Essential Mac apps for Corona development

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dknell
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I know some of these apps have been covered in the forums before, but I thought I'd put together a list of the apps I heavily rely on while developing iPhone apps/games with Corona. My selection is based on a lot of research and a bias toward high quality, inexpensive apps from independent development companies.

  • TextMate - $55
    TextMate is my favorite text editor! BBEdit is good too, just a little pricey
  • Corona SDK bundle for TextMate - FREE
    This TextMate bundle was just released yesterday and makes development SO much quicker! Thanks Darren!!!!
  • Pixelmator - $59
    A great image editing alternative to Photoshop, with lots of filters, layer support, web export, and much more!
  • Sketch - $40
    A vector drawing alternative to Adobe Illustrator. This developer (Pieter Omvlee) is awesome! He released a new version today 1.0.5 which had a few reported bugs. He released 1.0.6 within an hour that fixed them all!!! That's what I call amazing support! I highly recommend this app to anyone developing graphics, icons, splash screens, etc for apps - especially games. Most, if not all, of these apps have free trials.
  • Zwoptex - $24.95
    Sprite sheet creator. This developer has been working very hard to make the app compatible with Corona Game Edition.
  • filewrangler - $15
    This app is very helpful for renaming batches of files - which you'll be doing often if you create a Corona app with dynamic image resolution.
  • ImageOptim - FREE
    This is a nice image compressor - works well on PNGs if you disable OptiPNG and AdvPNG. You can also use jonbeebe's "posterize" trick in Pixelmator or Photoshop.
  • iShowU HD - $29.95
    iShowU HD is a very slick screencast app that can be used for making demo reels for your app or game.
  • ColorSchemer Studio 2 - $49.99
    A nice app to build color combinations with a lot of tools to compare, compliment, and contrast colors. They even have a community driven color scheme gallery to download free color schemes into the app.
  • WireTap Studio - $69
    Not the cheapest or the best audio editor but this one lets you select any input (even specific application audio) on your Mac to record audio. It also has a basic built-in editor.

That is pretty much my main arsenal of iPhone development applications. I will update this if I think of any others.

Does anybody else know any cool and useful apps that compliment Corona development which are high-quality and under $80?

Thanks!

Dave

Replies

Magenda
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Nice list!
I didn't know about ColorSchemer. Very useful indeed!

Thanks!

MikeHart
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A very good and freeware alternative for Sketch is Inkscape and on the image side I can recomment GIMP.

jonbeebe
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I had both TextMat and BBEdit, and I have been using BBEdit for my Corona projects (with Lua syntax highlighting), but I'm going to try out the TextMate Corona bundle... and I think it just might win me over.

jonbeebe
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I tried it out and I'm just going to have to stick with BBEdit, and here's why.

In BBEdit, when I write a function like this:

local myFunction = function()

At the top of the window, it adds that function to a dropdown menu where I can select it and easy find what I'm looking for. To me, this is absolutely essential when navigating medium-large lua files.

I'm pretty sure TextMate does the same thing, but not when I write my functions as I showed above. In order for the function to be added to the dropdown function list in TextMate, I have to write the function like this:

local function myFunction()

Until TextMate can read my functions in the first format I showed, I'm just going to have to stick with BBEdit because it's already habit to write my functions like that, and I'm not willing to go through ALL of my Lua files and change the way I defined my functions just so it will show up in TextMate.

Another thing I like about BBEdit is that, even if I have untitled notes in my project pane, if I close the program, it saves the state and opens it exactly the way I had it before (with all my files loaded up). I can close BBEdit whenever I want, take a break, shutdown the computer, whatever and when I get back in it I can resume right away. You can do that pretty easy with TextMate projects, but I guess it's nice having the last project I was working on preloaded when I start the app.

For those that are experienced with TextMate, if there IS a way to have TextMate read functions defined in the first format, PLEASE let me know because I'd like to take advantage of the Corona bundle.

Thanks for the list of apps, it's really useful! I'm already using a number of them.

MikeHart
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@jonbeebe: The way you define the function gives you also a speed advantage when the function is called.

MarkHenryC
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Great idea dknell, thanks for starting the list.

I've been a Windows developer for the past 15 years. Before that I did mostly Mac work. Switching back I find the pickings are understandably a lot slimmer that the range available for Windows.

Text: I'm finding Text Wrangler pretty good. It's free. I'm happy to pay for apps and if I need more features will probably decide on BBEdit (same people) or TextMate now that it has Corona features from github member osadchuk.

Cheetah 3D is great for the price and it's easy to export frames that can be converted to spritesheets.

For audio, I can't recommend Twisted Wave enough. Totally stable and really flexible. I've used lots of audio software and this package really impresses.

I opted to purchase Intaglio for 2D vector graphics. I've tried lots on the Mac, and on balance this one came out on top. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good, and a lot cheaper than Illustrator.

For bitmap editing I ended up with PSE. Probably a mistake. It more or less does the job, but the interface is clunky and very un-Mac-like. The full Photoshop used to be a very good Mac program. This is not, even allowing for the fact it's cut down.

dknell
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@jonbeebe,
I originally started with BBEdit at my previous job and I loved it, but when it came time to purchase a text editor for my home Mac, I went with TextMate because it was cheaper and had all of the features that I wanted - also at the time BBEdit only had very simple find and replace (no regex) and the code autocomplete wasn't as polished as TextMate. Every time BBEdit comes out with a new release I download the free trial and it is keeps getting MUCH better. I would buy it in an instant if the price came down to about $70. Also regarding the local someFunction = function() showing up in the TM function list - I noticed the same thing. That is actually one of the things pushing me toward BBEdit. As far as I know there is no way to do that in TM.

@MikeHart,
Which function definition is faster?

@MarkHenryC,
Thanks for sharing some of the software you use! I am downloading the Twisted Wave right trial now. The description looks very impressive. I have a feeling I'm going to like this app. If you don't like PSE, you should really give Pixelmator a try. They just released 1.6.1 which fixed a lot of bugs and added some new features. Another bitmap graphics editor that looks promising is Acorn created by Flying Meat. They have been releasing a lot of updates and it only costs $49.95. I tried this a while back and it wasn't as polished as Pixelmator, but I may give this another shot considering all the attention they have been giving it.

MikeHart
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@dknell:

local myFunction = function()

is faster than

local function myfunction()

PatrickDadzio
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I have got a shared folder on my mac and do all the coding on my PC :-)
I'll never get used to the mac and the keyboard.

dknell
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OK. Thanks?

MarkHenryC
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@dknell. Thanks for the tip. (Who can resist checking out the product of a company called Flying Meat?)

Acorn is very good. Much nicer to use than PS. Makes for a much smoother workflow in the Corona environment.

MarkHenryC
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Regarding speed of x = function() or function x():

I did several tests of 100,000,000 iterations and could see no pattern of difference.

The second syntax also has the benefit of implicitly forward-declaring x, which is necessary if the function is recursive (otherwise you need to write: local x; x = function() ... end)

d3mac123
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I was using Zwoptex too but, considering it is a paid software and all I need was to use just one feature (the exporting), I created a Photoshop Sprite Sheet Exporter myself. It doesn't have all the features of Zwoptex, but works fine. Take a look at http://asouza.com/blog/?p=119. It's free!

Enjoy!
Alex

dknell
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@MarkHenryC, glad you like Acorn! I feel the same way about a good company name. The story behind "Flying Meat" is pretty interesting, it may still be on their site - maybe on the About us page. I really need to check out Acorn again and compare it to Pixelmator. That's very interesting what you found about the function calls. I remember hearing something similar to what MikeHart said about the speed difference, but maybe that's not the case anymore. Go figure.

@d3mac123, thanks for sharing your Photoshop Sprite Sheet exporter! I like the price! :)

tokyodan
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I went with Opacity Express over Acorn. About the same power and features but Opacity Express is more intuitive. I tried many pixel-based editors. Seashore is good freeware. But Pixelmator was the only one that that allowed me to easily work with transparency.

MarkHenryC
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Not the same sort of thing. Opacity is vector whereas Acorn is bitmap. Often you need both.

jonbeebe
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Well, due to the little function syntax thing, I won't be able to break away from BBEdit for my Corona development.

But Textmate + Markdown makes an awesome blogging client though.

dknell
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I forgot one of my all time favorites and most important app - 1Password

This is not really related to Corona development, however, I do store all of the serial numbers for the apps mentioned above within 1Password.

The things I cannot do without in 1Password:

  • Storing all of my unique passwords in one (SECURE) place
  • Secure notes
  • Syncing with my dropbox account http://www.dropbox.com
  • Strong password generator
  • The 1Password iPhone app
  • Integration with all web browsers
  • It securely stores all of my software license keys (automatically finds and displays app icon and version in the listing!)

Although I don't have a pc, I think they also have a windows version

BTW - jonbeebe, I searched 1Password for BBEdit and I found a BBEdit 8.0 license I must've purchased a few years ago. I just upgraded it to version 9.5.1 for $30! Based on your strong recommendation I will be giving it another chance to prove itself...

Dan Pereira
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Blender is an excellent 3D tool and it's free!

MarkHenryC
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Another one not yet mentioned is TexturePacker. No GUI but real easy to use. The only thing you need to do is add

--format corona

Note case sensitive, and

--max-size 1024

Otherwise Corona might give you a frame boundary error, depending on how big the sprite sheet is.

My sprite sheet went from 406K to 57K with no noticeable loss.

http://code-and-web.de/texturepacker

Magenda
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@MarkHenryC

Do you use Xcode? Would you recommend TexturePacker for usage with other editors too?

Thanks

MarkHenryC
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I haven't used the Xcode integration features, if that's what you mean. And I've only used it for creating Corona sprite sheets. I bought it - after testing the demo - when I saw it had a Corona export option. I did write my own simple sprite sheet compositor, but when this full-featured command line app is 10 Euros, why bother? I forego a half a bottle of Scotch then I'm square.

Magenda
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lol

Did you also try zwoptex and finally opted for TexturePacker?
In terms of output size, TP seems better indeed...

Magenda
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BarkBarkCo
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Anyone try the free flash version of zwoptex? If so, how is it?

http://zwoptexapp.com/flashversion/

andreas.loew
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Hi,

my name is Andreas Loew - I am the developer of TexturePacker.

First and most important:
You can use the coupon code TEXTUREPACKER-FOR-CORONA to get it for 20% off before October 31. (Copy the code into the field at the end of this page: ShareIt)

I also want to announce the upcoming version of TexturePacker which comes with full graphical user interface. A beta version will be available during the next weekend!

If you have requests/needs/questions don't hesitate to contact me
andreas {at} code-and-web.de

Cheers
Andreas

Magenda
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Andreas,

I like the features of your product!

Could you please elaborate a bit more on "Resizing on the fly" feature? Does it produce a second scaled-down spritesheet and saves it as an individual file? If yes, why do you call it "..on the fly"?

How do we use the resized spritesheet? By writing code to load the appropriate version of the two, depending on the device?

Thanks!

andreas.loew
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Magenda,

1
Could you please elaborate a bit more on "Resizing on the fly" feature? Does it produce a second scaled-down spritesheet and saves it as an individual file? If yes, why do you call it "..on the fly"? 

Exactly. "On the fly" because you do not have to resize all the sprites with another tool. You simply use highres sprites, export your highres sprite sheet and call TexturePacker with --scale 0.5 to get your lowres sheet.

1
How do we use the resized spritesheet? By writing code to load the appropriate version of the two, depending on the device? 

I must admit that I am no corona sdk expert...
But in theory: Yes. If you can detect the resolution of the device you can decide which sprite sheet to use.
I use low res sprite sheets on iPhone 1/3g/3gs and high res sprite sheets on iPhone 4.

Magenda
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Very nice!

To fully understand it, how does the above differs from manually resize the whole original spritesheet in Photoshop? Does this way produces decoupling (bad fit) of the new spritesheet and the original plist?

Thanks again

andreas.loew
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You can't resize the original highres sprite sheet in photoshop. First you would have to change the sizes in the lua file, too - which is a minor problem.

The big problem are odd sizes and positions of the sprites which will create a mess.

And it's even simpler than starting Photoshop ;-)

I suggest using a small script file and write both lines for highres and lowres inside. Then you just start TexturePacker and everything is fine ;-)

I am a game developer too - TexturePacker is a side product which I use for my own purposes because "the other tool" gave me a headache handling my near to 700 sprites which I currently organize in 16 sheet at highres and lowres clicking around for hours, resizing sprites and stuff...

I now have a simple bash script which runs in by build toolchain. If I get new assets I drag them into my folders, run the build and the dance is over in less than 15 seconds ;-) Thats faster than even opening one single file dialog...

Magenda
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Andreas, you have +1 customer, thanks!

@community
I apologize for forgetting that this is an organized list about essential apps and not a support thread.-

3CordGuy
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@Adreas.loew

I just purchased your software this week, but I didn't see anywhere in the order process to insert that promo code. I may be blind but I was looking everywhere.

Luckily its pretty inexpensive to begin with. But maybe you could make that a bit more clear to your possible customers.

Looking forward to your GUI version.

-josh

andreas.loew
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TexturePackerPro 2.0.0 is now available!

New Features:

  • Graphical User Interface
    • Multitouch support
    • Realtime update of changes
    • Zooming
  • Smart folders
  • Improved PNG output
IgnacioIturra
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I'm interested in a vector drawing program simple enough for a complete beginner. Illustrator seems like such overkill for drawing iphone graphics. Plus it's far too complicated for my limited needs. I just need to draw very basic cartoonish graphics as simply as possible. Anything out there for those of us artistically challenged?

Dan Pereira
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Toonboom studio is great for cartoon-ish 2D graphics, but it's not cheap.

BarkBarkCo
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Acorn(Trial or $49.95): http://flyingmeat.com/acorn/

jstrahan
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pencil
http://www.pencil-animation.org/
they have tutorials on youtube

IgnacioIturra
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Thanks for the suggestions. Toonboom looks nice, but it looks like it's geared toward animation rather than drawing and Accorn seems more akin to photoshop than illustrator.

Basically I'm looking for illustrator light focus on simple cartoonish iphone graphics, all the arquitectural design stuff and print stuff is not needed and only complicates my life! Who said more options is always better?

Can't argue with the price of pencil, but when I said cartoonish I was thinking more along the lines of Angry Birds rather than pen and pencil cartoons.

IgnacioIturra
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To answer my own question. It seems like Opacity http://likethought.com/opacity/ is sort of what I'm looking for. Anyone have any experience with it?

I'll look at it more indepth and report back.

amigoni
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@Ignaciolturra,

I use Fireworks for exactly what you are describing. Superfast and easy to use. Also has some hybrib features as States and Pages to do simple animations. Really powerful and easy.

andreas.loew
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I decided to make a basic version of TexturePacker free for all users.

You can create basic sprite sheets in PNG and JPG format up to a size of 512x512 pixels without restrictions - for private and commercial use.

Enhanced features like image optimization are only available in TexturePackerPro.

finnk
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UPDATE: This is a problem with Corona

I had a problem with Sprite Sheets in Corona.

I bought Texture Packer Pro, which is a great tool, but when publishing with the LUA file, builds for the device/xcode simulator don't work. It's definitely a problem with Corona not doing something properly with sprite sheets and generated LUA files.

The only way to get sprites to work is to make even-spaced PNG files without the LUA file. Since Texture Packer Pro optimizes for sizes ^2 (32, 64, 512, 1024, etc..) the extra spacing causes problems. Also Texture Packer Pro either puts the frames in backwards or zigzags sporadically rather than file-named, horizontally in row order. Until Corona fixes the problem with sprite sheets AND Lua files, it's better to handle sprite sheet creation manually.

andreas.loew
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@finnk: I'd like to investigate on this. Can you please contact me at support@code-and-web.de and send me a sheet + png file you created with it?

If it's a problem within TexturePacker I'll fix it within 24h.

If you want to discuss it here I would suggest moving to another thread since this is about tools for mac and not for discussion about TexturePacker related problems. If so please send me a link to the thread since I can't track this forum the whole day....

finnk
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Thanks, e-mailed you.

andreas.loew
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Update: TexturePacker is not the problem here. finnk told me that everything works fine within the simulator.

I found several threads here about problems with sprite sheets on device. Please address this problem to corona support.

@dknell (see next post, editing this one not to add more off topic items here) Sorry. As I wrote above I already suggested moving to another thread in respect to this thread's topic but did not want the last sentence to be that there is a problem with my tool. I guess you can understand that.

As suggested above the support-thread is opened here http://developer.anscamobile.com/forum/2010/11/13/texturepacker-help-support so corona users please post all TexurePacker related questions / problems here.

dknell
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This thread was not intended to be a support discussion for the apps listed. PLEASE create a new thread or take the discussion offline.

Thank you.

ksan
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Been a while this thread was touched. Anything else anyone came across? I came across something called Divvy which helps manage screen estate better. Certainly helpful when you have many apps involved in the development process open all at the same time... See at http://www.mupromo.com/deal/1383/7024/divvy

jhocking
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I can't believe no one's mentioned Audacity yet. It's a free audio editing program:

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

steve918
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Couple of suggestions:

Cloud App: http://getcloudapp.com/
This is a little task-bar app that will auto-upload screenshots you take which makes it super convient to share screenshots with people.

Drop Box: http://db.tt/HLVqAB1
This is the best cloud storage app out there. I use this to upload builds send to people to download.

Photics
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This is a good thread. You might like these programs...

gedit...
http://projects.gnome.org/gedit/
A text editor

Artisteer...
http://www.artisteer.com/
Easy way to make website themes

Daz Studio...
http://daz3d.com
Easy way to download 3D artwork and render it as 2D images for apps

Also, iWork is good alternative to Microsoft Office and even InDesign. I used Pages to create an epub from my textbook, which I then modified to make a UIWebView app.

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