Magical apps for your iPhone and iPod touch

Best Before Feature Requests

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2010 at 7:38 pm

I Googled “Best Before App Store” this morning and noticed that an application by that name exists on the Android platform. I have nothing to do with that application. However, I have read some of its reviews.

I haven’t seen any reviews for Best Before yet, but I’m sure someone will undoubtedly bring to my attention that it needs a bar code scanner. Afterall, that seemed to be a popular complaint for Best Before on the Android platform.

First of all, I do not have an iPhone; I have an iPod touch. As bizarre as it may sound, I have no need for a cell phone. That said, I would not mind buying an iPhone for developmental purposes (i.e. to test out camera features). The problem is, it’s a big expense and I’m not exactly making much money off my applications (yet). As much as this may sound like a marketing ploy, I feel like I have no choice but to say it: If you want features like barcode scanning, you’re going to have to do some word of mouth marketing for me. Get people interested in my apps so that I can afford the development expenses.

Furthermore, I’m somewhat unfamiliar with the information that is contained on food item barcodes. Can anyone provide any insight on this subject? A quick Google search revealed nothing interesting. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure foor item barcodes do not reveal any expiry dates.

I’m also iffy about adding a feature that I find unnecessary. I hate feature bloat. I designed Best Before around the idea of rapid input — if barcodes only reveal a product’s name and nothing else, I’m probably not going to add it to Best Before as I feel that typing a few letters will be faster than having the iPhone camera attempt the job of a barcode scanner.

It also explains why I did not add categories or portions to Best Before. They only serve to slow down the input. Color tagging almost didn’t make the cut but in the end I figured that feature was an excellent solution to the lack of a ‘categories’ feature: the user decides what the colors represent (i.e. a food category, a specific area in the fridge, a specific freezer…for those with more than one freezer, etc.)

Do not expect Best Before to become some kind of all-in-one recipe-groceries-fridge organizer. You will be dissapointed if you do.

I do have plans to make Best Before suggest recipes using soon-to-expire (and perhaps items that have very recently expired) by simply submitting a search on few popular web sites.

And I do have plans on adding a way to export the fridge, freezer and pantry lists.

That’s it for the near future.


Character4ge Redux Feature Requests

In Character4ge on May 4, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Character4ge Redux (Future Features) – which feature is most important to you?

What Character4ge Redux Will and Will Not Do

In Character4ge on May 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm

The first review for Character4ge Redux came in yesterday. To summarize the review:

1.Ā Load time is slow.

Fair enough. I opted to load things dynamically instead of at launch to speed up launch times. Once things are loaded, however, everything should be smooth. I’ll try to improve the load times but I honestly don’t think it’s a big issue. The entire development was done on a 1st generation iPod touch, and while loading wasn’t the snappiest, I’m pretty sure loading is almost twice as fast on later generation iPhone and iPod touch devices with CPUs that are quite a bit faster and that have more memory. That said, I will try to improve the load speed (especially load times on the ‘Event’ and ‘Stats’ tabs which are currently sluggish one first load).

2. Searching for feats should only show feats relevant to your class (or, alternatively, have them in nested groups/categories for easy browsing.)

Big no-no. Although I thought about this for a very long time during Redux’s development, I will simply not allow this to happen for two simple reasons:

  1. Character4ge Redux is not a substitute for the D&D 4E books. Redux is not a reference book. I’m not here to steal Wizard of the Coast’s business and I do not want to get into any legal troubles with Wizard of the Coasts. Allowing someone to peruse a list of feats (or powers) that are only relevant to their race/class/whatever would allow him/her to essentially build a character without ever opening a 4E book.
  2. There are always exceptions to rules. Multiclasses, for example, remove some prerequisites for certain feats. DMs can make exceptions and allow a character to pick feats for which the prerequisites aren’t met.

I cannot and will not implement this one no matter how many harsh reviews are thrown at me. It’s already very easy and much faster to add a feat or power if you know which ones you’re looking for than having to look through nested groups/categories. If anyone is hoping that feats and powers will be grouped and categorized in future update, you’re in for big disappointments; it’s not gonna happen…Wizards of the Coast would probably end up suing me for producing a replacement for their books.

3. Class and race bonuses not added automatically.

This was the tradeoff from the old Character4ge. I understand that it was a neat feature…however, it was not flexible to exceptions.

4. Dice-rolling system.

A very basic dice-rolling system exists already for attack rolls, ability and skill challenge rolls via the ‘Event’ tab: You simply click on the type of attack (str, con, dex, int, wis, cha), the ability or the skill to roll a d20 and have the modifier added to the roll. A more complex dice-rolling system may come in the future. I’m thinking perhaps a calculator-like pop-up window that lets you pick the dice you want to roll.

5. The GUI…bland…the old one was better.

I knew this would come up in reviews eventually. What I didn’t know was that it would come up in the first review. šŸ™‚ I thought I was doing everyone a favor by removing the gawdy granite and parchment-look and keeping the GUI simple and clean. I also wasn’t expecting my GUI to be called ‘high-contrast’. Sure, it’s a black & white theme, there is contrast…but it’s white on black…it can’t possibly be as blinding as black on white. Of course, the reviewer knew what he was getting into after seeing the screenshots but I’m curious to know what other people think of the new GUI.

The next bit does not pertain to the user review but I’m sure will eventually come up in discussions about Character4ge Redux: Importing Character Builder .dnd4e character files.

Not going to happen! If you want this feature, some competing products in the App Store have it; Character4ge Redux will not. The reasons are:

  1. The .dnd4e files are grossly incomplete. They work well with Character Builder’s way of doing things, they do not work well in other contexts. For example, a lot of of the powers’ information is missing when they are imported, and it’s impossible to tell the typed bonuses apart when reading the .dnd4e XML file. I could just sum them together in drop them into the ‘Misc Mod’ but that’s a pretty lame solution.
  2. Importing things on an mobile device is such a pain in the posterior. You need to first upload your .dnd4e file to a server, then you need an active internet connection for your mobile device to download/import this file. And if we take point numero uno into consideration, you’ll be spending the rest of your time trying to find what didn’t import.
  3. Adding a .dnd4e fileĀ importation feature would essentially mean I’d have to spend time on a .dnd4e exportation feature. But the .dnd4e file format is too rigid for the needs of Character4ge Redux. Information would be lost on export and people would complain to me that the file they exported isn’t importing in its entirety.

This one also is not going to happen (at least not in the near future). Character4ge Redux is meant to be a complete solution (i.e. independent of other software). You only need your iPhone/iPod touch/iPad and your D&D 4E books to use it.

I’d like to hear other people’s opinions on all this.