Back to basics

10 May

Now that Hex Map Pro 1.1 is in the bag (see prior posting), I’ve decided to return to my roots.  Way back in the summer of 2011, I started iPhone development with a little app called Old School DM.  Over the past few months, I’ve been spending 10-20 hours a week on Hex Map Pro, neglecting my first app.  Now it’s time to rectify that.

The good news is that my work on Hex Map Pro has made me at least moderately proficient with the challenge of writing a “universal” app that can work natively on the iPhone and the iPad.  So I’m ready to take a crack do this for Old School DM.  I think it will be really cool.  And I’m sure you’ll appreciate that I’m not going to try to gouge you by selling a separate iPad only version (“Old School DM HD!”).

Might be a month or two until I’ve done this, but hang in there.


More about Hex Map Pro 1.1

10 May

Hex Map Pro 1.1 is in the hands of the App Store reviewers now.  As I said yesterday, I expect it will be released to the store next Friday.  My daughter helped me work out some final UI glitches last night (and add an “Easter egg”).

What made it into this release?  The new feature is the ability to import your own background image for a board.  Implementing this in a (hopefully) user friendly and fairly intuitive way required quite a few other changes.

  1. Hex Map Pro is no longer a “one-screen” app.  Now when it starts up you arrive at a landing page that gives you big friendly buttons for: return to your last board; open a different board; import an image; and create a new board.  (The iPhone version includes a 5th button taking to a page on this site that I haven’t created yet; for no good reason the iPad version doesn’t include that link–I’ll fix that in 1.1.1.)
  2. When you create a new board you can either get a standard one (the way it has always worked, or you can have it based on an image you’ve imported.  The size of the board will, in the latter case, be based on the size of the image.  Really big image –> really big board.  Small image –> normal sized board with the image in the upper left corner.
  3. When you’re interacting with a game board (the normal screen you’re used to), there are a few changes.  First, I got rid of the Add/+ button to create new board.  You have to go Home and create a new board.
  4. In place of the Add button is an Info button.  Tapping that brings up a view that shows you the name of the board (editable), the current font (tap to cycle through a few different options), and some other mundane stuff.
  5. The “control panels” (the thing at the bottom and the game token editor for the iPad version) are now more swipe-able.  You can close and open them with a swipe of your finger instead of a tap to the small close icon.  On the iPad version, you can make the game token control panel small and simpler by swiping up to make it shrink.
  6. I fiddled with the min and max zoom parameters and the size of the default map to address the complaint that you couldn’t zoom out to see the whole board.  I hope these new values are an improvement.  The problem/risk is that zooming out all the way uses more memory and causes the device to work harder.  So redrawing can take longer and in a worst case scenario, the app can quit unexpectedly.  It’s been stable in my testing, but I imagine both will be more of an issue with iPod touches and earlier model iPhones.  Do let me know if you experience crashes, so I can improve stability.

I think that’s everything.  Before the app is in your hands I hope to post some video tutorials about how to use the new import option.  I think it’s intuitive, but perhaps only after you’ve watched someone do it.  Importing a picture is easy; lining up the hex or square grid that the app provides with a corresponding grid included in the picture is the tricky part.  It’s still not hard, but given that you have to adjust the magnification of the picture and the location of the picture, it’s an iterative process.

Ok, enough about this.  You’ll see it soon enough, and then you can remind me that what you really want is to be able to draw on the map, have better, most custom game tokens, “fog of war,” export/print, saved sets of token, and lots of other cool stuff that I want too. 🙂


10 May

Wow, this second release of Hex Map Pro has taken a lot longer than I expected.  The good news is that it’s done and after a little more testing should be submitted for approval by Apple tonight.  If my past experience is any guide it’ll be released to the world one week later.  So, fingers crossed, Hex Map Pro 1.1 will show up as an available update next Friday.  Lots of little changes, and one big one: you can import your own images (or images you randomly download from the Internet as the case may be) as backgrounds for your game boards.

More later after I get the testing and submitting done…

What do we think?

24 Apr

Do we like the original font that I selected for Hex Map (Baskerville), or should I change it?  Or give you the option to select from a short list of fonts in a setting somewhere?

Here are some samples.















Comments?  Note that I’ve added a new “smallest” size token by request.  

Progress Report

7 Apr

Haven’t had much time to work on the apps over the past few weeks, but have made progress nonetheless.  I have the fundamentals worked out for allowing the user to import their own images to use as backgrounds for Hex Map Pro.    The hard part is working out a simple intuitive interface.  The problem is I have no idea what type of images you might try to import, so I don’t know the outer limit for various parameters: size of the image and scale.  Are you likely to need to zoom way in since you’re using teeny graph paper and need room for the tokens to fit in the square or zoom out?  For example we have maps of this scale (link near the top) and this scale  (link just above the image at the bottom).  The latter requires zooming down to 40% size to get the squares to line up the former requires zooming in.

Any advice (besides “just account for both and get it done already”)?


19 Mar

I’ve got another version of Hex Map submitted to the App Store (1.1.2, not to be confused with 1.1.1 that was just released a few days ago).  It fixes one or two minor things (the link on the help page points to the wrong app in the app store, oops).  It also adds one cool new feature and one probably ho-hum one that turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated.  Now when you have two or more game pieces/tokens centered on the same spot they each get a little red number circle so you can tell you have a stack.  (It look a lot or work to get that to show up in just the right place on the token depending on the size and shape.)  I also added a third style of grid that I call “rotated hex.”  If, for some reason you want the east-west axis to have the straight line rather than north-south, now you can.  That was a pain in the butt.  Back to my geometry/trig scribbles to make sure the hexes drew right and the tokens centered right.  As I said, that has been submitted to the App Store so look for it in about a week, unless I find a bug in which case I’ll resubmit and the 1-week clock will start over.  (I’ve heard people complain about the Apple App Store approval process, but in my experience over the past year, they have published my app pretty much exactly 5 business days after I submit it each time.)

I have my first update to Hex Map Pro well under way.  I’ve added the two features mentioned above of course, and I’m trying to decide what else to add in this first minor update.  I’m playing around with allowing you to pick any color for the token color, but if I run into any snags I’ll ditch that for now.  The next release won’t include any Earth-shaking new features.  Those take time to implement and test.  Expect some cool stuff later in April, but the next release will be simple stuff.

Someone posted a comment on the App Store (5 stars, yay and thanks) that puzzles me, so maybe you can help.  The comment says that the chess board is no longer aligned right.  For both versions of the app, on both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad, they seem to be just fine.  If someone can reproduce what the comment is referring to, please let me know so I can fix it.

No news on the Old School DM front I’m afraid.  I will get back to it, but I’ve been swamped with the Hex Map/Hex Map Pro work lately (to say nothing of my day job).


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.