OT: Catalina - the end of ad hoc & in-house development?

Peter Reid preid at reidit.co.uk
Sat Sep 7 07:18:40 EDT 2019

I've been using LiveCode as my development platform since 1999. Practically all the apps I've developed have been for in-house use by my family, friends and customers - all very low numbers of copies distributed in an informal manner. I've no interest in App Store distribution and the users of my apps trust me such that they do not need my apps to be "approved" by Apple. What's more important to them is how quickly I can release new apps and new versions of existing apps.

Up to and including macOS Mojave my users can run my apps with the minor inconvenience of having to right-click an app and approve its use, just once. With macOS Catalina, if I understand things, it's not so simple, instead these are the options:

1. Code-sign and notarise my apps – I'm not interested in this for my kind of apps which are essentially in-house/at home developments.

2. Using an active Internet connection, go through the right-click technique as now not just once, but EVERY time the app is opened.

In the past the 'Security & Privacy' General tab had a 3rd option for the setting 'Allow apps downloaded from:' which allowed you to install and use apps from any source. It seems that this is not possible with Catalina.

So with Catalina my users will need an Internet connection and will have to go through the right-click authorisation process every time they open one of my apps.

More seriously, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recommend the combination of the Mac plus LiveCode for app development. Up to now I've done all my app development on Mac+LC, even where the target platform is Windows or Android or Linux – I find it's simply faster, less error-prone and more pleasant with the Mac. However, from Catalina onwards even simple little utility apps, created for short-term use, will be tedious when opening or you have to learn about the complexity of code-signing and notarising and accept slower development cycles due to the need for Apple's approval!

This is quite depressing, especially since I abandoned iOS development due to Apple's distribution restrictions.

Back when the iPad 2 had just been released I developed for one of my customers an app to support health & safety audits for a national UK retail chain. The app took me 15 days to develop in total. As a result of being able to field a team of 10-20 staff with iPads running my app, my customer was able to carry out 350 half-day H&S audits for 3 years. However I was unable to roll-out this app to other customers as the ad hoc distribution method I was using was limited to 100 iPads per year and the App Store was not appropriate for this type of app.

As a result of the limitations Apple impose on tablet app distribution, recently I developed a speech-aid app just for small Android tablets and larger phones. I have not made an iOS app. This app is low volume (in terms of number of users) and requires significant personalising in order to be effective for its users (typically they are stroke victims). I chose to deliver the app on Android because of the facility to use developer mode and because of price – Android 7in tablet plus minimal add-ons: £80, Apple iPad plus add-ons: £320. Some of my users of this app already have an iPad but they are having to buy a cheap Android tablet. Like the Mac and Catalina, the iPad and iOS is driving away potential app developers due to Apple's rigid control of the delivery mechanisms.

Maybe I'm wrong, Catalina will be OK – if I am wrong, please correct me!


Peter Reid
Loughborough, UK

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