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Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Development | 0 comments

Get some Appiness with new App Review Service

Get some Appiness with new App Review Service

I’d like to introduce you to my latest invention. I’m actually really happy…err…appy with the way it turned out.

 

As any app developer knows, developing the app is only half the battle. Actually, I’d say its less than half the battle. The trick today is marketing. The days of “Build it and they will come” are over…the app stores are simply too crowded.

One of the core determinants for your app success is related to downloads and reviews. First, people who are looking to download your app will first look at how many downloads you already received and the reviews you received before making that split second decision whether or not it’s worth their time. Second, we know your placement on the charts is directly influenced by your download velocity and/or reviews received.

And you can’t typically “buy” downloads and reviews. If you’re caught doing this using fake IP’s or “waterarmies” your risk your app being removed from the app store.

And that’s where appiness comes in.

Appiness.io is a unique app review service that puts your app in front of real people who will download it, play with it and leave you a review in the app store. And because it’s real people, it is not only safe, it has the added benefit that “friends will tell friends” if they like your app.

Check it out at http://appiness.io and see how it can help your next app.

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Posted by on Sep 9, 2013 in Development | 0 comments

Choose.ly is born!

Choose.ly is born!

I finally submitted my app to Apple for approval. Here’s hoping for a quick approval process.

Choose.ly is a crowd decisioning app. Although I haven’t updated the website properly yet, you can see it here at http://choose.ly

Some technical information for those who are interested:

1. The backend is utilizing the excellent Parse BaaS

2. The app is built using xcode/objective-C. I am utilizing the Storyboard features extensively. This app has a surprising number of master/detail views (ie. Embedded segues) so I was really forced to get the hang of it.

3. In the interests of efficiency, I denormalized the data structure somewhat. For example, I don’t tabulate the vote count, I instead keep a running total. Maybe not a very pure approach but it minimizes queries besides being faster.

4. The hardest part of the app was controlling the HUD spinning icon ;) This is a rather ugly part of iOS, requiring activities to be run on a background thread so the UI can be updated. I really would have preferred this happen automagically so that I can just call HUD.start and HUD.end without worrying about thread management.

5. No wait, I take number 4 back. The ugliest part of iOS is managing the keyboard and UI TextFields when the keyboard obscures the field. Can’t believe you have to manually take care of this. Ugh.

Stay tuned for app approval!

 

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Posted by on Sep 7, 2013 in Development | 0 comments

Using the Parse.com BaaS

Using the Parse.com BaaS

I recently discovered parse.com and must say I’m very impressed.

I am busy developing an iPhone app and was about to write all the server side code in PHP when I decided to look around at some of the BaaS players. I found about 5 that warranted a closer look to the level of actually signing up and trying it out.

I settled on Parse because of all the ones I tried, Parse was the only one that from sign-up to example code execution worked completely flawlessly. I’m sure the others may be good, but given the sign-up process at Parse, it seemed very well thought out. Plus, the documentation is really good.

By using the examples they provide, I was able to get my initial photo upload working in a hour or so. Over the next week I was able to complete most of my app functionality, and it was great knowing the backend was taken care off.

I did find a few idiosyncrasies, especially when doing multi table join queries in that it was difficult to compare keys using an objectID and a String. Fortunately the forum is very active and very helpful. Most of my issues were related to me being a newbie at using NoSql type queries (hard to get away from thinking in SQL) as well as being new at native iOS development.

I now have to integrate push into my app. Parse has Push libraries and should make this a lot easier. Unfortunately I still have to go through the cumbersome Apple deployment process to get this working (no fault of Parse!).

Check out parse.com …. definitely very worthwhile. I hope to finish my app and submit for app store approval in the next 2 weeks.

 

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Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in Development | 0 comments

Back on Unity3D

Back on Unity3D

I posted earlier about Unity3d here and here. Fast forward and I hate to say I did very little other than evaluating the product and going through some tutorials. Life, as they say, happened.

I still have a desire to develop a game. It’s an idea that’s been brewing in my head for a long time now, so I decided to revisit Unity3d. Of course I forgot most of what I learned before so started ramping up my knowledge again. Coming back to it, I remember now why I was so impressed with Unity in the first place. There is no doubt this product rocks.

It IS a steep learning curve…not from a “difficulty” perspective but from an “overwhelming” perspective. There are so many options and configurations that it’s almost impossible to learn just in a few days.

Perhaps this time I’ll get to stick to the plan of implementing my game. My game idea requires a lot of light reflection so I just haven’t got my mind over the math part of this yet but hopefully Unity will help!

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Posted by on Feb 21, 2013 in Development | 0 comments

Appcelerator Titanium vs. Xcode

Appcelerator Titanium vs. Xcode

I’ve previously posted about my (positive) experience with Titanium. I very quickly knocked out an app that included a REST type call to a server to display data, while utilizing the GPS location functionality. And survived the code signing procedure to even get the app deployed into the app store.

Since then I have been using the Wx range of products and haven’t look at Titanium in a while. So last week I decided to go see what’s new with it, especially since I hadn’t seen it since the Aptana acquisition.

Given that I’ve since played with other technologies, I was quite frankly disappointed that Titanium still doesn’t have a WYSIWYG editor. I’ve become what you could probably term a lazy developer. I enjoy solving algorithms and focusing on the issue, I really don’t have the inclination to sit and map labels on my screen using coordinates. It’s such a core requirement for 99% of apps (um…if you have a UI), and is nothing  but tedium and routine, that any dev environment should provide this graphically.

It then occurred to me (perhaps I’m the last one to make the realization) that titanium is really all about cross platform, not about RAD. (That is, I knew its strength was xplatform but I assumed the RAD capabilities made it a top contender).

I then thought maybe I should take a look at Xcode. I had shyed away from it only in that I figured it was a case of needing to write hundreds of lines of code which would only take one in a product like titanium. Plus, if you haven’t looked at objectiveC and Xcode before, some of the directives seem somewhat daunting at first. Nonetheless I got a good book on it and started working my way through it.

I must say I have been pleasantly surprised. The actual Xcode environment clearly shows its maturity as an IDE. Objective-C is no where near as bad as I had been led to believe. And with the WYSIWYG editor and the new storyboard functionality, it’s almost as if Xcode has become a RAD environment. Plus, their are thousands of components out there you can use to make your life easier and your apps richer.

I’m now becoming an Xcode convert. The biggest drawback is of course the loss of cross platform capability, but I can survive without this.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I think Titanium is still a good product, with a lot of potential. It does make life somewhat easier through some of its abstractions and the cross platform capability works well, including the fact that you can develop on a PC or a Mac. I think however I’ll continue on the Xcode path.

If you’ve been putting off looking at Xcode or have been intimidated by Objective-C, you owe it to yourself to take another look at it. Once you learn the proprietary directives and notations, you’ll quickly get the hang of it and even appreciate it’s elegance.

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Posted by on Jan 27, 2013 in Development | 0 comments

The joys of seeing a site become popular

The joys of seeing a site become popular

Ok, I’m not talking popular like facebook or anything…but, seeing your site grow with users is a great feeling.  Early December 2012 I started a forum site for a particular niche and took to social media to start marketing it. Twitter and Tumblr have shown the best return on …er…effort, I guess.

In about 6 weeks, I’ve seen the site grow to:

  • Over 1500 registered members
  • Over 8000 posts
  • Over 1400 images uploaded
  • Over 150 blogs created
  • Over 330,000 page views per month
  • Average time spent: Just over 10 minutes

I still get excited every time I see a new sign-up. The best part of this is the ability to be completely agile (in its truest form). A user makes a post saying “Gee it would be nice to have feature A1″. I quickly go off an implement A1 without any significant market research. Users quickly provide feedback and I refine A1. So much better than once you formalize the process and it becomes: A user requested a feature. Let’s put it in the pipeline of feature requests. Lets do a market sizing and cost analysis. Let’s do a detailed functional requirement document. Let’s create technical specs. Let’s plan the rollout of the feature. Oh, that’s not what the user wanted. Ok,let’s plan another 6 month “agile” cycle…

Anyway, here’s hoping the site continues its growth. What I don’t know if if I’ve reach saturation point on the growth curve. Especially as it relates to monthly page views. It’s quite possible it’s going to take a constant influx of new members to compensate for the member site fatigue (those who naturally stop using the forum) just to keep that level of page views, but we will see.

After I started the forum, I found out there are two large forums already existing in this niche. I guess it shows that sometimes market research kills an idea before it starts. Had I researched this, I wouldn’t have started. As it is, I did, and I’m now the fastest growing forum compared to those two competitors. I am now on a plan for niche domination (insert evil laughter here). I’ve offered to try buy one of the forums and I’ll have to get creative on beating the other one by simply offering a better user experience and more value.

 

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