This week was almost entirely devoted to completing work on the Scots School Dictionary app. I had previously completed a second version of the app based on feedback received from various people and had then received feedback on this updated version, resulting in a small number of tweaks being required. I had hoped that implementing these changes, wrapping the apps for iOS and Android, testing these wrapped versions and submitting them to the App and Play stores would only take up 2-3 days but in the end these tasks took up 4-5 days. I’d forgotten just how many hoops you need to jump through in order to submit an App to Apple, alas.
The updates resulting from feedback took about half a day to get sorted. These included adding in the proper introduction text and the help text that was supplied by Chris and fixing the ‘full text’ search. Rather foolishly, I’d set the ‘full text’ search to search the description of entries but not the headword itself. This led to no results being found when the headword didn’t actually appear in the description, which was a bit of a confusing situation. The search facility works a lot better now that I’ve fixed this little quirk.
1. External links opened up the target website within the app, replacing the app itself and then offering no way for the user to get back to the app. (Well, with Android devices you always have a handy ‘back’ button available but iOS devices have no such button).
2. Sound files wouldn’t play in the Android version of the app. Using the HTML5 audio tag works fine in iOS. The play / pause button looks a bit clunky but the sounds play without any problems. The same cannot be said for Android. The HTML 5 audio ‘play’ button appears but pressing it does nothing. A bit of Googling revealed one possible cause for this – Android devices need a different path to the sound file directory to be specified – ‘/android_asset/www/’ needs to be added before any other directory you have. However, even after adding this I just couldn’t get any sounds to play.
With the app now fully working in iOS and Android emulators it was time to test them out on actual devices. I tried the app on my iPad and my Nexus 4 phone and didn’t run into any difficulties whatsoever. The next step was to actually submit the app to the stores. For Apple devices this is a somewhat laborious process that involves generating icons at a somewhat ridiculous number of sizes, creating screenshots of the app running on a wide variety of screen sizes and dealing with provisioning profiles and itunesconnect. I simply couldn’t figure out how to submit the app to itunesconnect from within xCode following the instructions given by Apple and this seemed to be a problem with my account already being associated with the University of Glasgow account. In the end I had to submit it via the ApplicationLoader utlity instead, using Chris’s account rather than my own. I eventually got the app submitted though.
I’d never submitted an Android app to the Play store before and the first hurdle I encountered was the fee charged to do so. Although Apple charges developers an annual $100 a year fee to publish stuff on the App Store I had thought it was free on Android devices. However, it turns out that you do still have to pay a one off fee of $25. Chris sorted this out and I began the submission process. For Android you need to get Cordova to build a release version (the default is a debug version) and this can be accomplished by the command ‘cordova build android –release’, which creates an APK file in the ‘platforms/android/ant-built’ directory. I also realised that I needed to replace the default Cordova icons with proper icons. Four sizes were required (36, 48, 72, 96), replacing the ‘icon.png’ files within various folders within ‘platforms/res’. A rebuild was required to pull these in.
The Android app file is ‘unsigned’ at this stage and there are still some processes that need to be completed before the app can be submitted. I achieved this by following the ‘Signing you app manually’ steps detailed on this page: http://developer.android.com/tools/publishing/app-signing.html . After completing this I managed to upload the APK file, supply store icons, screenshots, descriptions etc and submit the app for publication. Apple can take up to two weeks to approve an app with Google is a little more swift (and no doubt less thorough). I submitted the app to Google on Friday and on Saturday the app was available from the Google Play store. If you have an android device search for ‘Scots Dictionary’ and you will find it. Phew!
Other than app related stuff I had a meeting with Gerry Carruthers to discuss a project he’s putting together and made a couple of tweaks to the Digital Humanities Network website. Next week I intend to return to Mapping Metaphor work and also to spend some more time on the Scots Thesaurus.