Apps are a live and well

The local Meetup scene continues to amaze me. Last night I went to a Meetup called The Mobile App Success Group. Xan, the founder of this Meetup Group, has been successful in developing Websites for some time, and brings ideas around marketing your App, getting development and design resources, and other tips and tricks for starting your business. The goal of the meeting last night was to show a couple of of new Apps that are being worked on.

Both Xan and John (the other presenter) showed off the designs of two up and coming games and asked the participants for feedback. I really liked this approach. Given that the design of games developed by one or two people on their own, they can sometimes get blinders on potential problems in that design. So the attendees at the meetup got to provide feedback and talk about experiences from:

    What Ad network to use, if you are doing an ad supported app?
    How to find a good graphics designer?
    Managing the economy of your game, when you allow rewards to be used for in app purchases.

I hope to have links to both of these games and the websites for Xan and John as soon as they get closer to launch. Xan’s app should be coming out in early Sept.

Both of these apps are guessing games, like DrawSomething, but very much with exciting twists. Can’t wait to play and show off the games as they get ready to launch.

Triangle CocoaHeads Meetup

Last Night I had the chance to catch my first meetup of the Triangle Cocoaheads. What a great meetup, and I certainly plan on attending this more often. Our hosts over at Two Toasters, a local App development company, had a nice downtown office fully supplied with Pizza and drinks. The room held probably 25 or so local iOS / Mac developers and started with a quick set of presentations. The first one from Dirk was all about UIResponder. If you are not familiar with this class on iOS, take a quick peak when they post the videos over on the Triangle Cocoa website. UIResponder is used to handle touch events, as an example, and understanding the chain so that the right code processes the right event is key for developing under iOS.

Next we had a great presentation by Dim Sung Thinking on something that was added to Mac OSX with Lion, that is rumored to be coming to iOS6, called Auto Layout. This allows you to have your interface to appropriately adjust itself based on screen resolutions and rotation. While Interface Builder in the past has allowed you some control on how this works, the new Auto Layout features allows for thing like relative positioning.

Then our host – Josh gave a great talk about how to do automated testing (as a follow up to the Continuous Integration session that was presented last month). Josh has been learning about using Calabash for Cucumber as a way of automating UI testing and the company Less Painful‘s device cloud for testing rotation. If you aren’t doing some level of automated testing, you are probably either letting your users test for you in the AppStore, or you aren’t doing enough testing. I believe automated testing of mobile apps is going to get much better over the next few years. A couple of things that I liked about calabash, was the very natural scripting language for writing your tests, however it does seem that device format would require new scripts because if you want to touch the screen you have to provided the x/y coordinates.

We then had four demos of Apps people have been developing.

Up first was Roy (sorry didn’t catch the last name and can’t find him on the meetup site to give a formal shout out to). He’s only been programming for 6 months, and like many of us is starting out by writing apps that he needs himself. The first was very cool, it is called Static Fix (btw, both are mac apps). Static Fix actually runs in the background and keeps your sound card engaged so you don’t get that little pop when you first plug in your headphones. The second app is called Time Tracker, a multiple stop watch tool for tracking your work. I can’t wait to see this one evolve.

Next Sam how has developed a Tea brewing / tracking app. Version 1 has over 60,000 downloads world wide and allows your track how you brew your tea, rate it, and track it. Version 2.0 is adding some great UI enhancements and a much better way of defining blends. If you are a tea drinker, this app is for you. I am hoping to get Sam on a quick video for Triangle App Show in the future.

Vishal came up next and showed his app which is called YouSeek. It is a youtube channel viewer that organizes videos and makes it much easier to find and track the videos you want to watch and share. While it does not yet allow you to remember all those channels or users, the idea should catch on quickly, and I cant’ wait to see the updates as this one matures.

Eric from OrgBook then demoed a conceptual app that will eventually allow you to do org charts and visualizations. Written in custom build OpenGL classes, that allows for fantastic ways of organizing corporate hierarchies.

And finally Bruce founder of BA3 showed their 3D mapping app for the iPad. This was the first ever 3D aerial mapping platform for the iPad. Amazing graphics with stream data and layers. I hope to get a link to their video and share it here. They are actively looking for developers who want to use their platform for a show case app on the iPad.  You can find out more about their work at http://ba3.us .

Overall this was a blast.. and I plan on being there each month.

Triangle TweetUp and local developers

I’ve been to the triangle TweetUp hosted by Bronto for three years running. It is a great time and place to catchup with twitter friends, learn about cool things going on, and drink some good local beers. This year it included a mini ignite section, where six people got up and did five minute lightning talks. Having just done a lightning talk of sorts at IBM’s impact conference the week before, I really enjoyed the fact that these talks were truly personal, not focused on specific technology.

I also had the enjoyment of talking with both Drewand Tim. Tim told me about a great application for the Mac which I hope to use to start doing a few screencasts about my favorite apps. Go check out Reflections App.

I realize that working on this blog, along with my other activities at Games at work, Wasted time and my day job I’ve not been able to keep a nice cadence of entries over here. To that end, I am reaching out to others In the local community over the next few months to see if we can expand the base of bloggers on your favorite local app developers. More to come on that front.