It’s been 5 months since the last big update, and in that time I took a little break from Chordious development to work on some side projects, but I’ve picked it back up in the last month or so. A big thank you to everyone for the continued feedback – it’s reassuring when I see that the problems people run into are more often due to something I just haven’t done yet, instead of things that I already did but are broken.
The biggest complaint/ask is around changing/managing the default styling for diagrams. And I totally expect that. It’s the last big problem to be solved before an official 2.0.
Easy and powerful diagram styling is the raison d’être for Chordious. The powerful part is already built-in. Figuring out how to make it easy to use is the hardest part of this project, and why it’s coming so slowly.
Think of an app like Microsoft Word. Just about anyone can get started with it right away. With a little bit of training, you can make a variety of professional looking documents. It’s also easy to make consistent sets of documents with a uniform style. With enough training, you can create just about any document you’d ever want in Word. It has a bewildering amount of power and flexibility under the hood if you need it, but people of all skill levels can use it effectively every day.
Obviously, the market of people who want to create their own fretboard diagrams is much smaller than the market of people making generic documents. But I still want Chordious to be the “Word” of fretboard diagram creators. Chordious is for music education, for teachers and students of all sizes. It should be easy to make professional-looking diagrams for your educational materials, and with a little bit of training, easy to make them your diagrams, not just the canned output of some app.
OK, off my soapbox.
Making styling easy to use gets broken down into a variety of smaller problems, and as I think through all of their solutions, it’s easier to work on the other parts of Chordious that still need to get done. Last month I made some much needed stylistic changes like the new icon and the different button styles. I’ve also started some of the features that’ll make the Diagram Library and managing your diagrams easier to do.
I’ve also been doing a bunch of work under the hood, stuff that many developers put off or never do, the dues one pays when trying to make a professional product. The biggest thing is localization (ie. translation) support. I’m working through the slow and tedious task of updating all of the hard-coded text (every button label, every checkbox, every title, every message and error) with the proper setup to support other languages in the future. I’m also taking the time to add the little mouse-over tool-tip popups to everything to help explain what each button and option does. It’s a lot of work.
To be clear, I’m not even translating anything into another language yet. I’m just setting up the infrastructure so that, after the 2.0 release, it’ll be much easier to get the app translated into other languages.
As for other dreams after 2.0, that’s when I’ll start taking a fresh look at other platforms, the world outside of just a Windows desktop app. It was just a year ago that I made certain decisions about how to start building the Chordious 2 UI. I purposely built Chordious 2 to separate the UI from the underlying logic, which would make cross-platform development easier. It was a lot more work, and the pay-off was mostly to make it easier to make a Windows Phone app, and to not have to start completely from scratch for a Mac OSX / Linux version.
Earlier this year Microsoft bought Xamarin, a tool which makes it easy for C# developers like me to build cross-platform apps and share as much code as possible. I considered using it last year, but it was a steep $400/year subscription to use, and their trial options were pretty weak, so I’d have to buy it first, then hope that I actually wanted to use it.
But in an awesome bit of news, earlier this week, it was announced that Xamarin is now a free part of Visual Studio 2015. I’ve done some preliminary research, no promises, but it’s possible that I’ll be able to make Chordious apps for OSX, iOS, and Android prettily easily. It’s really a super exciting time to be a C# developer.
Well, that’s all for now. Keep the feedback coming. If you haven’t yet, download and try out the latest Chordious 2 Preview today!