About that neato macOS Sierra public beta…

All the cool kids were doing it, so you took the plunge.  You installed the latest public beta of macOS Sierra.

[Update:  macOS 10.12 Sierra Public Beta 4 got everything working again, so no worries.]

Pretty nifty, ain’t it?  Your apps seem to be working.  Everything feels a little snappier.  Siri’s truly helpful.  Even the Mac App Store version of Audiobook Builder and any recent version of CheckBook and CheckBook Pro are running well, making your life easier as always.  Aside from a user interface layout glitch here and there, things look super great.

But when you try to create a new document or add tracks to Audiobook Builder or you’re in CheckBook and try to save a backup…

…the app just…

…hangs.

The open or save window appears, but it’s blank.  So you give it a sec.  OK five.  Ten?  Fifteen?  Wow, it’s been thirty seconds and…nothing.  Five minutes later you’re hitting the Send button and we get a plea for help in our inbox.  It might mention the public beta.  Might not.

So why’re things hanging?  It’s all related to the SDK – “Software Development Kit”, a collection of files defining everything needed to build code that’ll work with other code, like an operating system – used when an app is built and sandboxing, the security feature that prevents apps from accessing certain parts of your Mac without your permission or doing things they weren’t designed to.  Sandboxed apps don’t get to display open or save panels in quite the same way as in olden times.  The “Powerbox” background process handles these panels for them, automatically and usually without a fuss, but right now the Powerbox in the Sierra public beta isn’t quite as good at it as in El Cap and earlier.  When apps built with the 10.7 or earlier SDK that are also sandboxed, like the three in question, ask for an open or save panel, instead of the usual, you get a blank window and we get an email.

This isn’t really a true hang, though, where the app is completely unresponsive, so hit the Escape key on your keyboard and the window will disappear and you’re back to using the app just like before.

So why’re we still using the Mac OS X 10.7 SDK?  Welllll, we try to support older versions of Mac OS X for as long as possible, so we have to be careful with newer SDKs.  They introduce new features, making it easier for us to accidentally throw in something that just won’t work for all versions of the OS.  And sometimes, older features just behave differently from one version to the next.  Moving up to a newer SDK usually keeps us busy for a few days, adjusting or working around a handful of things, and then we get to test on each version of Mac OS X.

We let Apple know about this on July 20th (and it seems to be all better in macOS 10.12 Sierra Public Beta 4).  The bug report hasn’t been acknowledged or assigned to an engineer yet, but we’re hopeful they’ll get on it before the official Sierra release.  We’ll have new builds of the Mac App Store version of Audiobook Builder, CheckBook, and CheckBook Pro ready before then, though, built with the OS X 10.11 SDK so we’re all set for a while.  If you need any additional details in the meantime, though, please get in touch at support@splasm.com and we’ll help out!

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