Sat 5 Jun 2010
A short week but by no means a quiet week. All iPhone again too.
I started off by working just over a day on a new client app, supposed to be 5 days with nothing too tricky (now delayed waiting for my client’s client’s sign off). A few interesting situations came up with the novel UI they were looking for but nothing I couldn’t handle, including:
- Mock-ups showed a screen into which you enter a ten digit number. Mock-up showed three boxes to split into three, three and four digits. I “interpreted” this to mean that so long as the digits were split up to make them easily readable that would be enough. I added a handler for the
textField:shouldChangeCharactersInRange:replacementString:delegate method so that any time characters were added or removed I would allow the change but then reformat the text.
- In the mock-ups it also showed a number pad on top of the toolbar. As far as I can tell it’s not possible to move the standard Apple number pad, not without doing hacky things like inspecting the hierarchy of views and pulling out the number pad and moving it to another place. I also wasn’t sure that Apple would be too happy about this change in their sacrosanct UI principles. I did consider allowing the number pad to just pop up and cover up the toolbar but on this view it’s actually important for the user to have access to the toolbar buttons to get help. As the whole point of this screen is to enter a number it didn’t really seem appropriate to have the user close the number pad to get the toolbar and then have to open the number pad again once they’d viewed the help. I ended up handling it by moving the toolbar up at the same time that the keyboard appears. This way I can use the standard keyboard and still have the toolbar visible. I’m not 100% sure it works but it makes sure the info button is available and still allows the standard number pad to be used.
You should be able to get an idea for what I’ve done from the screenshot, I’ve blanked out some sections as I’m under NDA but the bits I’ve discussed are still clear.
I had intended to spend the whole week on this app but the sign-off issue I mentioned above meant I needed to pause. It actually worked out quite well though as it gave me more time to spend on the hierarchy app I’ve been working on. I added some features that allow you to search for items and have different “categories”. The categories allow you to follow different paths for filtering information. It is quite similar to the iPod app on the iPhone which gives you, amongst others, the following paths:
- Artists: Artists > Albums > Songs
- Albums: Albums > Songs
- Songs: Songs
- Genres: Genres > Artists > Albums > Songs
I’m quite happy with how I’ve built the app, it’s really configurable and allows new categories to be created with ease by just specifying a name, icon and path.
An interesting issue I came across with this app was that I wanted to demo it on the iPad using the standard iPhone app scaling to make it bigger and easier to see from a distance. As it stood though the app was a “Universal” iPad & iPhone app, but because I hadn’t written any iPad code if I tried to run it I’d just get a big blank screen. I fiddled about though and found out how to downgrade it, having not found any information on the web about doing this I promptly blogged about it.
Friday ended up as a bit of a manic day, I was travelling down to Oxford to have a meeting with a client on Saturday morning. I was also attending the Cathedral Valley lunch. Before I could do either though I ended up having to meet with client to try to fix their iPhone ad-hoc provisioning problems. Unfortunately as it turned out we ended up having just ten minutes before I needed to leave for my lunch and the most we established was that it wasn’t working!
Heading back from Oxford now after a really successful client meeting. I met up with the teacher that I’ve been working with on the Revise GCSE & A-Level apps and also someone else that we’re looking to work with. We discussed the revision apps and came up with lots of new features that could go into them. As part of the full meeting we also ended up discussing not one but two potential new projects. Definitely a successful day and lining up lots of work to do for the summer.
Next week? I don’t like to predict as it never works out. I have one client app that’s supposed to be live by the 10th but which I’m waiting for feedback on so not really expecting much to happen with that, hopefully the project from this week will get sign off and I’ll be able to finish that. Really need to get some things finished off as the following week I should be starting on a really interesting music app.