October 5, 2014

Final Q3 2014 release and wrap-up

We’re excited to release another version of App Press to our customers.
Grant Glas
grant@app-press.com

As co-founder and CEO of App Press, Grant created his first app in App Press, and has since built 10 more with over 100K downloads.

We’re excited to release another version of App Press to our customers.  This release isn’t quite as big as the previous one but has some highly requested improvements, bug fixes and reflects how we are constantly trying to improve product quality.

This last release of Q3 2014 went out more than a week later than we had planned due to a longer review cycle for the iOS previewer (App Press NOW).  With iOS 8 and new phones being launched, many other developers were releasing new versions of their apps just like us.  We noticed much longer review cycles for both customer projects and this release as a result, approaching 12+ days when we had been enjoying sub-5 day cycles for App Store reviews.  But it’s done at last and we are excited to share it with you!  Here are some highlights.

News Feed Component [Beta Testing]

We’ve begun beta testing a new component that will simplify displaying various feeds and news oriented pages directly within your app.  It still requires some knowledge of HTML but if you know how to define a CSS Selector then you are all set.  Using the component is easy.  Select the tool and draw a rectangle for display area, specify the source URL, a CSS Selector to identify the specific part of the page you want and, optionally, CSS style information to apply to the displayed objects.  Once we have a few projects using the feature and we can ensure it’s working for a different types of content, we plan to enable it for all users.  This feature will allow easier integration of existing pages and articles and because your app will retrieve and cache the source URL periodically it should not only update regularly but also cache the data to work offline.  If you’re interested in helping us to test this feature, please contact your account manager or Support via the Help Menu. 

Local Storage Improvements [all plans]

Local Storage is a standard for saving web data in your computer or device.  We found that it wasn’t working properly on all embed layers (mainly on Android) and have fixed those issues in this release.  This allows your embed layers to save data to the phone’s memory (iOS and Android) and retrieve the same data from any other embed layer in your app.  Save data for offline use, communicate information from one page to another, all sorts of creative things can be done with this feature!  Now that this is working properly on iOS and Android, we have our team actively working on some sample apps to help inspire you and your projects.

Share Images [all plans]

Now that we can connect actions directly to Image layers, it makes sense to let you include those images in Share Actions.  Now when you attach a Share Action to an Image layer, you will see a checkbox to include the image.  This is only available in the OS Share Menu, not the individual services.  Over time, we’d like to remove the service specific shares since those choices are better serviced via the device operating systems.  To further improve these options, the next App Press release will also let you specify a default recipient of the Share messages, not just the subject and body of the share.

Page Turn Animations [all plans]

For customers building catalogs and small interactive books, we have an exciting feature: page turn animations.  Each section now has a new option in the Build Tab, just to the left of the trash can, called Page Turn Style.  This menu has three choices: Curl, Slide and Disable.  Slide was the only choice previously and your current apps will still use it.  But now you can also select Disabled to stop swipe left/right gestures within a section or you can use the new page turn style.  We use the animations built into iOS and Android so they should feel just like other native apps.

Improving Quality

I did want to close this post with a thank you for your understanding and support over the past few months.  We’ve been experiencing growing pains as we tried to keep up the pace of development in developing all the new features we’ve released this summer.  Unfortunately those pains sometimes resulted in serious bugs in the server or your apps.  We’ve been learning from these situations and making improvements.  Here are just a few:

  1. We’re now using a regular release cycle.  These are every three weeks.  This will allow us to keep developing key features that take a long time but still get key bug fixes and smaller features out reasonably quickly.  Our goal is to continue shorting in this cycle so that you’re seeing improvements every week. 
  2. We’ve consolidated bug tracking and roadmap feature requests.  This allows us to properly prioritize all of our work, not just new features but also ensuring bugs are fixed with every release. 
  3. New staff members focused on QA and Support.  As App Press has grown, we see the need to add full time employees focused on Customer Care and Product Testing.  Our first employee in this area, Oz Ramirez, is already making a big difference in the quality of each release. 
  4. Improving QA procedures.  Not only do we test key features with every release now, we do so using automated tools that help us run them across multiple browser and operating system combinations.  These tests will help prevent most if not all of the most severe bugs that prevent core features from working properly.

We have more to do in this area and you will see an improving cadence of fixes and features from us in the coming months.  The team is growing and that could not have happened without your support!  If you have questions, concerns or ideas, we’d love to hear from you!

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