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Credit where credit’s due

13 Mar

I’m a week late in posting this, but I want to give a shout out to Troy Gaul and his company InfinitApps for the color-picker code included in the new Hex Map Pro.  You can find the source code here.  It was super easy to include in my app and is attractive and user friendly.  I don’t know Troy, but I appreciate his contribution to the iOS community.

And just to be on the safe side I’ll include the license terms here for the InfColorPicker component that’s in Hex Map Pro:

Copyright (C) 2011 by InfinitApps LLC

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.


It (almost) goes without saying that (since I’m saying it), but don’t blame InfinitApps for any problems with my app.



7 Mar

Hex Map Pro in the App Store

It’s approved and available for sale.

In the week between when I submitted it and it was approved I found and fixed a couple of minor glitches, so I’ll be posting a 1.0.1 version shortly.  For example, on iPad version only the 7th of the 10 color buttons doesn’t respond to touches on the left side, so it acts like a sticky button.  And on the iPhone version the change board feature doesn’t correctly identify which board you were on.  As I said, minor glitches and fixed but not yet submitted.


1 Mar

Hex Map Pro has been submitted to the App Store.

If history is any guide, the anonymous gnomes who review apps for approval should get their mitts on it on or around March 6th and release it to the App Store a few hours later.  That will move it to the top of the “what new” list in the game section and thousands of people will give it a look.  After that it will drift down the list and only be found by people who search using one of the right key words or are referred by friends.  If any of you have ideas for how to let other people know about this app or others, please either let me know or, you know, just do it.

If you’ve been following along, you know what to expect in this first non-free release of a Hex Map app.  No, the must-requested “let me use my own map” option isn’t there (yet), but the also popular “don’t crash as much” and “I want multiple saves” are there.  I finally settled on a price of $3.99.  I think that’s fair, especially since the free Hex Map app is also available.  I hope at least a quarter of the Hex Map users decide it’s worth upgrading, but we’ll just have to see what happens.

Thanks for your support and suggestions.

So easy a 9-year-old can use it … to draw flowers

26 Feb

I didn’t create the app as an art program, but I’m not complaining. My daughter’s 9-year-old friend was over at the house and looking bored as the older girls were playing on the computer, so I showed her the app I’m working on. After minimal guidance from me (“use two fingers to scroll;” “double tap to change the color;” etc.) she created this. I think it’s beautiful and perfect.

A geometric pattern of a flower
My daughter’s 9-year-old friend created this with Hex Map Pro


21 Feb

I’m sure there are plenty of frustrating hours of debugging left, but it appears that multiple saves is fully functional know in Hex Map Pro.  I think I need to hunker down and call this “feature complete” and spend the next week just cleaning up the interface, testing, and optimizing for the three different classes of devices: iPad, iPhone, and that pesky iPod touch.  It’s working on the latter, but it’s dog-slow, so I have to dumb it down a bit.

What’s “done” for the first release of Hex Map Pro?

  • More efficient memory management (no more out-of-memory crashing?)
  • Set your own colored background (single color) or use one of the included textures
  • Paint individual hexes/squares (editable pallet of colors)
  • Tokens are two sided now (separate text/color on each side; same shape)
  • Tabbed control bar at the bottom to tidy up the controls
  • A few more token shapes (ooh, triangle!)
  • Rotate between any number of “boards”
  • Option to show “shadows” of tokens after you move them (to keep track of what’s been moved; reset after each “turn”)

I suppose I should add the “delete board” option before I call this done, now that I think about it.

High-priority features for subsequent releases:

  • More text options for tokens
  • Set your own color for tokens (rather than just choosing from the attractive pallet that I selected)
  • Stacked token indicator (kinda lame that you can’t see that you have x tokens in the same hex now)
  • Import your own background image (the hard part is allowing you to use a really big image without causing the app to run out of memory instantly; I know the approach, but doing it and debugging it will take time.

If all goes according to plan, I hope to get Hex Map Pro submitted to the App Store next weekend.  That should get it in the store on or around March 5th.

Hex Map Pro coming “soon”

31 Jan

Good news and bad news:

  • Good: I’ve made significant progress on the new release of Hex Map (color your own hexes/squares, whoo!)
  • Bad (maybe): The new features will appear in a new not-free app.

I’m going to keep Hex Map free, and probably add a few features here and there over time, but it’s time to introduce the “pro” version.  Well not quite time–I have to finish it, but you know what I mean.

What will differentiate the pro version from the free version?  Some combination of the following:

  • Multiple saves: keep any number of maps on your iDevice.
  • Customize maps: initially this means the ability to color hexes/squares; later probably change the background images and drawing.
  • More token features: more shapes, more text options, flippable tokens early on; later maybe upload your own images.

As more feature get added to the pro version, I’ll probably replace the free version with a limited version of the latest pro app.  The idea being that the free version should always be cool, fun, and useful, but the pro version will be a compelling upgrade.

I’ll probably be late February at the earliest before the pro version is ready.  Quite a bit of work remains, but lots of testing.  This will essentially be the end of the Beta test period and I don’t want any one-star reviews because of crashes.

Here’s a screenshot of the work in progress.


19 Jan

I had a little trouble getting Old School DM 1.2 out the door, but it’s done.  And I’ve mad significant progress on Hex Map.

Let me give you a little peek into the iPhone app development process.  A couple of months ago, after I had my first “universal” app done (meaning an app that runs on both iPhone and iPad with different interfaces), I thought “why not make Old School DM universal.  So I clicked the button in XCode (the application Apple provides to do iOS development) to make the app universal.  This basically creates some placeholder code so that I as the developer can implement rules about how the app should work on iPads and iPhones.  After a couple of hours I realized that, frankly, Old School DM as my first app is rather kludgy and would be “non-trivial” to make universal.  I’d rather spend the time implementing new features in Old School DM or working on Hex Map than making Old School DM work better an iPad.  So then I settled down to implementing the new features and forgot all about this “universal” stuff. 

Until Monday, when Apple released version 1.2 to the App Store.  I quickly starting rounding up the iPhones, iPod touches, and iPad in the household to update the app on each.  Imagine my chagrin when I started up the app on the iPad and it didn’t work right!  Instead of seamlessly taking the encounters I had created in the app and presenting them within a new “Misc. Encounters” adventure, I’m looking at a screen titled “Items” with none of the expected button.  Oh crud.  After confirming that the problem was confined to the iPad, I posted a warning to the forum and added a warning to the description in the App Store (basically “If you have an iPad don’t buy this app or upgrade!”).  That was no fun.  Then I fired up XCode to figure out what’s wrong.  I had tested the app on the iPad, right?

Remember that proverbial button I pushed to make the app “universal?”  Well, when I decided to abandon that and switch back to iPhone/iPod touch, I didn’t do it right.  I did it well enough so that resulting app was clearly identified as, and acted like, an iPhone app, but it still had some iPad specific code.  So when the app was run on an iPad instead of an iPhone, the user was presented with a mix of my app and some placeholder code.  Oops.  I would have seen this immediately if I had tested the app on the iPad or even on the iPad simulator.  But I hadn’t, so now I was in the awkward position of having a wait a full week for Apple to get around to re-reviewing and re-approving the app.  Or maybe not.  It turns out that Apple has an Expedited Review Process for emergencies.  To make a long-story a little shorter, Apple approved my request for an expedited review and the fixed version 1.2.1 version was posted to the App Store about a day after 1.2 had been release.  Yay, thank you Apple for bailing me out even though it was my own darn fault.

On a more interesting note, I have made substantial progress on Hex Map over the last week or so.  Users are no doubt aware that the current version (1.0.2.) doesn’t save their work.  So every time you leave the app, you have to cross your fingers and hope your map will still be there when you come back.  (Technically, the way this works is that if another app needs more memory than is readily available, the OS will tell every background app “free up as much memory as you can or I’m going to shut you down.”  If, after all the apps have tightened their belts, the running app still doesn’t have enough memory, background apps are shut down.  A well-behaved app is aware of this possibility and saves its work, so that when the user comes back to it, it can restore the session and the user never even knows that the app had been shut down.)  I’ve fixed that.  Now the app continually saves your work so that you can pick up where you left off no matter what.  (As it should have all along, but I was learning a lot of new stuff with this app, so it made some sense to simplify by deferring that piece.) 

In some ways that’s a “big deal.”  It took quite a bit of work to implement that and it addresses a critical limitation of the app.  But on the other hand, it’s not very exciting.  I had been thinking I would hold off on releasing this version until I could include some of the more substantives suggestions people have been making, but I think I’m going to after all.  The upside to releasing a version that just adds this save capability is that people immediately get a more stable product to use.  The downside is that people might think “In the two months since the last release all they’ve added is some back-end save thing that should have been there from the beginning?? Why are they ignoring all the suggestions people have been making?”  To which my answer is: a. there is no “they;” it’s just me and I have a day job; b. no I’m not ignoring the suggestions; I’m looking forward to working on them; and c. forgive me for investing my time on the app that people have actually paid for for a couple months.  Does that sound too defensive?

So anyway, that’s where we are.  Look for a new (boring) release of Hex Map shortly (available in early February probably) and a more substantial release to follow.