Horizon 1.4.1 Data Import

Horizon 1.4.1 is now available. I’ve fixed a few bugs, improved the ‘undo’ code, and added the ability to import from CSV. The CSV function will import files with four or five columns; the ‘category group’ column is optional. You can either put in a header row, or follow the layout described in the Help file, or both.

As always, I’d love to hear feedback on this new feature; what works for you and what doesn’t, so that I can continue to improve the program.

1.4 is Out!

I released version 1.4 of Horizon this morning. The category groups now work as advertised and expected, but Apple sure didn’t make it easy. I had to pull a lot of magic tricks to make things look simple.

Anyway, it’s out, so grab a copy and tell your friends.

Version 1.4 Beta Features

I’m adding a major new feature for version 1.4: category groups. Here’s a peek at how it works. You will be able to create groups, and add categories to them, like this:

outlinetest.horizon.jpg

With the group expanded, the Summary View looks like this:

Horizon-1.jpg

If you have a lot of categories, and you’re not interested in the details at the moment, you can collapse the group:

outlinetest.horizon-1.jpg

and the Summary View will summarize the group for you:

Horizon-2.jpg

Once again, I’m looking for beta testers. Because this update changes the structure of the data files, you will have to back up your data (but you do that anyway, don’t you?) and keep a copy of Horizon 1.3.5 around, just to be safe. If you’re interested in testing this version, drop me an email at the contact address and let me know. I’ll send you the link to the beta version. Thanks to everyone who helped test last time, and thanks in advance to everyone who can help with this version.

Version 1.3.5 and a Special Offer

Version 1.3.5 is available now, either through the Sparkle Update or the download link.. This version adds two date fields to the Summary View. You can use these fields to set the beginning and ending dates for the summary, so you are no longer confined to viewing a single month. This should make it easier to do budgeting and forecasting with Horizon.

The second piece of news is that, for today only, Horizon is available at 20% off the usual price of $29.95 U.S. As part of the MacSanta campaign, you can use the coupon code ‘MACSANTA07’ in the built-in store to get the discount. You might want to visit the MacSanta store as well, to see the other great software deals.

iMovie and iLife, Kicking and Screaming

I’ve been using iMovie to assemble the screencasts and the intro movie in the ‘Welcome’ panel. I haven’t tried the new version yet; I’ve been sticking with iMovie-HD most because I’m more familiar with it, and I like having a time line. The problem is, iMovie is rotten at doing slideshows. There are two slideshows in the intro movie; one at the beginning and one at the end.

The problem is that, although the slideshow looks fine in iMovie, it somehow gets messed up on the export to QuickTime. I finally found a solution that involved almost all of the iLife suite. I assemble all the images I need in an iPhoto album, and import my narration track into iTunes. Then I create a slideshow in iPhoto, and add the narration track as the ‘music’ from iTunes. I set the slideshow to run for the duration of the audio track, and disable the ‘Ken Burns’ effect. (Apple, or more precisely, Steve Jobs, must love that ‘Ken Burns’ effect. It’s set as the default in iPhoto and iMovie-HD.) Finally, I export the slideshow to QuickTime, and add it to my iMovie project.

Although it seems like a lot of steps, it’s actually rather quick, and gives you more precise timing. I really must learn the new iMovie sometime soon, though.

Funky Feeds

Since upgrading to Leopard, I’ve noticed that Safari will sometimes stop getting RSS feeds. I’ve traced this problem (I think) to the system-wide feed daemon that provides RSS feeds to Safari, Mail.app, and any other process that wants to subscribe.

The fix seems to be to go into Activity Monitor and Stop the ‘PubSubAgent’. This daemon seems to restart itself automatically, and all the RSS feeds suddenly appear. I haven’t noticed any side effects with stopping the PubSubAgent, so this seems as good a solution as any until Apple fixes the problem.

Another Beta Round

Version 1.3.5 is ready for beta testing, and it includes a major change to the Summary View. I’d really like to get this release bullet-proof before I release it to the general public, so if you’re interested in playing with it, send me an email.

StartupCampToronto

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending StartupCampToronto, at a bar called ‘No Regrets’ in Toronto. There was a keynote speech by serial start-up founder Albert Lai, and then five start-ups had five minutes each to present their product or service; followed by 15 minutes each for audience questions. I was most interested in Defensio, a product that claims %99.79 accuracy in combating comment spam. I’m definitely going to install it on this blog and give it a try.

After the presentations, a number of companies, including mine, set up demo stations at ‘pods’ in the room below. I think I was the only person actually demonstrating a desktop app, as opposed to a web app or web service. I had a lot of people stop by, and just about all of them ‘got it’ after a quick demo. A number of people independently suggested that Horizon would make a great iPhone app, so I’m more excited that ever to get my hands on the iPhone SDK in February. The was also discussion of a web app, and integration with different on-line services, like banks.

All in all, it was a great experience, I met a number of really nice people, and learned an awful lot about being a start up. I hope to attend more events like these in the future.

Fixes and Hints

Version 1.3.3 was released yesterday, to fix a couple of regression bugs that crept in. The first bug was really ugly; repeats looked like they had broken. If you moved to another month and then moved back, the repeated cells would appear in the right places. Anyway, this is now fixed.

The second bug had to do with editing a cell that contained a relative reference, like ‘yesterday’ or ‘last week’. Clicking on the cell wouldn’t show the right contents in the edit field. This bug has been there for a while, so I’m surprised no one has noticed it before now.

Finally, I’ve set up a mailing list for Horizon Hints. This will be a weekly email describing some feature or trick, and you can subscribe by filling in the form here. The first hint will go out next week, and I’ll set up an archive for them shortly.

Updates, updates

Version 1.3.2 was released yesterday. There are two major new features in 1.3.2. The first is an option in ‘Preferences’ to let you choose which day of the week you want the calendar to start on. In North America and the UK(I think) the calendar starts with Sunday, but in a lot of countries in Europe, the calendar starts with Monday. Now you have the option.

Trust me, Apple didn’t make this easy to implement. Even with all the locale settings, the list of localized day names is hard-wired to start with the local equivalent of ‘Sunday’, so I had to build a way of ‘spinning’ the list so that it could start at any day of the week.

The second feature is tied to the first. The calendar now determines how many rows are needed to display the whole month, and draws five or six rows as needed. Of course, changing the start day can affect the number of rows, so the two features are intertwined. I hope they both make Horizon easier to use, and more compatible with the way you work.

Also, I’ve added an RSS feed to the front page of the site. You can subscribe to this feed with your favorite newsreader, and get the news on the latest updates.