I have recently released a new version of an app I have had for the last 7 years; Weight. It's a rare occurrence so it's perhaps it a good idea to talk about why it is such a rare thing. Here is the reason; time.

Weight is a free app. It has always been free. By that I mean, you can download the app for no money and you can use all the features for no money. This means the app makes me no money.

So why does it exist? The original reasons for its existence are simple. I had a need. I had used other Weight tracking apps and was annoyed by their "features" and the number of taps I needed to perform before I could enter the data. I just wanted to track my weight. I didn't want to share my journey, get motivational messages, track calories, learn about recipes or sync progress to the web and other devices. I just wanted an app I could use really quickly, then forget about for a week.

So I wrote that app.

Given Weights simplicity and limited scope I did not need many updates once it did all the things I needed it to do. As a result updates were few and far between.

Just under 2 years ago Apple started to require that all apps in the app store support 64 bit architectures. Those that did not were to be removed, and would not run on the latest version of iOS. So, I opened Xcode and took a look. It was clear that the app needed a major update. One, because of iOS platform changes. Two, because to a developer all code you wrote more than a month ago looks like garbage. It's phenomenon that deserves a name.

At the time I had been writing a-lot of Swift code. I decided that Weight was still useful to me. In addition it would provide a good reason to refresh my Objective-C skills. This provided enough of an impetus to re-write the whole app from scratch. Unfortunately I was a little late getting the update on to the store. I was surprised to have a good number of people email me asking when an update would be available. Turns out people were still using Weight and had years of records stored in the app.

The update was only a couple of days late and was well received. I decided that I would look to keep Weight in more active development. Since then there have been a few bug fix updates.

3.7 is a little different. It did start out as a bug fix update, but ended up as more thanks to feedback from a number of users. Weight 3.7 now has limited graphing and the UI has been improved in a number of areas.

Let me be clear, these changes would not have happened if it were not for feedback from users. For a purely economical perspective Weights continued existence makes little sense. There are other sources of value though. The knowledge that I am doing something very small to help people turns out to be of great value to me. Feedback turns out to be a great motivator. It has led to the creation of a better app. So keep it coming.

There is one other thing I have added to Weight. A tip jar. This is an in app purchase, but it buys you nothing. It unlocks no new features other than a thank you message. It may buy me my daily coffee. It also provides another mechanism for providing feedback. An extra motivator to drive forward the development of the app.

If you can afford it, any tips are gratefully received. If you cannot or don't want to tip, a constructive review on the app store or private feedback is just as valuable.



AuthorJunction Seven

One of the many, many things I love about OSX is the ability to automate the OS and many of its applications. Until Yosemite this was done either through Automator, a simple, ingenious, but ultimately limited drag and drop app, and AppleScript a weird, readable, but unfathomable scripting language.

AppleScript lets you write statements like;

 tell application "Mail"

AppleScript readable. You instantly understand that the most of what is happening. No coding understanding needed. The problem comes when you try to write something. You can't just write what you want to happen. You have to know the correct verbs. You have to structure the sentence in the correct way. Human language is fuzzy. Code is not, it is precise, concise, and abstract. That's why most code is not readable to people who do not bring with them and understanding of coding. Applescript despite it's readability is not friendly to non-coders or coders.

OSX Yosemite changed all that. It brought support for JavaScript Automation. JavaScript is a C like language, commonly used to do lovely things to webpages. It's has many flaws, but it is precise and concise. The two lines above in JavaScript for Automation would read;

var mail = Application('Mail');

Less understandable. Less human, but I love it and I am already making use of it. I have a form on a website that, when filled in pings me an email with the form contents. The email looks like this;

Name: Joe Bloggs
Email Address: example@example.com
I am...: a made up person
Post Code: E17
Twitter: @nope
Instagram: nope

I have 130 of these email messages sat in a folder. The client who requested the form sends me an email asking for the details in a spreadsheet. Manually this would be a boring job. With a little automation this is a few clicks. I select the messages I want to put into the sheet, and run the script. Ten seconds later, I have a new spreadsheet. The best thing is, this script can be quickly changed to deal with any set of structured emails.

So, if you have an some understanding of coding, a Mac and a little time, I suggest you give it a try. You can find the script I've been talking about above here. Please feel free to take it, alter it and make it better. Take a look and have fun.

AuthorJunction Seven

We have just submitted an update to The Chain. It's a small update to be sure, but one that will bring a change that we think you will notice instantly. It relates to how long the App shows you your chain lengths before telling you you're back to zero and that you really should get to work. 

Basically the app is now less harsh. It will give you time to get your chain completed for the day without unceremoniously zeroing your Chain until you have completed your tasks. It's now more motivational friend than Tiger Mum. In testing it really makes us like The Chain even more.

What is particularly great about this update is that it was requested by you, the people who use The Chain! Thank you. Knowing our App as being used and is helping people achieve their goals is why we do this.

AuthorJunction Seven

This is very exciting. Burn Down is currently making its way though the iOS App Store approval process and should be available for you to download (FOR FREE) very soon.

Burn Down is an app we have been using internally for some time. It lets you record and track your work activity against projects. Prior to Burn Down, recording time on tasks involved horrible spreadsheets and then faffing with badly designed corporate time management systems. Burn Down has made time management easy for us. We hope it will do the same for you too.

Click below for a preview.

AuthorJunction Seven