iMessiah version 2.0 … waiting

iMessiah app icon

I’ve just completed a very long overhaul of the Messiah College iOS app – iMessiah. Overhaul as in complete ground up rewrite with a new graphic design, and am now starting the Android tweaks to get it to function and render 100% correctly on Android.

This app is directed at prospective students, with information, directories, maps, etc. With the release of the 1.x version a few years ago, many factors came into play with the 100% rewrite.  The first being the framework I used.  Version 1 used Rhomobile – a framework that uses the Ruby language to build a mobile app.  The app was sluggish, and felt like a badly written mobile web app.  There was no way to get it to work properly on Android, and the factors that drove us toward Rhomobile at the college have faded away almost as fast as they arrived.  Basically the app needed to be reconstructed to be fast, interactive, updatable and better looking overall, some of the screens were as ugly as they were slow.

Enter Titanium.

Appcelerator’s Titanium was the framework of choice for this build, and I have an intense love/hate relationship with it.  The hate part comes mostly from my ‘still-green’ knowledge, so sometimes it feels hard to craft what I want to do, but when I figure it out, I’m very happy with its performance.  Granted – this app isn’t your run of the mill multi-screen-hardcoded-brochureware you’d find from other colleges.  This is essentially a mobile-decentralized-controlled app that is unbelievably fast compared to its prior version and what its doing, and amazingly flexible when you get right down to it.

Here at Messiah we have Jadu, a content management system.  I’ve used Jadu APIs to pull data from that system into the app, save it for later use, and check occasionally for updates.  What this means, is that our PR and Marketing folks can make changes to certain areas of the CMS and content will update on the device.  Multiple feeds are live – such as news, events, and the sports scores (if there’s a game going on).  Live directories are pulled from our servers and updated as necessary so the device holder’s information is always current.

So its all but ready to go to the App Store … however, as of right now (July 23) Apple has posted this :

We’ll be back soon.

Last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of our registered developers from our developer website. Sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed, however, we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email addresses may have been accessed. In the spirit of transparency, we want to inform you of the issue. We took the site down immediately on Thursday and have been working around the clock since then.

In order to prevent a security threat like this from happening again, we’re completely overhauling our developer systems, updating our server software, and rebuilding our entire database. We apologize for the significant inconvenience that our downtime has caused you and we expect to have the developer website up again soon.

If your program membership was set to expire during this period, it has been extended and your app will remain on the App Store. If you have any other concerns about your account, please contact us.

Thank you for your patience.

So now I wait. The good thing is – no one is waiting for me. Have a look at the gallery below to look over what I’ve put together.

But before that, I want to give credit where credit is due and thank the following people :

  • Project Manager : Ramona Fritschi : she kept me moving on the project and interfaced between the others on her team, reigned in requests, and nagged me for status updates. Without her in the mix I’d be taking direction from multiple people, trying to arrange meetings, request images and boil down the flow of functional requests.  She was also my app tester and sounding board when I had some crazy new idea for something.
  • Designer : Ben Bond : his graphic design and creativity is apparent in the new look of the app, a fresh, clean design which was well needed. It makes you want to click around and check out the app.  From a programmer’s standpoint, I think its beautifully crafted, each element is there for a reason, not just tossed in to make it look cool
  • Art Direction : Nancy Soulliard : she made sure we stayed in the bounds of Messiah’s guidelines, coloring inside the lines if you will.  She consulted on various screen layouts and more importantly “blessed” all the artwork before it was sent to me, so I didn’t have to second guess if we could use an image or graphic element.
  • Programmer :  Me : I tirelessly fought and won every battle with each bug or problem I created.  I kept my head (mostly) as new functionality creeped in at every turn or I decided to try some new way to achieve a faster render and it wouldn’t work the first 10 times. I became intimately involved with Appcelerator’s documentation and message boards, and made some new developer friends on twitter which is always a plus.
  • Pure Javascript Picture Gallery : Frédéric Maquin’ : this library was a lifesaver, the gallery was a last minute addition and this saved me from having to code it up from scratch.  Granted it posed its own insanely frustrating issues as I heavily customized and hacked it apart it for our purposes, but overall – very thankful to Frédéric Maquin for providing this to the community.
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