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Issue 15

TodaySoftMag app for iPhone and iPad

Ovidiu Mățan
Founder @ Today Software Magazine
OTHERS

We developed the TSM application for iPhone / iPad at the initiative of Dan Suciu , Director of Engineering @3Pillar Global , to collaborate to write it and publish it on AppStore . The development team has been Agile in every sense. The team was originally made up of three iOS programmers: Madalina Miron , Daniela Bulgaru and Tudor Stânean, with Gabriela Botiş as project manager. Subsequently, Robin Molnar brought his contribution on the QA part, and for look & feel, our colleagues from Gemini Solutions: Dan Hădărău and Marius Chincisan .

It began with some general requirements of a first prototype, but at the end of the second iteration, we had something functional. After that, the desired direction has been established, and we quickly headed to the final product. We wanted to have something simple, practical and functional, and in less than two months the application was already available on the AppStore . The main feature of the application is the ability to view all published TSM issues and read every article. If one of the articles is not available in HTML format, especially in old numbers of the magazine, we opted for the solution offered by issuu.com which is now available on Apple devices and allows direct visualization of the PDF file. Visually, we had to redefine the identity of the product for mobile devices, and I would like to point out in this regard, the application icon and the splashscreen. Rounding the experience, the list of magazines available and the animation for selecting a number and have tried to make the entire usage of the application as natural as possible. We also note the possibility to change the language, which reloads the application and all items in the selected language. An optimization of this feature is redirection, depending on the language chosen, to www.todaysoftmag.ro for Romanian and to www.todaysoftmag.com for the English language.

There were many features but unfortunately they were removed as the product matured. You might like some, so write to us, maybe we will reconsider:

  • infinite scroll - initially seen as a way to align with similar products such as Engadget client, we gave it up, although technically it worked very well, because, in terms of user experience, the focus was practically moved on animation and to the freedom to quickly see hundreds of articles, losing in exchange an essential thing, namely directing the reader to the latest articles,
  • offline mode - the most important feature that for now I had to omit including. The reason is that it can create user confusion. This is caused by the fact that the articles stored for offline viewing were only the articles that have already been read. But in terms of usage the question arises: why would I want to reread an article? The actual value would instead be the ability to read throughout the last issue of the magazine or the ones I want to download. You also need to give the reader the opportunity to free up used space. This feature is only postponed, and in one of the next versions, we will include it in a complete form.

The general architecture of the system

Both the iPhone and the iPad app use the same mechanism, namely REST communication with the server using JSON objects. We tried to keep everything in a simple form, so we have only three types of requests:

  • Issues - List of new available issues considering last number available per client
  • Articles - the list of articles in a particular issue
  • Author - details of an author

If you wonder how the article itself is submitted, it is discharged directly into HTML format , thus providing a greater freedom in terms of content display. Virtually from the AppStore listing, Disquss comments have been added, and the appearance of the items that are not fully formed was changed at the moment redirection is done directly to issuu.com

What next?

The Android version, which will be developed by the Android team in India from the 3Pillar and Gemini Global Solutions for the look & feel. Regarding the TSM application of iPhone / iPad, we plan to have releases that will include gradual improvements and bug fixing. Some of the main feature:

  • View full screen photos;
  • An initial help screen that contains tips & tricks for application development;
  • Implement Apple notifications ;
  • Search functionality ;
  • Include a separate video section , which is currently available only in articles ;
  • Events planner - a better organization for the events

I want to thank the development team, because together we created a very practical and useful app in less than two months. With this opportunity we have demonstrated what potential the Romanian IT industry has at this moment, potential which can be used to support local small businesses.

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