Friday, July 30, 2010

HTC and Blur update

After I pushed out the update last week, I noted alot of non-positive reviews about the base version of Launch Bar and how it's really not working for HTC Devices. I then got a text from a co-worker from his brand new Droid X. My app didn't work on his phone at all. Although, it did give me an excuse to play with his phone a bit...

After running a debug app that does the same bit of logic as the Launch Bar, I discovered what the problem was. In the case of the phone dialer, I was looking for a package(application) called It looks like the motoblur UI tweaks the phone dialer slightly and the name is All of the other "stock" applications all had the same kinds of package name changes. I'm making the assumption that the HTC Sense UI did the same thing for all their apps and hence why it wasn't working for that either.

There's about 3 different rants that I could go on:
  1. about how the stock application names shouldn't change and Motorola and HTC should change them (akin to Dell changing the Windows to Dell's Windows)
  2. the awesomeness that the phone OS is open source and they COULD go and make those changes (akin to Dell changing Windows Vista so that it works)
  3. the stupid programmer that made the assumption first that he could find the application by label name (which lead to the localization problem) and then the "fix" of trying to find a specific package which doesn't exist on non vanilla installs of Android.
In my defense for number 3, up until my co-worker got his Droid X. Everyone I knew with an Android based phone as the standard Moto Droid and the only development environment that I had to test against was emulator provided by Google. I did try to build the source code from HTC, but I got to a certain point and then stopped (I'll get back to it at some point). It (OK just me) is very frustrating trying to develop for a moving target and to me it seems very difficult to jump though the fiery hoops to build the HTC source and I'm not even sure that's going to work in the emulator.

The update to the base version makes the GUI for both version the same. However, base version when you long press it will present you with a pick list of applications that qualify for that button (Phone, SMS, Contacts, Browser, Maps, Camera). The custom button will show you all the applications installed on the phone. This is actually pretty cool in my opinion as you are no longer stuck using the stock items (I know alot of people use HandSent and Dolphin as their main SMS and Browsers).

However, it seems that on the Droid X the contacts button isn't working... Oh well, just another programming opportunity.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Houston we have a problem...

I knew that I should have waited until over the weekend to push the update. I'm hoping that 99% of the Pro users didn't have the same problem as a user who emailed me on Saturday. After the update the widget disappeared. After thinking about it and a quick email exchange, I realized that the data conversion process was only happening on the configuration side of things and not on the widget side. What happened in his case (on a HTC Incredible) was that it couldn't find the default applications and returned a bunch of blanks. I believe that he then uninstalled the widget and tried to reinstall from the Market.

However, with the new configuration screen, it couldn't find the default apps that I specify. I believe that caused the force quit error. This would explain why the couple of new users canceled their order shortly after purchase.

So here's what it does now:
When the configuration screen loads and it can't find the application I'm looking for (Thank you very much non-vanilla androids... I'm looking at you HTC) it will just get the first application it can find. I'm assuming that everyone is going to change it regardless, but if your configuration window is all Alarm Clocks then you know why.

If you don't go into the configuration screen or the application can't be found you'll get a button with this guy:

Basically, it's saying that I can't find the app for this button. I'm hoping people who see this will just go back to the configuration screen and save their configuration again.

On a side note, this has given me some insight on why the Basic widget has been having issues with the HTC phones. I know what I want to do to fix it, I just need to learn HOW to do it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The need for speed

During the little bit of time I had for widget development, I saw what I was doing wrong and was able to whip up the updates for both versions of the widget.

So, what's new? The application loads a lot faster. The exception is the first time you load it as there's some internal data conversions that need to be done. The way you choose your buttons has changed and for the pro version it is now a long press on the list the application list. I will update the basic version's configuration screen to mimic what the pro version is doing. I also updated the icon re-sizing on the phone orientation change. The icon re-size is now instantaneous.

What was the big change? No more internal looping looking for stuff and setting icon size via the layouts and not doing it via code. I realized that I was working too hard to do a lot of the stuff I was doing, so I found a much better way.

Coming Attractions

Just a quick update...

I've been working on a semi radical change to the Launch Bar for a couple weeks now. I have the basic version completed and am working on a similar update for the Pro version. However, I'm hitting a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to some more advanced GUI elements. I'm hoping to be able to publish the updates early next week.

This update will include:
  • A new GUI for the configuration screens
  • Removed the icon size slider (for now)
  • A major speed increase when launching the configuration screen
  • A major speed increase when changing the orientation of the device
Also, I've seen a couple of comments regarding the basic Launch Bar not working or missing icons (specifically messaging) on certain phones. Typically these have been HTC devices with the Hero, Desire and EVO being the ones I know being problematic. I have good idea of what the problem is, but with out a phone to test on I can't verify it or write a fix. I've been trying to build the HTC source code so I can use it in the emulator, but haven't had time to really work on that. If you are running the basic version and have seen the missing button issue please send me an email. I have a debug program that I'll send you that should help me out. I can be reached at rmueser (at) gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hello World!

I've decided to put a blog together to keep a log of changes / enhancements for my Launch Bar widgets that I've been working on for the past month or so. Hopefully, I'll also be able to get some information and feed back people who have downloaded the free version or bought the pro version.

Here's what's happened so far:
  • v1.0 -- Initially released June 13 / 14
  • v1.1 -- Increased the size of the buttons. For some reason the icon size was different on two different Motorola Droids
  • v1.2 -- Added Icon size slider to the configuration window
  • v1.3 -- Cleaned up the GUI and other misc cosmetic enhancements
  • v1.4 -- Re-sized the Icons when the phone is in landscape mode. Small note about this, there could be a 5 to 10 second lag this is due to how I'm checking the orientation of the phone. I'm sure there is a better way to do this I just haven't looked into it yet.
  • v1.5 -- Internal change of how how I'm was doing things. I realized after someone posted a comment in German that the free app didn't work. I believe this was due to how I was looking up the applications.
Just some quick stats according to Google:
  • Launch Bar: 536 downloads
  • Launch Bar Pro: 66 downloads
It's a bit over whelming to me that so many people have downloaded my apps with out any kind of publicity (although I'm pretty sure it showed up as a "just in" application after the 1.4 update).

For everyone that's downloaded and tried out my application, Thank You!

What's next? Probably going to look into adding a direct dial contact(s) to selection lists.