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  • Adam Behringer

    Seattle, Washington USA

    Adam is the founder of BEEDOCS, an artisan software company that makes great timeline software for Mac OS X.

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Performance Bug with Mac OS X 10.6.2

Monday, November 23, 2009

I am sorry to report that a bug in Mac OS X 10.6.2 is causing a dramatic performance decline in the 3D mode of Bee Docs Timeline.

If you have not updated to Mac OS X 10.6.2, please do not upgrade yet!

We measure the performance of the 3D mode in frames per second (FPS). The more frames per second that can be generated, the smoother the animation in the full-screen presentation mode will be and the quicker a movie can be exported.

The exact frames per second depends mostly on your graphics card and the size of your timeline as well as the way that we have implemented our software code. For example, I have a test timeline of about 30 events that runs on my MacPro at 60 fps. As a rule of thumb, frame rates above 30-40 fps will look smooth and frame rates slower than that will appear to be choppy or jumpy.

Apple released an update to Mac OS X earlier this month (10.6.2) that introduced a bug to their graphics technology that affects this performance. That timeline that I mentioned in the previous paragraph now renders at about 1 fps, which is unacceptable for most real world uses.

This is a bug that is affecting any software products that rely on this specific graphics technology. I have contacted several of the other developers who are having issues to compare notes. I have also been working with Gary C Martin from Scotland, who developed the 3D mode with me. Finally, I have been trading e-mails with my contacts at Apple to make sure they know about the problem and to seek their advice.

The first rule of solving any bug is to narrow the problem down to a simple, consistent example that always demonstrates the bug. I have been able to develop such a test case that I have sent to Apple and to a couple other developers to help them understand the problem in detail.

There are a few options for solving this. One is to provide Apple with all of the information that they need to reproduce and fix the bug. They have that information now, so hopefully they will fix it in the next update, but Apple does not share their plans publicly so we'll have to wait and see. They tent to release Mac OS X updates every few months so it might be a while even if they fix it in the next update.

We are also trying to develop an Bee Docs Timeline update ourselves so that we can get you a working 3D mode without waiting for Apple to fix their bug. I have an idea that I have tried with my test code that makes me hopeful that we can come up with a solution in the near future. It is a major change of the way our 3D technology works so I will want to put it through a good amount of testing before we release it. However, I am hopeful that we can get it out in the next week or so.

Thank you to everyone who has sent us detailed descriptions of the problems they are experiencing, especially those of you who have been polite about it despite the frustrating bug. I am sorry for each one of you that has been impacted by this. We are doing all that we can to fix it quickly and I trust that the developers at Apple are doing likewise.

I will post another blog entry when we have a release ready to ship. I may also create a technical post for developers that describes the work-around we are implementing. You can also follow my twitter feed for more incremental status updates.

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32 Comments:

Blogger keithdvoNovember 23, 2009 10:26 AM

awesome customer service! thank you! i especially appreciate the immediacy with which you notified us, and the complete transparency with what's wrong, what's causing it, what you're doing about, and when you hope to do it! outstanding!!!!

thanks again, not only for such a great product, but your customer service!

Anonymous AnonymousNovember 24, 2009 10:09 AM

Unfortunately I am having problems rendering Quicktime using 10.5. I have logged a call and sent my file in but I'm not sure if this issue you report affects me or not.

Blogger Adam BehringerNovember 24, 2009 11:11 AM

Anonymous,

10.5 is still working great in all of our tests.

Rendering issues other than 10.6.2 are probably related to input managers or QuickTime plug-ins that are interfering.

With this upcoming release, we will begin blocking input managers that we know are causing problems. We can't block rogue QuickTime plug-ins but we are writing a FAQ article to help people remove those.

If you send Elise an e-mail (elise at beedocs.com), she can help you identify and remove the broken plug-ins. Or, you can wait for the fix we are working on which may solve it for you.

Anonymous stevekniftonNovember 25, 2009 8:12 AM

i feel for you ... my entire business has nearly shut down because of lost weeks trying to recover and rebuild my system thanks to the bug-riddled junk called snow leopard.

apple hasn't shown any concern about the hundreds of third party apps that have been rendered nearly useless thanks to snow vista, so i don't know how responsive they'll be to you guys. good luck.

Blogger ZerocoolDecember 04, 2009 7:12 AM

Hope you het the update up fast, because I have major issues with exporting to quicktime. The renderingprocess halts on bigger timelines in 720p or higher....

Blogger ZerocoolDecember 04, 2009 7:13 AM

Edit: And that is in 10.5....

Blogger Adam BehringerDecember 04, 2009 8:39 AM

Zerocool - If you are on 10.5 then the behavior you are experiencing is unrelated to this bug. Please send us an e-mail and we'll do our best to help you solve it.

Blogger AndrewJanuary 01, 2010 7:30 AM

Hi... and a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010!!
I've recently upgraded to Snow Leopard... and then... I found out about your product (3D). Has the performance challenge caused by Snow Leopard been fixed yet?

WIll buy as soon as I know all is clear and performance has been addressed.

Thanks.

- Andrew

Blogger Adam BehringerJanuary 01, 2010 8:16 AM

Andrew - We are continuing our work on a solution to the 10.6.2 performance issue. I'd say we are about 90% of the way there (the solution requires a completely new technical approach to the 3D).

As I mentioned before, we have also reported the bug to Apple and are hopeful that they will fix it at some point.

Either way, I will certainly blog about it as soon as there is a solution shipping.

Anonymous Keith DvorakJanuary 01, 2010 8:54 AM

Happy New Year, Adam, to you and Elise!

I've been holding off doing anything till you post an update, but I just realized I might not quite grasp the problem:

Can we use 3D and simply not render out the final results to QT (including previews while working?)? Or, can we not use 3D at all?

On rereading, I suspect one or both of the two former and not the latter. I can at least create the timeline sans issues, but I will not be able to preview the animation or render it out to QT. Is that correct?

If I can at least add events, that will allow me to capture some ideas. Previewing would get me that much closer. Can we save to other formats such as Keynote or does that still render to QT so not really a work around?

Blogger Adam BehringerJanuary 01, 2010 10:03 AM

Keith, the issue is that the 3D rendering rate gets exponentially slower as more events are added to the timeline.

If you have about 10 events or less, the software will work but maybe not as smoothly animated as usually. The exports will work too at about half speed (avoid using motion blur).

If you have 30+ events, the performance may be so bad that for all practical purposes, the 3D presentations and exports are frozen.

Please note that 10.5 to 10.6.1 still work great, so if you have another computer to use for rendering, that is ideal until either Apple fixes the bug or we develop another way to render 3D.

Blogger AndrewJanuary 09, 2010 3:03 PM

Hi again.
I know this is a very challenging time with respect to modernizing in light of the Snow Leopard OS.

Can you share a planned release date (even if its beta)? Is the whole application being rewritten or can I download the 3D version now for Leopard and a patch or update will be provided later on (charge?).

Just wondering about the plan and how long to wait.

Loyal to your innovation. Thanks,

- Andrew

Blogger Adam BehringerJanuary 09, 2010 4:42 PM

Andrew, I suspect there will be a solution to the performance problem one way or another by the end of this month.

Yes, we are re-writing the 3D part of the application. However, if Apple releases a fix before we are finished, we may choose not to deploy our new version of the 3D since the old version has been well tested.

If we need to release a new 3D technology to work around the problem, it will be a free update. BTW, we are trying to make the end result look exactly the same even though we are changing the process we use to create it.

Adam

Blogger The RyansJanuary 11, 2010 3:56 PM

I am a new user of Timeline 3D and am already finding that I am having issues. When I try to view my timeline in 3d Mode, some of the dates skip around. In other words, it does not present the events in chronological order. It skips around going back and forth between dates. Is there something I'm doing wrong? I tried emailing customer service, but have yet to receive a response. Any insight?

Anonymous George PrattJanuary 14, 2010 11:34 AM

Hope there's a solution to this problem soon. 3D is useless in Snow Leopard right now. But I'm looking forward to being able to use it soon! :) Very nice software.

One thing: When you create a new Event, it would be great if the focus went automatically to that window and even the first box, so one could just start typing without having to click in the box first. Would certainly speed things up when adding events.

Another: I wish there was a way to toggle viewing of notes on and off in specific slides, or globally.

One more: Not sure if there's a way to do this, but I was thinking of the build inspector in Keynote and how one can arrange the order of builds by dragging them up and down hierarchically. It would be neat to be able to custom configure timeline presentations by being able to number, or tag the individual events that one wants to go to in a given presentation. Then just by hitting the arrow keys we would zoom to each key event while skipping over others. Does that make sense?

Just a couple of thoughts. Enjoying the software and excited about the possibilities. Also enjoy just perusing your site and watching the videos. Great communication!

Best,
George

Blogger PeterJanuary 20, 2010 10:29 PM

This is wonderful software! Thank you!
2 things:
1) I'm freaking out over the 10.6.2 bug(s)--had tested the software months ago and it worked great...upgraded in meantime and now am seeing what you mean. Can't wait for updates!

2) I too am getting weird event skipping--it's not going in chronological order. Is there a way to set the order of progressing between events that I am missing? It seems to be going in order of creation?

Thanks!

Blogger The RyansJanuary 22, 2010 12:08 PM

the only work around i have found for the events not "showing" in chronilogical order when in show-mode is to start a new presentation and copy and paste the old events into the new presentation in the order you want them to show. incredibly painful, i know, but nothing else seems to work. please let me know if you have any other insite!

Blogger Adam BehringerJanuary 22, 2010 12:16 PM

The Ryans - It is hard for us to provide customer support via the blog comments. Would you please send Elise an e-mail (elise@beedocs.com) so that we can help you solve the issue?

Thanks!

Anonymous AnonymousFebruary 02, 2010 6:22 AM

I'm very interested in buying Timeline, but I run Snow Leopard. So, I'm not going to pay for something with known, unresolved issues. When is a new version of Timeline coming out, or at least an update to fix the problem?

Thanks.

Blogger George PrattFebruary 04, 2010 6:20 PM

Still waiting for an update to cure the bugs for Snow Leopard. Please keep us up to date!

Anonymous AnonymousFebruary 08, 2010 3:45 PM

Yes, we are waiting for the bug fix. This is a pretty big deal. It has been over two months now. Anyone with a new mac basically cannot use this software. The whole purpose is the 3D view and the 3D view is so slow with snow leopard as to be non-usable. People buy new macs but cannot use the software. What is going on here? Also, perhaps I am overlooking something, but I do not see where people are told about the performance bug before they buy the program. At any rate, we either need this fixed or you need to issue a whole bunch of refunds.

Blogger Adam BehringerFebruary 08, 2010 3:56 PM

Anonymous -

I know it is a frustrating bug. It is frustrating for me too as Apple broke an underlying graphics technology in the 10.6.2 release that has been working for the past 2 years and I know it is a burden for many of our customers.

Apple (as always) has asked me not discuss any of my conversations with them or anything that they have not yet been released. So, I am not able to communicate as much as I would like about the progress of the fix.

Everything that I can discuss without violating my NDA is here in this post and in the comments. Sorry that I can't say more!

We have always given refunds to customers who ask, but most people have been very patient and understand that we are doing everything we can to work with Apple for a fix and explore alternative solutions while we wait.

Anonymous AnonymousFebruary 08, 2010 4:32 PM

This is a little more serious than a mere "bug." You should, in fairness to your potential customers, post a warning front and center on your main webpage that discloses the problem with Snow Leopard. It should not just be in a blog post from over two months ago.

Blogger Mahoney Law, PLLCMarch 07, 2010 3:05 PM

Another month with no fix. . . .

Blogger PeterMarch 07, 2010 5:55 PM

GOOD NEWS!

I'm not sure this applies to everyone, but I do want to share a piece of good news that folks may not know about... So I just gave an incredibly successful presentation using Snow Leopard!! How? Well, although the program itself is painfully slow, once you export it to Keynote (also a PAINFULLY SLOW PROCEDURE!), it is FINE. Yep, once it was exported as quicktimes (I think that's what they are), it runs PERFECTLY and I was able to use it as it was meant to be used!

Summary: Though showing timelines within the program on Snow Leopard is so slow that it is unusable, it still exports just fine so that you can have a perfectly functional product.

This is important for those considering buying it: for this purpose, it still works exactly as it should.

All the best!

Blogger mthibodeMarch 08, 2010 10:40 PM

I will try the QT export, but if it exports at 1 FPS this is unfeasible. I agree that the best practice is to alert users who go to the download page that there is a bug preventing the 3D portion of the program from functioning properly under OS 10.6.2. Anything else is not in good conscience. I have owned the program for a while and wanted to use it to demonstrate to a friend who was considering buying a mac. "Hey, here is something you can't do on a Windows or Unix system because of the great developers OSX attracts... 3D mode... stuttering video that doesn't work..."

Pretty embarrassing. Maybe if you guys would acknowledge this flaw and send out an email to your customers letting us know what your blog post says we wouldn't wonder if our computers are corrupted, etc. You have all of our email addresses don't you? I'm sure I'll get something advertising Timeline 3.0.

Blogger Adam BehringerMarch 09, 2010 7:10 AM

Hi folks,

The success of exporting a timeline with 10.6.2 will depend mostly on the number of events in a timeline. Timelines with a dozen or fewer events without motion blur exports OK for me (though slow to render and occasional stutter frames).

Longer timelines probably won't work at all for export in 10.6.2.

Our fingers remain crossed for a solution from Apple and we continue work on rewriting our software to avoid the bug. Once again, I apologize for the frustrating bug and the time it has taken to find a solution.

Blogger la_bonMarch 09, 2010 10:11 AM

Is anyone having trouble adding an event after the project has been saved. Mine will not let me enter a date. I have 12 events so far. I can start a new project and it works fine. Any suggestions?

Blogger Adam BehringerMarch 09, 2010 10:17 AM

la_bon -

I'm have not heard of this bug before but if you send us an e-mail at info@beedocs.com with some more details, we'll try to help you figure it out.

Blogger ChrisMarch 25, 2010 6:37 AM

10.6.2 users,

"Apple is continuing its rapid-fire seeding of Mac OS X 10.6.3 builds today, pushing out Build 10D573 to developers. The new build is only a single increment over the previous build issued last Thursday. World of Apple details the seed notes, which reveal that Apple has asked developers to continue focusing on GraphicsDrivers, Images & Photos, Mail, QuickTime, and Security Certificates for testing.

The seed notes also reveal one additional fix since the last build, involving an issue with recurring events in iCal when working with Exchange servers. The new build also continues to carry a single documented known issue involving the reoffering of the Safari 4.0.5 update issued earlier this month.

We have continued to expect an imminent release of Mac OS X 10.6.3, but Apple's release schedule remains unpredictable as it puts the finishing touches on the update. Late last week, an iMac user reported receiving a prerelease version of Mac OS X 10.6.3 via Software Update. That version was the previous Build 10D572, and it is unknown why the user's machine was able to access the download, although it does suggest that work on Mac OS X 10.6.3 is very close to completion."

Seems like it's going to happen soon

Chris

Blogger ChrisMarch 25, 2010 11:32 AM

:(

Apple seeds Mac OS X 10.6.3 build 10D573 to devs, release probably not imminent
by Michael Grothaus (RSS feed) on Mar 25th 2010 at 10:00AM


The saga of the 10.6.3 builds continue. Yesterday Apple seeded a new build -- build 10D573 -- to developers. This latest build, similar to the others, asks developers to focus on Graphics Drivers, Images & Photos, Mail, QuickTime, and Security Certificates. There is one known remaining issue, like in the previous two builds, in which Safari 4.0.5 will be re-offered by Software Update after upgrading to 10D573 from a previous seed.

Last week a TUAW reader was able to download a *PRERELEASE** build of 10.6.3 on his iMac. We took the Apple slip-up as a sign of an imminent launch, but the builds just keep on coming. Is it going to be released soon? Who the heck knows? But now my guess is that Apple might be waiting for the April 3rd launch of the iPad. Perhaps 10.6.3 and a new iTunes will be required to sync it to your computer? I'll just be happy to start seeing those 10.6.4 builds. Jump on over to World of Apple for 10D573's seed notes.

Blogger ChrisMarch 29, 2010 4:36 PM

It seems that 10.6.3 has solved the problem. Everything looks fantastic in Timeline 3D now!

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