Sunday, October 14, 2012

Version 6.6 release - Apple working on a Sunday?

Someone at Apple must be working overtime, as PDX Bus version 6.6 was just approved.  Here is what I've been up to since the last update:

  • Fixed stop ID 13604 - added NS Line arrivals.
  • Optimized rail maps to use "tiles" - reducing crashes due to memory issues.
  • Added additional informational hotspots to streetcar map.
  • Trip planner min walk distances now match web site (1/10, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 & 2 miles).
  • Commuter bookmarks fixed (startup sequence is different in iOS6).
  • Added a support page (separate from the about page)
I don't plan on having another update for a little while now,  I want to let this one settle in while I think about how to improve the user interface (it's a big job!).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sources have moved

I've moved the sources for PDX Bus to here:

The old URL will no longer work.  (This is in preparation for the next release).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Apple expedited version 6.5 - available now

Good news!

I found out that Apple has a process for expediting the app review and release process.  This can only be used in extraordinary circumstances, but I tried my luck as I thought the Streetcar issues and iOS6 bugs were quite bad.  They agreed - so this release was reviewed in about 17 hours (as opposed to a week). This may be the only time I'm allowed to do this.

Here is what version 6.5 contains:

  • Full support for New Portland Streetcar Central Loop Line, including Streetcar map. (The original data all the developers were given was wrong so I had to do a quick update to make it work).
  • iOS6: Fixed crash when GPS finds no nearby stops (a hidden issue that only showed up on iOS6).
  • iOS6: Fixed calendaring (users have to give permission to use the calendar)
  • iOS6: Fixed orientation issues.  (Here's what happened:  Apple changed the way that apps detect that the device has be re-oriented in iOS6, and I didn't notice).
Bad news!

I know of one bug remaining - the stop at NW 10th and Northrup (ID 13604) only shows CL line arrivals.  I think this is a news stop on the NS line also, judging by the ID,  so I missed it.  A fix will be presented for this next week.

Here is the new streetcar map in action:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Version 6.4 will be available today!

This version is all about iOS6!

  1. Support for the new streetcar loop DOES NOT WORK.  The problem is all the developers were given incorrect information about how the data would work, and it is too late for me to fix in this release!  I will update this next week, I already have the code updated but it takes time to test.
  2. Initial support for new iOS6 map routing - if you ask for a transit route in the map and the route starts and ends within the TriMet area, the new map app will load up PDX Bus and use the routing in PDX Bus.
  3. Initial support for iOS6.  Full screen iPhone 5!
  4. Unfortunately this will not support the original iPhone running iOS3 or anything earlier than iOS 4.3.  If many people ask I could make a new app just for that - but very few people are still using those devices.

There is a known bug:  in iOS6 PDX Bus will crash if the location services screen fails to find a stop. I found this too late - it is also in the previous version so this is no worse.  :-( I have the fix, it will also be fixed next week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

PDX Bus, new street car loop and iOS6

There is a lot going on in the iPhone world.  Here's an outline of what I am doing:

The next release (6.4) will contain:
(1) Initial support for the new streetcar loop.  (The data for the street car comes from a different company than TriMet, and the app has to do work to "mash up" the data to make it look seamless.  I can't really test this in advance so I hope it will work!).  This is only partial support as detours and station search will not yet work.
(2) Initial support for new iOS6 map routing - if you ask for a transit route in the map and the route starts and ends within the TriMet area, the new map app will load up PDX Bus and use the routing in PDX Bus.
(3) Initial support for iOS6.  I don't yet know if I will support the new screen size for iPhone 5 in the first drop - but I am getting one on the 21st (wooo hoooo!) so I will be working that eventually.
(4) Unfortunately this will not support the original iPhone running iOS3 or anything earlier than iOS 4.3.  If many people ask I could make a new app just for that - but very few people are still using those devices.

Release 6.5 will contain:
(1) Full support for the new streetcar, maybe even a map, station search and detours.
(2) Full support for iOS6.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

PDX Bus 6.2 - after all that, what was in it?

PDX Bus 6.2 was an overdue bug fix release.  Ironically, the idea was to make it more stable and to fix some issues I had seen in crash reports - it's not a major release and wasn't really worth all this difficulty!

  • Fixed VoiceOver issues with segmented controls and buttons. (VoiceOver reads out what is on the display, and for some screens it did not work so well).
  • Increased size of 'X' icon to make easier to touch. (There is a Red X icon that can be touched to delete an expired alarm.  This was a little too small).
  • Caches are more robust.  (PDX Bus is able to detect if it crashed. If it did crash it will delete all its short term cached data - this is just in case that data was corrupted.  This will stop repeating crashes).
  • Added additional alert for alarms that are too long to be accurate in the background.  iOS allows apps to run only for 10 mins in the background,  after that it cannot check the arrivals any more.  This will alert you if you have set an alarm for more that 10 mins.
  • Added 'Plan trip from/to here' option on rail station screen. A small overdue feature.
  • Improved stability & added new debug options (e.g. you can turn off the caching, as that seems to cause some crashes, and several other fixes).

PDX Bus is working again!

Update: no need to delete PDX Bus, It will update automatically.

Apple appears to have fixed the issue in the App Store. If you downloaded PDX Bus and it does not start, just update it again and all will be good. This was not my fault - Apple appears to have corrupted the updates made yesterday.

Meanwhile, news of the many apps that got corrupted has been all over the web!  Thanks to Marco (and to Tim who showed me this site - I had also investigated an come to the conclusion it was corrrupted):

Then all the tech blogs went with it - PDX Bus even gets a call out in Gizmodo.  Any publicity it good publicity, right?

Thanks for your patience.  I have asked Apple to revoke all of the bad ratings from the last two days - as this was not my fault.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

PDX Bus still not upgrading from App Store: here's a summary

Marco Arment who develops Instapaper has a nice summary of the problem that we are seeing with PDX Bus.  :-(


It seems that the app in the app store will not launch.  I have no idea why - especially as Apple tested and approved it.  I'm looking into at as fast as I can...

Update:  I'm told this happened to several other apps yesterday.  As far as I can tell it is an issue with Apple's FairPlay DRM, or the binary is corrupt in the store.  PDX Bus is not the only app with this issue - Instapaper too -!/marcoarment ... I have done all I can do:

(1) I updated the text in the store to say "DO NOT DOWNLOAD :-(".  I had to make new pictures to do this as the old ones were not of a high enough resolution.
(2) I filed a support request with Apple, but it's a holiday.
(3) I submitted a new version (just in case this will "kick" Apple into re-submitting it and fixing it).
(4) I tweeted and blogged and panicked a bit, drank lots of tea.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Portland TriMet TransitTracker under patent troll attack

Oh great. A patent troll is going after TriMet's Transit Tracket system with a really broad patent on all vehicle tracking systems... I hope they don't drag me into it, or any other of the many apps!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Starting work on the next release - anyone got any issues?

I'm starting work on the next release - this will mainly be a bug fix release - I'm looking at the crash reports from Apple.

Does anyone else have any information about crashes or problems that I could look into for the next release?

The crash logs are interesting - all the crashes on iOS 5.1 happen when the app is caching the arrival data.  On iOS 5.0 I see 4 different kinds of crashes,  mostly to do with alarms and user interface.  I see no crashes on any other OS versions - maybe no-one is using iOS4 any more? :-)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why don't I write an Android version of PDX Bus?

This is one of the most common questions about PDX Bus,  and I have not really answered it.  So here goes!

Firstly - part of me really likes the idea of porting the app to Android.  Being an iPhone developer for a free app can be incredibly annoying:

  • I have to pay Apple $100 a year for the privilege of being able to put an app on a device.  (Yes the Civic App awards prize money covers that, but it i still annoying that actually I am the only one who has to pay to use PDX Bus!).
  • The app approval process is still slow and feels random.  You may get rejected as Apple may simply decide your app does something they don't like.  It can take anything from 2 days to 2 weeks to get approved.
  • Technically, the apps in the app store cannot be "free" by the definition of the GPL - apps cannot be shared or modified by their users.  Kids can't experiment with writing apps.  It feels like censorship. This is just annoying.
So why don't I just recompile it for Android.  :-)  Here this bit gets technical.  Basically I'll have to start again... (Skip this technical bit...).

  • PDX Bus is written entirely in Objective-C, Android apps are written in Java or recently C/C++.  You might think that this is a small difference...  Objective-C is quite different from these languages in syntax. The code looks really different, it would need completely re-writing.
    • The back end data retrieval code is tightly coupled to Objective-C frameworks.  For example, Apple provides an XML parser - this returns the tags and data in Objective-C associative arrays ("NSDictionary") from which you access the XML tagged data and place it into objective-C objects for use by the UI.  This'll need completely re-writing.   PDX Bus currently deals with 10 different XML schemas for the different data.
    • The GUI is written entirely with Apple frameworks (UIKit) and none of it can be re-used - Android GUIs have a completely different paradigm.  The GUI has been a lot more work than the back end.     Even the Google Maps API is completely different on the two platforms.
Summary:  Almost none of the PDX Bus code can be re-used as-is for Android.  Some of the design and flow could be re-used, but still, there would be a lot of re-coding.   I don't have the time for this!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bookmark issues?

Is anyone else having any issues with bookmarks?  A user recently left me the following message (edited slightly)

My bookmarks recently disappeared and try as I might I'm unable to create new ones.  There are also no stops in my history.

I've never seen this before - my guess is that PDX Bus is unable to read or wrote from the file used to store bookmarks and history.  I would recommend deleting the app and re-installing it!