Under the Bridge

Library: CocoaREST

Here’s a library that may be of interest if you’ve got a use for RESTful services in your iPhone or desktop app: CocoaREST, a generalized superset/replacement for libraries such as MGTwitterEngine:

Recently I created a set of Cocoa classes that let developers interact with internet services such as Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, etc. The initial intent was simply to support Twitter, but as the classes became more generalized, the possibilities grew exponentially…

My library is written so you won’t need to look at my headers more than once (if that). This is the developer’s workflow I envisioned when I began writing the API:

  • Create a task of a certain service (ie, SDTwitterTask)
  • Set the task’s type appropriately
  • Navigate to the service’s API page for that task (let’s use mentions as an example)
  • Read that page and note all optional and required parameters
  • Set any properties (ivars) on the task that you would like to have passed to the API
  • Run the task and await results (or an error)

As you can see, it’s almost completely transparent. That’s the goal, no intermediate complexity, just a simple gateway to a website’s API.

Sounds promising, yes? Introduction to be found here; source and instructions to be found at github; and check out the author’s other open source projects as well!

h/t: cocoa-dev!

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Tutorial: Migrating Data

Here’s another good tutorial at MobileOrchard — my, they are on a run lately, aren’t they? — Lite To Paid iPhone Application Data Migrations With Custom URL Handlers.

Apple enforces a number of restrictions on applications in the App Store. Among the most painful is the lack of feature-limited trials. Applications are either completely free, or the customer must pay up front, sight unseen. The proliferation of “Lite” applications is a direct result of this shortcoming…

When building a game or other stateless application the approach makes complete sense. However, utility applications often maintain information entered by the device owner. Application authors are faced with a dilemma because the iPhone’s security sandbox prevents one application from reading another application’s files. Thus, when customers upgrade from the Lite application they are penalized by having to re-enter all data!

This is rather apropos, as we’ve been already planning something along these lines for migrating data from paid for 2.0 applications to new StoreKit-using 3.o applications, which is more or less the same basic problem as the Lite-to-Pro style migration they have in mind.

The tutorial goes on into exhaustive detail, but the basic idea is to use URL handlers for IPC between your application versions as we’ve mentioned earlier. We do have one additional tip to add though; they focus on using solely the URL itself to transfer data, which there’s a good chance to be problems with using for data in the dozens of megabytes like we need to do. Luckily, we have another earlier post of ours to point you at what looks like a fruitful avenue of inquiry; figure out where UIImagePickerController writes its photographs, which it seems is and is likely to continue to be necessarily a shared access folder, and stick your large temporary data in there. We’ll let you know how that works out once we’ve tried it!

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Tools: gDEBugger

So, you serious about improving your Open GL code for the desktop or Open GL ES code for the iPhone? Really serious? Like, “$1000? Pffft! A BARGAIN!” serious?

gDEBugger does what no other OpenGL tool can – lets you trace application activity on top of the OpenGL API to see what‘s happening within the graphic system implementation. gDEBugger saves you time by locating “hard-to-find” bugs caused by the incorrect use of the OpenGL API. Debugging OpenGL applications is faster and your applications are more reliable.
gDEBugger provides you with the application behavior information you need for optimizing application performance. No more redundant or “performance killer” OpenGL calls.
Also, you can perform regression tests to understand changes in visual display, performance and accuracy between different versions of your OpenGL application..

Well, have we got the tool for you: gDEBugger!

gDEBugger does what no other OpenGL tool can – lets you trace application activity on top of the OpenGL API to see what‘s happening within the graphic system implementation. gDEBugger saves you time by locating “hard-to-find” bugs caused by the incorrect use of the OpenGL API. Debugging OpenGL applications is faster and your applications are more reliable.

gDEBugger provides you with the application behavior information you need for optimizing application performance. No more redundant or “performance killer” OpenGL calls.

Also, you can perform regression tests to understand changes in visual display, performance and accuracy between different versions of your OpenGL application…

Indeed. We’d seen this tool mentioned before on the mac-0pengl list, so when we saw news of an iPhone beta, we signed right up for it. And indeed, once you get past the flaky Windowsness of the port, it is a most uniquely functional tool. Check out the tutorial and this article on optimization which is part of the extensive online help.So that’s all very well, and it’s apparently popular, but how does it actually run? Well, we ran it over the very early shell of a little iPhone program we’re working on here, and here’s what it looks like at work:

gDebuggerScreenShot

That’s some pretty detailed information, huh? And on the right there is a sample of the kind of thing it finds for you; apparently we’re calling glGetIntegerv somewhere or other, and it politely tells us

Using “Get” or “Is” functions slows down render performance. These commands force the graphic system to execute all queued OpenGL calls before it can answer the “Get” or “Is” query.

Instead, consider caching relevant state variable values inside your application’s code.

Isn’t that helpful? Learn a new thing every day, yes indeed!

So we would suggest that you should all go out and add it to your toolset immediately if you’re doing any OpenGL work, being uniquely suited to that … but $1000-odd with the maintenance package whatever that is, that’s kinda on the steep side if you’re not actually optimization bound at this exact moment, isn’t it? But we shall see what price point they actually release it at soon enough apparently, the release version is scheduled for sometime in July apparently. And July is close!

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Sales and Rank Tracking

So here’s a more up to date post drawing from this one on the various sales and rank tracking tools out there. The sales tools mentioned

AppFigures

AppSales Mobile

AppStatz

AppStore Clerk

AppViz

My App Sales

Heartbeat

are mainly the same ones we discussed a while back, and nothing there at first glance to change our mind that AppFigures is the killer product for us in that category because it lets us have daily emails for particular products automatically sent to particular email addresses for the partners in development on our different apps, and nobody else does yet.

But moving on to the ranking tools, there’s definitely been massive progress there compared to the Perl script we mentioned a slightly shorter while back! The mentioned products are

Applyzer

AppRanking


MajicRank

Mobclix

and we do indeed agree with the author that Applyzer looks like the niftiest of the bunch, providing nifty graphs like this sample of a not completely randomly picked app (We’re #341 overall in Sweden? Seriously?):

applyzerposes1

… and you’ll note that apparently they’re able to track ranks below 100. We did not realize you could do that! Anyways, it’s free for now, and lets you track not only your own apps but anyone else’s that might tickle your fancy, so it definitely looks like the clear winner in this space as far as we’re concerned.

h/t: iPhoneKicks!

POSTSCRIPTS:

09.09.11 App Sales Machine — sales/ranking scripts you can run yourself on your Google App Engine account!

09.09.11 Top App Charts — free (ad/commission supported) for now app ranking website!

Prismo is a tracking app with source on github.

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Environment: Ansca

Whilst this isn’t likely to be of great interest to us personally, if you happen to be the scripting type of chap — particularly if you’re fond of Lua — here’s something you may find interesting: a development environment for the iPhone called Ansca and aimed directly at you:

“I hate being a n00b. So I’m just going to get over and say that I am completely lost when it comes to XCode/Cocoa (Apple developer frameworks that use Objective C). I also am not so keen on Objective-C. Can anyone point me in the direction of maybe a book or two?” a befuddled developer asked at the developer site HackintOsh.org on March 17.
“For anyone struggling with XCode/Objective-C, give Ansca Corona a look,” urged Trae Regan, a central Florida iPhone application developer who blogged on the release of the SDK today. “It’s a Lua-based iPhone Development Framework that looks to be very easy to use.”
The Ansca development framework brings a JavaScript or Adobe Flash ActionScript type of language to iPhone applications.

“I hate being a n00b. So I’m just going to get over and say that I am completely lost when it comes to XCode/Cocoa (Apple developer frameworks that use Objective C). I also am not so keen on Objective-C. Can anyone point me in the direction of maybe a book or two?” a befuddled developer asked at the developer site HackintOsh.org on March 17.

“For anyone struggling with XCode/Objective-C, give Ansca Corona a look,” urged Trae Regan, a central Florida iPhone application developer who blogged on the release of the SDK today. “It’s a Lua-based iPhone Development Framework that looks to be very easy to use.”

The Ansca development framework brings a JavaScript or Adobe Flash ActionScript type of language to iPhone applications…

Um, yeah. Right then. Must admit that leaves us so cold we do believe we’re actually superconducting, as we find Objective-C downright enjoyable to work with; but hey if it’s got you fired up, signup for the “early adopter” version is free at the moment and apparently quite popular; there’s also a small gallery of products published with it already.

h/t: MobileGamesBlog!

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Selected Art of GARVGRAPHX

Now here’s something you probably weren’t expecting from the prim and proper troll world; a PG-13 iPhone app. Oooh, racy!

Please do not buy and download this application if you are offended by beautiful women in sexy outfits.

Indeed. Now that we have your complete and undivided attention no doubt, the application is Selected Art of GARVGRAPHX, the distinctive art of Keith Garvey. And really, how stylish can your iPhone be if you don’t have wallpaper like this?

skater

Definitely eye-catching, indeed. You know you want it!

[POST-MORTEM: Withdrawn from store by Apple in The Great Salaciousness Crackdown…]

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Tutorial: MessageUI

My, those bright sparks over at MobileOrchard are just outdoing themselves; the second in their OS 3.0 tutorial series — In App Email, MessageUI — is now up, and you should definitely read it:

This time, we’ll add in-app email to a simple iPhone application using the new-in-3.0 MessageUI framework … with 3.0 and MessageUI, sending messages is straightforward and full featured.

We’ll start with working code for a simple app with a UI containing a single button. We’ll add code that shows the compose-an-email message UI and pre-fills the subject and content when the button is pressed.

We’re going to make a very distinct point of including this in all our app releases from now on — at the very least, an angry user that finds it easy to vent at you directly is much less of a problem than an angry user that gives you a ranting 1-star rating on the App Store, yes? And looking at all the low star reviews that we’ve gotten for any reason other than price, every single one of them is a complete misunderstanding that could have been corrected in seconds had we had the chance to do so, so anything that even might help avoid more of those is completely worth the effort to implement, wethinks!

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Code: TouchSampleCode

Here’s a post with some useful code for detecting higher level touch events that’ll no doubt be useful if you haven’t gotten around to implementing that yourself:

Currently, I’ve coded examples for the following cases (along with the implicit intention to add more):

  • Tap and Hold
  • Tap and Hold with delay
  • DoubleTap and Hold
  • Multi-touch (two fingers) with simple stretch and pinch for zoom and unzoom

The source and example project is up on github; grab and enjoy!

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Library: Core Plot

Here’s an up-and-coming project to keep an eye on: Core Plot, which is — as you could probably guess –

Core Plot is a plotting framework for Mac OS X and iPhone OS. It provides 2D visualization of data, and is tightly integrated with Apple technologies like Core Animation, Core Data, and Cocoa Bindings.

Whilst still a work in progress, it’s good enough to make pretty screenshots with:

DarkGraph

Nicer than you could do yourself in short order, yes? Well, nicer than we could do, definitely. The project is up on Google Code, and there’s a wiki to peruse as well as a discussion group. So if you’ve got some time on your hands to devote to an open source project, we definitely recommend you consider this one!

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Web monetization

So do you have a blog that consistently attracts multiple hundreds of daily viewers, and feel like monetizing it? Yeah, the thought kinda crossed our minds once or twice too, fancy that. And here is an article which provides a decent summary of your options:

In this article, we will present you with all the unbiased and useful links, information and updates about the ins and outs of Web monetization; how intrusive Web 2.0 system monetization methods are, the most common utilized monetization methods and how successful are they. All you need to know about Website, Web application and Blog monetization is summarized with loads of links.

The six main monetization methods are listed in our humongous table below. In this table, we will be discussing, in details and with examples, how intrusive, successful and viable each of the monetization methods is in order to help companies, and start-ups in specific, develop an overall concept of what works most and why…

Indeed. And here is that “humongous” table:

monetizationtable

Nothing there so compelling we plan to inflict it upon you immediately, Dear Readers … but if you do have any thoughts on what you find the least offensive and/or most effective in a web traffic monetization kind of way, feel free to leave your thoughts!

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