Issues releasing WinIRC 1.5

WinIRC 1.5 is finally making it’s way to the Windows Store, with a host of new features – the main one being a refreshed UI. However, the release of the application has left much to be desired.

Just over two weeks ago, I pushed the final 1.5 changelog to the WinIRC Github, as I was hoping in the next couple of days the release would be live on the Windows Store. As it turns out, this wasn’t the case – because I hadn’t tested it locally, the Store based certification process marked two issues that needed to be fixed before it would be certified, specifically:

  • The twitter library used had uploaded binaries to NuGet built in debug mode
  • Metadata issues with the UWP MenuBar lib I created

So I fixed the first issue by building a local NuGet package for the twitter library, then tested with the local Windows App Certification Kit (WACK) and my app passed, with no mention of the other metadata issues. So logically, I tried to release it on the store, and it failed the store WACK test with the same errors as last time! I first assumed it was my machine, so I tried it on my tablet and then a Creators Update VM – happened on both.

After trying (and failing) to get help from MS support, I tried last night to rename the filename of the package that was uploaded to the store, as all of the ones I’d uploaded were the default filename. This worked! Although there was still a difference with the store results to my results, I managed to fix the metadata issues with my UWP MenuBar (by importing the source as a c# class library to the main WinIRC source tree) meaning WinIRC apssed it’s validation tests.

So what’s next? For WinIRC development, the next step is to refactor the app to properly use an actual design pattern, probably MVVM. I also want to add some scripting support to WinIRC, so users can add their own commands and functionality to WinIRC. For distribution, I want to work on alternative distribution channels for WinIRC and other UWP / AppX applications, so it isn’t entirely centralised in the Microsoft ecosystem, and hopefully so apps don’t need to have a special signed certificate. More on this if I actually manage to make a prototype…

Release of the UWP Menubar Lib

A couple months ago, I posted on Twitter that I’d been working on a menu bar to be used for UWP applications:

A couple days ago, I released the lib on NuGet and GitHub as a prerelease!

Here’s a video demonstration of the library:

Head to the GitHub for a detailed readme and usage docs

New site theme

So today I decided to make a lightweight theme for this website. It’s based upon the starter theme in order to make things easier for me. Although it’s pretty barebones at the moment, I’ll be making it look a bit snazzier over time. For instance, I want to put the site sidebar in a hamburger menu when on mobile devices and other smaller screens. I was going to give it a style similar to Google’s Material Design, then I realised something like that would be absolutely pointless for a blog, so I decided that instead it would just be a reasonably lightweight theme.

Also the blog post on setting up a print server on a Pi is definitely coming soon probably never happening.

It’s been quite a while!

It’s been over a year since my last post – mainly due to the stress of AS levels, and then settling in to a new college. I have at least kept the website up though!

I’m going to start posting more stuff on here – now I’m doing a ICT and Business course at college, there’s some small projects I’m making  in the ICT part of my course as part of my coursework that I may put up here.  There are, of course, be other projects unrelated to my coursework – I may post about them here! One such project with my Raspberry Pi is that I made a print server with it that allows printing across the network with a samba server for windows devices and cups printing for all other devices, which I will post about in the next week or so. I’m also working on numerous improvements to Rymate Notes which may or may not surface.

New release of Rymate Notes!

This is the largest release of my app ever, and thus I’m actually bothering to blog about it.

This release adds a lot of new features, such as formatting notes and a quick edit feature, for when you spot that misspelling in a long note!

Also in this release, I removed support for older devices still on Gingerbread. This was mainly to make development of the app easier, as supporting legacy devices such as gingerbread wasn’t worth the extra effort.



My thoughts on the iPad Mini and iOS, and how I think they can be improved.

So I’ve been using my iPad for a few months now, and although it is a great machine, it has some bad points. Here is my rundown of the iPad mini.

Good points:

  1. The screen is simply the best screen I’ve used on a mobile device. It’s the clearest screen, and it is very good with watching youtube or the BBC iPlayer on it. It might not be a Retina display, but to be honest I’ve never really noticed the pixels when using it. It’s also a really good size – After using the iPad mini, the standard iPads just seem too big now!
  2. The UI is silky smooth. When using apps, I very rarely experience any form of UI lag. Scrolling is smooth, and there appears to be none of the jerkiness that I get with my android phone. The only UI lag I’ve seen is in Bad Piggies when I make some massive huge vehicle in the sandbox, and oddly enough Skitch and Evernote is really quite laggy on occasions.
  3. iPad apps are really well made. I haven’t found a single bad app yet, all of the apps seem to be well designed and easy to use. This might be a huge advantage of the iOS walled garden that seems to be a major complaint about iOS. Sure, you can’t install apps from 3rd party sources very easily, and apps on the app store might have to go through a rigorous process to get onto it, but it does mean that the vast majority of the 800,000 apps on the App Store have a very good user experience.

Bad Points

  1. The typing experience is terrible. I sincerely hate the typing experience on the iPad mini. It isn’t terrible, but there’s quite a few annoyances that I really hate. I quite often type quickly on the screen, and as I have big hands it means I quite often make typo’s, one of the most annoying ones being when I hit the “m” or “n” key when I want to hit the spacebar. When it does happen, more often than not I do it again so autocorrect doesn’t auto correct it. Selecting text on the iPad is a pain too. When I hold down on the screen to select text, a magnifying glass shows up to help you select the text. More often than not though, the iPad “cleverly” attempts to highlight the entire paragraph when I only wanted a single line.
  2. iOS is severely limited. I can’t change any of the “default applications” that Apple forces upon us. I might not want to use safari as my browser, instead I want to use firefox. But Apple thinks all iOS users need is safari, and that alternate browsers are evil. You can’t even download firefox on iOS, and all other alternate browser are either a webkit wrapper or a “cloud based” browser.
    I can’t change parts of the UI either. On android, if my phone came with a crappy keyboard, I’d just install another one off the google play store. I’m stuck with the iOS keyboard. I want to be able to change aspects of my device. I like the idea of Apple’s walled garden, but it’s like a garden which you can get some excellent flowers for, but you can’t change the tree in the middle even though it looks ugly!

How apple could fix the bad points

All apple needs to do to fix the bad points is make the iPad more like a computer. By that, I mean allowing users to change the system keyboard, or change the web browser, or choose what App they want to open stuff in. If Apple doesn’t want users doing that, make it a setting that allows users to turn on “Advanced Customisation” so the average joe can’t just install new keyboards and then not know how to use them.

Other than the bad points mentioned, I think the iPad is a really good device, and I would certainly recommend it to people who already have an Apple product.