Monday, June 17, 2013

Back in the Saddle

No news since March! Time for an update.

The house-moving is done, yay! (Well, it's never completely done, but it's 99% done and the rest isn't urgent.) The family's health issues I've been alluding to are also mostly resolved, and in a good way: we're all doing fine, thanks.

So... does that mean I'm finally back to work on Solitaire Till Dawn?

Yes. Yes, it does. It's taken half of a year to get all of these issues taken care of, but life is finally settling back towards sanity, and I have actually been able to spend time on software development during the last few weeks. Here's where we are:

I am nearly done with adding features (whether new or old). Most recently I completed work on the old "Game Number" feature, where every shuffle has a number that can be used to re-create it. You can share a challenge with a friend, for example, by choosing "Show Game Number" from the File menu and sending the number to your friend, who enters it by choosing "Play Game Number" and entering the number you sent.

I have also finished adding in some missing behaviors. For example, until a couple of weeks ago, selecting "New Game" didn't give you any warning or chance to change your mind if you were in the middle of an unfinished game. Now the old preference settings for that sort of thing are fully implemented, and you do get the warning and chance to cancel if, for example, you clicked the New Game button by accident.

This morning I achieved a really good improvement in startup time. It had been taking 30 seconds or longer to launch Solitaire Till Dawn and present the game window; now it takes about 3 seconds.

So all of that is just to show you that yes, I've been working! But I know that what you really want to know is what's left to do, and how long it will take.

Sorry, but I still can't predict how long it will take to finish. (Pause for loud groans from the audience, and a few people shouting boo! and throwing overripe fruit.) This is because much of what's left isn't up to me.

There's still the polish-and-debug stage to get through; that part is up to me. It will be done when I feel like all of the significant bugs are fixed, and when I'm not finding new ones very often. But I've done a lot of that already, as I worked on other things, so I'm not too concerned about it.

I also have to write the online help. That will take time, but it's pretty straightforward and I don't expect any big difficulties or setbacks; so I'm not too concerned about that either.

Then there's artwork. This is a big deal. When I wrote the first version of Solitaire Till Dawn, most of my customers still had black-and-white Macs with a tiny screen. It was fairly easy for me to provide all the artwork, even though I'm not much of an artist. When the Mac II and larger color screens started getting popular, it was harder (because I'm not much of an artist!) but I could still manage on my own. But when really big, deep-color Macs became common, I started having to hire real artists. Nowadays, the App Store and the high-resolution Retina displays have raised the bar absurdly high. All of the artwork must be of professional quality: not only because users have come to expect it, but because the App Store will not accept apps that look slapdash. (For example, every app must have an app icon in deep color, and sized at 1024x1024 pixels! That's bigger than my cards used to be!) So one of my next tasks is to come up with a comprehensive list of images—card art, app icon, toolbar buttons, dialog images, status bar icons, etc.—and hire somebody to make them. And then wait for them to be done.

And when everything is really done and ready to go, I have to submit it to the App Store. Getting a new app approved can take months, from what I'm told.

So hang in there, if you can. I know that inevitably some of you are going to give up on waiting. I'm truly sorry to disappoint you; I probably want this done myself more than anyone else on the planet; but as I keep saying, it's a big job and it will take as long as it takes.

But I am working on it!


  1. Yay! You're back! Glad to hear things are going much better. Keep on truckin'! Although many of us have found other solitaire games, they are not the same. So keep us in the loop so we'll know when it's time for Solitaire Til Dawn again!

  2. All the best - I'm still holding out for my favorite Solitaire program (APP I guess I should say these days). Cheers Rick!

  3. I can't find anything to equal your terrific program. I'll wait for you to get this version finished.

  4. It's good news. I'm not one who's given up on waiting, but at 77 years of age and just safely through a second bout with cancer dunno how much waiting time I have.
    Keep going, son, we NEED you.

  5. Just a quick question. Even though I upgraded from Leopard to Lion and migrated two years ago from a MacPro to a Mac Mini, STD is still in my applications folder and its alias is in my dock. Of course it is unusable with this OS. Will your new version import my statistics and other preferences and personal information from the older version and let me continue unchanged from the previous one? Or would I and all the other users be starting over?