The first App

So I was watching L. playing around with a toy lightsaber. She was swishing it about and making the noises (much as Ewan McGregor was apparently asked to stop doing during filming). I thought that it might be nice to make a phone app that did the noises for you. How hard can it be?

It was my first foray into iPhone apps so I wasn’t sure I was actually going to get it to work. Lots of things to think about (and lots I hadn’t thought of). First was to get the accelerometers in the device working, then to be able to play a sound on command, to vary the pitch, speed and volume of the sound depending on the ferocity of the swish and finally to put together some sort of graphic to look a bit like a lightsaber.

It’s all done with a program called Xcode. Its the development environment created by apple that lets you write code, design interfaces and even submit apps to the App Store (once you have handed over your $80 a year that is). I have to say, its not bad. You drag and drop objects onto the screen and build your interface graphically. Then you simply (simply?) link blocks of code to the various buttons and images and away you go. The only snag is that XCODE only runs on a Mac.( well you can get it to run on a PC but its not easy). Thusly the next step was to buy one and they are far from cheap….even second hand from eBay (which is where this one came from). The thing about Macs is that they are twice as good as a normal laptop but 3 times the price. Go figure. So that’s a total investment now of like $800. This app better make some money or I’m going to be seriously out of pocket (STOP PRESS: as of today the app has made 26p in three weeks, and that’s before tax! its going to take a while to recoup the losses)

The development language is called ‘SWIFT’ presumably because it isn’t (well, not when you first try to get started it’s not). I tried a great web intro from a site called Code with Chris, which turned out to be really quite good. It explains how to get started on the road with a simple card game.

The next step came whilst I was away at a conference. I had my laptop with me and a few hours to spare so I spent it gainfully searching the web for royalty free lightsaber sounds. I can only imagine what the people in the next room thought was going on 🙂

So there it was. The sounds ready, the language tried out. All that’s left is to start writing….


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