Updated Projects Page

Took some time today updating our projects page. This page contains a number of learning applications that are public so you can see what we did to create these apps. We just added two new applications: Camping Directory and Windup Wars. These are my own first forays into iOS development using Swift. Thanks to Ray Wenderlich for the great game tutorial.

Facebook SDK for Android

Wow, the quality of SDKs have really gone downhill. I just spent two days trying to get past the poor documentation and non-compiling sample applications of the Facebook for Android SDK. I also had a similar experience with the Android SDK from Kinvey. The difference is Kinvey wants you to succeed and has awesome developer support whereas Facebook really doesn’t care what they release. Facebook has become way too big, too fast to be able to release any sort of quality work. I look forward to good things from Kinvey.

Just a rant… there, I feel better.

Android Critters Retired

The Android version of Critters has been retired so we can focus our resources on our next version. Trying to keep the application viable on three different versions of Android (2.x, 3.x, and 4.x) for no cost and creating a new version was consuming more resources than were available.

For those currently using the Android version, you may certainly continue to use it; however, we will not be releasing any future updates and the application has been removed from the Android Market. If you need to re-install the old application, please contact us and we will e-mail you an APK of the last release. You can install the APK directly from e-mail, if you have set your security to install applications from “Unknown sources”.

The next generation of Critters will be web based and work on a variety of traditional and mobile platforms. By focusing on the web, we hope to make updates and fixes more timely and transparent. See our page on facebook so we can get your thoughts and ideas of what we need to make Critters the best personal veterinary record ever!

Thank you for using Critters!

Critters Development – Now Hosted on Google Code

Yesterday I moved Critters development to Google Code. This moved included the user FAQ, platform statistics and source code archive packages.  The latest source is available in Git along with all tagged releases. I also created a Google Group for users to post questions and suggest enhancements for the application. The current project page on this blog with continue to be updated with the latest feature list, screenshots and links to the Google Code and Google Group sites.

New Site Links:

I hope that if you find Critters useful or just have an issue that you need help with, you will take advantage of these new resources.

Android Market Annoyances

It has been three months since I released Critters to the Android Market. Since that time, I have come across a number of serious market problems that Google needs to address:

  1. Inability to respond to user comments and ratings. This month, Critters received its first one star rating. This came as quite a shock as all ratings up to this point were either four or five stars. The user complained about a problem that didn’t really exist. If they would have read the FAQ or sent an e-mail, the problem would have been resolved immediately (this information was supplied as part of the application description). The market does not provide a mechanism for developers to respond to users and their problems. This makes the development community appear disconnected and unresponsive to their users needs. The only way I can try to help is by posting a comment on my own application. This procedure is very kludgey and hardly optimal. Google, simply allow us to respond directly to the user to help them out. This should be simple to implement and protect the user’s privacy if they wish.
  2. Inability to track phone models of application users. It would be very helpful to track which phones your application is running on. I think this should go beyond just tracking the phone model when the application is downloaded and installed. There should also be a way to see this same information for uninstalls as well.
  3. Inability to track Android version of application users. This should be handled in the same manner as #2 above.

Starting with Android 2.2, Google has added the ability for users to supply exception information to the developer. The information, while helpful, is still inadequate. You are provided with a stack trace, application version and type of phone, but you do not know on what version of Android the application was running. The ability to contact the user reporting the exception would help with tracking down what caused it (the stack trace may not provide all the information needed).

Hopefully, Google will address these items in the immediate future to provide both users and developers with a better Android Market experience. I am not holding out much hope as I have seen next to no response from Google on the Android Market forums regarding these issues.

Critters – Alpha Update on Android Market

I have released an update to Critters (alpha) on the Android Market. This is a bug fix release and does not include any new features.

Changes for version 0.2.0:

  1. Enhanced the form validation dialog with a more intuitive message. Some users were having problems saving their owner information and the validation dialog was not as clear as it should have been. The validation dialog now suggests that users check fields behind all form tabs for errors.
  2. Fixed state spinner synchronization bug. The state list array was not properly sorted and caused search lookup errors that would cause the incorrect state from the database to be displayed to the user. This bug did not effect the saving of a selected state, only the display when a user returned to the edit form to make changes.
  3. Added experimental localization support. Users in the U.S. and Canada share a list of states and provinces. This list is ordered with provinces first if the phone is set to en_CA or fr_CA and states first if the locale is en_US. All other locales show a country list that will store the two character ISO country code in place of a state. This country code is displayed below the postal code in the e-mailed pet record and other locations in the application where an address is displayed. Locales outside the U.S. and Canada use the ISO yyyy-mm-dd format to display dates.

If you encounter any issues with this release, please report them in the comments section. Enjoy!

Critters – Users outside the U.S. and Canada

I accidentally made Critters visible to all countries on the Android Market. The current alpha release supports U.S. and Canadian English only. To prevent any further confusion for international users, I have temporarily restricted availability to just the U.S. and Canada. Critters is designed to support locale specific formatting for dates, postal codes and phone numbers. I will be adding support for more countries in future versions.

Thank you for your patience and understanding!