|Welcome to Europa|
|The Europa Pioneer Plan||
Europa is the code name for OS X native Helix RADE. Introduced in the June 10, 2011 edition of The Latest Word, the Europa Pioneer Plan is our way of providing you with the latest progress in Helix RADE.
Initially delivered as a $20/month subscription, this two-year project is currently in its final phase. The subscription phase has ended, but you can still join the Europa Pioneer Plan for $480 USD.
Joining the Europa Pioneer Plan gives you:
Each month during the subscription phase, an update was released containing the very latest advancements toward the complete OS X native Helix RADE. Along with each release, new Release Notes detailed the changes. These Release Notes provide section-by-section description of the new icon editors in Helix RADE 6.2, and are occasionally accompanied by video tutorials demonstrating the new interface.
Every new Preliminary Release was also accompanied by a new edition of The Latest Word describing what was just accomplished and what was to come next. Our steady progress can be recounted by reading The Latest Word beginning with the June 10, 2011 issue.
The first major project in Design Mode was to bring the power of AppleScript to Helix. Once that phase was complete, it was possible to create and modify any part of a Helix collection’s design through AppleScript. This is a major new feature that has been on the Helix users’ wish list since the 1990s. Helix users who do not want to learn AppleScript can still take advantage of this new power by downloading free scripts and external applications that automate time-consuming or tedious tasks. We also offer a tutorial that teaches how to write AppleScripts using Helix as the primary tool.
But Europa was really about bringing the icon editors that are the heart of the Helix Design Mode experience to OS X. Each month debuted a new editor — or refined existing ones. During the Preliminary Release phase this progress chart provided at-a-glance status for each of the icon editors.
The User Mode side of Helix RADE was functional from the beginning, so those using Helix Engine to access collections in OS X can now use Helix RADE 6.2 to do the same. But this code contains the latest bug fixes and performance enhancements that are not available in earlier products, making Helix RADE 6.2 a faster, more stable product than Helix Engine 6.1. (Helix Engine 6.2 will be released as an upgrade in the near future.)
|Intel-Native Helix Utility||
Available exclusively to Europa Pioneer Plan subscribers, Helix Utility 6.2 puts a new face on an old friend.
Having gathered years of feedback on Helix Utility — listening to people struggle to understand it, or complain about it requiring multiple steps to accomplish simple tasks — we took stock of the situation and chose to give it something it never had before: an honest-to-goodness user interface.
As the image on the right shows, instead of sitting there waiting for you to somehow know that your next step is to go to the menu bar, Helix Utility 6.2 presents the complete interface in a single window.
The new Helix Utility remembers your collections! No more navigating through your hard drive(s) looking for your collections. And it automatically sets the ‘collection buffer’ to the optimal setting, so you never have to worry that you aren’t getting maximum performance.
Taking cues from Apple’s Disk Utility, the various functions of Helix Utility are grouped into tabbed panels on the right. First Aid — which is what Helix Utility is used for 99% of the time — provides buttons that replace the old menu commands, but in a cleaner, safer way. The old Data Damage Check which could leave a collection ‘half-repaired’ is replaced with the Verify button that reports on the health of your collection without altering it. For the times when repairs are needed, one click on the Repair button is all it takes to complete the process.
The Activity Log section brings what was formerly buried in “diagnostic mode” out into the open, where we can see what is happening as it happens. Hopefully you’ll never see red text here, but if you do, the problem and solution are shown right there. (And this data is written into a permanent log file, so you never have to worry about capturing the output before taking another step.)
All in all, the new Helix Utility is a major leap forward.
We are keeping Europa backwards compatible with Classic RADE for as long as possible, but at some point we will have to introduce structural changes to the underlying Helix database, ending backwards compatibility. At that point, Classic will no longer be an option. We encourage all Helix users to join the Europa Pioneer Plan and start working in OS X Helix so you aren’t scrambling to catch up when Classic is no longer available.
Of course, Europa releases contain bugs — all software does! To streamline the reporting process, we have created a complete bug reporting database in our online Helix database: techdb. For those who have never used techdb before: accessing techdb means using Helix Client to log into our own Helix Server from anywhere in the world. This is a great demonstration of the capabilities of Helix Client/Server. You can get your free copy of Helix Client on our download page.
Reporting bugs through techdb has many advantages:
For more on using techdb, please visit this page.
Before you enter a new report, please look at the existing reports to see if the bug you have found has already been reported. We have added a Europa Reports item to the Reports menu, so you can quickly find just the reports that pertain to Europa. This form also has options to filter the list only to show the reports in which you are personally involved.
Because we are trying to get the most visible and productive work done in the shortest possible period, we reserve the right to “condense” reports. If a report you entered seems to have disappeared, rest assured it isn’t a Helix bug. We routinely remove duplicate reports. Please don’t take it personally if your report is removed in favor of another. Either way, we do appreciate your contribution.
Sample scripts, showing how to accomplish specific tasks in AppleScript, are being developed. Some of those scripts are available on this page, while others are being made available exclusively to customers who have signed up for the Learning AppleScript with Helix self-paced training course.
Another perk of the Europa Pioneer Plan is access to interim builds. These are untested, but they represent the very latest ‘state of the code.’ Europa Pioneers who really want to be on the cutting edge of product development can download new code as soon as it is built using the link at the top of this page. The RADE builds are in ‘.zip’ files. (There is also a script — available on request — that automatically updates your Mac to the latest Interim Build.)
The Interim Builds area also includes the raw notes that the engineer submits along with the new code, so you can see exactly what was added, changed or fixed. This area is restricted — only Europa Pioneers have access to the Interim Build pages.
Predicting the pace of software development is difficult even for the largest of companies, and we are small, with a limited budget with which to hire engineers. The Europa Pioneer Plan was introduced as an annual plan, turned out to be a good decision. The entire process — begun on June 10, 2011 — and we optimistically hoped it would take two years or less. With the final Preliminary Release scheduled for June 10, 2013, it looks like our hopes were fulfilled.
We’ll probably say it a dozen times or more before we are done, but let us say it right up front: thank you for becoming a Europa Pioneer! We know that your contribution will make Helix RADE for OS X a better product.