iOS 8: traits, assets, ridiculousness

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 4.52.53 PM

iOS 8 has all the right intentions and none of the right implementation when it comes to asset management. While I get that people will want art that adapts from “compact” to “regular” sizing, creating catalogs with 20 images at a time (for 5 possible platforms: iPhone, iPhone Retina, iPhone 4″ Retina, iPad, iPad Retina, for compact and regular sizing, for both Retina and non-Retina screens) is frankly ridiculous.

Yes, there are items you’ll want to tweak based on orientation, overall size, and whether the application is compacted into just a portion of the screen (or displaying, perhap,s on a Mac or Apple TV) — but you can do this far better with vectors and in-app sizing and layout requests than generating and dropping dozens of images. Even with bitmap rendering, a sensible developer will likely want at most two copies of the asset — one large, one small, that will work on Retina displays. Just let the OS squeeze or downsample or whatever. What’s more, the JSON that powers the asset system is pretty scary at the moment, inconsistent, and undocumented.

I’m feeling pretty cranky right now as I just spent a large part of today exploring the whole trait collection system and finding that it’s very (unsurprisingly) beta and fussy. While I applaud Apple for separating device- and target-specific characteristics into a system of traits, I don’t really feel it is currently put together in a thoughtful and holistic way. It would be way easier if you could just specify the size differential to the layout system rather than dealing directly with twisty little images all mostly alike.

There’s so much I love about adaptable views, the image system so far isn’t one of them.

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