Tomorrow will be a better future - Really?

Ever heard promises, specially those that tell you that tomorrow will be better, they make you live the miserable today for the hope that tomorrow will be better, and as everyone knows, Tomorrow never comes, it will always be Today. When it comes to software, have you ever seen this? Promises from vendors that their product kind of falls short on many levels, but there will be loads of features in the future?

I have no affiliations with the dynamic duo from MY Developers, they have just come out from nowhere and suddenly created so many wonderful things for one of the lua based frameworks, they have filled the Gap with a visual debugger, project management and watches. With this they have not only established themselves as an authority, after all they also released the Utlimote and AutoLAN, add-on libraries that empower a developer.

The same can be said of another developer Vladu Bogdan, The author of Level Helper and Sprite Helper, established himself as an authority with his tools on the iOS development community and not only specific for this lua based framework but for Cocos2D and a couple of other formats/frameworks. Then he released the IDE that included the debugger, Autocomplete and an integrated live Help Documentation. One that even the framework company currently fails to deliver.

In this arena there are other wannabes that might have had an early start, a virgin market to tap and the blessings of the framework company who bundled this with their frameworks and gave it away entice new developers. I can speak from experience, I had a utility that I started to work on which is still available for beginners, this allows them to create code snips by selecting what object they want to create. It was tough to make it multi-platform as it had to be programmed twice, once with xCode and once with Visual Studio. Maybe using RealBasic might have provided me with a single base but multi-platform including *nix based systems. This utility was free and I found it difficult to allocate time to support this, so it is in the state that it is.

Now how would it be, if I were to promise that the future of that app would be wonderful and there will be a lot of things that will be included in the future, maybe I will throw in a Dishwasher, a Microwave, a Lawnmower (Not very helpful for some of our friends that actually live in their dungeons and do not know what a lawn is) and the works. Maybe I can also open it up for a selective testing to the closest of my friends that will post comments as to How wonderful it all is, or create a closed online group and gather all that will help beat the system. Or maybe I can charge an Arm and a Leg, but keep it on Sale for the major part of the year or have it bundled with some tool for free.

The point is that a developer needs a tool now, it is almost like sitting in a taxi, the moment you sit in it, the meter starts. So the decision is to be made before sitting in a taxi, so when the developer decides to embark on this journey, it starts with
1. Buying a Mac
2. Buying an Apple Subscription to be able to upload the binary to the device
3. Buy a subscription to a tool that will allow for development (if other than xCode or an OpenSource Free framework)
4. Time to learn about the language and the framework
5. Ask Questions to the community (if there is one that will answer without biting your head off)
6. Writing the code
7. Uploading and waiting for Apple to approve
8. Get feedback from the users (that would have purchased your app)
9. Make changes or modifications to your app
10. Repeat step 5 onwards as applicable

By the time that you exit out of this process, you might realise that you need to have a graphic artist that will help make the graphics better so that people can buy your app. You might realise that you need to change a few things and most importantly that 6 months or more have passed and you are in the second phase which is should you continue to support your app or not? Try telling your users to continue buying your app as you are planning to get a Graphic Artist and Designer to make the UI and graphics better, I would love to see that spike in your sales. A consumer wants it now, if you cannot deliver, then it is look for alternative options.

Another great example is that of Lime, I recollect initiating a dialog with Graham, he was working on his game while he was also working on this framework Lime, it was supposedly a pun on Lime for Corona (Mexican Beer that is served with a slice of lime) This library was created, released to the developers. Never have I heard Graham announce that there will be great new features, it either worked or it didn't and when it didn't, it was fixed like when it had some sprite related issues.

Another Tool that worked cross framework without any complaints and were always updated without big claims of Coming soon was Physics Editor and Texture Packer, two wonderful apps that allow a developer to work with Physics (Box2D) type objects, set up the boundaries and shapes, etc. Texture Packer that would allow for creating what is called an Texture Atlas, similar to a spritesheet, but instead of an animation, one that contains all the graphics.

Around Novemeber there was a review for Text Candy and Particle Candy on the site and these two libraries were found to be amazing value to a developer, in about a couple of days there was another review about Glyph Designer a tool that allowed for creation of Bitmap fonts for use in your apps with various frameworks, open and closed source. At that time Text Candy did not have any interface or ability to utilise the bitmaps created using Glyph Designer. I do not recollect a big Hoo-Hah but the next release of Text Candy had a new API that accepted the font format generated from Glyph Designer. That is what developers should be like, deliver, talk is cheap and who really has the time to wait and hear about the coming soon.

There were a lot of Lua based frameworks and other frameworks that allowed for game/app creation, but then one day iCodify, now called Codea was released and it was only for iPads (now for iPhones too) it caught on with the users much more than the other frameworks, in fact a lot of names that mean something in the Indie development arena use Codea for prototyping and if Codea would have the ability to publish, you could see a lot many apps being created that way. The USP with this app was that it had a wonderful IDE, one that was intuitive and never seen before. Secondly, it allowed people to work on their iPads, generally handy for those that travel on Trains or buses and have time on hand and iPad on lap.

The point of this article, would you hold your breath and wait for some one to fulfill their promise? Anyone that could not do it in a reasonable amount of time either did not have the ability or the inclination to do so. It should be close the chapter and move on. This migration has been noted with several game creating frameworks, where users have moved on to other options because they did not find the framework being able to fulfill their requirements. The same holds true for software and tools.

To summarise, I must demonstrate my new found appreciation for Brasilian developers and Lua. To start with the home of Lua is after all Brasil. For those that have been using a lua based framework and for scene management used a library called Director, would know Ricardo Rauber, the developer that made a framework popular as Robert Nay did. There was a time when Director was no longer associated with Adobe (Macromedia initially) but used as a synonym for the Lua based framework. The library was more popular than the framework. That is also one of the reasons why Storyboard, a technology modeled on Director has been the prime focus for quite a while. Ricardo did not get many chances and his library still works and perhaps it is one of the most wide spread libraries used. This also reminds me of the 80's when software was embedded on chips that were 8K to 16K in size, the entire OS/framework was written in Assembly and there was this one chance that they had, it had to work as advertised, have the functionality for expansion and could not be updated or replaced. Good developers deliver...

So, either come out guns blazing with results or pipe down and wither away. Consumers do not want to hear "Coming Soon" followed by no details on what is coming soon, do you? Would await to hear your comments on this.

Code Generator (MAC)
Code Generator (Windows)
Level Helper
Sprite Helper
Real Basic
Physics Editor
Texture Packer
Glyph Designer
Text Candy
Rauber Labs


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