It is always nice to see when other people like and use the software you release. I remember when I launched the first version of BikeNav back in March of this year and saw it listed on the App Store, I certainly felt a big feeling of accomplishment. However, the joy was even bigger when I found out that a magazine publication took notice.
A couple of weeks ago I got contacted by someone from Bicycling Magazine, which has been providing the bike community with bike gear and equipment reviews, training plans, maintenance how-to’s and more for 47 years, that they would like to feature my application in their December issue. This was great news and really the best thing that could have happened, considering the state the development process was in. I had hit some technical difficulties when working on an update version of the application back in May and combined with higher load at work and less free time, I had lost interest a bit in improving the application. The interest from the magazine, combined with the news that the piece will be contributed by Ray Maker (whose blog should be your #1 destination if you are interested in any kinds of gear reviews when it comes to outdoor and endurance sports), gave me the spark that I needed to continue working and improving the app.
Motivated by this attention that I had received, I spent huge chunks of my spare time since to improve the app, which led to the release of version 2 of BikeNav on pretty much the same date—incidentally—as the publish date of the December issue of Bicycling Magazine. And just today I was able to pick up a copy and found, with great joy, a little paragraph about my app in the upper right hand corner on page 20. Nothing big. Nothing fancy. But still something.
BikeNav 2.0: The tech details
What was holding me back a little bit since the release of version 1 was that I was an earlier adopter of jQuery Mobile, having used their first alpha release for my initial version. The upgrade to a more stable version always seemed too painful and time consuming and so I kept adding hack after hack on top of an understandably buggy (in parts) version of the framework. In addition, I was also using a 0.9.x release of phoneGap to power BikeNav.
With version 2, both of the frameworks were upgraded to their most recent version. In addition, I also gave the application a bit of a UI overhaul, abandoning the black & white look from the initial version and introducing a new splash screen, updating the logo to feature a blue color tone instead of black and cleaning up the interface in general. I also introduced new features, like the ability to search for points of interests along a route using the CloudMade’s Local Search API and being able to add custom location pins to the map.
The attention that I got from the magazine and from the occasional user who emails with his feedback certainly motivates me to keep working on BikeNav. In addition to being a very useful app for bicyclists, it is also a great playground for me to see how far I can get with the hybrid mobile application approach, where the majority of the heavy lifting is done using web technologies.
So if you are a cyclist and haven’t checked out my app, please do so. And after you are done, feel free to send me feedback.