Everything Else

The only way around is through

31 Dec 2021 — This lengthy news blackout has not been by design. It has been more of an issue of spirit vs. flesh.

But this is hardly the kind of May-December relationship any of us ever wanted. Nonetheless, it is the end of the year, and since 2002, this almost always ends up being done today, or should we say, yesterday, which is when it was written on the day you will read it.

A simple summation of what happened between the fourth of May and New Year’s Eve is thus: the tremendous amount of very tedious work that began in 2020 continued, with the same aim of making something almost entirely out of ideas about the past, the present and the future of Helix.

What was Helix like? and the like

One important fact: macOS Helix RADE is a different product than Helix RADE Classic. Internally, in spite of however clearly we may see the transition from Classic to Helix for macOS and beyond as having been smooth and logical, many users have told us otherwise. It is not said to hurt our feelings, but merely to long for some idea of easy, like in the good old days. But what should Helix RADE, or Andromeda or whatever it ends up being known as, be like?

The brand new product, the one that runs natively in the current macOS (Monterey) is more of a project than a product at the moment. It would not be fair for us to even show you a screen shot of anything because it is far too early to say that any image will represent any ultimate reality. But it makes a document, which can run on a brand new Mac. And every week, it grows new capabilities. It is not like improving an existing product, which has been the aim of all Helix software development throughout its history since 1.0. It is much larger in scope.

With each new option we encounter, in particular, options that were not necessarily available when the original Helix was created, every discussion we have about Helix compares and contrasts the user experience then and now and how it might change.

A place of excitement lurks

In the middle of all this, we have been working diligently on a radical rethinking of how we view Helix, both on our design and development machines and on the internet.

The principal part of that project is nearly complete, and we will soon have Helix Server running in Catalina and later, serving existing Helix collections. There is still much more rigorous testing required before Helix 8.0.2 sees the light of day.

The second part of that project is, of course, the web client for Helix. When that part is complete, while we await the new design mode tool (i.e., RADE, Andromeda), we will be able to run Helix on anything. No matter how long that takes, it will be an immediate hit.

An intrepid Helix user knows how to deal with adversity

It galls us to have to repeat a big word in a short report, but as noted above, it is New Year‘s Eve, and time is running out. That word is meanwhile as in meanwhile, during all this, we had to actually keep on using Helix in spite of what was happening all around us. Chicken Little was wrong: the sky did not fall.

We mentioned some time back that as long as you had a machine capable of running Mojave or older, you could continue to use Helix right on your Mac. But as it turns out, using either Parallels Desktop for Macintosh or WM Ware Fusion, you can create a virtual machine running Mojave (or earlier) inside your Intel Mac running Catalina, Big Sur or Monterey, and run Helix on it quite successfully.

The sad part of this story, the one we all knew was coming for so long, was that neither Parallels nor WM Ware Fusion would allow you to install Mojave or earlier on the new M1 Macs.

Well, it being New Year’s Eve and such, while there is no actual solution to this problem, there is a viable workaround that is built right into the new machines, just as it has been for a generation or longer: Screen Sharing.

Keep a machine running Mojave in as good shape as you can for as long as possible. Screen Sharing will allow you to commandeer that machine and run Helix from whatever new Mac you buy. And if that was not enough good news for a New Year’s Eve, create a non-administrative user for each user in your Helix network on that same machine. Then with a simple Screen Share, each user can log into their own copy of Helix Client and go to work.

…just to come this far

That is all from the Helix development lab, orbiting far above the clouds. We hope to touch down and visit with as many of you as possible as often as possible in the year to come. As always, we thank you for your continued support, and wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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