Lesson from ADC2 - Polish Your App!

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dadical

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Sep 11, 2009, 5:14:02 PM9/11/09
to Android Developers
As I've wound down from the ADC2 adrenaline rush over the past few
days, I've been thinking about a few things that I (re)-learned during
the development of my entry. I blogged about it here:

http://keyeslabs.com/joomla/index.php/blogs/i-think-im-becoming-an-android/53-polish-your-apps-people

The bottom line is that I think a lot of the software being written
for Android right now lacks the basic polish that most users expect in
software. ADC2 just seemed to exacerbate the problem with its tight
deadlines. Beyond that, Google needs to start facilitating the
creation of applications that meet users expectations.

I'll start the ball rolling by mentioning a few things that I think
are missing:

1. Marketplace for Android softwrae components. I hate having to
develop UI views and widgets from scratch that I know other developers
need too. I want a place to distribute/sell the cool views and
widgets that I make, directly to developers.
2. APIs. Give me APIs, services, and views to polish my apps.
- marketplace API
- YouTube view that allows me to embed instuctional videos WITHIN
my application
- defect tracking services (Google code for commercial apps, with
APIs please)
- etc.

Tom Gibara

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Sep 11, 2009, 5:36:47 PM9/11/09
to android-d...@googlegroups.com
I think lack of polish is a significant shortcoming in a large number of the applications that are now available in the Android Market. There are lots of great apps, and great apps that have very little polish (and perhaps don't need it), but in general I think it's a quality that's in deficit.

Interestingly I think your blog post nails one the key reasons but which your suggestions above won't remedy:

Polish is better than feature. I found myself continually being tempted to "add one more feature" to my entry, rather than spending what limited time that I did have working on smoothing out the UI bumps, testing, creating docs, designing appealing logos, making videos, testing, and oh yes, testing.

I think authors really need to care about the user and their sum experience of the application. And since resources are always finite, time spent adding new features very soon subtracts significant time away from everything that actually makes the features valuable to the user (performance, reliability, comprehendiblity etc.)

The things you list may or may not help, but in the end, they will simply free up more developer time that will again go into more features and not 'the other stuff' unless there's a change of priorities.

Tom.


2009/9/11 dadical <keye...@gmail.com>

Robert Green

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Sep 11, 2009, 6:46:40 PM9/11/09
to Android Developers
I'm in the same camp. I was just happy to get a 3D multiplayer game
working correctly by the deadline. I spent the next week polishing it
up and man have I found a ton of things that I wish I had gotten done
in time for the contest. Obvious stuff like VBOs, mipmaps, better
orientation handling, etc.. The game looks WAY better and runs 10-15
FPS faster on my G1 this week than it did when I submitted. Too bad I
couldn't get it all in before the contest deadline!

On Sep 11, 4:36 pm, Tom Gibara <m...@tomgibara.com> wrote:
> I think lack of polish is a significant shortcoming in a large number of the
> applications that are now available in the Android Market. There are lots of
> great apps, and great apps that have very little polish (and perhaps don't
> need it), but in general I think it's a quality that's in deficit.
> Interestingly I think your blog post nails one the key reasons but which
> your suggestions above won't remedy:
>
> Polish is better than feature. I found myself continually being tempted to
>
> > "add one more feature" to my entry, rather than spending what limited time
> > that I did have working on smoothing out the UI bumps, testing, creating
> > docs, designing appealing logos, making videos, testing, and oh yes,
> > testing.
>
> I think authors really need to care about the user and their sum experience
> of the application. And since resources are always finite, time spent adding
> new features very soon subtracts significant time away from everything
> that actually makes the features valuable to the user
> (performance, reliability, comprehendiblity etc.)
>
> The things you list may or may not help, but in the end, they will simply
> free up more developer time that will again go into more features and not
> 'the other stuff' unless there's a change of priorities.
>
> Tom.
>
> 2009/9/11 dadical <keyes...@gmail.com>
>
>
>
> > As I've wound down from the ADC2 adrenaline rush over the past few
> > days, I've been thinking about a few things that I (re)-learned during
> > the development of my entry.  I blogged about it here:
>
> >http://keyeslabs.com/joomla/index.php/blogs/i-think-im-becoming-an-an...

CraigsRace

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Sep 11, 2009, 10:18:02 PM9/11/09
to Android Developers
My first game, I got bombarded with e-mails from people asking me to
add features. As a result, the game became cluttered with features
and options.

My ADC2 entry, I kept very simple and spent a lot of time creating
themed dialogs etc. IMO, the end result is much better.

A library of views and widgets is an excellent idea!

ernestw

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Sep 12, 2009, 12:41:22 AM9/12/09
to Android Developers
I agree with you 100% Craig. I've been focusing primarily on games
and have spent a lot of time going through older games; reading
comments and ratings.
I'm quite amazed at the number of games where "force close" is a
complaint and that menus are difficult to navigate.

I spent some extra time making sure menus, dialogs, buttons, etc.
behaved like an Android app in my game. One of my pet peeves is a UI
that forces you to use the touchscreen only (similar to a desktop app
that doesn't have keyboard shortcuts or even allow tab-navigation). I
guess that would lead to my other suggestion that if you are writing a
game, that's no excuse to make the UI needlessly difficult to
navigate!

UI work (and general polish) is rote work I admit; it takes a lot of
effort and the only measurable payback is people _not_ complaining
about it. But it's still worth it IMO.

I think it would help other developers to point out apps with
exemplary polish. A lot of the top apps in each category are really
spiffy and it would benefit others to know just how high that bar is
set.

Ernest Woo
Woo Games
http://www.woogames.com

gjs

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Sep 12, 2009, 10:32:34 PM9/12/09
to Android Developers
Hi,

I also agree with these sentiments, getting the polish compromise
right is one of the hardest & most time consuming parts of this type
of app development. Aspiring to have or development some the skills of
a graphic designer is challenging in itself.
To me its a triple constraint for which you must carefully balance
quality of graphic elements & applying them consistently across your
whole app, the size those (static) elements occupy in the apk and the
speed with which the elements are loaded and rendered.
When I have the time, which I didn't for ADC2, I find myself
repeatedly going through the loop of trying to enhance the quality of
graphic elements, deciding they look ok but then being dissatisfied
with the resulting size of the apk and/or increased lag time in
rendering.
Despite the emphasis on polish for ADC2 I also thought that trying to
keep the size of the apk down might prove important where end user
judges may become impatient waiting for larger apk to download and
install and also having to fit into limited memory space already taken
by a users existing apps. Particularly as ADC2 apps are thrown away
after judging is concluded. I'm dissatisfied with the level of polish
I applied in my ADC2 app but for me it was mostly a time & budget
constraint.

I think some of Tom's apps have exemplary polish -
http://www.tomgibara.com/android/daisy/garden/

http://www.tech.youvox.fr/Cooking-Capsules-en-savoir-plus,1162.html

Another I'd seen recently is -

http://tracklet.appspot.com/

It is easy to see why it pays to use graphic designers, look at any
good console app with their $N,000,000 budgets - given you've got the
time and money.

Regards

akitto

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Sep 13, 2009, 3:50:29 AM9/13/09
to Android Developers
Anyone reading this post, could i recommend watching some of the
Google dev videos. They have some good stuff in for assisting with
polish. its all too easy for us developers to create something that
functions but forget to put the effort in the to make put apps
complete.

On Sep 13, 3:32 am, gjs <garyjamessi...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi,
>
> I also agree with these sentiments, getting the polish compromise
> right is one of the hardest & most time consuming parts of this type
> of app development. Aspiring to have or development some the skills of
> a graphic designer is challenging in itself.
> To me its a triple constraint for which you must carefully balance
> quality of graphic elements & applying them consistently across your
> whole app, the size those (static) elements occupy in the apk and the
> speed with which the elements are loaded and rendered.
> When I have the time, which I didn't for ADC2, I find myself
> repeatedly going through the loop of trying to enhance the quality of
> graphic elements, deciding they look ok but then being dissatisfied
> with the resulting size of the apk and/or increased lag time in
> rendering.
> Despite the emphasis on polish for ADC2 I also thought that trying to
> keep the size of the apk down might prove important where end user
> judges may become impatient waiting for larger apk to download and
> install and also having to fit into limited memory space already taken
> by a users existing apps. Particularly as ADC2 apps are thrown away
> after judging is concluded. I'm dissatisfied with the level of polish
> I applied in my ADC2 app but for me it was mostly a time & budget
> constraint.
>
> I think some of Tom's apps have exemplary polish -http://www.tomgibara.com/android/daisy/garden/
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