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.

So.

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 wap.geocaching.com, 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 geopher.com 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 geocaching.com 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!

12 comments:

magicwaldo said...

I just saw the announcement on the gc.com website and I can't say that I'm suprised, but I think what they are going to offer may be a little disappointing.

I've found many caches with geopher lite but recently upgraded to a full blown gps. I still like the idea of geopher, however, the thought of my iphone falilng in a lake or getting rained on gives me shivers!

The product that gc.com is offering looks to be basically just a different front for the online service that they already offer. Something that they could achieve with nothing more than a webapp. In essence this is all they are creating. If the program is only capable of producing "real-time" and "direct access" it is not a program worth using. Often times cachers find themselves outside of cell range and this is when we usually need the info from the website most. Some of us print off the log sheets, while others use methods for paperless caching. If the "official" software doesn't make the information available offline, then it is nothing more than geopher lite is now.

The feature I was most anticipating for geopher was the gpx/pocket query support. I could quit using my ipod or palm device and just carry my gps and phone. iGeocacher has implemented something similar to this, but the ui does take some getting used to and feels clunky and unorganized. I just feel that based on the current development of geopher lite, geopher full would be an amzing application that far surpasses anyones expectations. From the start geopher lite has always had a simple, easy to understand ui and it is a pleasure to use. If geopher full is released I can only be certain that the same level of quality will be inherted.

Please continue development on geopher because it would be absolutely devastating to see such an amazing program fall to the wayside.

Tapani said...

Dito!

Just because gc made their own app for caching it doesn't automatically be a great one. While they have to mature their app to the level of geopher lite you can use the headstart as a "polish and perfect" opportunity and increase the quality-gap.

geopher lite have already exceeded my needs in some areas and all though an app is never perfect it gets harder to find things to improve within the lite range.

I just can't wait for the full version.

Tapani said...

Oh, I forgot. You wanted compassroses in B&W? well i was bored so I made some... is geopherdemo@gmail.com the right mail to send them to? I try that for now and if you find them usefull go nuts, if not just discard them...

Anonymous said...

Hello,


I completely share the opinion of Magicwaldo! Please continue the development; specifically the gpx support. I know how to download those pocket queries from my main machine onto the iPhone...

Thanks for the work so far.

sbc said...

As a user of Geopher lite, a great little program, I'd say go for it! But with respect for your resources, think carefully about how much time you are willing to put into this. They may apply other rules to their own developement crew than to you, an independant software developer. This means that you could end up facing unfair competition.

My best advice is for you to get your hands on a Symbian S60 device like the N95 and try out their free app, to see what you can expect their iPhone app to do and not do.

Marky P said...

Thank you for the excellent update again, it's nice to be in touch with the developer of this excellent app.

Can I ask - does this mean that Groundspeak are releasing their own iPhone app ?

John said...

Pretty hard for you to compete when you play by their rules and do not directly access gc.com. It would be nice if Groundspeak opened up access in some way, like Amazon allow access to their underlying data. Say allowing access only for Premium members, so Groundspeak make money by getting more premium members.

I suspect they will see how their blessed application goes first though.

Tim said...

Competition is always good and Groundspeak will never get to your pricelevel I assume. So, your app is perfect for entry users like me that want to try it for almost no money and then maybe move on to a full blown GPS device when they get more professional in it.

I personally like your app except that new search all the time needs to be restarted when I want to see the cache text again, then listing, then press link, then read..etc... that is really annoying.

The rest is enough for me at the moment.

As a result... great app, great additions planned and.... please continue

King of theLair said...

I definately wouldn't abandon your work here. Me and my wife have found almost 200 with the iPhone/geopher combo before getting a garmin. While the iPhone won't be top dog for the actual find anymore, it is still integral to our caching needs. We just this month got our first 4 FTF because those that got the first half of the big release couldn't access the internet to get the afternoon half of the big release. That left plenty for us to find the next day when everyone else was at work. We just went premium, so I now can load iGeocacher with logs for offline use, but like magicwaldo said, iGeocacher is difficult at best. You have done so well at delivering what we need to this point, I'm sure you wouldn't fail when adding managed lists.

I am curious tho as I have been using GSAK on the PC end of the game. How is the AddLogs macro allowed to exist? Doesn't it directly access the web page and parse the logs? I used that for the last week to help us keep track of cache statuses.

One last thing. Since you have geopherlite: URL support, did you discuss with gc about adding formatted links for you?

Anonymous said...

I was sorry to hear about Geocaching.com's decision. I thought they should have hired you to build their app.
Anyway, best wishes for the new kid and your other new venture!

Beil said...

I'm still hoping to see a full version of Geopher. I think you've done a great job with Geopher Lite so far and I'm looking forward to see where you take it.

Adam Tuckley said...

thanks for the info! i've been reading your site and i totally like it.

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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.