I’ve completed work on this year’s version of a conference app for PABUG.org’s annual conference. This time around, I completely started over, built from the ground up to be a nice looking, functional and helpful app.
The focus this year was more on the attendee user, and exposing functions they would need to enhance their conference experience. One of these key features with this release is a Up Next section on the home screen. This little gem is a rolling list of sessions happening at this moment and upcoming in the next hour. If you happened to have bookmarked sessions you’re interested in, these are highlighted in this list, so you can always know where you need to be. And along those lines, I’ve integrated floor plans as well. From Session Details, you can tap and view the floor your session is located on.
The Conference Contacts is a cool new feature. How many times you have you met someone at a conference, swapped business cards only to find out you lost it, or left it in the hotel room. The app solves this problem. When you want to remember an attendee, you can find them in the Attendees list and add them to your Conference Contacts. You can even send them a text or email message from within the app to arrange a lunch meeting.
As most conferences are, this one is highly sponsored, so PASFAA wanted banner ads for those sponsors at the bottom of a handful of screens. This was fun to build actually because they continue to cycle all throughout the app.
So I mentioned this was built from the ground up. since I was starting over, I wanted some new “hip” features like the slide menu, toast notifications, etc. I decided to use Titanium Appcelerator’s MVC framework Alloy. You can see from my past post in March, I was just starting out with Alloy, and in six months time, I learned enough to produce a complete app. Actually, truth be told, it was a somewhat painful 6 months, even thought there is a lot if information on the web, it seems there are many proof of concept type apps, widgets and modules that aren’t really supported anymore. So even if you found exactly what you wanted to add to your app, if it didn’t work, you were kind of on your own.
I also built this to sync with my server, so PASFAA admins can log in, add/edit sessions, attendees, notifications, and partners and they’ll get pulled down to the device. More importantly- it also works offline because we have all experienced sucky / terrible / non-existent internet at most venues, so it was important for it to work under various conditions.
I’m pretty proud of this app and its functionality. Its currently waiting at the App Store, and I’m struggling to get the Android environment setup and then I’ll push it to Google Play as well.
Here’s my fun “little” app description :
Lets face it, you need to know where you’re going, before the next session starts. At a quick glance at the Home screen, you can view the sessions happening now, as well as the sessions coming up in the next hour. Your bookmarked session are highlighted so you can easily see where you’re headed, and change your mind if you get there and its not what you were expecting. This feature is priceless.
We all know the internet connection at many venus isn’t the best, so this app works offline until you have a connection. All aspects of the app – sessions, attendees and notifications will all sit patiently until you’re connected. The next visit to that screen will connect and pull down any updates that may have happened. Chances are, there weren’t any, but if there were, we’ll grab ’em and update your lists.
Complete session Information
You want to know details about the session you’re headed to, and we want you to be well informed as well. Each session displays a plethora of information for you to consume including the date and time of the session, presenter information, a full session description, and a link to the proper floor plan. Pretty convenient. You don’t have to remember if Royal III was on the first or third floor, just tap the link and the app will show you.
Bookmark your sessions to build your own schedule
Its always nice to have your days setup, and you can do this with the app. Just view the session details, and tap Bookmark Session and it’ll be added to the My Sessions screen, and will also be highlighted in the Up Next section on the Home screen.
Each session details screen links up to the proper floor plan to help you find where your next session is. Floor Plans can be paned and zoomed to quickly scan for your room.
Attendees and Contacts
– Have you ever met someone at a conference, exchanged cards only to lose it later? Just find the attendee in the app, and add them to your Conference Contacts. From here you can send them an SMS during the conference to meet up for lunch, or send them an email.
This app was built with you, the conference attendee in mind, and will aid in your enjoyment help you get the most out of the conference.
In the meantime, you can drool over the screenshots that I’ve prepared for the stores.