Big Omaha: The story behind the iPhone app
Putting on Big Omaha is a team effort, from those who work behind-the-scenes to the volunteers who help register attendees the day of, we're fortunate to have the involvement of many talented individuals and companies.
For the past two years, we've been especially fortunate to have the participation of Ninth Division, an Omaha-based mobile application development company. This year, the Big Omaha iPhone app registered 264 downloads.
To learn more about the work behind the app, we've asked co-owner Andy Peters to share his story on our blog, which he originally told on their company blog. To learn about the event's full slate of sponsors, including Confurrent, the developers of the Big Omaha Android app, visit our post: Get to know our Big Omaha sponsors. They rock.
- Danny Schreiber
In May of 2009, the Big Omaha gathering rocked your socks off. A few months before the first Big Omaha, I got an email from Dusty Davidson one early morning, "...it'd be cool to have an iPhone app." To which I said... "of course!" I saw lots of people using it and we saw a lot of great feedback in the survey. Tons more than we'd expected. I knew last year that I wanted to be doing 2010's app... and we could not be happier to do so.
Last year's iPhone App's features were pretty much what everyone wanted, but the design was pretty basic. This year had to be better. After a few drawings with paper and pen, we got the app drawn up to something we were inspired by.
When we approach apps for the first time, we first walk through the user experience. Generally using paper, pen and a set of index cards. (Photo on left by Andy Peters.) Index cards are great because they are close the size of the iPhone. We use these methods to interact with the drawings like they're usable. This gives us a good idea on whether or not the button locations and sizing makes sense. Paper and pen is easier to erase then lots of hours in code.
Once we made the user experience as simplified as we could it was about colors. Since Oxide Design had done such a great job with branding, we wanted to stay true to all their branding efforts. That's why everything you see is black, white, and shades of grey. Initially I was going to use a lot of white backgrounds for the photos; just like in photography where you have photos against white matting or walls. Hasani reminded me that would make it too much like a flash light app, so we put the black backgrounds in there.
We gave ourselves a little over a week to complete the development of the app. When it was all said and done the total time was 1.5 weeks of development. Since Hasani had developed something similar to the way the cards worked, he did the speaker section. I had done enough with Twitter so I implemented all the Twitter features. We met daily to review code, status and work through issues together, usually at Scooter's. After that week and a half we had it ready to go.
On our way to the Iron Man 2 midnight show, I brought the app along to test before we submitted it. I tested it on the EDGE network, 3G, airplane mode and everything was dandy. I submitted it to Apple just after we returned from the midnight showing of Iron Man 2 at 3:00 a.m. Then on Monday, Apple approved the app, making it available on the app store around 5 p.m.
As my grandpa says, "As long as the creeks don't run dry, we'll be back next year."
Andy Peters is the co-owner of Ninth Division, an Omaha-based mobile application development company. You can reach Andy at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @AndyPeters.