1. The Game of Life

    April 30, 2011 by accidentalfish

    I’m not quite sure what set me off thinking about this but I realised this morning that I’d never written a version of John Conway’s The Game of Life (you can get additional background here) and as I had a couple of spare hours over lunch I thought I’d have a quick bash at a JavaScript version using the HTML 5 Canvas feature for rendering the board.

    If you’re interested in this sort of thing you can check it out online here or view the source code on GitHub (MIT license).

    It’s not a “pure” implementation as the board is finite but it was fun to put together.

  2. Mocking Pad v1.30

    April 26, 2011 by accidentalfish

    I’ve just pushed Mocking Pad (both full and Lite versions) to the App Store. Many of the below features are suggestions from users: many thanks for your feedback, with it I can keep making the product better and better.

    And if you’d like a sneak peek of the new icons mentioned below then you can find a screenshot below and more on the Accidental Fish Facebook page that I created this week. While you’re there why not become a fan too! And don’t forget you can also follow Twitter for news and updates and my complaints about the English weather.

    New Features

    All versions:

    • Settings menu on the project page:
      – Adjust the size of the handles used for resizing objects
      – Position the palette on the left or the right of the iPad
      – Flip toolbar button layout
    • New icons – the application has been given a facelift with new icons

    Full and upgraded Lite versions:

    • Export to PDF – in addition to the existing SVG, HTML and native formats you can now email, save and upload to Dropbox your wireframes in PDF format
    • Save All Pages to Photo Library – save all pages in the current project to your devices photo library.
    • Pass the Pad Mode – when enabled the dock disappears and all user interaction other than scrolling and page picking is locked to allow you to share your design between colleagues and clients without things being accidentally moved.

    Lite version:

    • You can now import projects sent to you by email

    Bug Fixes

    • The landscape mode background image would occasionally be positioned incorrectly leaving an odd border around the editor.
    • Fixed an issue where moving to and from pan mode caused issues with the current selection.
    • In low memory situations switching between page selection view and edit view could cause an empty page to be displayed.
    • Fixed issue with group selection not being cleared on page change.

  3. Mocking Pad – App Store Reviews

    April 25, 2011 by accidentalfish

    Happily I get quite a lot of emails about Mocking Pad – nearly all positive and often containing great feedback and suggestions for new features. If you’ve taken the time to email me – thanks, I really do appreciate it.

    To date however the application only has a small number of reviews on the App Store, I’d love to get more feedback on the store as reviews affect Mocking Pad’s rankings and the ability for others to find out about the app.

    Some applications contain pop ups that, occasionally, prompt people to review the app and I’ve spent a good while considering whether or not to include this in Mocking Pad but in the end have decided against it. Even when done well I personally find it a little intrusive.

    That still leaves me with the dilemma of how to get more reviews however. For now I’ve settled on a polite plea in the “What’s New” popup and the About box. People who see the “What’s New” page have upgraded the app and presumably are still using it and, I hope, like it. With luck that will garner me a few more reviews.

    And of course I’m asking here!

  4. Staggered Mocking Pad Pro and Lite Releases

    April 24, 2011 by accidentalfish

    To date I’ve always submitted the full and Lite versions of Mocking Pad to the App Store simultaneously but each time the Pro version gets approved in significantly less time than the Lite version. I suspect there are a couple of reasons behind this:

    1. Mocking Pad (full version) is an older application and I’ve heard of other app developers who have this same situation with their apps and it seems almost universal that the older app gets approved faster.
    2. Mocking Pad Lite contains an in app purchase.

    My preference is to always get software into my users hands as soon as possible and so I always choose the option to publish to the App Store immediately and it’s this that results in Mocking Pad Lite being released later than Mocking Pad (full version).

    Apologies if you’re a Mocking Pad Lite user and find yourself waiting for an update but other than artificially hold back the full version of Mocking Pad there’s not much I can do, and I don’t really want to do that. As things stand its not ideal but the only time I really plan on changing this approach is if there are changes in the file structure that would break the application if sharing files.

    On the plus side the delay is usually only a couple of days.

    Finally the new version of Mocking Pad (1.3) is nearly ready, I’d hoped to get it sent to the App Store today but I came across an issue in low memory situations with image exporting. It’s not that common however I want to get that fixed before I release. It’s a pretty big update and I’ll be posting a summary of all the changes once I push it to the App Store.

  5. Mocking Pad v1.3

    April 12, 2011 by accidentalfish

    In my previous blog post I referred to the next version of Mocking Pad as v1.24 but its got so much in it I’ve decided to bump it to v1.3. In addition to the accessibility settings, users of the full version of Mocking Pad and upgraded users of Mocking Pad Lite also have sharing enhancements:

    • Export to PDF – in addition to the existing SVG, HTML and native formats you can now save, email, and upload to DropBox your wireframes in PDF format.
    • Save All Pages to Photo Library – a couple of versions back I added the ability to save the current page to your devices photo library and now you can export your entire project in this way.

    I’ve still got some development time left so I’m planning on including a couple more bits and bobs too.

  6. Settings and Accessibility

    April 10, 2011 by accidentalfish

    I’m generally not a fan of settings in applications – or at least an overloading of them. To me it normally feels like the developer chickened out of a decision and hoisted it onto the user. To that end I’ve tried very hard not to introduce too many settings into Mocking Pad.

    That said there is a time and a place for them as people really are different in some quite fundamental ways. For example you have left handed and right handed people, colour blind people, people who are hard of hearing, the list goes on and on. I, for example, am really rather short sighted – take my glasses away and I’m likely to stumble into something. Good software should cater for all people.

    What really sparked my thinking off about this was Matt Gemmells post on accessibility and a comment left by Christian on this blog. To that end the next release of Mocking Pad (the sexily versioned 1.24) includes a Settings menu in both the Lite and full versions.

    In this menu you can change three things:

    • The size of the handles used for resizing objects. Combined with zoom you can now work at a balance of visual size and grabbiness (did I make that word up?) that is right for you.
    • You can position the palette of stencils on the left or the right of the iPad.
    • You can flip the toolbar icons round such that, for example, undo and redo appear at either the top left or top right of the iPad.

    As ever I welcome feedback, if you’re finding Mocking Pad difficult to use for any reason then please do get in touch – with your help I can continue to make worthwhile improvements. You can leave comments on this blog or get in touch through the Get Support button in the application.

  7. Introducing The Accidental Fish

    April 9, 2011 by accidentalfish

    Recently the awesomely talented Michael Heald of Fully Illustrated did some branding work for me and Accidental Fish. Its going to take me a while to get this used properly (website etc.) but in the meantime I thought I’d introduce the fish via a wallpaper as he’s been locked in the aquarium too long.


    If you need just about any form of design doing go check out the Fully Illustrated portfolio: it really is knock out. And to top it all Michael’s a great guy.

  8. Wanted: Left Handed Mocking Pad Users

    by accidentalfish

    Based on some feedback from a user on the blog I’m working on making Mocking Pad more friendly to those who are left handed.

    Current thinking is to:

    • Allow the palette to be positioned on the right
    • Flip the layout of the editors toolbar

    Trouble is I’m right handed myself and while I’m pretty sure the first of the above is the right way to go I’m not so sure about the second. Instinct tells me that if, as a right handed person, I want undo / redo on the top right then a left handed person probably wants it on the top left but really thats just what it is: a guess!

    I’d really like to hand a pre-release copy of this to a left handed user and get feedback, so if you’re left handed please and already use Mocking Pad get in touch via the comments or through Mocking Pad’s support button.

  9. Mocking Pad v1.23

    April 6, 2011 by accidentalfish

    Update: Submitted to the App Store on 7th April.

    I’ll shortly (tonight or tomorrow evening) be pushing a new update of Mocking Pad to the App Store (both full and Lite versions). Its coded, tested and good to go but as I’ve said before I like to sleep on these things!

    It contains:

    • A new stencil: a drop down date picker. Thanks to the user who suggested this. This is available in both Lite and full versions of Mocking Pad.
    • A bug fix for an unusual issue in email sharing of files: occasionally the email editor did not appear. Its symptoms seemed to be particularly linked to the HTML format but it could occur intermittently for any format. I’m indebted to a user for finding the issue, reporting it and then taking the time to help me replicate it. Many thanks!
    • The “generating assets” progress view was not displaying properly in landscape mode, it now does.

    Edit: Writing this post made me realise I never posted about v1.22. The short version is that that corrected a massive booboo I made in Mocking Pad Lite – the App Store integration was disabled and if you pressed the upgrade button you’d get a free upgrade. That blog post should have been titled “I Am An Idiot”. I’m taking no steps to retrospectively disable these upgrades (entirely my fault) and as long as you don’t delete the app you’ve got a free upgrade. If you do delete it however you’ll lose the cached license and will need to purchase it.

    As the app has grown in complexity and size I’ve begun to struggle with the self testing approach that worked for the initial release. I’m taking steps to address this in the future by utilising the services of the best professional tester I know: my very good friend Michael.

  10. ZingChart

    April 4, 2011 by accidentalfish

    I mentioned yesterday that I’d migrated track5things away from RGraph and onto ZingChart. I did this because ZingChart has a more professional “out the box” look and feel (the graphs look pretty smart with a minimum of effort) and they have both HTML5 and Flash versions which both function off of the same declarative JSON blocks meaning I could easily support modern and legacy browsers (in fact in theory they could do, for example, an iOS native version, Android version etc. – I’d certainly be interested!).

    However I was struggling to figure out how to make this work (I was using Modernizr to branch my code based on available browser features) and logged a support case with Zing. This, and a follow up question, were responded to really quickly and not with off the cuff “standard” responses but by someone who had taken the time and care to understand what I was asking: even though I was only using the evaluation service.

    And finally: happily the answer I was looking for is that it “just works”. You don’t really need to do anything. The HTML5 chart controls degrade gracefully into SVG or VML depending on the browser.

    So kudos to ZingChart – they exceeded my expectations and earned a new paying customer today for sure.