Speed Development, or how I learned to love the App (Part 2)

For anyone visiting this entry directly, the first part of this article can be found here, and the final app can be downloaded here.

Development

All in all, not really that much to do once I had done a bit of planning, making it the easiest part of the app development process. The app consisted of two activities – of which one was a menu with only three buttons – and a class to parse the rules of a game. By having a rule parser instead of hard-coding the rules into the generator activity, the app can be expanded in the future to pick numbers for more international lotteries e.g. the Irish lottery.

Within 2 hours a functional-but-unpolished demo of the app was created, and any functionality bugs were ironed out. I was particularly pleased about how this stage turned out, given the lack of time for planning and documenting the classes.

Interface Design

Screenshot of the main menu.

The toughest part of an app’s development, for me at least, is the design of the user interface. Human-Computer Interface (HCI) design is one of my weaker aspects, which is probably why the HCI module was my second-lowest score at Uni last year. However, because this was meant to be a simple app, I needed to keep the interface just as simple.

I’m really not a fan of Android’s default black-on-grey scheme, and looking at the vast majority of decent apps out there, neither are most developers. Luckily android’s interface is very customisable, but this in turn presents its own challenges. Namely picking a decent colour scheme at half 3 in the morning with tiredness starting to overcome the caffeine levels.

Nevertheless, it was time to open photoshop and visit the ever-lovely Colour Lovers to pick a colour scheme. Given the lottery games this app would cover, I opted for a blue and red scheme similar to that used by the UK National Lottery. I had experimented with a few other schemes prior to this, but they just didn’t seem to fit in with my vision for the app. The background would be an off-white fading to a very light sky blue, with white on red for titles and white on blue for buttons. The same scheme would apply to the generated numbers, with the main numbers appearing on blue balls, and the “special” numbers appearing on red balls to highlight their significance.

In the end, nothing fancy, but this was to be expected given the limited timespan.

Final thoughts

Screenshot of number selector.

Other than creating a few promotional graphics and testing on different screen resolutions, the app was done. I exported the package, organised all the media files and uploaded everything to the Android Marketplace. Within minutes the app was available for purchase and at 5.50am, with the first light of the new day appearing, my work was done.

To go from a concept to a finished product in one night gave me a good insight into the Android development process and gave me new ideas on how to translate the small-scale processes from this one night’s work up to a larger, more involved project like RSS Alarm. More importantly it’s proof that, given enough effort and the right idea, a potentially high-selling application can be made and put to market in a very quick time.

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