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Showing posts from 2014

Technology Radar for 2015

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With 2014 drawing to a close and 2015 offering fresh opportunities it is up to every software development professional to look at the up and coming technologies which are becoming widely adopted. ThoughtWorks have released their technology radar for 2015 with a list of techniques, tools, platforms, languages and frameworks to either adopt, trial, assess or avoid in the coming year. This is well worth a read - I have to say there were quite a few which I hadn't looked at before - a prompt reminder of how quick it is to fall behind in this profession.

Here's my two tips for 2015 - the top technologies to either adopt or trial in any new projects you are working on.

AngularJS
AngularJS is an excellent JavaScript framework which when used effectively allows you to structure your code to make complex web applications easily maintainable, and promotes code re-use. While the latest version (1.3) is extensively used in both small and major projects across the world, the AngularJS team …

Tutorial: Create great icons with Syncfusion Metro Studio

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A key part of any website, desktop or mobile application is icons. These tiny little images can really bring your project to life and improve the look and feel of your apps. Choosing the wrong icon can have a huge impact on the usability of your application. I found creating or finding icons for my projects could be a real time waster - until I found Syncfusion's free desktop application - Metro Studio.

Metro Studio comes with over 4000 pre-made icons which you can customize to meet your needs - change the colors, change the size and export them to any format you want. Here's a quick run through of how to use Metro Studio.

When you open the application you will be shown a list of available icons to choose from:


Here you can browse by category and the search feature is great - finding similar icons. Lets assume we want a shopping basket and we select that icon:



The icon is shown (and defaults to your last configuration - so you can maintain color consistency). On the right hand…

Situational Leadership in Agile

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For anyone line managing as well as performing technical leadership, the term situational leadership may have come up in an HR lecture you really don't care about! Join the club.

However, this was once explained to me in terms that really struck home to me and is something that I have learned the hard way in my teams.

Agile works because the team is empowered to succeed - to a certain degree a lot of responsibility is delegated onto the team.

Situational leadership is the theory that there is no right way to manage - but effective leaders effectively bounce between styles. The styles are:

Telling/directing - the leader tells subordinates what to do.Selling/coaching - the leader sells an idea so that subordinates will do it.Participating/supporting - the leader will work with subordinates to get the desired outcome.Delegating - subordinates are essentially able to pick up the work themselves. 

At its most effective, Agile works when most of the team are at the delegation stage. The …

Continuous integration is the key!

Continuous integration (CI) is a key component of any successful software development team - not just an agile team. Doing it right will bring the following benefits to your team:

Provide automated builds of software for testers to pick up. A common, repeatable platform to run tests (unit, integration, automated functional and performance tests).A place to run code quality tools (SonarQube, FxCop, StyleCop, JSHint etc)A place to create production build installers. There are various great tools for setting up continuous integration and you should spend time evaluating what will be best for your project. My personal favorites are:  JenkinsCruiseControl It is imperative that an agile team devotes time early in their project to get their continuous integration system up and running early (sprint 1 or 2) to ensure they have a solid platform to run on. Ideally your continuous integration will run on every commit into your source control system so that the team gets immediate feedback - have th…

The scrum meeting - some quick tips.

The scrum meeting is the key meeting in agile - it promotes communication and resolving issues and is very effective. Everyone does the scrum meeting slightly differently but the basic principle is that each team member answers the following three questions:

What did you do yesterday?What are you working on today?Are there any blocks or impediments in your way? This is a very simple format which works great. However, it's important that you experiment with your team to get a system which works best for you. I find that I typically make the following tweaks with my teams:
I only run them every other day rather than every day - so Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This allows for work from home days (which I standardize as Tuesday or Thursday) to get maximum time in the office together. Daily scrums tend to feel like too much. The time for the scrum is the same every time - and it's first thing in the morning! Nobody like the morning, but I find it helps the team get focused on their …

The first key to agile success - get rid of offices!

If you are new to agile there is one simple change that you NEED to make before you even read up on anything else. Sprints, retrospectives, scrum-masters can all wait - you will instantly improve your development teams productivity by changing your office to open plan with your team co-located. 
Why is co-location so important? 
Communication is easier. People talking to each other to work through problems is the quickest way to resolve blocks. I see it all the time, developers talking to developers, developers talking to testers, testers talking to product management etc. I've yet to experience a major block which hasn't been resolved within a day and that is due to people simply talking to each other. Communication is faster - who you need to speak to is right there next to you.Agile is about working as a team, and for a team to work well you need to feel like a team. Co-location helps improve team spirit, keeps people in the loop as they can hear what is going on, and all thi…

Eclipse - Editor hidden - Fix!

I hit a weird error today where in Eclipse I couldn't seem to open any files - the editor seemed to be minimized somehow! Even restarting eclipse didn't fix it. After a bit of playing about - I've got a solution I thought I would share.


Go to Window -> New Window. This will open a second instance of Eclipse. Notice you can now open files again. But you aren't done - you need Eclipse to remember this setting.Close the old window (the one you couldn't open files with) first.Now close the new window (the one you can open files with). This will persist your new setting (where you want  to be able to open files!). Open Eclipse - you should be back in business. Hope this helps someone :-)

Promoting your own apps - AdMob in-house ad campaigns

As I've mentioned in my previous blogs, the amount an app will earn you is relative to the number of installs you have. To get installs, you need many things, from a great app to a marketing strategy.

So how can you market your own app on a budget?

One thing I have trialed this week for the first time is using AdMob's in-house ad campaigns. Essentially, you sacrifice showing someone else's ad in your app (which affects your income) in order to show ads for your own apps. It costs you nothing (except lost revenue..) but in theory it should build up more downloads for your other apps and make you more money long term.

In only 1 week I've found this to be a very effective way of launching a new app. You can build on the success of your other apps and help your new app get traction. It's great. But it's not free. You will notice a drop in income to begin with (after a week, I'm still down daily on what I'd usually get) as I'm showing a lot of my own ads. I…

Top 5 tips for maximising app revenue

There are many ways of monetizing your apps but here are the 5 top things you can do to maximize your apps potential. Note there is one theme that runs throughout these tips - the revenue of your app is relative to the the usage of your app.

Display interstitial ads. This was the one change I made to my apps which instantly saw my revenue almost treble. I had previously been showing banner ads within my apps but adding interstitial ads made my revenue boom. Be careful however that you don't drive users away from your app, remember the revenue of your app is relative to the the usage of your app.
Establish your app early on before adding ads. I find that ads can be a turn off to users, and every install counts when you are trying to establish your app. The best thing to do is to let the app gain momentum and user base before introducing ads. After all if you have a handful of users adding ads isn't going to gain you more revenue. Remember, the revenue of your app is relative to t…

Checking income on the go

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As I mentioned in my first post you can quickly get addicted to your apps and tracking their progress. To do this, you'll want to get stats on the go. There are a few apps on the play store market, and I use a combination of these to get the statistics I need.
1. Google AdSense

This app gives you your days stats. There are handy indicators as to whether yesterdays stats were up or down, and whether your month is up or down on this time last month - very handy! Let's just hope you see lots of green arrows and not red ones.
2. AdSense Dashboard
AdSense Dashboard is an app I've used since I first started monetizing my apps. 
My favourite feature about this is the 2 week history - where you can work out how much you are averaging over a two week period so you can try and forecast future outcome. 
There are many other apps out there but these are the ones I use. 
So what about tracking your store ratings and downloads? That is another story altogether - I've yet to find a good too…

The App Graveyard - The Depressing side of App Development

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App development is great. People do it for fun, people do it for work and people do it for both. The barriers of entry to creating your own app (especially Android) are so low you can literally publish an app in a few hours and the statistics available let you track your apps progress in almost real time. The thrill of watching an app soar in terms of downloads and rank is amazing, and only rivalled by watching the money you make from an app soar. That is the justification for starting this blog - to document lessons learned and to share the joy I gain from writing apps. However, this first blog post focusses on another side of app development I've just discovered for the first time - the massive lows after the initial thrills.
My story starts in September 2012 when I published my first ever app. I started developing apps as a way to keep my technical skills up to date. I have a Masters in Computer Science and had a full time job as a Software Developer, but was transitioning to …