Don’t take this for a formal commitment, but one of my new year’s resolutions this year was to get at least one Lovely Charts update out every month.
This one took a wee bit longer than expected, but eventually worked out: I’ve just submitted Lovely Charts for iPad 1.2 to Apple for review!
So, what’s in this update?
Bug fixes, bug fixes, bug fixes
Despite the globally satisfactory rating (3.7/5 over 32 reviews), reading reviews and support emails, I know the Lovely Charts for iPad experience hasn’t been so lovely for some people, who’ve notably reported numerous crashes.
Believe me: I hate this more than anyone.
I’ve developed this the best I could, and tested it rather extensively, myself but also with the help of a bunch of awesome beta testers. During beta testing, many many bugs were uncovered, and fixed, but unfortunately this didn’t prevent other bugs to sneak in unnoticed.
Believe me again, as a developer, there’s very few things more frustrating than seeing crash reports that you didn’t notice, or worse, that you’re completely unable to reproduce despite hours of testing.
Now, thanks to crash logs and even more extensive testing, I’ve finally been able to track down a bunch of those nasty bugs, and believe this 1.2 update is pretty stable . No leaks show up in Instruments or when analyzing code, and I’m completely unable to crash the app myself even if I try very hard.
This has been the #1 feature request since the very first release. You can now style your diagrams with a bunch of options:
- Set text font, size, color, attributes (bold/italic)
- Set the stroke color for both symbols and links
- Add drop shadows to symbols
And as an extra, all those options can be saved into styles presets, that you can then apply to other items, either individually (select item > tap on desired style), or globally, ie “make all symbols pink with a blue, bold label” (select any item > double tap on desired style) .
Style presets can subsequently be deleted using a simple, standard swipe gesture on the style you wish to remove.
Initially, I envisioned Lovely Charts for iPad as a very simple app. A tool with limited options, that you’d use to quickly brainstorm or draft diagrams during meetings etc. This lead me to design a rather minimal, “as chromeless as possible” interface, favoring natural, intuitive gestures over buttons and typical UI artefacts.
Now, as the app matures, and additional features make their way into the app, preserving the elegant simplicity of the UI is only going to get more and more challenging.
So, how do I plan to address this? Well, first and foremost, by opposing a strong resistance to the temptation of too quickly adding too many features, and second, by introducing a new, pretty cool, “Focus Mode”, similar to what iA Writer offers.
Want to focus on your content, get maximum screen estate, and zero distraction? Simply swipe up near the top of the screen to get rid of both navigation and status bars.
Feel like changing some colors, formatting some text? Swipe down in that same zone, and recover access to everything you need.
I personally really like this new feature a lot. Offering a completely chromeless drawing experience is something I’ve been willing to do since the very beginning, so I’m happy !
What do you think?
Last but not least, I’ve added a couple of action buttons at the bottom of the popover that shows up when you touch & hold and element: Delete, and Duplicate (symbols only). Delete first because it’s true that sometimes drawing a “Z” over a single element can be complicated, and Duplicate because it’s rather handy, especially when in “Focus Mode”, when you don’t have a direct access to formatting options.