Mobile Line Of Business

Richard Jones (MVP)

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So here’s what I’ve been up-to for the past few months.       A while back,  I developed a Windows Mobile application that allows you to send people your current location (full source available, if you’d like it).

I figured this,   why don’t I try and make this application cross platform?      How hard can it be to port a C# Compact Framework application to another platform.     Of course the cost of doing this had to be small.   So I set myself a challenge.    

image

 

Take 6 months

  • Port Mobile Location Software to iPhone.
  • Sell application.
  • Recover all costs so that whole exercise pays for itself.

So I started with shelling out for a Mac Mini – which gave me an initial recovery cost of £710.  I really wanted to-do this as cheaply as possible.   So I ended up using a 15” LCD monitor,  which was a little like coding while looking through a letter box.   I guess this is the kicker,you can’t develop on a PC.    I thought long and hard about doing this and almost ditched the project on iPhone and went for Android instead.

I had to literally start from the ground up and learn Objective C.    The only way I could really understand what was going on, was to follow training examples on http://icodeblog.com/.   I found that the Apple provided examples weren’t always coded using the interface builder tool.   This let me find that I was reading how to do things one way, but the demo code didn’t support what I was being taught.

Objective C, proved very frustrating.     Literally things that you can do in Compact Framework in minutes, hours of frustration in Objective C.    The developer story for iPhone is not a patch on that of Windows Mobile.    I was surprised at just how much I’ve taken for granted in Visual Studio.   Anyway I ploughed on.

Finally it was time to try my application, on a real device.    For that I needed to PAY for a developer licence which worked out at £57,   taking me to £767 investment so far and by now over a months worth of evenings fighting this thing in submission.

It was amazing how complex it was to setup an iPhone to run the application.   Signing keys needed to be created etc.   which just seemed to be a very messy but I guess necessary process.    I got there in the end, and could finally see the app, running on my device.  Horray.

Next up (and we’re about 2 months in, by this stage),  it was time for a beta.     I was grateful to a bunch of friends who gave me their device serials numbers so I could get a limited beta up and running.   Again this proved tricky to organise signing keys etc.   Beta seemed to go well, users were able to use the application.

So just ahead of the launch of iPhone OS 3.0,  I bit the bullet and submitted my application for review to be published on the AppStore.      So £767 into the deal and countless hours, it was time to see what Apple thought.  This was a tense moment, as of course Apple are well within their right to say that the application competes with their facilitates and would never be allowed on AppStore.   I wonder how often this happens?   Given that the only channel to market is through the AppStore, this could have been a BIG problem.

The publication process is really slick,  you build your application with yet another set of signing keys and submit it to a online portal called iTunes Connect.    You provide screenshots,  your application description and set the price point for sale.    The experience also requires you to enter tax and bank details.

So almost there, or so I thought.    Once your application is ‘in review’,  you wait for feedback.  I waited about a week, and then was told I had been rejected.    The response that came back was literally a couple of sentences with attached screenshots and a complex crash dump report.   Understanding the crash dump reports still evades me,  but I guess it showed that the application was at least being run on a real device.

I had four review rejections,  which does start to become somewhat demoralizing.     This was frustrating as you don’t know how long you have to wait for each review.   I guess the reviewers are very busy people.    My rejection reasons ranged from memory leaks, to non conformance with certain elements of UI standards.   All valid points, but agonising given the waits in between.

 

While this was going on, my 3 month old Mac Mini had a hard drive go faulty (the dreaded clicks of death), so its gone back for repair.   Fortunately I had a full backup, but I await to see what that means to re-setup the signing keys.

 

So anyway,  here I am,  3 months in,  £767 down, long hours spent and finally my app is selling today for 59p.   I’m very proud of my efforts and I can now, say I’m a cross platform mobile developer.

 

Please buy my App…

 

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=319572851&mt=8

posted on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 3:19 PM