Sunday, February 24, 2013

iOS Beta testing made easier

I have been developing on the iOS devices for nearly a year now. Even though my main game was not to be published  due to someone at Apple, or works for Apple saying it wasn't appropriate, even if they do publish games etc that have full nudity.. and mine did not, by a long way... Anyway....

Developing for the iOS is usually done on a Mac... and I am not a Mac person. I don't really want to buy such an expensive machine to work on for just my development either. I should point our here that I have so many PCs and that is also what I work with at work writing games. So moving over to a Mac which I have hardly used in many years would take some level of learning curve I do not want to pay.

However when I was looking to move off development of the XNA Xblig for the Xbox360, I checked out a number of different cross platform development kits. I asked via twitter for people opinions of the different ones and I looked into the learning curve of them as well, as best I could judge at the time. Now I am not saying I decided on the best or anything like that. What I did decide on was and their SDK. This was for a few reasons...
1. Uses C++ (and other languages if ya want). C++ is the language I tend to use at work, so this is an easy move.
2. Allows me to create iOS games on my PC.. What, really? No freakin way I thought. At the time I was not aware of any other SDKs allowing this type of thing.
3. Thier library and functionality is very extensive, yet simple enough to see how to use it.
4. That last one meant a quicker learning curve to me, and that was important.

Now here I have been developing on the iOS devices and having to jump through all those hoops that Apple makes us do to work on a device. I mean creating a provisioning file and signing your apps and setting up the certificates etc. Well ya have to do that really and it isn't truly straight forwards until you have done it a number of times. The one thing though that I have gotten used to, but still dislike as I make mistakes, simple human error things. That is to drop the build onto my iPod or iPad.

The procedure itself is simple, build the app, deploy to create an ipa file. Then drag and drop it onto the itunes program. Only when you have a version on the iPad, you must delete in both places at the same time, then sync, then put the new ipa into itunes and sync once more. Simple, yet the amount of times I forget to delete at one of these points is amazing haha.
This of course gets multiplied by the number of iOS devices I am trying to test on... and then there is also getting my friends setup with this same procedure.

TESTFLIGHT (the real reason for this post follows)
So now I have found an easier way. Yes, that's correct I am starting off with a positive experience quote! I heard about testFlight a while ago via twitter and my many knowledgeable peers on there. However I really didn't want any more expense at this time, and I also tend to use maybe 5 testers, so would it be worth it? So lets look at some of the points I just raised.
1. Cost. When I went to the web site on Wednesday I just couldn't seem to find the cost of using their service. Reading up it sounded interesting as well. So I asked in a tweet about the cost, and I got several responses. My fave being that that they don't know how testFlight do it, but it's free. Whaaaat? I musta misread yeah? Only not so, I got  anumber of tweets telling me it is fully free. How they do this I don't know, but it made me take action to look into this system faster.
2. Worth it time wise? Well the setup for my account was Very quick, it is also nice and easily laid out so I didn't have to think very much about the next question or what to click next. Excellent start. Then I setup my iPad as my device and whammo It was asking for a build. Within 30 minutes I have my iPad downloading the game from the internet. Wow and Yes, it was worth it. As my second update was done very quickly. I can see how this would make even dealin with 5 testers much easier and faster.

I have gotten several of my testers and teammates now signed up and the so far it has gone quite smoothly. This is an excellent looking service and as it happens testFlight are also Beta testing their system for the Android as well. Maybe I'll try that next, after I get this iPad game done.

The only mark I can place against this system so far is a few of my testers have mentioned they didn't find it obvious that they had to setup a device and how to for their account. Once I told them they had to have one they did not take long to address this situation.

 Here are some important Twitter name for you to follow @testflight @scootdown.

Thanks testFlight I really appreciate your setup and your simple and obvious to use web site and system.

Da Voodoochief

No comments:

Post a Comment