Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Sierra PDF Problems Get Worse in 10.12.2 (tidbits.com)
118 points by itg on Jan 3, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments



Preview used to be a really great app. Similarly, Mac OS used to be a pretty great operating system.

And then...

> "... Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there's no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team. There is now just one team, and most of the engineers are iOS first, giving the people working on the iPhone and iPad more power."

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-20/how-apple...

The new PDF editing solution is to fumble around with our fat fingers on a clunky oversized iPhone named "iPad Pro" , hooray.

By the way, when was the last time you heard something positive about the Mac, Mac OS, or the Apple effort with the platform?


When I worked at Apple in the early 2000s, I used to wander over to IL2 for Core Graphics meetings and occasional chats with some of the brilliant engineers working there. John Calhoun, a former Mac game developer, had total responsibility for the Preview app for a time. He was happy as a clam working on Preview and he seemed very proud of his work. As I recall, Preview back then was rock solid.


Yep, the opposite of Collective Code Ownership.


OSX in my eye has had the following unique features that have kept me sticking to it:

* fully interoperable with PDF

* HiDPI that always works

* a clean and consistent configuration system for the OS and third party apps (defaults system), making it easy to (a) configure anything and (b) reset anything back to factory

* superb touchpad support

I guess you can now knock off the first one from this list and there seems to be movements on the Windows side to fix HiDPI and touchpad support (always 2x / precision touch). I'll check back in a year to see whether this has worked and whether Windows laptops have reached an acceptable state in these matters. Macs are loosing their distinct advantages one by one currently, mostly by total mismanagement of an almost early-90ies-Apple magnitude.


Apple machines have been producing vaguely corrupt PDF's for years. I've had downstream Linux tools print messages like 'this pdf is broken. Please complain to the developers of the software that created it: <apple library name>.'

Also, figures often render as black boxes on other machines (it embeds figures with alpha channels where it shouldn't), and so on.

Still running 10.11 on my laptop, but I noticed that the pdfs are super blurry on cinema displays. If you use the mouse to drag the image, it renders nicely with proper subpixel hinting. When you release the mouse button, it does a second antialiasing pass or something, blurring the edges of the fonts. This doesn't seem to matter much one way or another on retina displays, fwiw.


> Still running 10.11 on my laptop, but I noticed that the pdfs are super blurry on cinema displays. If you use the mouse to drag the image, it renders nicely with proper subpixel hinting. When you release the mouse button, it does a second antialiasing pass or something, blurring the edges of the fonts. This doesn't seem to matter much one way or another on retina displays, fwiw.

Sierra's Preview.app appears to at least mostly fix that regression... apparently at the cost of breaking everything else, but at least PDFs are legible for viewing now.


A more subtle bug: go to page broke. Before the update, going to page 100 in a textbook would consistently get you to the page labeled 100. Now it takes you to the hundredth physical page, which thanks to the cover, toc, etc. is probably not where you wanted to go.

Not a huge deal, but just another thing it used to do better than the competition and now doesn't.


>Before the update, going to page 100 in a textbook would consistently get you to the page labeled 100. Now it takes you to the hundredth physical page, which thanks to the cover, toc, etc. is probably not where you wanted to go.

Goto page has never worked reliably for me, even prior to the update.


I don't have the details in front of me, but I believe it is dependent on how the PDF is created. IIRC, page numbers must be somehow indicated to the PDF reader client.


Correct; a PDF can indicate an arbitrary page number for every physical page. Stupid PDF readers navigate in physical pages; more sophisticated readers use indicated pages, even when taking user input (go to page Intro-6).


I don't believe you. I've never had "go to page" take me to the page labelled 100 if that's not actually the 100th pdf page. It's always taken me to the 100th pdf page instead, and I've had to scroll to get to the one labelled 100. And when I say "always", I mean every single time I've used a PDF like this in the 15 years that OS X has existed.


It tends to only be higher quality pdfs. I use a lot of pdfs made by textbook publishers and they are tagged appropriately.


I've got copies of the ISO standards for C99 and C++98, and ISO working drafts for C++11 and C++14, and they appear to be high quality (including a comprehensive TOC), but they've never exhibited the behavior you describe.

That said, apparently one of my C++ working drafts actually causes Preview to spend 20+ seconds at 100% CPU when opening on macOS 10.12.2. That's no good, and I don't recall it doing this before. Time to go file a radar I guess.


Microsoft's PDF viewer for Windows 8 had no `goto page` at all. If you had a 500 page PDF, you had to furiously slide left for minutes to get to where you left off. Of course it didn't remember the last page read, either.

They added the goto in an update, but the failure to remember last page read is still a sickness in just about every major PDF reader.

Oh, and while I'm ranting, it ought to show the first page of the PDF as the thumbnail. Some do it, some don't. C'mon, guys, it's 2017. It's like getting an update to your favorite programming language and they removed scoping of declarations.


PDF support often regresses. The most common problem is forgetting the last page read in one PDF if you open 1, 2, or 3 other PDFs. Early Kindles would remember the last page read in each PDF. The latest Kindle only remembers it for the last PDF. iBooks remembers it for 3. Foxit is 3. I can almost see the hardcoded `history[3]` in their software.


I was and am a heavy Skim user (http://skim-app.sourceforge.net/) -- on Macs, I've found it to be a quick and snappy alternative to Preview or Acrobat for reading and marking PDFs. 10.12 broke the UI for text annotations (the bugs mainly had to do with on-screen refresh). While 10.12.2 partially fixed these problems, it introduced others.

Here's one: open any pdf in Preview in 10.12.2, choose the Rectangular Selection tool, and try to copy a rectangle from your PDF. On my own machines running 10.12.2 as well as the couple machines I've tried in the Apple Store, inevitably this leads the whole page to go blank. AFAIK the file is not affected, it's purely a UI thing, but bugs like this make the software very annoying to use at the very least.


Interesting! Using our fuzzer, we found several PDF crashing Preview in Sierra. For instance, this one [1], which is also crashing Chrome and evince.

[1]: https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=670524


Preview has always crashed / hung occasionally for me, on random PDFs. Sometimes it's fine, sometimes it just locks.

Apple is putting their money into iOS development. And in breaking things in OSX which previously used to work...


Sounds like a minefield for security vulnerabilities! Maybe pursuing this route will encourage Apple to prioritize this a bit higher on the fix list.


Yeah. I remember the times prior to 2007 when OS X had zero problems.


I hope that's sarcasm. There have been problems with macOS (OS X at the time) all the way back to public beta including sluggishness pre-Intel transition.

It was (and still is) a great OS to use - but to pretend that pre 2007 existed a time where everything was perfect and no problems existed is absurd.


I agree, although my anecdotal experience after a decade of using Macs full time (and a few years part time before that) is that I've seen a lot more bugs and problems since Apple switched to a yearly release cycle.

Yosemite was by far the worst macOS version I've ever used. I'm pretty happy with El Capitan though and I won't upgrade until I really need to.


  > lot more bugs and problems since Apple switched to a yearly
  > release cycle.
The theory that I subscribe to, is that now there is less time for the version to mature. Previously a version of OS X lasted long enough for the bugs to be ironed out and people usually remember the last version they have worked with, not the 10.XX.0 release.


I've stopped upgrading to major macOS versions until at least 6 months have passed if not 1 year (when the following major version is released).

This has worked more or less ok for me with the major exception of Yosemite. Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion were the most stable and polished versions I've used.


I think this is now the safest way to proceed. When I used Windows I wouldn't upgrade to the new version until the first or second service package.


> I've stopped upgrading to major macOS versions until at least 6 months have passed if not 1 year (when the following major version is released).

Does the old stable still get equal security fixes?


   > I hope that's sarcasm.
It is. ("Yeah" at the beginning of my comment is pretty much the same as /s at the end of others :) )


I don't know about pre-2007, but everything since 10.6.8 has been downhill.


Preview also now hangs forever converting most .ps files, where previous versions worked a-ok :(

In fact, i haven't found a single .ps file it didn't hang on so far, but maybe i'm unlucky.

(so, basically, when i go to open an older paper, i have to go kill preview, run the paper through distiller, and then load it in something that isn't a disaster once i realize preview is also highly broken for pdfs anyway)


Could you clarify what "forever" means in this case? (I'm sure you meant you timed out on the operation. I'm just curious how long you gave it.)

And out of curiosity, was the CPU busy or idle during the long-running conversion step?


"Forever" likely means it takes a really long time to do the conversion. In my case the CPU was busy. It's also really prone to failure, even for simple PS with just text no graphics, such as the kind of PS generated by groff(1) on man pages.


I gave up after 10 minutes for a 4 page paper. CPU was idle :)

I've attached debuggers to them and they appear to be sitting around in the same loop, probably never to exit ...


Seeing the same thing and it's irksome. Preview will also choke on the pdf produced from such ps with ps2pdf. Acrobat opens them and when re-exported from Acrobat, Preview reads them again.


I really hope someone at Apple is like "you know what, I'm done. This is getting ridiculous let's make a concerted effort to make the mac awesome." Because the people who work on it care I promise you it's just someone isn't thinking and saying "this isn't up to the proper standard yet." So I hope 2017 is he mac's year.


They must have changed their CMYC to RGB conversion algorithm as well. CMYC colors now look different in Preview compared to when rendered in Acrobat Reader or using Ghostscript


Could you post a screenshot?

I've had this complain (and bug filled) for a long time. They changed it a few years ago, blacks are completely washed out.

But I haven't yet had the inclination to install Sierra.


Here you go https://gist.github.com/felixhageloh/37c4d091f4e40c4d19fa83c...

And you are right - this started pre Sierra already (can't remember which version)


Interesting, it's squashing the whites in this case.


I'm guessing that the rendering is actually more accurate in Preview, not that it helps. Reader has an awful habit of displaying all blacks in CMYK documents as composite, which has bitten me occasionally when going to print…


They don't think it's a bug, as it was marked "as intended" or something.

But I'd disagree. No Adobe software does this by default. Trying to simulate a reflective medium in a emissive one by decreasing the latitude can be useful at times, but simply showing it like that with no option to turn it off seems crazy to me.


I've encountered several dangerous PDF rendering bugs in Sierra. Vastly incorrect colors on only some embedded images/vectors (in a design/profile/identity guide no less!), blurry/lowres rendering that randomly comes and goes as you scroll, or huge white areas/blank pages that fill in and then disappears as you zoom in and out. This is really bad.


To reiterate what I've said before: I hope that after a last gasp of pseudo-innovation/rewrites-for-marketings-sake that the tech industry can figure out how to become a more incremental, polish and improve culture, more akin to craftsmen than randian heros.

It goes to the very heart of the industry, though: our self conception, so it would be a very hard transition.


First, this was not about marketing (wasn't even advertised or meant to be known): it is about using a new common lib for PDF between iOS and macOS.

Second, the rampant rewrites are as much an issue in FOSS projects as they are in the industry (and in fact Microsoft for one, besides introducing the occasional new API has been careful with backwards compatibility to the point of paranoia).


Agree entirely: it is rampant across the entire industry. Look at Angular2. (But then, on the other hand, look at VIM or Emacs. Hmmm.)

Again, I think it is a deep problem, involving the self conception of the tech world (not only the marketing departments, although there is mixes with self interest.)


It's also in the physical world, and there it stems from companies wanting to sell disposable crap instead of long lasting products and form factors, so they have more repeat sales.


The industry is not monolithic, there will always be the "move fast and break things" mentality, and there will always be calls for quality and backwards compatibility.

Apple has traditionally been pretty good in the quality department, but they have never given a rat's ass about backwards compatibility. As they move forward with the whole iOS-is-the-future vision and OS X goes into legacy mode I shudder to think how bad things will get.


I hate to gratuitously disrespect a whole company like that, but how can you mess PDF when you're Apple? There's most likely an ISO specification document minutely describing the structure of a PDF document. Apple has the money, the talent, hordes of customers depending on good PDF support but they're failing at this.


One more anecdote: I distribute a macOS app that uses PDF icons in an embedded WebView. Used to work fine, but since 10.12, scrolling the page up and down quickly crashes the app. My radar was closed as duplicate. I was hoping that this would be addressed in 10.12.2...


My decision to stick with Yosemite is once again vindicated. I actually wouldn't mind upgrading to El Capitan, but the app store refuses to let me download it.


I ended up replacing Preview with PDFExpert because I was really annoyed with the way that Preview apparently stopped pre-loading/caching pages (at least I think this is why pages are blurry for a moment each time you go backwards or forwards to a new one). It was pretty pricy, but I'm really happy with it.


This bothers me. What's a good alternative for a medical student on a paltry budget (so preferably free)?

I still use Skim from time to time but the comment annotation UI being broken in 10.12 was a deal-breaker.


Foxit is great on Windows, but it seems like their Mac and Linux versions are both pretty limited by comparison. Still could check it out, though! (I got rid of my mac a few months ago and only ever used Preview when I had it, so I cant comment on its quality any more than that.)




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: