Categories
Mobile Application Development

Hull CS Blogs for Windows Phone v1.1

A few days ago an update which I’d written for the Hull CS blogs windows phone app went live.

Here are the release notes:

  • Updated splash screen to match upcoming Windows 8 MX Style App Splash Screen
  • Fixed a bug which meant that the last blog posts “abstract” could be covered up by the app bar
  • Various Minor Bug Fixes

ūüôā

I hope you all enjoy the latest version of the app

Danny

Categories
Mobile Application Development

Hull CS Blogs now available on Windows Phone and coming soon to iOS

Friday night the Hull Computer Science app for Windows Phone 7 finally got certified and accepted onto the marketplace. I say finally but it has to be said that this is the quickest an app of mine has passed through the process — taking just 3 days as opposed to the normal 5.

It’s also the first time I have passed certification first time, which can’t be a bad time. It’s safe to say that the beta I mentioned in my previous blog post definitely¬†helped, as well as me being more stringent¬†about having built in error checking around methods that could fail (for example a network request or file I/O operation).

If you want to download the application you can do so by clicking here.

Again a special thanks to the following people:

  • John Van Rij for his help with the back end of Hull Comp Sci Blogs.com
  • Rob Crocombe for general support throughout the process and the icon design
  • Rob Miles for the photography used in the application

In other exciting news fellow blogger and Hull Computer Scientist, Cameron Wilby, is porting my application to iOS, the operating system which runs both iPhones and iPads. You can see some very early builds of this in the images below:

Hull CS Blogs for iPhone by Brownsoft and Wilby Software - About Page
Hull CS Blogs for iPhone by Brownsoft and Wilby Software – About Page
Hull CS Blogs for iPhone by Brownsoft and Wilby Software - Contributors Pane
Hull CS Blogs for iPhone by Brownsoft and Wilby Software – Contributors Pane

As you can see its a direct port, with all the same features as the Windows Phone 7 application. I’ll start work on the Android version soon, and then we’ll have total Smartphone coverage across the 3 main platforms! Good stuff!

Danny

Categories
Blogging Mobile Application Development University

Hull CS Blogs App for Windows Phone 7 Submitted

Last night I finally submitted Hull CS Blogs for Windows Phone 7 to the Windows Phone Marketplace. The concept started out because I wanted to make a few applications for the Windows Phone Rewards program, which rewards you with a point for each application you successfully get on the Marketplace. These points can in turn be exchanged for prizes such ranging from XBox controllers to Helicopter Lessons and Surround sound systems to track days.

Original versions of the application just showed the blog RSS stream from Hull Comp Sci Blogs, and required the user to download the entire steam each time, which saved some data compared to going to the full desktop-orientated website but not much. Building on that core feature I incrementally added more and more features, making sure each one worked correctly before moving the next. In order I added:

  1. Contributor blog feeds
  2. Contributor twitter feeds
  3. Image backgrounds for the pages
  4. Caching of the contributor blog and twitter feeds, as well as the latest blogs feed
  5. Featured application hub tiles
  6. An about page
  7. An “Email support” task
  8. Enhancements to the twitter experience
  9. Progress bars for everything.

After point 7 I issued a beta of the software to some of my fellow computer scientists through the Windows Phone Marketplace Beta feature. Everything worked as expect and I got lots of good feedback from little things such as “You’ve mis-spelt download in the about page” to “Sometimes the main feed doesn’t update unless you press the back button and reenter the application”, which is obviously a more serious glitch.

Some people even offered suggestions for what they’d like to see added to the app, James Czerwik-Hampshire¬†asked for the ability to click a twitter name and go to the persons twitter profile which is implemented in this version and James Croft asked for the ability to pin a contributor to the start screen, which I’ve started work on but jumped back to version 1.1.

Issuing a beta was¬†definitely¬†a good¬†experience, and made the product a much better¬†experience for its target audience. I had particularly good¬†experiences¬†because I know my target audience very well, they’re my fellow students, and so could tailor¬†it to their exact needs and get them to test it for me.

Over the last few days, since my last post, I’ve been fixing bugs and adding in features that have been requested. Last night I submitted the app for certification and hopefully it should be on the store by Monday 18th June, if everything goes to plan and the reviewers¬†don’t¬†find any bugs.

I shall be writing about the many, many things I’ve learnt about Windows Presentation Foundation and C# throughout the course of making this application over the next few days. So keep your eyes peeled ūüôā

Danny.

Categories
Mobile Application Development University

Announcing Hull CS Blogs for Windows Phone 7

Recently a fourth year at the University, Lindsay Cox, wrote a blog about actually¬†delivering¬†products and showing “tangible features” rather than talking about ambitions. This got me thinking about how the industry works. No one really cares about ambitions, people care about what can actually be done. This is one of the reasons, I presume, Apple keeps their products under wraps right until they announce¬†availabilities.

So here is my “One more thing” for my first year : Hull CS Blogs for Windows Phone 7.

The application is currently under beta and being tested by a few of my fellow computer scientists — once I’ve polished it a bit more over the weekend I will submit it to the Windows Phone Marketplace for everyone to use, so check back soon for download instructions ūüôā

Danny.

Categories
Mobile Application Development University

Exams, Downloads and Development

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but at least that shows I’ve been busy :).

Last Monday I had my exam for Quantitative Methods for Computing, having spent the previous weekend solidly revising I think it went pretty well. Not as badly as I’d expected, not as well as I’d hoped but good enough to get me a good grade in the module overall I think.

Since then I’ve been working on some of my applications. I’ve implemented Photo Highscores into Sweepy Cleaner and Evil Squash 2 and got a lot of the features working in my Hull Computer Science Blog application which displays the blogs of all the computer scientists at my university as well as shows off some featured applications by students in a random order and allows users to go directly to their Marketplace page to download them.

Speaking of the marketplace I’m very happy to announce that Sweepy Cleaner has had over 200 downloads already — 218 to be precise — and has been enjoyed and reviewed by people as far away as America and Australia. ūüôā

Tomorrow I have my programming 2 examination, having looked over the previous 3 years’ past papers I don’t think I have anything to worry about. Programming the apps I just mentioned has almost been like revision —¬†there’s¬†nothing quite like doing something in order to revise it.

Thats all for now,

Danny

Categories
Mobile Application Development University

Sweepy Cleaner is now Available on the Windows Phone Marketplace

Today Sweepy Cleaner passed certification and was added to the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. You can download it here.

Some of you may notice that the version number is v0.1, this is because there are still a few features I want to add in before I consider it a complete version of the game, these include the full implementation of Photo Highscores, more realistic cleaner movement, an online highscore system and 12 more levels. All of these are already being worked on, so you can expect version 1.0 soon.

Why release the game now? Well, I wanted people to enjoy the basic fundamentals of the game ASAP, and according to my reviews on the marketplace so far they have done!

Draxfear gave the game 5 stars and said:

Fantastic game, especially menus & music!

ZeldaLegend92 gave the game 5 stars and said:

Brilliant game. Shame the cleaner doesn’t point the way it’s moving but still it’s fun to play! Good job

Not1Got1Xbox gave the geme 5 stars and said:

Fun little game, nice graphics, music and user interface! : – )

Fellow Hull Computer Scientist and blogger James Croft has also beaten me to the punch and wrote a review of Sweepy Cleaner which you can read here, thanks James!

As you can see from the image above lots of people have also been posting their scores to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Cleverly I included a link to download my game when a user posts their score, increasing awareness of the game. ūüôā

Below you can see an image of what the game looks like on the Web Marketplace for Windows Phone

Windows Phone Marketplace - Sweepy Cleaner
Windows Phone Marketplace – Sweepy Cleaner

So get over there and download it now, and please be sure to submit feedback and provide a rating ūüôā

Hopefully you’ll have a good experiance with the game, if you have any niggles please don’t¬†hesitate¬†to contact me about it providing as much detail as possible using the following email address:¬†support@dantonybrown.com

Thanks,

Danny.

Categories
Mobile Application Development Programming

Announcing Evil Squash 2

Yesterday I received an email from the people who run the Widows Phone Marketplace telling me that, unfortunately, Sweepy Cleaner had been rejected from the store because under certain circumstances the application exited unexpectedly. I have since fixed the bug and resubmitted the application for testing and hopefully it will be available on the store sometime early next week, of course the blog will be updated when that time comes.

Undeterred by this I have started working on Evil Squash 2. I posted on Facebook that I felt I should have a funny sub-title and suggested “Evil Squash 2 : The Return of Random Rodney”, and in return had¬†several¬†“good” suggestions from my fellow Computer Scientists:

  • Evil Squash 2: Double Concentrate
  • Evil Squash 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Evil Squash 2: Revenge of Dust
    (In some alternate universe where Sweepy Cleaner joins up with Evil Squash)
  • Evil Squash 10: Turing Complete
  • Evil squash 13: So you to can reboot an 8 bit computer
    (in reference to Apollo 13)
  • Evil Squash 2: And Why Not?

In the end I decided it was best to simply go with Evil Squash 2 ūüėČ

The update is mainly graphical, although I hope to add some new game mechanics as well as the new highscores feature you can see in the above image, the main change is that instead of being a Silverlight Windows Phone 7 application, the type more suited to applications than games, its now an XNA game, which makes doing a lot of the work and graphics easier, meaning its easier to maintain and update in the future.

Expect it to be out in the marketplace soon.

Danny

Categories
Mobile Application Development University

An Update on Sweepy Cleaner

This morning I handed in ACW 2 for programming 2, A.K.A Sweepy Cleaner. I’m quite happy with the design of the game, particularly the fact I built it so that adding a new level requires only 4 additional lines of code and the relevant graphics. Below you can see some screen shots showing how it turned out:

My time to present my code to my programmer lecturer is midday Friday, so I’ll update the blog then letting you know what grade I get. Friday is also the day the game should go live on the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, subject to being approved by Microsoft, so that’s something to look forward to! ūüôā

Once its up expect an update within a few weeks adding in some features which I’m working on now, including more realistic cleaner movement and additional levels.

I’d like to thank Shane Gravestock for producing all the music and sound effects for the game and Shaun Rhodes for making the game logo and the¬†vacuum¬†cleaner sprite ūüėÄ

Thats all for now,

Danny.

Categories
Life Mobile Application Development Programming University Web Design

Easter Projects Update

Finally users can see Scottish Lighthouses

Worldwide Lighthouses

Earlier in the holidays I posted a blog post about what I was intending to get up to. One of the things I needed to get round to doing was fixing my brothers website, Worldwide Lighthouses. After a data loss last year and a loss of back-ups we had to start from scratch, many of the features that users — and my brother — loved on the site we’re lost as was most of the actual content.

Now, things are back on track. I’ve spent a portion of the last week or so fixing issues with the Custom-built content¬†management¬†system and now, finally Michael can upload information about Lighthouses outside of England and users can view them. I’ve also stopped most of the deadlinks returning 404’s and instead they now show a coming soon message, which is slightly better for SEO in the long run. I’m currently working on the module of the CMS which works on Lightships, after that will come fog signals, daymarks and finally the glossary.

5Hives

Another project I wrote about was 5Hives, a website for a local bee keeper who wants to start his online presence in an affordable manner, but be able to update his website with new products and information without the need to constantly refer back to his webmaster. This is therefore the second Custom Content¬†Management¬†System I’ve created this week.

5 Hives Progress
5 Hives Progress

It’s not the best-looking website in the world at the moment, but the basic Database input and output works. I’m gonna put all my effort ¬†into making it pretty over the next week whilst we wait for the http://www.5hives.co.uk domain to transfer from 123-reg to Fatcow hosting.

Sweepy Cleaner

Over the holidays I’ve been rewriting sweepy cleaner, its been going well and my code is now much more tidy, more managable and easier to understand, all of which are good things! Today, thanks to Mr Shane Gravestock, I added in a game sound track — to accompany the menu sound track — as well as a new sound effect for when the hoover dies — i.e. when you hit some furniture or the sides of the screen.

I’m going to upload a pre-release version of Sweepy Cleaner to the marketplace tonight, come back here to get the URL to be able to download and play it later.

Meta blogger App

I’ve been working hard on my other projects, but I’ve still made time for the metablogger app. I now have a fairly solid user-interface. I hope to have the app complete and submitted to the Windows Phone Marketplace sometime next week.

Thats all for now,
Danny

Categories
Mobile Application Development

Evil Squash for Windows Phone 7 Usage Statistics at (just over) 100 Downloads

I’ve always quite enjoyed reading Rick Brewsters¬†usage statistics blog posts for Paint.NET¬†so I thought it might be interesting to write a similar post about Evil Squash on the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. I reached a milestone earlier this month of 100 downloads (not bad for an application that was originally intended to only be part of my coursework.) So here it goes:

Downloads by Market (Country)

Unsurprisingly most of my Downloads are from the United Kingdom with 56 out of a total of 112 coming from the UK.

Just behind this is the United States with 51 Downloads.

The third and last market with any downloads is rather surprising, Hong Kong with just 5.

Interestingly enough, though the app is available in Canada and Australia not a single download has taken place in either country.

Downloads by Day

As you can see from the feature image of this post most people downloaded the app immediately after its¬†availability, probably due to being high in the “new games” section of the marketplace. Since then downloads have¬†slowly¬†trailed off, but this is to be expected.

The Future

Having started the application off as a Silverlight based app I have decided to move over to XNA which will more easily allow me to more easily¬†implement¬†some more of the features I want to be in the game (including the AI doing their own moves, Animations etc). The only issue is, I’ve never used XNA… yet. So I’m steadily¬†learning from Rob Miles XNA 4.0 book.

The next version of Evil Squash will also have social network integration so you can boast of your wins.

Thats all for now,
Danny.