a crucial part of the process: the developers. That's exactly what made the Ars Technica.

In a major report bringing a deep dive into the Catalyst Project, Samuel Axon spoke with several people marked by the project, inside and outside Apple, including Ma engineers who were on the tool development team and partner developers at the company who are already in the company. transitioning your applications to the new development environment.

One of the questions brought by the report about Apple's choice of bringing iPad apps to the Mac, not the other way around. According to API Cocoa engineering manager at Apple Ali Ozer, the simple answer: “There are millions of iPad apps, so there's a direction that makes more sense at least to make developers' lives easier.”

Developers, then, seem to be a compliment to Catalyst even when the apps in question involve complex graphics and high processing power. O Ars talked to the developers at Gameloft Barcelona about the process of bringing Asphalt 9: Legends to the Mac, and it was clear that even in the case of heavy games, the transition is the same: simply checking the "macOS" option in Xcode is a good part of the process. be performed automatically.

Of course, in the case of a game, some lines of code here and there had to be modified due to differing third party library support on iOS and macOS. Still, the team was able to compile and run the game's base code in about 24 hours. Graphics engineer Alex Urbano stated the following:

It was pretty simple (bring the graphics to the Mac). We had to adapt the need for some shaders to make them work properly on some higher resolution Macs and to further improve performance. We have slightly changed the way management of buffer Metal works. None of this was strictly necessary, but it allowed us to implement some effects not present on any other platform while preserving our 60 frames per second target at native resolution.

According to engineer Manu Ruiz, the biggest challenge, in fact, was adapting the game's user interface (menus, controls, etc.) to the Mac, since “what works on mobile devices doesn't necessarily have to be done on desktops” .

Apple engineers are rushing to point out that Catalyst * will not make MacOS apps simpler or simpler. ports of apps for the iPadOS. As Craig Federighi (Apple's senior vice president of software engineering) has already stated in interviews, the platform's toolset allows developers to tailor their creations with all the extra features provided by the Mac environment.

Xcode running with the Catalyst Project

Still, Apple believes Catalyst won't be the ideal answer for everyone: some apps and segments will still need a development environment of their own (the good old AppKit). As Apple Senior Partner and Developer Relations Director Shaan Pruden stated:

Good developers know their audience and their users, and they know what they want. This (Catalyst) simply opens the door for many developers to consider transitioning to the Mac, something they had never even thought about before. And I think that's the target of this particular technology, rather than one that has a huge, complicated and cumbersome authoring application.

Benjamin completes the words of the colleague:

I think Mac apps in general have been those big, complex and highly capable apps that do a lot of things. And iOS apps, on the other hand, are more focused. They are thought from the beginning based on their function and the way it is performed. And I think that has changed the way people think apps, right? Now that people know these new things, they'd love to have these simpler, more accessible desktop experiences, too. And while the internet can do that, a somewhat more focused app.

Apple's engineering team reiterated that it does not have a “preferred” platform, in the sense of a system that dictates the direction of others within Apple each, between iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS, has its own purposes and directions and teams. .

The full report of the Ars brings several other interesting points, such as testimonials from Ma's SwiftUI team and a full report from TripIt's Rich Shumano developer, covering all the steps he needed to transition his iPad app to the Mac. who is interested in the subject and English language, the highly recommended reading.