Issue 58

15 April 2020

by Lori M Olson

DRD058: Fed up with all the bad news? We have some links to help create your own news feed so you can report only happy news! Also 🎉 500 subscribers!

OPED ― Our Unvarnished Opinion

I want to talk to you about a business book I’ve been listening to on Audible this month The ONE THING, by Gary Keller. I won’t bother with an affiliate link, if you are interested, I’m sure you can find it. While this book, and others I have recently read, is primarily written for business owners, I’ve found a lot of interesting parallels with application development. Especially mobile apps. How many of you have been tasked with building large, full featured apps, only to have the development drag on, bugs stack up, and the launch fizzle? I think people forget that most really successful apps have one thing in common. They started small. Really small. With a single useful, valuable feature. Their ONE THING. When we concentrate on the one thing, we can do a very good job on it, we can launch quickly, and without a lot of bugs, because there’s not a lot of extra cruft getting in the way. Think about that when you get started on your next project. ― WNDXLori

This week we are celebrating 🎉. It took us a year and a half, but we finally did it. We broke through that stubborn barrier - 500 subscribers. That’s right. DragonRuby Dispatch now has over 500 subscribers that we reach every other week with all the latest DragonRuby and mobile application news. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far and I hope you stick with us for the next year and a half because things are going to be changing very fast.

As a thank you, I’m going to be throwing all the new subscribers over the last 2 weeks into a hat, and drawing an email. The lucky chosen subscriber will be receiving a free course - RubyMotion Jumpstart!

And for all you other people who’ve been with us all along, stay tuned, because I’ll have another draw for all of you coming up in our third April newsletter, on the 29th!

GOTW ― Gem of the Week

If you’re getting a little fed up with news services that seem to be slanted one way or another why not consider setting up your own? “What, my own news app?” Yep, that’s exactly what we mean and here are the two essential ingredients you need:

First, the good folks at NewsAPI.org have a beautiful, simple-to-use API which aggregates over “30,000 news sources and blogs”. It’s free to use for developers.

Then, Latif Atci has provided source for a great little app which shows how to consume all that news and present it beautifully.

Yeah, we know, as usual not really a gem exactly. But if this doesn’t get your creative juices flowing then…well, it really should and lets just leave it at that.

COMM ― Community

We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: we’re eternally in debt to our Community for keeping a weather eye out for interesting and helpful updates:

To wit, Esther Hare who tipped us off to ‘Sign in with Apple’. Geez, we didn’t even know that was a thing. Guess The Big A was fed-up with having Google and Facebook grabbing all that stickiness. Just what we needed, a third option for logging in. Oh well, at least Apple pretends to care about our privacy.

Along the same lines, Apple is also rolling out Universal Purchase for Mac Apps. This further erodes the barriers between macOS, iOS and even watchOS/tvOS with respect to app and in-app purchases. Buy once, enjoy everywhere is Apple’s theory. We think that’s a good idea?

AHTW ― App Highlight This Week

Uh oh. Yet another trend we totally missed. Yep, miniature gaming is a thing. We are so not cool. But setting aside that failing on our part…

Juhani Lehtimäki and his colleagues have come up with an app which sets some sort of new high bar for being tightly focused on just one thing. Whereas BattleScribe is a popular choice for tabletop wargamers, Juhani et al felt it fell short in one particular area: using the BattleScribe-created lists during the game itself. So they created their own to handle just this one thing. The result is Companion for Kill Team. While we may not understand the intricacies of the app like wargamers will, we absolutely respect the notion of having an app doing one thing really, really well. Cool.

And before you get on your high horse about ‘how big can the market be for that?’ check it out on Google Play. The Early Access edition is already reporting over 1000 installs. So there.

DRGTK ― DragonRuby Game Toolkit

Even if you’ve never heard of John Horton Conway there is still a very good chance that if you’re reading DragonRuby Dispatch you’ve encountered his ideas at some point in the past. He invented the Game of Life, the perennial final assignment favourite of CompSci 101 profs everywhere. From a tweet by Dr. V. Vinay, we recently learned that 82 year old Conway recently passed away from COVID-19. We extend our condolences to his family and friends and he will be truly missed.

We’re happy to quote Dr. Vinay when he says “[f]or a word to be used sparingly, Conway was a genius.” We’re also thankful to have been prompted to read about Conway’s life and we highly recommend you do the same. It was an amazing one.

DRSH ― Dragon Riders Slack Highlights

From the always fertile channels of the Dragon Riders Slack team comes word that Brett Walker is dumping Fabric and is not going to Firebase.

For those who missed the beginning of this story Fabric bought Crashlytics which is what Brett was really using in the first place. Then Google bought Fabric and insisted on rebranding it under Swiss Army Knife wannabe Firebase. We are at a loss to understand why big companies always think that’s a good idea.

In any event, Brett is looking for alternatives and kicked off a decent thread along these lines.

ANDROID ― Nothin’ but…

We always like a tight “five things you must do…” or “nine things you should never do…” type article and we have a good one for you: The Seven (Actually 10) Cardinal Sins of Android Development from Gabor Varadi. While admittedly Java centric, this article still brings up some important anti-patterns that you should NOT be using in your RubyMotion code either.

TWIL ― This Week I Learned

Harkening back to #GOTW for just one more minute, we found ourselves looking for a quick-n-easy way to format the JSON code which NewsAPI.org barfs out. That is, if you simply use a browser to enter calls to the API as we did. We didn’t have to look too far to find a decent JSON Formatter & Validator. Cut-n-paste the barfed up blob into the window, click the Process button and―voila!―beautifully formatted JSON code for your viewing pleasure.

NOTE: For entertainment and educational purposes only. You would never use a utility like this for anything proprietary or sensitive as we’re pretty sure that a copy of whatever you pasted into the window will be retained ‘somewhere out there’.

HAHA ― And They All Laughed

Oh that we should all be as creative as Arnab Ray when he found a way of solving a practical, pervasive problem and keeping his suddenly housebound daughter busy. This is cute. And brilliant.

That’s a Wrap!

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