The first one you throw away

I’ve been working on a couple of applications for the iPhone, both of which are “scratch my itch” sorts of things. One was a simple little nonsense thingy for calculating tips. The second is meant to let me know when the next bus was going to be hitting the stop at which I am waiting.

The bus app has undergone several names, starting with “Where’s the damn bus” and currently residing a “SeattleBus”. I took out the somewhat more profane project and class names when I thought “Hey, maybe I’ll enter this into the Apple Design Awards“. Last thursday, I was thinking “Yeah, maybe…” and after the encouragement from some of the guys figured I’d jump into it this weekend and see what came out.

What came out is a reminder that the first app you write will often be thrown away. After I sat down with the functioning app and showed it to some friends (unfamiliar with iPhone programming) it became pretty clear that while what I had functioned, it wasn’t anywhere near the smooth flow and effect that I think I’d really want to have for something to be submitted to the ADA.

In fact, after a few days to really sleep on it, I’ve redesigned the whole flow of the application – hopefully for the better. I’d had a completely navigation bar driven style of working through the application, and that’s getting completely gutted in favor of a tab-bar setup and a bit more automatic capability in trying to determine what bus stop you’re sitting at when you invoke the app. Turns out the whole “what’s coming next and when will it be here” is the easy part… it’s getting to that information and displaying it efficiently that’s the bitch.

What’s really interesting is most folks that I show this application too instantly want another, completely different application to go with it. An application for route finding – not even necessarily related to busses. I hadn’t quite realized how much of a demand there was for something like that. That application is a bit beyond what I’m interested in making – at this point I want to dive in to recode my bus application with the new flow. Not a chance it’ll get submitted to the ADA – at least not this year.

I am really looking forward to seeing what does get mentioned from the awards for the iPhone. Just four weeks away now…

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at

4 thoughts on “The first one you throw away

  1. I need the bus app! I was thinking about writing the same thing, essentially. Are you planning on releasing the source? Maybe you can toss it up on Google Code and I can offer you a few spare hours every now and then.



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