7 August 2013
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Transmutation: Running the API gauntlet again

I reached the point today where Transmutation was going to need about 13 buttons on the front screen, which is just too many to be usable on a smaller device with limited screen area. Although I’ve blocked the app for really tiny devices, it’s pushing it having more than about seven buttons (arranged vertically) on a 3.5″ screen (in my opinion).

To make some room, I’ve moved the Highscores button to the Achievements page (it’s sort of related), and reduced the Options button to the familiar cog icon, placing it at the bottom right of the screen. The three sharing methods now have their own window, accessible from a clearly labelled  button that has icons for the two most recognisable networks to catch the user’s eye. I didn’t want to just include a simple Icon button for each of them because I’ve seen other apps do that, and it’s random as to whether the button takes you to the developer’s Facebook/Twitter page, or is actually asking you to share on Facebook/Twitter (OK, I’ll admit it: I’ve done exactly that on Galaxy Explorer’s main menu). There’s just not enough room on the main screen to have full size buttons for sharing, so I’ve had to move them.

With that out of the way I set about increasing the width of most of the buttons in the app. It’s a common problem that a short word or phrase in English turns into a mouthful in other languages, so I’ve had to provide as much room as possible, to stop the text being shrunk to an unreadably small size.

Today was also the day to begin some serious testing on actual hardware, which meant that I had to implement all those 3rd party API’s that gave me so much trouble with Galaxy Explorer. Contrary to my previous experience, it took less than an hour and a half to set everything up: email, Facebook, Twitter, GameAnalytics and In App Billing. Most of that time was spent creating all the API keys. The app framework I created took care of rest.

With all the APIs activated, the first few attempts at compiling caused Unity to crash. I believe  Unibill is involved in some way because if the Unibill Inventory Editor is open at compile time, Unity will lock up and require a force close.

When I was finally able to build an APK, I transferred it to my tablet, and amazingly, it worked first attempt.

All the 3rd party API’s are now done.

I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been challenged by Unity’s instability on my Mac, resulting in it crashing on a regular basis, sometimes destroying my project. While Unity’s help desk was no use, I have been able to stop Unity wrecking my day. When I make changes to code MonoDevelop, I now switch back to Unity, and before it can update the project (there’s a five second lag), I stop it executing then save the scene immediately. It may still crash some of the time, but it doesn’t break anything when it does, and I can get right back to work.

The last major task is to complete the Challenges section of the app. There’s a fairly good chance I’ll have Transmutation finished by the weekend.