Week Beginning 28th March 2016

It was another short week this week due to the Easter weekend.  I spent most of the four days this week working on the app for the Mapping Metaphor follow-on project.  The project will be having its launch in the middle of April and as apps submitted to Apple can take up to two weeks to be approved and added to the App Store I really wanted to get the app completed and submitted this week.  Thankfully I had already managed to tick off most of the outstanding items on my ‘to do’ list last week, and this week I ticked off the rest, including fixing the bug that was stopping the tabular view being ordered by the ‘direction’ column (which I’ve also fixed on the main site too) and adding in the ‘how to use’ text (with a kind of ‘maze’  background).  I’ve also made lots of screenshots, app icons and have created the store pages, adding app description text to the listings and making numerous small tweaks to the app text, such as the quiz questions.

I tried again to get to the bottom of the issue with the top-level visualisation taking a long time to process the data when a user presses on a category.  Unfortunately I still haven’t managed to get to the bottom of this.  I know why it’s taking so long – the app needs to go through all of the metaphor data for each node of the visualisation in order to work out how many connections there are between each node in order to display circles of the appropriate size.  I also know why a ‘loading’ icon was not displaying – the code processes each node in an asynchronous manner – so the main function completes straight away while the node processes keep on going.  Therefore any ‘loading’ icon would be displayed and then hidden straight away.  And as each node is processed independently there isn’t an easy way to check for when all of the processing has been completed.  I tried just cutting out the displaying of circles when a category is selected and this did speed things up a bit, but it also made the visualisation less usable as the circles made nice targets for big fingers.  There has got to be a way to streamline the process of displaying the circles rather than going through all of the metaphor data each time.  I will come back to this, but there just isn’t time to rework things before the launch.

On Tuesday Wendy sent me the updated Metaphor data that she had been working on.  I was intending to update the main Metaphor database then regenerate all of the JSON data for the app on Wednesday morning, but the site and its database was being migrated to a rebuilt server which caused a bit of a delay and some stress.  Thankfully everything was sorted by Tuesday afternoon and I managed to get all of the data uploaded and regenerated.  There are now 15411 metaphorical connections (down from 15762) and 10354 sample lexemes, up from 9685.  Note that this number does not include the ‘first lexeme’ – there are also 7062 of those, up from 6561.

Also on Wednesday I managed to get access to a 10” Android tablet, through which I could get some ore screenshots for the Google Play listing.  When I installed the app on the device I encountered some rather unexpected and slightly worrying problems.  I’d ensured the same version of the app was running on my phone, tablet and the borrow 10” tablet and while everything was fine on my devices, on the borrowed table the app sometimes gave a blank screen, or didn’t display the background image, or failed to load sections of the page.  I looked at the operating system version and discovered it was running an old version of Android (version 4.1, which was released in 2012).  The current version is 6.0.  This would appear to be the problem, as the app I’ve created requires a minimum of Android 5.1 to function.  As the minimum required version is displayed in the Google Play store I think we just have to hope that users running older versions are warned about the incompatibility.

On Thursday this week I spent the morning working on a new website for Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s project on creative writing interventions for mental health.  It’s WordPress based and fairly straightforward, but I installed and configured a theme, worked on the colour scheme and spent some time creating a variety of different interfaces based on some images Carolyn had sourced from Shutterstock.  I created 7 different interfaces, including a couple of variations on banner images using my Photoshop skills, and emailed them to Carolyn and she picked the one she liked the best.  The website isn’t live yet, but it’s shaping up nicely.  I also spent some time on Thursday working on the People’s Voice project.  The content management system needs to have a feature whereby information about poems can be uploaded via a CSV template file.  I hadn’t had time to implement the feature previously but I have now started working on it.  I didn’t manage to get it fully working but a bit of progress has been made at least.  Hopefully I will be able to finish this next week.

On Friday I spent pretty much the entire day getting the iOS and Android versions of the MetaphorIC app prepared and submitted to the App Store and the Google Play store.  Completing these tasks is rather tedious and seems to take much longer than it really ought to, what with digital certificates, provisioning profiles and the obligatory bunch of unexpected errors that crop up.  However, after a lot of wrangling I managed to get the iOS app submitted to the App Store just before lunch and then the Android app submitted to the Play Store before the end of the day.  Now we just have to see whether the apps will be approved or not.  Fingers crossed!