Under The Microscope

Announcing LiveDiscKit

Way back in January, we showed off LiveDisc for Macworld San Francisco. We got a number of requests from other developers looking to use it themselves. At the time we just said “maybe”, and then everyone went home from Macworld and proceeded to forget about it.

I, however, went home and spent the next few weeks putting together LiveDiscKit, a development kit that anybody could use to build their own. This took some amount of work, given the first LiveDisc was mostly hard-coded, and making it totally generic for other people required a great deal of refactoring. By time I was done, we decided to just wait and release it at WWDC, at which point I proceeded to forget about it.

As such, now is as good a time as any to finally release it. And so, you can download LiveDiscKit right here:

LiveDiscKit-100.zip (~6 MB)

LiveDisckKit is completely free and open source, we merely ask for a credit line somewhere if you do use it.

So how does it actually work? LiveDiscKit is built around a plugin for InterfaceBuilder that allows you to build a complete LiveDisc application entirely in InterfaceBuilder. You simply drag “Archive Items” from the Library window into view, then configure their various properties in the Inspector. Set a background image or add other controls, then save the nib file out, drop it into the provided template LiveDisc.app and you are done:

LiveDiscKit has a complete step-by-step tutorial explaining every aspect of using it in detail:

LiveDisc OmniOutliner Files

And for those needing more power than is provided by the Interface Builder plugin, the complete source code to both the plugin and LiveDisc application itself are included:

LiveDisc in XCode

We’ve done our best to make LiveDiscKit as easy to use as possible. Feel free to submit patches for review – we’ll see about integrating them. As this is a side project, however, LiveDiscKit is provided as-is, with no guaranteed support. That said, you should have everything you need to build a simple and functional LiveDisc today.

A word of warning is required, however. At MacWorld we gave out roughly 5,000 discs with LiveDisc on them. We set our LiveDisc to ping our web server to allow us to count hits. Of the 5,000 discs we gave out, 5.8% were ever used. That may seem a bit low, but it gets quite depressing when converted to an absolute count: 288. Out of 5000 CDs given out, no more than 300 were used – perhaps giving away CDs isn’t the best idea after all.

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