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Dev Diary #6 - Beta Waiting List, Trackers, and Syncing

Published 16 Jul 2017 | Category: Dev Diary

The irony isn't lost on me that while writing a blog series on the development of a personal organisation/task management app, I'm managing to consistently fall short of my self-imposed target of publishing a new entry every Friday. Despite turbulence in the planning, consistent progress is being made, and we're moving closer to a release.

If you haven't spotted it already, a waiting list is now open for the mobile app beta, with a flashy new splash page to boot. As the survey questions would suggest, I'm planning a staggered launch of the beta, gradually bringing on more users, as the app becomes more refined. This should help keep the later stages of the development process more "agile", incorporating feedback from a range of users, and avoiding any nasty surprises from opening the floodgates to an app which hasn't been tested against any real audience.

On the features front, trackers are now supported. Not 100% satisfied with these designs yet, so want to give them another shot soon, but glad to discover that SVG drawing techniques are working well in React Native, so I'll be able to reuse many of the same techniques I've been using for graphs on the web.

This is the first feature where I've intentionally stopped short of implementing the full scope of what's available on the web. For now, the only tracker functionality available through the app is adding a new reading. The whole aspect of viewing/managing historing readings, and changing the behaviour of trackers, I'm not really convinced is part of the core mobile experience.

Being able to add tracker readings quickly while on the go was sorely needed, but the more administrative tasks I imagine are better suited to a desktop computer and a larger screen. Even longer term, I'm not sure it makes sense replicating the full scope of the desktop app to mobile. I'll see what feedback I receive on this.

One more thing I've been concentrating on recently is further polishing the syncing. One of my targets for even the first beta release is perfect 2-way interop between the web app and the new mobile app, i.e. changes made on one will seamlessly reflect on the other. This is tricky because the two have significant differences in their architecture, so this behaviour is far from symmetrical. Eventually I'll be bringing the web-app more in-line with how the mobile app functions (so it will also support undo etc.), but for now this means covering a lot of edge-cases to make the two compatible.

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