Monday, August 20, 2012

Solitaire Till Dawn: The Last 90%

I am nearly at the end of a three-week "working vacation", time off from my day job which I have spent working full-time on Solitaire Till Dawn instead. It has been both productive and fun, and although Solitaire Till Dawn for Lion (and beyond) is still not done, I've made a lot of progress.

In these three weeks I've accomplished the following:

  • Made the animation system sane and well-behaved
  • Implemented a full preferences system for saving your settings and scores
  • Created the "Players" feature, so you and your family can keep separate, personal settings and scores
  • Implemented automatic saving of your game when you quit, and automatic resume when you start again later
  • "Sandboxed" the app, to obey Apple's new security restrictions
  • Wrote the code to import your old scores and settings into the new version
  • Created a half-dozen new cardback images, with high resolution for modern screens
  • Implemented the Décor panel, so you can choose royalty, cardbacks, and background images
  • And made loads of miscellaneous bug fixes and user interface spiff-ups.

So where do we stand?
Fair question, especially after all that gloating and bragging. I'm afraid there's still a lot left to do.

Some wag once observed that the first 90% of the job takes 90% of the time; and then the last 10% of the job takes the other 90% of the time. He was right. At this point, nearly all of Solitaire Till Dawn's major features are basically working. There are a couple of time-consuming items left to do: for example, I still have to implement the "extended statistics", and I have to write all the built-in help pages. But most of what's left is just a whole lot of tedious testing and bug-fixing.

At this point, I expect some of you are wanting to volunteer to help with the testing. I'm grateful for all the offers, but I'm still not accepting testers (not even a waiting list, so please don't clog my in-box with requests, thanks!). Managing beta testers is itself a big, time-consuming job, and I'm not going to start it while I still have a big list of bugs I've already found and can test myself.

When testing is complete and I think the product is ready for release, I will submit it to Apple's App Store. This will require getting my descriptive text and screen shots ready and packaged up, which is another task that will take some time. I've never done this before, but from friends I know that acceptance may take weeks, especially if Apple find problems they want me to fix.

Will there be anything missing in the first release?
Yes, a few features from the old version will almost certainly not be in the new version. I am deliberately leaving some things out in order to get the app done as quickly as possible. The list of skipped features may include:

  • Magnetic Mouse
  • "Cheat" features
  • Custom cardbacks from your own photos
  • The clock timer
  • "Save Game" and "Open Game" menu items (but your current game will always be auto-saved)
That list is not final. And if one of your favorite features is on it, please don't worry. If it isn't in the first release, I will add it in a later update.

Enough, already! We just want to know when it will be done!
Sorry, I don't know! Testing, bug-fixing, and submitting to the App Store are all things that will simply take as long as they take, and I can't predict how long that will be.

My vacation will be over in a couple of days, and I'll be back to having only evenings and weekends for this. I've used these full-time weeks for the "big ticket" items, stuff that really requires hours of uninterrupted concentration and a mind that isn't end-of-the-day exhausted. Those items are now finished, and most of what's left should not require such deep focus. I'm hoping I can be reasonably productive even in those late-night snatched hours. I'll continue to keep you posted on my progress, of course.

What about Mountain Lion?
I won't release Solitaire Till Dawn until it is compatible with both Lion (OS X 10.7) and Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8). That won't delay things much, I think.

I had originally intended to keep this release compatible with Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) as well. That may yet happen, but if it looks like it would seriously delay the release, I will abandon that. Snow Leopard is now out of date by two major OS X updates, and the old version does still work in Snow Leopard if you install Rosetta.


Sco said...

Excited to hear about your progress! I still struggle on without STD on my machines. I'll be one of the first to buy it from the App Store; STD is missed. Loved the title of your post.

tillotta said...

I'm sorry for you about your last days of vacations anyway you make a lot of improvement and that is ok even if we have to wait to get the app, i still have an old mac that still use the old app bye and good luck for all the stuff that still remains to do

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. I'm sure the new "version" (app) is as good if not better than the one I cannot do without. Checked a lot of apps and none come close to yours! I check your blog every day and as soon as I find out it is in the App Store I'm there! Thanks again.

nonjunk said...

We've waited a year now so we can wait a bit longer. But Magnetic Mouse NEEDS to be in there! :)

a2dmusic said...

Hey, just adding my voice to the general group offering support and encouragement. Will be in line on day one to buy the new version of the app!

Unknown said...

I would LOVE to have the app. Using Lion now but will eventually upgrade to Mountain Lion. Hate to lose programs due to upgrades so this is exciting news! :)


zachette said...

I am patiently waiting...

reginag said...

Finally! I've been waiting for these for so long.

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