Dear Xcode Santa: What I want for Playground Dubmas

Dear Santa Ken,

I’ve been very good excellently behaved somewhat good okay this year.  Here’s what I’m looking for under my playground tree. I kept the list shorter than my original because I figure I don’t want to overwhelm you with too big a list.

  • Can I please be able to sort my playground pages by creation date as well as name? While we’re at it, can I please add word tags and color tagging and be able to search and sort my pages that way too? My primary playground use these days is prototyping and exploration, so keeping things organized is primo key!
  • Please can I annotate playgrounds with stickies that I can hide and show? These can be tied to “TODO”, “MARK”, and “FIXME”, etc if they have to be, but having any sort of meta annotation for back and forth revisions would be really great.
  • May I have build phases please so I can add linters? I want my distribution playgrounds are clean and well formed and right now running them on the contents individually from the command line kind of sucks. It would be great if the warnings and errors were issued in-line so I could fix as I go.
  • I’d love to be able to embed off-site Youtube videos, not just video resources. It would save a lot of space for distribution. Also, some people have asked me about a way to defer downloads so distributions are way smaller, with a lazy “fetch from repo or other URL” scheme that doesn’t perform the download until the playground actually needs it.
  • I know a lot of people who are writing examples and tutorials in playgrounds. (A lot of them are really cool.)  They could totally use spellcheck and grammar check. It really needn’t be more complicated than what TextEdit offers (at least to start with) but even that would be a great step forward.
  • Please can I have a some kind of way to build quiz and freeform text-entry pages? Some built-in playground native way to do multiple choice and essays, with a submission button and an email destination would rock. It doesn’t have to be super secure (although that would be nice in “distribution mode”) but it would really enhance creating workbooks for friends.
  • Please let us lock our playgrounds for distribution, with a reset-button that reverts to that pristine state. This way, people can experiment and play, but you can also reset and start again fresh. Again for the tutorial crowd mostly, but doing API docs would benefit as well.
  • I would love to have some embeddable timeline controls, whether for simulating input for in-line algorithms or for sending notifications to the playground page’s live view. A button here, a slider there, pretty soon you can build some really great triggers for your live view client or embedded value pane. Sure, live views can also offer its own interactive elements but sometimes it’s all about the client code.
  • Speaking of live views, any way we can get it out of the assistant editor. I have no personal animus about the assistant — its terrific for doing code editing in multiple files — but for live views it’s kind of stinky. The geometry is never right, it always takes up space it shouldn’t. I’d must rather have a floating live view if you wouldn’t terribly mind thankyouverymuch.
  • Oh how I would love some sort of CSS system that lets me skin my playgrounds. And please support Command-+ and Command– as well for those of us with iffy vision. If we’re building beautiful Swift documents, whether for reference, for teaching, or even as log books, it would be killer to have them look tight and clean.
  • And because playgrounds are superb for prototyping, not just teaching and documentation, can I please have a way to run tests? So I can build algorithms, throw together tests, and let them run against my code without having to have that directly on the playground timeline page.

Hugs, milk, and cookies,

— Erica

p.s. I really really love that you can do history charts for non-numeric values in value panes but you might want to tweak the spacing. It kind of looks awful when your 160-by-120 point view takes up half a screen.Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 3.40.47 PM


  • did you send to proper Apple people?

    • Have you met Apple people? I’d describe them as nice and smart, but “proper”? (Tons of radars and emails, this is sort of a summary of “things already mentioned” post)

  • Lots of great ideas! The floating view should be optional, though, please. I hate floating views, they are always on top of something I need (i.e. Photos’ regression to a floating information view).

  • Hi Erica,

    I’m using this little swift file to run tests in Playgrounds, for what it is, I think in works quite well