Making An Application - Part 3
Submitted:|| 30th April, 2005
Well, this is the final part of my 3 part article on making and application. Part one and two concentrated on creating graphics, programming and adding small touches. This part of the article will look into the finishing touches of your application, and what to do next!
INI are very easy to use, and can be useful to store pieces of data. They are especially useful for applications - they could store certain options, or maybe the user's name to welcome them. In part two of my articles - I discussed the importance of changing file names to make your application more secure and more proffessional. The same can be done for INI files. Firstly, start off by opening a text editor such as Notepad and type in the following:
This is a very basic INI file. The group is called Name, and the items within the INI are First and Last. You can assign strings or values to items - the string attached to the item First is John, and the string attached to the item Last is Smith. You can then save this as something like data.ini (in notepad, select file type All Files or else it would be called data.ini.txt).
I have covered this very simply. If you need more information on how to use INI files and objects, search INI under Articles at www.create-games.com.
INI + MMF
MMF has a very useful INI object, which can read item strings and values from INI files. For example, you could open the INI file data.ini and set an alterable string to the First and Last name.. In fact, lets do this now!
1. Create the above INI file. Open MMF and place an INI object
2. Create one alterable string called Name
3. In the event editor, use the following event:
+ Start of frame
- Set file to data.ini
- Set group to Name
- Set alterable string to item$( Ini Plus, First ) + + item$( Ini Plus, First )
Although this looks confusing - it's very simple. Firstly, you must set the INI object to the INI file you created - data.ini. You must include the directory! If the INI file is in the same folder as your application, you can use the directory as Appdrive$ + Appdir$ + data.ini.
The group name within data.ini is Name, so we must set the group within MMF to Name. We then went to set the string to First name + last name. To do this, we need to get the string from the item First. To do this, we use item$( Ini Plus, First ) - then we have a space using and have the last name as item$( Ini Plus, Last )
You can also set strings and values to items using MMF, so you don't need to create the INI file manually. To do this, use the Set Value or Set String events.
If you've finished the majority of your application, there is no need to rush the release! Remember - your application could contain many bugs, and people don't usually like to have to download updates or bug fixes! Therefore, it would be better to release a completely bug-free application.
It would probably be impossible for you to scan every part of your application for bugs. It would be a lot easier to get helps to do it for you! Therefore, BETA testing is your best option. I personally think that private BETA tests are the most efficient. If you release it to the public, then the public may not bother downloading the actual thing when it's released.
If you want to consider BETA testers, you're going to need a few people - minimum of 5 and maximum of 10. You can't have too little as less bugs will be found, and you can't have too much as it ruins the suspense or excitement of your application. I also suggest that you do not announce your BETA - do it privately, with some friends. Just send the application to a few friends and get feedback. Ask them to produce a report similar to this:
Name: John Smith
BETA Test Version: 1.02
Bugs Found: The buttons don't work..
Suggestions/Improvements: The graphics are ugly
Teams usually create more detailed reports on more specific areas - however if you want a simple quick BETA testing session, the above report is suitable. If you are creating a proffessional application, the below report maybe more suitable:
Full Name: John Smith
Number of bugs found: 127
Details of bugs: Too many to explain..
Suggestions: Again, too many.
Graphics: Terrible. Change such a thing.
Interface: Disgusting. CHANGE IT.
Interactivity: The buttons don't work!
Ease of use: It was difficult to use because..
Overall Score: 3/10
Extra Notes: Don't realease it.
Get your BETA testers to fill in these reports - if they don't, keep bugging them until they do. If they still don't fill them in, simply permanently cross them off your BETA testing list. Once you have collected ALL the reports from ALL your BETA testers - it is vital that you READ EVERYTHING and DO EVERYTHING that you feel is necessary.
If there are 2356 bugs - fix ALL of them. If a user finds the interface difficult to use, make it easier to use. BETA testers are just like the people who you will release your application to - listen to them wisely, and make sure your application is up to scratch. There is no need to do everything they say - BETA testers usually come out with loads of junk. Just listen to the important bits and sort it out.
More BETA testing!
Once you have fixed the bugs - do ANOTHER BETA test. Send it to the same people who tested it last time, and possibly more. This just makes sure that they like the changes you have made. Also, when you make changes, new bugs often arise. Therefore BETA testing again is very important. Do it until you are assured that your application is bug-free, and that you and your testers are satisfied with it.
Don't Rush It!
Often, people like to rush the release of their applications. This is simply because they want to find out what people will think and they just want to get it over with! My advice to you, is to keep them waiting. Don't rush the release - there is simply no point. Perfect your application and then release it - BETA testing is the first key, then go through the application yourself until you are sure it is as you want it.
It is no good to just post your application on TDC with a description and a few screenshots, and then see how many downloads you get. Maybe before the release, you could record a video of your application and show the public to make them interested in your application. Hype it up! Make it sound professional - hype is usually good. Don't be big headed though.
Things you could do to make people interested are..
- Release some teasers, such as screenshots or videos before release
- Create a website with up-to-date news on progress
- Create a forum to discuss your application with the public
- Post previews on all community sites, such as TDC and Klik-Me
- Tell people about the power of your application and what they will need it for
The possbilities are endless - but too often I see people just posting their stuff on TDC and then leaving it at that like the job is done. I use to do it myself - but I've learned that making a game or application isn't the hard part, it's getting people to want to download it or getting people to be interested. There is no point releasing a 30mb application which nobody has heard about, or which nobody wants.
Once BETA testing is complete, and your advertising campaign is over - it's time for you to draw up another plan. Create a spider diagram listing extra things that you think you could add to your application to make it more efficient and easier to use. Little things usually add up to big things - something as simple as making edit boxes bigger, or making fonts bigger can make a whole lot of difference.
If you have an idea for your application still - do it. Don't just give up and think oh it's okay, I'll just release it as it is. The key to a good application is not to be lazy. Even if it delays the release by another month - DO IT. These small things are vitally important - it is difficult to satisfy the public, and to win them over you need to show that you have put in a lot of effort. Look at the extensions list - is there anything there that you could use to make your application that little bit better? There usually is!
That's all folks..
This part of my articles is very jibberish and in some cases, common sense. But it's unbelievable how many people don't do a lot of the above. It may not seem like it, but the above things could increase popularity of your application by around 50% - maybe even higher. The key to success is effort.
Thanks for reading. Hope this helped some of you somewhat - I know this was not like parts 1 and 2, and it will probably not help some of you. Again, thanks for reading.