macOS Catalina vs. Audiobook Chapters

Update: Looks like macOS 10.15.2 resolves this one, folks. We tested syncing to a 4th-generation iPod and an iPhone running iOS 13.3 and both got their chapter stops, just like the good ol’ Mojave and earlier days. You have our permission to update to 10.15.2 😛.

A few folks who’ve recently upgraded to macOS Catalina and love Audiobook Builder wrote us this week. Since the upgrade, they haven’t seen chapters in audiobooks created with Audiobook Builder and synced to their Apple devices. Some had even spent an hour or two on the phone with Apple’s support team, only to be told the issue must be in Audiobook Builder itself.

So we ran some tests. And some more. And a couple of hours of testing later, we felt enough confidence to say, no, the issue isn’t in Audiobook Builder. It’s in how the Finder in Catalina is – or, rather, isn’t – syncing chapter data to each device.

Our tests showed that all’s well on Mojave. Sync a “homemade” audiobook from iTunes on Mojave to a 4th-generation iPod or an iPhone running iOS 13.2.2 and you get chapters. Sync the same audiobook from the Finder on Catalina to the same devices and no chapters.

Then we tested audiobooks we purchased from the iTunes Store. Same results. You’ll need to remove purchased audiobooks from your device and sync them back again, if you wanna try this at home.

Poking around a bit, we learned the sync process itself aced optimizing processor and memory use, maximizing storage life, and minimizing battery wear and tear, not to mention saving the user a few seconds so playback begins immediately, by parsing out the chapters and storing them in a cache from the get-go so the device doesn’t have to do it every time an audiobook is played. Thank you Apple!

The only catch is it’s not working now – and the only variable is Catalina.

So we dashed off a bug report to Apple. We’ll keep you posted, but get in touch at support@splasm.com if you need any additional details in the meantime.

Posted in Audiobook Builder, Development, General | Tagged | Leave a comment

Audiobook Builder 2.1 is ready

Audiobook Builder 2.1 brings compatibility enhancements for macOS 10.15 Catalina’s Books and Music applications, featuring extra preferences so you can spec where you want your audiobooks saved now that Books manages your audiobooks and Music manages your music. Outputting M4B audiobooks? Use the Save Audiobooks to setting. Opting for more compatible M4A music tracks? Go for the Save Music to setting. Go to the Audiobook Builder menu at the top left corner of your screen and click the Preferences… menu item to see these new settings. We’ve also maintained compatibility with iTunes in macOS Mojave and earlier, so if you’re holding off on the Catalina upgrade everything will work just as it always has, plus 2.1’s minor user interface enhancements and a bit of accommodation for some of the “homemade” audio files out there.

One gotcha with 2.1 from the Mac App Store on Catalina: there’s a glitch in Music’s AppleScript support that prevents sandboxed applications from locating a track’s file on disk. This means Audiobook Builder’s Add Music button and menu item won’t work for now. Apple’s well aware Music’s AppleScript support for locating tracks on disk is broken, but feel free to send some feedback their way to let them know you know they know and you’re finger-drumming the 1812 overture and feel like you’re nearing mastery of syncopation already. That’s http://feedbackassistant.apple.com, with a blurb about the need for complete AppleScript support in Music so sandboxed third-party applications can locate file tracks on disk.

Audiobook Builder 2.1 is a free update if you already have a license for any version of 2. Click here for update details.

Posted in Audiobook Builder, General | Leave a comment

CheckBook and CheckBook Pro have a slight issue on Catalina

Update, 11/20/2019:  CheckBook and CheckBook Pro 2.6.9 are now available and resolve the issue of storing your document on an external or removable volume, but we’ve discovered the fix won’t work with FAT16 or FAT32 volumes.  These are DOS/Windows formats that most USB thumb drives and hard drives are pre-formatted with, and many Mac users aren’t aware their drives are formatted this way until subtle issues like this crop up over time.  If your external or removable volume is formatted with FAT16 or FAT32, continue using the copy of your document on your Mac’s startup volume and we’ll keep plugging on a fix for the next minor update to CheckBook and CheckBook Pro.

Update, 11/18/2019:  CheckBook and CheckBook Pro 2.6.9, with fixes for this issue and more, made their way to the mothership over the weekend.  We expect the updates to be approved on Tuesday so keep an eye out!

We’re investigating an issue affecting CheckBook and CheckBook Pro folks who’ve upgraded to macOS Catalina, where their document is stored on an external drive, resulting in the application telling the user the document can’t be accessed because of a permissions issue.  This isn’t something CheckBook itself causes, as far as we can tell, but we’re on the case, learning more details, and will update you here with what we find.  In the meantime, if you have your document on an external or removable drive and get an error about permissions, your data is safe but needs to be copied to your startup drive.  Copy your document to your Documents folder and double-click it there.  CheckBook will open that copy automatically going forward.  Stay away from the original copy on the external drive until we get to the bottom of this, and get in touch at support@splasm.com if you need any help before then!

Posted in CheckBook, General | Tagged | Leave a comment

How to: Update your Splasm applications

Click your application name below for update instructions:

Posted in Audiobook Builder, CheckBook, General, Return Labels | Tagged | Leave a comment

Audiobook Builder 2.0.2 and macOS Catalina

Update, 7 PM EST, 10/15/2019:  Audiobook Builder 2.1 is out!  Head here for update details.

Update, 10:20 AM EST, 10/15/2019:  The original Audiobook Builder 2.1 submission to Apple had an issue so we submitted a fix yesterday afternoon.  We expect it to enter review soon.

Update, 12 AM EST, 10/12/2019:  We just submitted Audiobook Builder 2.1 to Apple for review, so it shouldn’t be long until it’s approved and out in the wild.

If you’ve updated to macOS 10.15 Catalina and tried to use Audiobook Builder 2.0.2 or earlier, you’ve probably hit an error when Audiobook Builder tries to add your audiobooks to iTunes.  iTunes isn’t part of Catalina – you’ll manage audiobooks in Books and music in Music – so you’ll need to follow these steps to get things going again:

  1. Open Audiobook Builder 2.0.2.
  2. Go to the Audiobook Builder menu at the top left corner of your screen and click the Preferences… menu item.
  3. If the Save to setting at the top of the window is set to iTunes Media Folder, pick something else.
  4. Make sure the Add to iTunes Library checkbox is unchecked.

That’s all you need to do to build audiobooks with Audiobook Builder 2.0.2 on Catalina. After they’re built, drag them from the location you set up in your preferences to the appropriate application – to Books for M4B audiobooks or to Music for M4A music tracks.

One other thing – the Add iTunes button and menu item won’t work, and dragging directly from Music will also fail.  Work around that by dragging the tracks you need directly from the Finder. To see your tracks in the Finder, select a track in Music, go to the File menu, and click the Show in Finder menu item. Drag from there to your Audiobook Builder project and you’re all set.

Audiobook Builder 2.1 is coming with fixes – we’re putting it through a final round of tests and plan to submit it to Apple for review later today tomorrow.  We apologize for the delay – a last-minute issue means we have to run some tests on El Capitan through Catalina – but we’ll get it to Apple as soon as we possibly can.  Keep an eye out!

Posted in Audiobook Builder, General | Tagged | Leave a comment

macOS 10.15 Catalina Compatibility

It’s October, the season of OS updates.  Oh, look at em!  There’s an iOS 13.1…!  No!  It’s a…13.1…2!  Waaaaait a minute…I see a watchOS 6!  On and on it goes, OS updates just a’streamin’ outta the mothership, with thousands of compatibility updates from developers not far behind.  And before you know it, sometime this month, could even be today, the latest macOS, version 10.15, nicknamed “Catalina”, will likely make its way onto your Mac.

Packed with goodies, Catalina also comes with a big ol’ gotcha:  your 32-bit applications won’t work one…bit.  Poof!  Even so, it’ll relieve you to know Audiobook Builder 2, CheckBook and CheckBook Pro 2, Return Labels, and Griddle are already purring along in 64-bit awesomeness.  Just make sure you’re on the latest version of each and off you go.

The next big deal is iTunes.  Poof!  It’s fragmented into four smaller applications – Music, Books, Podcasts, and TV, with syncing now part of the Finder – like a vampyre dispersing into a cloud of so many bats.  Or rats.  Depends on the mood.  Anyway, that’s a hitch in Audiobook Builder’s get along, since it’s been joined at the hip with iTunes from the start, letting you add tracks from iTunes to your audiobooks and automatically adding your audiobooks back to your iTunes Library.  Hats off and a moment of silence, please, because things are about to change.  Not like, it’s all broke so let’s go home kinda change.  More like, you gotta swap from the aisle to the window seat kinda change.  And hey, window seats have their perks.

The rest of this is all about Audiobook Builder 2 on Catalina.  CheckBook and CheckBook Pro, Return Labels, and Griddle all seem to be just about right on Catalina.  We do have some fixes coming for CheckBook, but they’re general-purpose and not limited to Catalina so we’re more focused on Audiobook Builder for the moment.

Enter Music and Books

Like we said, iTunes is no more.  Catalina now manages your music in a new application named Music and your audiobooks will, henceforth, live in Books.  That means a few changes in Audiobook Builder, so we’re about to put a bow on version 2.1, which’ll handle all the details.

When you first launch Audiobook Builder 2.1, head to its preferences and you’ll find the traditional settings for saving your audiobooks in the iTunes Media Folder and automatically adding them to your iTunes Library have split into two sets of options – one for audiobooks and another for music.  When you build audiobooks, in the M4B file format, they’ll be saved according to the audiobooks settings.  When you build music tracks, in the M4A file format, they’ll be saved according to the music settings.

We’re gonna reserve this space right here to talk about a couple of things that have to wait for the final release of Catalina, depending on whether we can get one of our workarounds through Mac App Store review.

Anyway, there may be a little meantime between when you install Catalina and when Audiobook Builder 2.1 is ready.  You can still build your audiobooks with Audiobook Builder 2.0.2, though you’ll need to change a couple of settings and add tracks to Music and Books by hand.  It won’t hurt.

To start, open Audiobook Builder 2.0.2, go to the Audiobook Builder menu at the top left corner of your screen, click the Preferences… menu item, and eyeball the Save to setting at the top of the window.  If it’s set to iTunes Media Folder, pick something else.  Likewise, the Add to iTunes Library checkbox needs to be unchecked.

That’s it.  That’s all you need to do to build audiobooks with Audiobook Builder 2.0.2 on Catalina.  When they’re built, drag them from the location you set up in the preferences to the appropriate application – to Books for M4B audiobooks or to Music for M4A music tracks.

One other thing – the Add iTunes button and menu item aren’t gonna work, and dragging directly from Music will fail, as well.  Instead, drag the tracks you need from the Finder.  To spot your tracks in the Finder, select a track in Music, go to the File menu, and click the Show in Finder menu item.  Drag from there to your Audiobook Builder project and you’re all set.

Hang in there

That’s our Catalina compatibility story in a nutshell bit of long wind.  Please let us know at support@splasm.com if you have any questions and we’ll get on it!

Posted in Audiobook Builder, CheckBook, General, Return Labels | Tagged | Leave a comment