Several years ago, my wife Wendy and I embarked, with friends, on a road trip to Labrador (a round trip distance for us of approximately 3000 km). Being that I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I brought along my very expensive MacBook Pro. You know, in case the urge and opportunity arose.
I did manage to start and finish the first chapter of the novel I wanted to write (inspired by some awe-inspiring scenery), but, unsurprisingly, my laptop sustained damage (likely due to the almost daily rummaging through luggage; probably by Wendy, although she vehemently denies it).
So, what’s the first thing a software developer does when he or she finds themselves in a situation like this? Of course, they start on the exercise of writing software to solve the problem.
I decided that what I really wanted, as a wannabe writer, was to have a tool that was, say, an order of magnitude less expensive in terms of hardware, and software that exactly met my needs and style (because as software developers, we can always do better than what’s on the shelf, can’t we?).
I thought that Android was a good choice for this. Cheap hardware, kind of a fun environment and hey, lots of people use it, so maybe I could make the app available to others when I was done.
I came close to finishing the Android version. It’s still close to being finished, although there are some gaping holes in Android that I’d need to spend a whole lot of time working around to be able to make it widely available. At some point, I’ll elaborate on this in more depth.
But then something else happened. Wendy, an accomplished photographer, thought that maybe she’d like to use the app for things like planning photo shoots. She uses iOS though, with absolutely no interest in switching to Android. So, off I went, and I now have a version, like the Android one, that’s close to being finished, but still has (you guessed it), some gaping holes that I’d need to spend a whole lot of time working around, etc., etc. Again, at some point I’ll elaborate on this in more depth.
Wendy christened the app “eclecdec”. She’s good at naming software.
If you’re still with me, you might be interested in knowing that I finished my novel, using eclecdec, on an iPad. Around 60,000 words all told. It gave me a real sense, for what I like to call non-trivial applications, what works well on an iPad and what doesn’t (hint: a keyboard helps, but the lack of pointer support – i.e., a mouse or trackpad – can get frustrating fast).
And now we get to round three.
I’m a long-time Microsoft-friendly developer. I was enthusiastic, at first, with Windows 8, and wrote a couple of applications (both of which – shameless self-aggrandizement – won awards). At some point, I lost my enthusiasm, until the new MSFT management set the focus on “helping people do more” (for those who want to do more, anyway). This resonates with me. As technologists, we’ve lately tended, broadly speaking, to focus on making people’s lives slightly more convenient vs. making them better. This is something I can get behind.
So, my current project, along with doing the final edits to my aforementioned novel, is to port eclecdec to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), using the best bits of both the Android and iOS versions.
I’ve regretted not sharing the nuggets of useful information I’ve gleaned from work on the other two platforms, so I’m committing myself to not making the same mistake on this effort.
And, perhaps this time, I’ll have found a platform that gives me everything I
need want to finish.