General Questions

This page is for general questions. Feel free to add your questions and we'll answer them as best we can. From time to time, we'll reorganize the page so the questions are in related sections, as this page grows.

1.    Can we make our buttons spin, explode into colour or make a sound when someone touches them? (Ashley, Carlie and Hope)

Hi Ashley, Carlie & Hope - we come to the point where people who make software often ask this question:

"How long is the piece of string?"

What this means is how much effort are you willing to go to make what you want happen?

Some translation first.

Hardware is the physical machine. It can be a phone, your TV, a microwave, a WII or other physical electronic machines. When we talk about software - the software is the computer program that runs using the hardware. Software is a kind of magic, because it allows hardware to do many different things. You can write software that does only one specific thing, but that thing REALLY well (like the software that makes elevators go up and down. You don't want that to have mistakes ... or "bugs" as software developers call them.)

Software can unlock the potential of one piece of hardware to do many things. If you look at the app store, you can see that each app is a piece of software that turns an iPod touch, or iPhone or iPad into very many things. It can be a GPS map, or a recording studio using Garageband. Or a word processor, or an astronomy atlas. The same hardware running software powered by imagination and hard work.

Which takes us back to the question - how long is *your* piece of string?

To make your buttons spin, you need to create pictures of your buttons spinning in all the directions you want it to appear in. If you use stop motion photography, you can take photos of your buttons and move them around and take a photo of each - it takes a long time to get right. If you use computer animation, you have to generate all the frames of the animations so the phone can display the frames of the buttons spinning. It's certainly do-able - I'm just checking how much time you have to do this.

Every software project has self-imposed constraints so that it can ship. This means we make hard decisions about what is achievable within our time and budget so that we can "finish" it so other people can use it. It's a common trap that people fall into when you want it to be perfect - don't set goals that are impractical. Perfect is not possible - doing it the best we can in the time and budget we have and then stopping (with "mistakes" and all) is the only way to get things done to share with others. And that's ok.

I'm not sure what you mean by "explode into colour?" Can you give me an example? 

The other thing you need to consider is that when you tap the button on the home screen, the screen moves to show the various locations. Making the user wait so they can see your button animation would only work if the animation was very quick. Otherwise, the user will get annoyed because they have to wait every time they tap a button - the animations feel "forced" onto the user - they might get in the way of what the user wants to happen (which is to see the information). This is the UX concept we talked about - the user experience design. Put yourself into the shoes of someone using the app for the first time and imagine what it will be like for them.

We can play sounds when someone taps on a button. Think about what kind of sound it will be like and how it will *feel* for the end user. UX design again. Do the sound for the buttons add something unique about Dundas for them? If not, why do we want to add sounds?

2. How many buttons can go on the main page? 

As many buttons as you want, so long it all fits :D

Remember the Apple Human Interface Guidelines (the HIG). Each button HAS to be AT LEAST 44 pixels square to be big enough to be tappable for everyone, even the grownups with fat fingers. If you squish too many in, it becomes easy to tap the wrong button. You also need to be able to explain what each button does. That's why the Watch Us Grow app has some text next to each button. It gets annoying if it's just an icon because people don't know what all the pictures mean.

3.  Can one of the buttons have credits? (class 62, Ian, Cynthia, Hannah, Mrs Siwak and anyone else who ends up helping?)

Sure. Whatever you like.

4. Do you have any other suggestions for us?

A helpful thing as you move into the visual design phase of the project is to sketch out a bunch of ideas - take photos/screenshots/scans - whatever's easiest. Then create a new page on this wiki called "Design workshop" - Cynthia and Ian will come in and comment about your sketches. We can explain what's working really well, what might be confusing to us, what's too complicated to put into this project etc. Making something like this is normally a collaboration between people - designers, content editors, photographers, software developers, user experience designers etc. In this situation, Class 62 is a big part of the team and doing many of these roles.

5. What is the easiest way to include a podcast in the app? Our site is haunted and we want to make a recording of the ghost stories. (Kris, Austin, Brodie)

It depends the length of the podcast (ie. the running time). If it's 5min or less, we can just put it into the listing with a play button. If it's longer than that, it would be good to create a YouTube video and we can have a link play the video within the app. The screen could just have a single image for the duration the podcast. Please record the podcast as an MP3 or M4A file and create a page on this wiki called "Media" and attach it to that page, and we'll go from there. If you don't know about MP3s or M4As, just ask.

6. We've created a blog for the game portion of our app.  The game will involve users taking a picture at each location and sending it to us. We thought the easiest way to share all the photos was through a blog. We want to users to find this easy to do so we thought that if the link to the blog was in each location that would be easiest. Users could also give us feedback there. Any suggestions?