samedi 19 novembre 2011

MiniWar Tactical Companion 1.4 update

Here comes the 1.4 update of the Tactical Companion. This update focuses on the T3 feeds view improvement and features. So in this update:

  • T3 feeds are now temporary cached on the app. So checking a feed, then another, and back to the first will no longer need an Internet connection. If you close the application, is is likely that Android will destroy the cached data.
  • From the detailed view of a tournament (which means T3 tournaments but also yours), a tap on the location block will opens Google Maps (or the app you have chosen as default for such requests) and locate the tournament location. This feature is still available from the menu, but we believe that it should be also there for an easier access.
  • T3 Lists can now be filtered by gamesystems. We know that you are not playing at all the existing games. So, you can find faster a tournament of interest by filtering those results.

Now, download the update and feel free to say what you think about it or what you do expect for the next updates.

For those who want a better knowledge of the app, here are described the T3 features.

samedi 12 novembre 2011

Alkemy Companion, all Genesis data in your pocket.

With the eight preview of Alkemy Companion, you can now access to all Alkemy profiles. Get every information, from profile characteristics to formula details.

Finally we have decided to consider this release as the final 1.0 release. If the futur work will focus on the graphic improvement, so the players can use the app as a real Alkemy tool, those improvements are adequate with our continuous delivery politic. All MiniWar Companions apps are delivered as soon as new features or improvements are included. We believe that this is the best approach to allow our users to get the new features as soon as they are created, test them, so we can quickly adapt to the best user experience.

But for now, lets review the functionalities of the current app.

mardi 8 novembre 2011

Google+ page available

Since yesterday, Google released a new great feature long awaited for its social network, Google+. It is of course, the google+ pages. So of course, the MiniWar Companions app does have a dedicated page. Check it out at this adress : https://plus.google.com/118269266765377431313

You can bookmark this page as it content is public. You do not have to have a Google+ account tu check it content. If you are a Google+ user, you can circle that page, and be circled in return. Content is public, but private content may be posted for special occasions if the number of followers become relevant. We can't say how this feature will be used, but it opens new perspective of communications.

So, go and link the page now ;)

samedi 5 novembre 2011

Alkemy Companion Preview 6 available

A new minor update have just been released on the market. It includes the Alchemists informations (rank, element and Stones value).

The only remaining information missing in this application is the formulas, which will be included in the next update. Afterward, the design should be updated before allowing to add lists management functionalities.

Get the app there : https://market.android.com/details?id=net.labasland.miniwar.intel.alkemy

vendredi 21 octobre 2011

Alkemy Companion Preview 5 available.

The new preview of the Alkemy Companion  is available. Damages are now displayed for every profile, and as usual for those previews, without any sexy layout for now.

But for this preview, there is a more interesting feature. Yesterday, MiniWar Tactical Companion opened its access to the Table Top Tournament feeds view. The Alkemy companion illustrate that feature so you can non, from this app, check the feeds for upcoming Alkemy tournaments. Of course, it is mandatory to install the MiniWar Tactical Companion. But don't panic, you will be informed and brought to the market if needed.

Once you click on the "Check Tournaments" button, the application will check if the T3 Feeds service is available. If not, a message will be displayed to invite you to download the MiniWar Tactical Companion app from the Market.

if you have more than one application on your device wich can respond to your request, you will be prompted to choose which to use. Feel free to choose the one you prefer.

On the MiniWar Companion T3 feeds, you may have an empty list if no tournaments where declared on T3. The current version of the app will display the International feeds. Take your time to check the other feeds, especially if there is one for an area you may be interested in.

Stay tuned for futur improvements.

mercredi 19 octobre 2011

MiniWar Companion v1.3.3

After a focus on the Alkemy Companion, here comes a new update of the tactical companion. This update is basically a bug fix on the Table Top Tournament Rss feeds view so now, you will not see an error if fetching the data is too long. This is the behavior it should always have had.

But this update also introduce a new feature. Now it is possible to call the Table Top Tournament Rss feeds view from any application on the device, using the exposed intent. If you want to call the view from your app, simply create an intent as the example bellow:


Intent intent = new Intent("net.tabletoptournaments.rssfeeds.GETFEED"); 
startActivity(intent);

But there is one more thing: the display can be filtered. Simply add a gameFilter String extra in your intent with the name of a game system and the view will only display the related upcoming tournaments. The previous example could be:

Intent intent = new Intent("net.tabletoptournaments.rssfeeds.GETFEED"); 
intent.putExtra("gameFilter", "Alkemy"); 
startActivity(intent);

The game system name should be one provided by T3, otherwise you will filter everything. It is of course possible that at a given time, there is no tournament for your game system. The list will be empty then. But you should check the other feeds since a tournament can take place in another country.

And yes, you will be able to filter the tournaments displayed on this view. The filter on the game system exists (it is already accessible trough the menu on the T3 view), we just have to finish its integration.



dimanche 16 octobre 2011

Reference data management in Alkemy Companion

The Alkemy companion can be declined in several kind of applications. Of course, here you have the Android app. Before that, the model of this application was tested as a web app. And you can also imagine a desktop app, an iPhone app, or whatever. There could be a lot of work adapting the software from Java to Objective-C or any other language. That is known and unavoidable. But in all those versions, the data should remain the same. So how can we carry the data from one context to the other with a minimum of transformation, none should be the best ?

First, let see the problem. As a webapp, the Alkemy data is usually stored in a database. This data, all the game references (profiles, abilities, descriptions...) should be available on startup. Even as a webapp, we should consider distributing the code, which means the reference data. If we impose the technology (Java), we shouldn't impose the database. Adding such a constraint would prevent the usage of our application. In an Open Source project, we could count on the implication of the community to translate the scripts from a database system to another. But that work should be made the easiest possible. An other constraint to mention is : how to deal with location ? A web application may display its informations in any language depending on the client, but if the application on a device, you may want to load only the data in the language of the device.

Fortunately, database systems offer a great functionality for this. People usually rely on the database dumps which generate huge SQL queries. This is not the best practice. For data portability, first, we should have a good designed database structure. That design will impose the structure creation queries which are specific to each database management system. For the Alkemy applications, we have something like :

faction(id, name)
profile(id, name, title, factionKey)

The model above does of course not show all data. Writing structural queries is pretty simple, even with the constraints. What about the data ? Well lets organize them as follow : lets write a first text file with lets say

"rk","Khaliman republic"
"tj","Empire of the Jade Triad"
"na","Aurlok Nation"
"ka","Kingdom of Avalon"

And a second with
"rkc01","Cheikh Araoui Ibn Khalid","Khaliman diplomat","rk"
"rkc02","Kabircheikh Hakim Ibn Khalid","Khaliman ambassador","rk"
"rkc03","Dahlia Ibn Malikh","rk"
"tjc01","Captain Lee Ping of the Xi-Yì militia","tj"
On MySql, you can now use the LOAD DATA INFILE statement. This will give, for the factions, something like :
LOAD DATA INFILE faction.txt INTO TABLE faction FIELDS TERMINATED BY ',' ENCLOSED BY '"'

Write another query for profiles.txt and the faction table. Do the same for every file and table. This way, you can load your data more efficiently into the tables, even shortcutting foreign key constraints by issuing a foreign_key_check to 0 prior to the command. This is also a portable command since, for example, the syntaxe is the same for Oracle.

But another benefit is for location, if you want to load only the local data. Write as many localized, and so identified files as needed. The easiest management way is to add the local in the name. During the initialization of the database, simply check the local and load the corresponding file. Here you are, simple and easy.

Now, lets say that you write an Android App. The specifications ask to use the onCreate and onUpgrade functions and load the data into the SQLite database. Instead hard coding queries, you can write only one parameterized query and parse the text file. I18n may is dealt the same way. The benefit of this approach on a mobile device is that you can use the insertion function independently of the data storage source. You can read the data from a local file, may this be shipped with the application or downloaded afterward, but you can also gather data from lets say webservices in the format you want.

So, remember, reference data should never be stuck to its transporter. If you plan to use it in a variety of platforms, favorise a format independent of any platform,and think of all the ways you can load complement data to your datasource. 

lundi 3 octobre 2011

Alkemy Companion Preview 4 available

A new preview is available for the Alkemy Companion. In this release :
  • The throwing weapons have been added as abilities and are displayed in the abilities area.
  • All abilities are now displayed with the correct value in the profile details view.
  • The app have been redesigned so the profile details are now displayed as views ans not dialogs. The landscape view have also been adapted.
  • Some bug fixes.
This is a nice update since there is only a little to do until a final 1.0 version. In the todo list, we have :
  • Add the damage table in the profiles.
  • Allow some details display in the profiles detailed view (such as the abilities definitions)
  • Add the specific alkemical informations. This will be the hardest task since the data management is to be designed.
Once this will be done, we can consider a usable application. Some graphic update will come right after. Then the additions such as the personal lists display.

Update now tho get the new release or download the application for your Android phone form the market there : https://market.android.com/details?id=net.labasland.miniwar.intel.alkemy
Of use the following QR Code with your Android device to get the app.


samedi 24 septembre 2011

New Alkemy companion preview

A new preview of the app is available on the market. This update redefines the welcome screen so you can easily access to the different informations.  It also introduce the an ability listing so you can access to any ability definition. Some internal modifications have also been made so the data are easily managed. This will allow us to internationalize the application as soon the data are translated.

The next step in the roadmap is to display the association of the abilities to the profiles. Even if that may be considered as simple, we want to offer the best usability so you can access the definition from the miniature's profile. The profiles's data access may be redesigned for better navigation.

If you have any comment, expectation or suggestion, feel free to leave a comment.

One more thing about the app, a QR Code is finally available so you can flash it to get directly to the Market. Easier and faster, you can't say you couldn't get the app. Enjoy.


lundi 19 septembre 2011

Don't miss any game information in Alkemy

An amazing new app is now available on the market.

A battle is dealt with a good knowledge of your troops and of your opponent's troops. Every information may be critical and lead you to victory, or defeat. That is why you should always keep an eye on the stats and on any information your Intelligence units may give you.

The new MiniWar Intel companions are here for that purpose. The first app is now available on the market on a preview status and concerns the Alkemy gamesystem.

As a preview, the app only allows you to browse the basic informations about the profiles. The game data are the raw data from Genesis. The design is still a work in progress, so several other previews will follow to propose an evolution of the data display.

The next releases will complete the data displayed (will display and define the competences and the damages), then allow you to create an army list.

Download the app from the Android Market. The app is free with some commercial adds inserted.

Alkemy is a game edited by Studio 38. Check their website for their last miniatures.

mardi 16 août 2011

v1.3.2 update

Silently, two updates were released those days. Those versions are labeled as bugfix and they should be understood like that.

So what's new ?

Now, the local is taken into account for the T3 International feeds selection. So, if your smartphone's located in Germany, France, Poland or in the Netherlands, the International Feed will be set for your local. For all other languages, as previously, the German feed will be displayed.

As a minor update, the online help menu button will propose a link to the website (which was the previous behavior) but also to this blog.

Finlay, on the T3 Feed list, a click on an entry will display the item details. The dialog window give you all the details found on the T3 feed. One little thing out of our control is the currency for the charge for a tournament. Since T3 does only send the value trough its feeds, we suppose that the currency is in euro, since it seems that it is the only currency used on T3.

Happy downloading.

vendredi 12 août 2011

v1.3 Available, first version to use T3.

The v1.3 is finally there. And this version includes a huge function: Table Top Tournaments Rss Feeds integration in the MiniWar Companion App.

Table Top Tournaments, also known as T3 is the major web site for tournaments organisation. It is available in several languages and several countries. It is not affiliated to any editor (even if the early development results from Game Workshop games players) and suitable for any games.

Available trough a button on the main screen, the Rss Feeds view will list the feeds from the Table Top Tournaments website. You can choose from any feed available on the website for specific countries. A long press on any item will display a menu like you would get on a long press on any item of your list of tournaments. So, you will be able to locate the tournament place, share the selected tournament or open a web browser on the T3 tournament page.

For this first version, the functionality also comes with some limits. The feeds are not cached locally, which means that any display need an Internet connection to succeed. There is currently no management for the feeds retrieval so you have to ensure tu have a correct connexion. The application may even crash during feeds retrieval on any connexion problem.

Oh, one more thing to notice: the international Rss feed of Table Top Tournaments is internationalized. This mean that you should get a feed in your language. Since T3 is not available in every country and before being sure about how to use the locals, decision have been made to use the German language feed since the author of T3 is from Germany.

But this improvement also draws the road map of the evolution of the Companion. Of course, after the functionality stabilisation, there will be the tournament details display. Then something to import a tournament to your list of tournaments. The fee detail also brings ideas for a checklist for any tournament. So... A lot of evolutions are still to come.

Happy downloading of this new version.

mercredi 10 août 2011

The MiniWar companion idea.

The MiniWar Companion app idea rised several years ago, long before the iPhone and its apps. Every miniatures gamer needs a management tool for something: its miniatures collection, its game references... and what to say about tournaments management... So every miniatures gamer knowing a little about programming have written a little program, which survived some time or not. Futur posts will be dedicated to some existing softwares.

With the Smartphones adoption, gamers have a new device they can use everywhere. The information is available in one's pocket and can be shared trough any media, synchronized with other datasources and so on. Miniatures gamers really deserve a set of tools to bring all this possibilities together.

Even if Apple's iOs system (iPhone, iPad or iPod) is the most interesting platform for mobile developers, Android offers a more modular approach. All components can be stand alone applications which can be downloaded independently. But each component brings everything to communicate with the others. So if one downloads several complementary apps, he could find himself using them like a single app.

With this in mind, the MiniWar Companion project started with some minimal functionalities (even the v1.2 can be considered by everyone as useless), but with the idea to integrate the "continuous delivery" principle : each time a new functionality is available, it is published. This brings the application to the public and continuously improves it with its users feedback, rather than endlessly delaying the app launch.

The v1.3 is ready to be published, and this one brings an amazing new functionality. So check it soon ;)

mardi 9 août 2011

Blog opening

The MiniWar Companion web site exists since the launch of the app. It is now time to use the blog pages to keep you updated about the evolution of the apps. A new functionality will soon be added (coming in the v1.3) that will draw a road map for further improvements. You will find in this blog the hot news about the amazing MiniWar Companion apps.

Oh one more thing... Plural ? Yeah, a new app is on its way.

But on Android, all apps can interact and integrate. The upcoming app is an extension of the Tactical Companion. It is a new app because some people could want to use it as a stand alone application without the Tactical Companion. But if you already have the Tactical Companion, this app will integrate and bring you much more functionality.