Saturday, September 27, 2008

Groundspeak announcement

Check out this link if you've not heard yet.

Remember when I had said I was speaking with groundspeak? I was, but it wasn't what you may have thought.

It took over 3 weeks to get on the phone with them after they agreed to talk with me. When I finally did, they had me sign an NDA, which took another week, and then
another week after that to talk to them again. After all that, they told me that the
terms of use would continue to apply to me and that I was welcome to
continue as I was, but nothing would change in the near future. That was... difficult. =) They also told me about their project (no details, just that there was a project in the works). I've been sitting on that for weeks and it's been rough not saying anything to you guys.

Congratulations to them though, from the looks of it it will be a very capable caching system, in some ways very similar to Geopher Lite but with a better UI than the web view and with a saved cache list. And it sounds as though they will continue to add features.


The big question is, what does this mean for Geopher Lite? And more importantly to many of you, what does this mean for the full version of Geopher?

I'm not really sure. I haven't ruled out completing it, but I also wonder what the use would be. Groundspeak is doing what I would have wanted in the ideal of Geopher. That doesn't mean that it would be useless, it would still have it's pros, but also it's cons. I'm leaning against a full version at this point.

However that's good news for those of you who have already purchased Geopher Lite. I will likely make more updates to Geopher Lite than I had intended. It's funny how that has worked out. I had originally planned for Geopher Lite to be free with a basic interface similar to what I had done here with the UI. Now here we are, the free demo is $1.99 and I could pour more functionality into it, bump the price, and make it the full version. That may or may not happen. Life is often unexpected that way.

Sorry, I'm rambling... I'll give you a sneak peek at what I'd like to get working (or rather, what I am working on) with Geopher Lite.

The next version already has the compass letters rotated like you would expect. This has been requested by a few people since the initial skins and I finally got around to doing that a week ago. In addition, I am adding a skin that will be more clear outdoors. It's not where I want it to be, but it looks okay. If anyone would like to donate a good black and white compass rose and arrow I'd be most grateful. I've done a few myself and... well, I'm not an artist. My images would get the job done, but it's not all that hot. =) I'll do what I have to do though, so this isn't me begging, just if you're an artist, bored, and want a better outdoor screen you have the ability to help. =) So that's coming, slated for 1.0.6, which has no real date yet.

I am also working on a way to allow for hitting the .GPX or .LOC buttons on the geocache listings and having them download the file, parse the GPX/LOC file, and then auto-fill the target coordinates. I can't get around a few limitations with apple's web view (or it would be done already), so I may take more time than I'd like to get this done. But that is the goal, and would be a legal way for me to auto-enter the coordinates without doing anything out of the ordinary in regards to the terms of use.

I have considered allowing these GPX files to be saved, but no promises here. That would be nice, and I'd like to see that, we shall see. At the moment that has a higher possibility of happening, but again. I MAKE NO PROMISES. =)

I would also like to find a way to use, but again, that's been made to be intentionally difficult to use and groundspeak has indicated that it is what it is -- I won't be getting any help there. I have some ideas and I'd like to see what I can do here, but it should be an interesting process to get done without breaking any of the rules. I'm going to give it a go though.

Compass rotation will be revisited, but I'm not spending tons of time there. I do have an idea of stopping the compass rotation when not moving and I'll be working on that, but the theory is that apple will be adding to their GPS functionality in the near future and I'll be using their data to rotate the compass, not the simple math that I'm currently doing. I am making a (big?) assumption here that apple has access to better data than I do for this. I guess we shall see.

Oh, and I registered the domain a while back, and I have had a kind soul offer to help with getting a webpage going for me once I make time to get the hosting figured out. So that may be coming soon, depending, again, on time.

Also I'm keeping an eye out for the links on to work (i.e. the map link) as well as saving the webpage. These are annoying, but are currently not at the top of my priority list. I also have some code for sun/moon directions as well, but I'm on the fence if that should be added or not. I'm sure there's more, but this is all off the top of my head, so I guess you guys will deal with the rest. =)

On a more personal note, my time at work has been more demanding lately and I'm not sure how long that will continue. Additionally, my wife is 7 months pregnant with our 4th kid (Yeah, I know. It's our last. We love our kids but soemtimes I wonder about having another. =) ). This means that my job as a dad will take more time in the near future as well. On top of that I've decided to start on another iPhone app which I will likely briefly mention here once it gets released. So time will be streched. Don't expect all this to be available in a week or two.

As always I'll keep you updated with what's happening.

Feedback, comments and suggestions are always welcome. Despite groundspeak competing in this space, I'll still be around maintaining Geopher Lite, so no worries there. Thanks for using Geopher Lite and being part of the iPhone geocaching community!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Geocaching on the iPhone at apple

Here's a big THANKS! to the Geopher Lite fans at apple. I'm honored, and I hope that you're loving it!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Quick Update

Things are going slow and steady for the moment. Geopher Lite isn't getting the full attention of my limited spare development at the moment, so the next update will take a bit longer than what has been normal. The amazing lack of feedback with this release means one of two things to me. Either everyone has moved on to other programs or we've hit the "good enough" phase of Geopher Lite's development. I have a few things in the works, I will hopefully post some screenshots later in the week.

In the coming weeks I hope to have an announcement here also. I'll try to post at least once a week.

As always, questions and comments are welcome. I'd particularly like new feedback on the new version and how I would make it more usable. Thanks for using Geopher Lite!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

1.0.5 is up! (Yeah, old news)

If you haven't heard or read the comments in my previous post, the new version is out. If you don't have it and you're reading this what are you doing here? Go get it!

A few miscellaneous comments for you.

Since Apple rejected and I had to resubmit my app, there are two other things that got into the release that had been slated for 1.0.6. Not a big deal but here they are anyway:
- Less restrictive URL linking.
- changed status bar to black
- changed buttons on top bar in target to be both black and the names to be "More" and "Return".

As a reminder, the waypoint field is for entering the letter/number codes for an individual geocache. You can find these in the top right portion of the geocaching page on An example would be something like GC12345.

I have just downloaded the new official 2.1 SDK. It appears that apple has not actually delivered some of the features that were in the early beta with core location. From what I can tell it hasn't changed in any useful way (to us) with 2.1. Because of this I will spend some more time with the compass code and see if I can smooth it out a bit more. I'm a bit disappointed here, but I am still glad I took a wait and see approach to this. Expect more changes here.

I'm planning on revisiting the maps link from within the webpage with 2.1 and see if that is taken care of or if it is still a problem. I'm not hopeful, but it's worth checking out and seeing if Apple has fixed this issue.

As promised, here is the URL scheme for sending coordinates to Geopher Lite:


You can actually type something like the above into safari and test it out if you'd like. You can embed links like this in web pages and it will open in Geopher Lite if you are on the iPhone. You can also call Geopher Lite with this URL scheme from other iPhone applications if you're a developer and wondering about that. Go crazy, I'd love to hear what people do with this.

Kai, one of our beta testers, has written up a tutorial that you can see here which will allow you to get a web page set up that redirects from safari to Geopher Lite. I want to note here that he has a jailbroken app do some of the lifting, but I am working with him to see if we can get this information via Geopher Lite instead of having to rely on a jailbroken app. And you can still use this method without jailbreaking your iPhone, you just don't get current coordinate distance. Thanks for the work on this Kai!

As always, post comments, suggestions and feedback here. Thanks for using Geopher Lite!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Still no word from Apple...

I have to say, I was expecting something by today. Maybe I'll get lucky and 1.0.5 will get approved tonight. Not holding my breath.

Rumor has it that iPhone OS 2.1 will be released tomorrow at the apple media event. Here's hoping that happens as well as the 2.1 features that apple has previously pulled from their beta software will be available -- that will mean good things for compass rotation and update calculations. Which, I am hoping, will translate into battery savings. Though at the current rate will not be for a long time in an update. =)

A quick note on my call with groundspeak. I may have more news later, but for now the answer is that the terms of use are in full effect. I'm disappointed, it sure is annoying to have to do that. I'm working on a better solution that is within the terms of use, but everything that has been thought of or suggested is not trivial to make happen. I'll keep you updated on this.

Also, in case anyone missed this the first time, the new version will support URL linking. So that means that if you have a website that has cache information, you can embed links that open up Geopher Lite when clicked. One of our beta testers has a (somewhat complicated) means of making up a website with links that point to Geopher Lite, and it works well. If he's agreeable I may link a tutorial for that here.

Back to the waiting game...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quick update

I heard back from apple last night. They rejected my latest submission due to the "Action" icon I used in the top right. I changed it and re-submitted within a half hour, so it's back to the waiting game. I'll post here when the update goes through.

Also, I have a phone call with someone at groundspeak tomorrow. No idea what they will say, but it's progress. Wish me luck!

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DadGuy has been working with apple computers since the mac classic. I love games and puzzles and like to solve problems. I'm having a blast developing for the iPhone and iPad.