Thoughts on mobile app development.

Simplifying Ad-Hoc Distribution

As an iOS freelancer, I work with many different clients every day, who all have their own processes and workflows. Distributing ad-hoc builds is just a small part of developing an app, but it’s usually the first experience a client will have with your work, so it’s important to make this process as smooth as possible.

There are many different ways of distributing builds. TestFlight and HockeyApp are two well known services, while Over the Air (OTA) is more of a manual style of distribution. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but the main thing I’ve noticed is that every client has different needs and different preferences – there’s no one size fits all option.

With this in mind, I’ve been developing a tool to make the process of distribution more uniform, so that regardless of what service or method you might use, the interface remains consistent. It’s very much a work in progress, but here’s how it looks today:

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Pretty Pie Charts with XYPieChart

XYPieChart is a simple to use, great looking component for drawing pie charts in iOS apps. I recently needed a pie chart for an app I’m working on, and I can honestly say this was one of the nicest experiences I’ve ever had with a 3rd party component. This video on Vimeo gives you a nice overview of it’s capabilities.


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Are you using Parse yet?

As an iOS developer who finds creating databases and web services incredibly boring, Parse has always sounded very attractive. For those who don’t know, Parse provides a way for developers to store data in the cloud. They offer a number of other services as well, such as push notifications, cloud-based code, and social integration, but I believe data storage has always been their core business. There’s no databases to setup, no web services to create, no servers to maintain – all you need to do is focus on creating a great front-end product, and they do the rest. At least, that’s what I was expecting without ever having used it before.

I finally had a chance to play with Parse this week, and I was very pleased to find out that Parse lived up to my expectations, and more. It’s incredibly simple to setup and develop for, and I’m now falling over myself to try and find more projects to use with it. Here’s a few of the things that really impressed me.

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Photo Academy for iPad – Now Available

I’m very pleased to announce that after more than a year of development, the iPad edition of Photo Academy is now available.

For those who are new to Photo Academy, the aim of the app is to help anyone who owns a camera to take better photos.

Photo Academy for iPad contains thousands of detailed tips on how to take the best photo in almost every situation, including the exact camera settings to use. Beginners can get up to speed quickly by following a broad range of tutorials, which cover all the different aspects of photography. The app also allows you to show off your skills in the Shoot Diary, by tracking photo shoots, sharing them with friends, and seeing where in the world you’ve taken your best photos.

For more information, please take a look at the Photo Academy for iPad website, or simply search for Photo Academy on the App Store. Alternatively, if you have any feedback or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

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Scheduling Your Work Day

Ever since becoming someone who works from home, one of the things I’ve struggled with is keeping my focus on what I’m doing, and not being distracted by incoming work. I often find myself checking my email, receiving an email from a client who needs something fixed, checked, or investigated, and immediately dropping what I was currently working on to take care of this new demand. There’s certainly something to be said for clearing the decks and getting things out of the way as quick as possible, but it can also be very disruptive, and worse, inefficient.

I recently came across a podcast aimed at people who work from home, aptly named Home Work. I’ve really been enjoying going back over all the old episodes, and there’s some great discussion in there on all aspects of working from home. If you’re a home worker, I really recommend giving it a try, starting at the first episode.

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