EasyRoute 1.4 Released

I’m really happy to announce that EasyRoute 1.4 has hit the App Store!

I’m particularly excited about this release because I feel it is one of the most solid EasyRoute releases so far. I added one major new feature, but made lots of little fixes and enhancements that I think just make the overall experience with the app better.

GPX Import and Export

I said I was going to prioritize features based on user feedback and this feature came directly from a user request. I see two major uses for this feature:

  1. Open a route created with EasyRoute in other apps.
  2. Share routes via e-mail. The recipient can open the GPX file with EasyRoute or a multitude of other mobile, desktop and web apps.

This is why, if you think EasyRoute could be better, you need to contact me. I’m listening.

Tweaked Add Route Process

It just works better and you may not even notice the difference, but I feel like explaining it.

Previously, on the iPhone, when you pressed the Add Route button, it brought up a view with a Cancel and Done button. This was different than the buttons you got when you were editing an existing a route, but I set it up that way because I thought it would be simpler. The route didn’t fully exist until you were finished and hit the Done button, making it easily cancelled. The problem was, it was a little too easily cancelled. I did not get any user complaints about this, but on a few occasions, I personally accidentally hit the cancel button and lost a route I was making.

I patched this by adding a confirmation message, but I don’t like message box-style user interaction and having an explicit save isn’t really preferred on iOS anyway. So now, regardless of how you conclude adding a new route, EasyRoute will do the right thing.

Out and Back and Reverse Crash

I have about a half-dozen people on my TestFlight team look at EasyRoute before it goes to the App Store and I comb through it myself. Even after it is submitted, testing continues in case a bug is discovered during the few days while it is in Apple’s review queue.

So, I was very surprised to discover that these functions caused crashes. The fix was really simple, but still very embarrassing for me. I received no complaints about it, but I still apologize to anyone who may have encountered this problem.

Distance Marker Improvement

This version of EasyRoute shows fewer distance markers in proportion to the map zoom level, so you won’t have dense line of them obscuring your route if you make a long route.

Selection Indicator on iPad Fixed

Since the route list and the map can both be visible at the same time on the iPad, I now ensure the current route is highlighted in the list. This was always the intent, but did not work in all cases previously

No Town Names

Fixes a problem where town names might not appear on the main list.

Route Info

The route info button is now visible even when not editing a route. Now you can view and change the route’s name and notes without having to enter editing mode.

There are still lots of great features coming to EasyRoute. Stay tuned!

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Rolling right along: EasyRoute 1.3 Released!

There is only one new feature, but it is a personal favorite of mine: Street View!

Tap-and-hold on a road to bring up Street View. It’s that simple.

This is something I’ve been looking forward to doing. Before EasyRoute, using web-based route planners, I have had to keep a regular Google Map page open also so I could look around. If I was planning to run along a busy street, is there a sufficient sidewalk or shoulder I can use to avoid being too close to the traffic? Now, I can just bring it up and check it right in EasyRoute.

I’ve already got a major new feature nearly complete for the next release. Stay Tuned…!

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EasyRoute 1.2 Released!

Quick mention: it’s a good thing I wasn’t going anyway, because WWDC sold out in two or three minutes depending on your source. I had someone inform me at 1:03 EDT, so it definitely was not more than three minutes.

Onto the bigger story of the day (well, at least on this site). EasyRoute 1.2 was released after 7 days in review.

I call this the “little things” release. I concentrated on the big things for 1.0 and 1.1 and saved a bunch of “little things” for 1.2. I did this just in case any of these little things turned into big things. I didn’t want to hold up the other releases with little things.

So, here’s what we have:

1. You can now start the route at the current location dot. I was trying to think of a good way to handle this because that dot was intercepting the touches but, as usual, the simplest way turned out to be the best way. Just tap on the dot to start or extend the route there.

2. When the map is rotated, a compass is now shown. Tap the compass to orient the map to the north again. I went and made a compass myself and right about the same time I submitted it to Apple, the Google Maps SDK added their own compass. Oh well. I think I like mine better anyway.

3. Fixes a minor drawing problem regarding the current location marker.

Finally, while I was waiting for 1.2 to be reviewed, work on 1.3 began. It went quickly, it’s already feature-complete and is going to be released to my testers tonight.

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Thoughts on WWDC 2013

Nope, I’m not going. I’d like to, but for a variety of reasons, I can’t.

I just wanted to point out a few things I think Apple did correctly this year.

First, pre-announcing the event is the right way to go. Granted, it’s only a day in advance, but it shows they heard the cries of developers that got shut out last year. The usual Apple theatrics — the rumors, the speculation, the leaks, the invitations, shutting down the Apple Store — all that is fine and good for product announcements, but they need to be straight and fair with their developers. Even Steve Ballmer understands how important developers are.

Second, WWDC has turned into a big media event for Apple because they usually use it announce a new major product. This year, as Ars Technica pointed out, Tim Cook may have deflated WWDC a bit by mentioning there would be no new products until later this year. If this was the intent, it was a good move. Last year, I heard there were attendees who were only there only for the keynote and had no interest in developer talks. Once again, it’s good if Apple is trying to emphasize the “D” in WWDC.

Third, they are making videos of the sessions available during the conference. Once again, this is something Microsoft is good at and is important to developers. Some of the best things I’ve learned about Xcode and iOS development have come from past WWDC videos.

One more interesting thing. If you didn’t have a a developer account at the time of today’s announcement, you’re out of luck. Last year was the first year they required paid developer accounts in order to get WWDC tickets and I’m sure there was a spike in registrations in the 2-hour span tickets were on-sale. In fact, I was all set to go last year, but didn’t have a paid account that morning and by the time I got my account upgraded, it was too late. I was in the midst of developing EasyRoute, but was holding out on the upgrade to a paid account until I actually needed it.

So, no WWDC 2012 or 2013 for me. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for 2014.

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Race Report: Greg Fried 5k in Roslyn

Today, I ran the 2nd Annual Greg Fried Memorial 5k in Roslyn. The tragedy in Boston made it somewhat somber for me, but I did my best to absorb being back and running through my historic and beautiful childhood hometown.

Like last year, it was nice to meet some friendly runners before and after the race.

As I’m sure will be commonplace at races everywhere, we observed a moment of silence for the victims in Boston. This course starts and finishes at Roslyn High School. Along the way, it goes down through the Roslyn Village, back up Roslyn Road, through the neighborhood around the high school and finishes on a nice straightaway with bit of a slope downward. So despite the hills, you can finish this race with a sprint.

The interesting thing about this course is how different mile 1 and mile 2 are. Mile 1 is almost completely downhill whereas mile 2 is almost completely uphill. What goes down must come up I suppose. If you’re going to start and finish at the same place and lose about 200ft along the way, you have pay for it somewhere. Mile 3 contains another rise in elevation as you go up Magnolia Lane, but, as I mentioned, you can cruise through that last half mile on Harbor Hill Road.

Where I normally run, there are no hills, so I’m not accustomed to steep downhill runs and it can be a bit awkward for me. Today, I found a stride that got me down to the village pretty comfortably and quickly. Hopefully I can find it again in Northport, because I probably won’t see hills again until Cow Harbor.

Everyone gets a finisher’s medal and packed goody bag. They do a great job with the refreshments and have the awards ceremony on the high school track.

No question, I will run this race again next year. Yes, I’m biased, but there’s no denying it’s a fun and scenic course.

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Race Report: Race for Spinal Victory 5k 2013

I ran this last Saturday and didn’t have time to write a post until Monday, but by then it just didn’t feel appropriate.

I ran another race today, but I wanted to cover this one first, because it’s a great race!

First, the course is terrific — a fast and flat run up and down Wantagh Ave. I haven’t recovered the loss of fitness from my bout with pneumonia a few months ago, so I knew a PR was unrealistic. Instead, I decided to run it easily with a friend.

When I ran this race two years ago, I was treated to quite a surprise when I found out I took 2nd in my age group with a subpar run. This year the surprise was winning the grand prize in the raffle! It was a bike!

To clarify, I was the first winner of the raffle which gave me the option to choose any prize. At first I felt a little funny about accepting such a prize from a charity, but I immediately realized the next winner behind me would just take it anyway. I already have a bike, but I also realized it would be pretty easy to find a good home for it if I didn’t use it. I rode the bike home and, on the way, I decided to forward it onto another charity, but it turns out a family member of mine could really use it and I think it would fit him perfectly. It’ll have a good home and a grateful owner.

So anyway, I highly recommend this 5k race. It’s a great course and they do a great job with the post-race refreshments and party. Provided I can avoid major illness, I’d like to take advantage of the course and run it fast next year.

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Font Runner Update

I made some updates to the Font Runner project.

First, I cleaned up the project and put it into Git. It had previously been in my Perforce depot, but as I have mentioned before, I prefer git these days.

Then, I replaced the old license with the GPL license and removed any references to things I am not going to support any more, like the Check for Updates feature. (Maybe I’ll bring it back, but it will take some effort to get it going again on my non-corporate website)

I made some instructions on how to build it, including cloning the repo, building the program and even creating the installers. I then followed these very same instructions to make a fresh build, which is available here.

I pushed the Font Runner repo up to Bitbucket, a very nice service from Atlassian.

Finally, I removed the Font Runner downloads from SourceForge.

This really worked out for the best. Since hosting the files on SourceForge a few months ago, I have heard some complaints about the incredible number of confusing ads they bombard you with. Many of the ads contain big, shiny-looking download buttons, so you had to click carefully to get Font Runner.

I have no ads on this website, nor did I receive any revenue from SourceForge’s ads. I have always thought of SourceForge as a reputable entity, so I’m a little disappointed with the way things turned out there. In the end, the source code and binaries are now available in a clean, convenient way at no cost to me or you. Thanks Atlassian!

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EasyRoute 1.1 now available

After about 8 days in review, EasyRoute 1.1 is finally available.

The big new feature is the elevation graph. In addition, there were some minor bug fixes and internal cleanup.

When I released EasyRoute 1.0, I felt it was in a useful state even without the elevation graph — this is particularly true since I mostly run in places that are very flat. However, with the elevation graph, 1.1 feels much more complete to me.

I am by no means “done”. I still have a long list of things to add to EasyRoute and I already checked a few of those items off while waiting for 1.1 to be reviewed by Apple. I should have another release in Apple’s queue within a week or so.

If you’ve bought it, thank you! Feel free to contact me with feedback or leave a comment.

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Pray for Boston

I was going to make some announcements with tonight’s post; instead I sit here wiping away tears.

Logic is an essential part of computer programming, thus who I am. When these things happen, I ask why? How could this happen? Even to a deranged mind, how could this make sense? I don’t get it. Marathoners? Moviegoers? First graders? These people are targets? Really? Why?

In December, I was committed to training for and running my first marathon. Before pneumonia wrecked my training, I dreamed of capping off all the work by celebrating at the finish line.

Now to see the finish line at Boston — the holy grail for many marathoners… horrific.

As with all the other horrifying murders we’ve had to deal with lately, my heart goes out to the victims and families.

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First Races of the Season

I thought I overheard someone say something about it being spring a couple of weeks ago. It sure doesn’t feel like spring with daytime temperatures still down in the 40s, but the spring 5Ks are here anyway.

First up, on April 14, 2013 is the Race for Spinal Victory (online registration here). I ran this race two years ago. It is one of my favorite 5Ks not only because it is indeed a fast, flat course as advertised, but it is also the race that provided me with my first age-group medal.

When I ran it two years ago, I was actually disappointed with my performance. I hung around for the awards and raffles and was shocked to hear my name called for 2nd in my age group. Honestly, the age group was a bit weak that day, but considering all the running I had done up to that point (early in the morning, late at night, brutal heat, frigid cold, dark, rain, snow, wind, etc) I proudly viewed it as validation of all the hard work and it motivated me to win one again only with a performance I would be happy with. (Which I did; I took 3rd with a PR a few months later.)

My next race, the following weekend on April 20, 2013, is the 2nd Annual Greg Fried Memorial 5K Run/Walk (registration link). I wrote about this event last year. I said that I would do this race again and I am. Once again, it conflicts with the St James 5-Miler, which I also said I wanted to do again, but as much as I want that rematch with the Cordwood Path hill, it doesn’t stand a chance against a race in Roslyn.

Granted, I am biased because the race goes right through my childhood hometown, but it really is a beautiful run. It goes completely around the scenic duck pond surrounded by historic homes and through the Roslyn village. I’ve been looking forward to running it again.

Finally, I’ll be running some kind of longer race in May or June. Due to pneumonia, I will not attempt the full, 26.2-mile Long Island Marathon, but I will run the half if I can either change the registration or just finish in one of the half chutes. I was also considering the Lake Placid Half Marathon. I thought I had missed the registration deadline, but I see it has been extended, so I’m thinking about that again too.

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