GroceryList and Beyond
Where Keith forges a head
We've been hard at work in the Helium Foot software foundry carefully crafting GroceryList v1.1 and v1.2. Fear not loyal reader for these subsequent sequels to our flagship iPhone product will still give you the fastest way to make your grocery list. Version 1.1, just released this weekend, brings the oft requested "Multiple Lists" feature. Now you can can keep track of one list for your grocery store, another for your drug store and a third for that overpriced specialty store with the terrific produce. We've also updated the interface a bit for easier tapping and faster scrolling. Sound interesting? Get it from the app store.
Still not enough? Well, loyal reader, perhaps version 1.2 is what you have been waiting for? The big focus for this version is providing more user control: Pick your own favorites, change your master list, rename items and aisles and more! Here at Helium Foot, we make a habit of not announcing release dates lest the angry mobs start showing up at our doorstep (deep underground in the HF walled compound) demanding their overdue release. So let's just agree that i'll be personally (and deeply) embarrassed if we can't get this one out by the middle of May. In the mean time, watch your app store updates.
Go, Go, GroceryList
Where Keith Jumps on a Bandwagon Just as a New Bandwagon Appears
It's been a long time in coming, so i'll just say it: GroceryList is now available from the iTunes App Store! I've only talked a little about what sets GroceryList apart from the many other grocery list apps (some of which are, frankly, quite good). GroceryList is this: the fastest way to make your grocery list. Here's why you want it:
Fast List Making
As with any app, it starts with the startup. GroceryList starts up fast which means your list starts fast. Then we come to the real secret sauce: Multi-index. Multi-index is a new way navigate long lists of information. With GroceryList you rarely type. Instead, you select from the built in master list of the 1,500 items you would find in a typical grocery store. With Multi-index, you can tap "C", then "Choc" to find items like "Chocolate Chips" or "Chocolate Milk" (can you tell what our favorite food is at Helium Foot central?) It's easier to get when you see it in action, so go forth and watch the screencast
. GroceryList also keeps track of your common purchases for quick reference and of course, if you really want to, you can type to search.
Incidentally, i really think that the "long list" problem is an important unsolved area in the iPhone development kit. As such i'll soon be open sourcing Multi-index (as in probably this weekend) so that other developers can use it in their apps.
Making a list is only half the battle, and half the battle is knowing, er... i mean shopping. GroceryList will speed you through the store by showing all of the items on your list categorized by aisle and listing all of the aisles in the order that they would be in a typical grocery store. You can, of course reorder these aisles to match your store.
You can add new items, and new aisles. Natch.
I haven't seen a lot of apps include any sort of help. While iPhone apps are very intuitive and discoverable, i still think that a lot of users are missing important features because they just don't know that they're there (or how to use them). To solve this, i included a full set of help videos to show
you how to get the most out of GroceryList.
On a final note, there's been a lot of horror stories
about dealing with the app store as a developer. However, this recent post
on The Unofficial Apple Weblog
gave me hope that it was getting better. The fact is that fewer than 48 hours passed between the moment of submission and the moment it went on sale. Us software developers can be tough to please but so far, the app store and i are on very good terms.
Where Keith does a little
Like 150 other Mac and iPhone developers, Helium Foot (and who are we kidding here, we really mean "I") is proud to participate in Indie+Relief to help raise funds for disaster relief in Haiti. 100% of the proceeds made from all purchases recorded on the 19th and 20th of January 2010 will be donated to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. If you've been thinking of buying ANY Mac or iPhone software, please do so today.
Special thanks to Justin Williams at Second Gear with help from Garrett Murray for organizing this event. You gentlemen reflect well on all of us.
One Fifth of a Five Fingered Discount
Where Keith gives a steal
The ever popular MacHeist is gearing up for another bundle. As a developer of (hopefully!) fine Mac software, i definitely can see both sides of the controversy: Getting so much software for cheap can lead users to think that it's not worthwhile to pay full price. On the other hand, developers are free to . Into the breach between the two steps Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software maker of the excellent MarsEdit blog editor in which i'm typing these words right now. Riffing on the idea that MacHeist is a steal, Daniel organized the "One Fingered Discount" (as in 1/5 of a five fingered discount, in NO WAY related to the "one fingered salute") where participating developers are offering a 20% discount on their products. If you're the type who loves a steal (or at least 20% of one), then check out all of the great software you can get on the cheap(er).
On the Job, On the Train
Where Keith works and goes
My very sincere thanks again go to Hey Mac software, the makers of Narrator and Briefcase for bringing me this moment:
Where Keith is goin' mobile
At WWDC this year, i befriended a fellow software craftsman named Mike Taylor of Hey Mac Software. I would place Mike firmly in the category of my friends who are much smarter than i am. Following Mike on Twitter, i became aware of the License to Mod contest, promoting Hey Mac's Narrator for iPhone. Narrator provides synchronized audio and text which can help you learn to read english or just to tell an interesting story with sound, words and images. The contest involved listening to the Motive Games audio book and solving the mystery therein. The story was very cute and although aimed at a young adult audience i found myself pretty engrossed in the climactic scene. Getting engrossed in a story like this has certain benefits because i won the contest! I'm writing this post on my circa 2001 Titanium PowerBook, but soon will upgrade to the brand new 13" Mac Book Pro of my dreams. At my desk, i of course have a machine that is a little more modern but for my mobile commuting computing i'm thrilled to be getting an upgrade.
If narrator doesn't sound like your cup of cocoa, then definitely check out Hey Mac's Briefcase. Briefcase sits at the head of a class of applications that lets you transfer files from a desktop to your iPhone/iPod Touch for viewing anywhere. What sends Briefcase to the head of the class is how it can connect via ssh (a secure connection) to your computer from anywhere in the world, at any time and let you view pretty much any file. When i first tried it, it was one of those experiences where the technology seemed almost indistinguishable from magic and definitely made me feel grateful to be living in the 21st century.
Where Keith Has a Snack
I recently threatened the food supply of my entire family but am happy to report that supply lines remained unaffected. People who write software like to use the phrase "eating your own dog food" to mean using and living with the software that you write. Well last week, i ate the dog food and successfully made a shopping list and then took it to the store to shop from it! To my competitors, i say: you've got nothing to worry about yet. This app is missing a lot of features and is very rough but as of today, we're off to the dog races.