Friday, 29 August 2014

New Release: St. Mary's College Derry

St. Mary's College Derry is a school situated in Derry, Northern Ireland, they had asked us for an app to reflect their school website, that could be used by pupil, teacher and parent alike to know what is going on in the school news and could find out more information about the school. This blog will be looking at the development process from the start to the end and some of the troubles we faced.

After completion of Medical Me, I was put onto helping to complete the St. Mary's College Derry app along with 2 other programmers. The app had already had a firm start by one of the developers at Troll Inc. It was a smooth transition as I was still using Xamarin, and all the code and menus were fresh in my mind.

However we shortly ran into problems with our server where some of us were losing files in Xamarin by either not committing work often or other updates overriding our files, which lead to us losing progress and being forced to recreate .xib files and sometimes even re-write code. We were originally focussing on getting the iOS build complete and then focus on Android and then eventually Windows Phone.

It became clear, with the problems that we were having with the server that we would need to start development on the other devices to avoid further problems occurring. With this I was given development of Windows phone using Visual Studio, on the sole reasoning that I actually have a Windows phone for testing on.

As I began to develop on the Windows Phone, I was now using a .xaml files in Visual Studio, something I had little experience with. But after a few hours familiarising myself and reviewing other apps on Windows Phone. I had decided the set up on Android and iOS would be a waste on the Windows Phone which has the built in panoramic feature that makes navigation easier and reduces the number of pages by about 60%. It was a fast progress of recreating menus on Windows Phone and quickly got to a stage where the app was up to date with the iOS version, and we would have to start implementing new features to our respective platforms. This meant adding media galleries, videos, maps and making tweaks to match the requests of the school.

After a few days of adding new content, we were asked to redesign the main app, for the other devices this was more of a problem due to them sharing styles, but I had made the Windows Phone app using a lot of standard layouts and assets to save memory and make it easier to use.

Our last milestone to creating the final app you see today was to add a link to the server from the school rather than the private one we were using, whilst this was set up by the school to meet our requirements, I had time to experiment with the windows app further. From this, the only feature that stayed was the speech recognition to launch the app, which I am sure will hardly be used.

After a few weeks of developing on Windows Phone, it was finished and checked for any final bugs, before being given to the school and is now released on all major devices after their own official launch. It was a well developed project with support throughout, we had our issues and problems early on, but once we had got those ironed out. The development really picked up and I am really happy with the finished product.

Frozen Fishy out.