I'm very excited to announce that my first ever iPhone & iPad app is now available in the App Store for FREE! Bunco Calc is an incredibly simple iOS app and was a project I started and finished completely in the month of November.
Ever since I first got the iPhone, I've wanted to make apps for it. It's been almost 3 years since I signed our company up for the Apple iOS Developer Program and since that time I have read (or at least started reading) various books and courses on the subject. I originally never had an idea I thought was both useful as well as easy enough I felt I could tackle for my first project.
Some of you may have heard of "National Novel Writing Month" (or NaNoWriMo for short) before. It is a community of people who each commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in a single month. It's become pretty popular since it started and lots of people have created similar events for various interests.
Progvember was created by Andy Still, a computer programmer from the United Kingdom, after learning about NaNoWriMo. He was inspired to create a similar event for programmers. Progvember challenged it's participants to try to get a programming project from an idea to release within 30 days. I knew this could be the perfect opportunity for myself to finally create an app and get it in the App Store.
Bunco is a social dice game that is being played in an increasing number of homes throughout the US. My parents have thrown a holiday Bunco party for friends and family for as long as I can remember. Multiple tables of 4 people roll 3 dice trying to win the round and earn "Buncos". The idea for my app came from the fact that I always felt it was a pain to score Bunco with pen and paper. An iPhone or iPad app that could keep score of both sides and let you compute the total as you were playing would be really helpful. This was to be my first iOS app!
I started with a basic mock-up of my simple application using an app for iPad called iMockups. I laid out all of the pieces to get the interface planned out. I focused on function first, thinking if I could just get the app working, I'll make it pretty later.
The next step was to translate this interface to a storyboard in Apple's iOS programming environment called Xcode. Here I made the actual buttons you could touch and interact with as well as labels to output the totals. Rethinking my original mockup, I really wanted my app to have the feel of Apple's redesigned OS called iOS 7. I then simplified the interface to make it as clean as possible, still going with a red theme.
Then came the coding. This app is "incredibly" simple and did not require a lot of code. Making the buttons add up the two different totals was a simple task as well as making the Clear button reset those totals. The Undo button was a little tougher but I found that Apple had already created an object specifically to make undo easier. I learned about how it worked and how I would implement it in my own application.
Once my app was nearly fully functional, I really wanted to make my app beautiful and I wasn't happy with the color scheme. I played with some various colors and styles asking my Wife and a couple of friends for their opinions. I really love iOS 7 and wanted to do something modern, bright and fun. I settled upon the final style of purple and light blue. I setup the interface to work first with the iPhone 5 and iPad, but upon submitting to Apple, realized I also needed a screen shot and a version to work on the smaller screen of the iPhone 4.
Next came the all important icon. Since first having the idea for the app, I also had an idea for the icon and created it using my original red color scheme. I got to work designing and found a cool Photoshop template that allowed you to make the logo once and save it all in the various sizes. That was a real time saver. Once my new color scheme was chosen, I recolored the icon to what it is now.
The final piece of the puzzle was the "Launch Image". This is an image that displays for just a few seconds while your application is booting up. I continued with the same color scheme and made a simple logo splash screen.
It was then on to Apple and getting it up into the App Store. I finally submitted it at 2am on November 24th and crossed my fingers it would be available to download by the last day of the month. Last night the app finally became "Ready For Sale", but it wasn't until this morning that you could actually find and download it in the App Store!
I invite anyone who is a Bunco fan or interested in iOS or Progvember to download my app and check it out! Our holiday bunco party is just around the corner in December, and you can bet I will have my iPad or iPhone with me keeping score electronically. I welcome you to do the same!
Click Here to download my app Bunco Calc!