Category Archives: Development

Spring Status

So…. we have been grinding away here at Birdsoft. Some consulting and prototypes have taken up a bit of our time so the promised version 3.15 with ToodleDo sync has been delayed longer than we thought. Well we are pleased to tell you that we have it syncing tasks. Now we just want to build up the failsafes and error handling around it and do a bunch more testing before we release it to you.

Along with that, in order to keep us excited and not burnt out on the ToodleDo stuff, which it somehow had that affect, we have started to add a bunch of new options and features to go in the release. So version 3.15(if it stays with that #) might actually feel like a full point release. A lot of the new stuff will be UI and cosmetic related, mostly allowing you even more options to make it look like you want it to. And then a bunch of smaller but hugely helpful features. And then one other big thing we are fairly certain will also be included is the initial “Notes” view.

So we are shooting for 2-4 weeks to get the whole thing wrapped up and out to you. And by switching focus for a bit we think that not only will it get you task syncing, but a whole bunch of new functionality to go with it..

We’re excited for you to see it…

Thanks

Whats going on at Birdsoft

Well, we are finishing up an awesome consulting project that pretty much involved every buzz word technology for iPhone and iPad. Encrypted XML, Cover Flow, Pinch and Zoom Image viewers, Push Notifications, Web Services, ……and on and on. And now we are looking at maybe doing another cool consulting project. But we did sneak in a build of PokerTimer HD for iPad that is submitted and are looking at finishing All-In HD.

The plan also includes one other secret project and then now that iOS 4 is out, we want to finish up Extreme Agenda iPhone, while leveraging what Apple gave us of for a Calendar API on the new OS… Ive just been playing with it, and I think we can come up with some neat stuff and grow it big time without doing everything from scratch…

So we’re still chugging along… Watch for some coolness soon….

All-In Poker 3.0 for Windows Phones

All-In 3.0

We are pleased to announce that we have finally released Version 3.0 of All-In Poker. It has a bunch of great new features including the game of Omaha, Multiple Careers, and a slick new interface. We have also put a lot of effort into making it better on the new classes of devices with VGA and WVGA screens and even 320×320 screens for the Treo users out there. Bigger Fonts and making it more finger friendly are just some of the things we tried to do for you. We hope to agree that we have taken the best Poker game for Windows Phones and made it even better.

And we hope that our current users will be willing to pay the small upgrade fee to start enjoying the game with the great new features. We know our competitor’s charge that same price for just a limit version of their game or just an Omaha Version. Why not continue to have it all in one place. Previous users can install the trial version, and if they want to revert back to a 2.x version they can download that off our product page to re-install right over the new trial.

Thanks and we hope you enjoy All-In 3.0 for Windows Mobile.

PokerTimer

We have completed and submitted our next very quick project and we really like how it has turned out. An absolutely FREE PokerTimer for iPhone. We went for beauty and function on this one. We created it to have all the functionality that we use in our monthly poker league, so it should be a great choice if you don’t want all that other “tournament” stuff getting in the way. Its just a nice clean easy to use Poker Clock.

We do plan to possibly advance it to add a ton of extra features in a PRO version that might cost a buck or two. We obviously have a big list of what we can add to make it worth while, but we would love to hear feedback on this as well, so if you are interested please drop us an email….

Sorry Folks, it will not have any compatibility with the Desktop or Windows Mobile Version at this time. It does have some of the same neat time saving features though… ūüôā

Update… End of September

Well.. we have some exciting stuff just down the pipeline. Right now we are working on a cool consulting project but we have also done a lot of other work on mainly our All-In franchise.

The long awaited Version 3.0 of All-In Hold ‘Em for Windows Mobile is just about complete! Im hoping it will be done and depending on how the Windows Mobile Marketplace submission process works be ready for the grand opening in just a couple weeks… Its really that close.. What’s in it??? Well, some cool things including a new interface, and ……. Multiple Careers, and ……… Omaha!! Watch for it the beginning of October.

And All-In Poker for iPhone now has a minor update that is planned with a bit of the work already done. If you call this a minor update. The plan is to allow the choice of a couple tables and about 6-8 card backs, choice to rotate screen the other way, a few more pretty it up things, some AI updates, swipe to fold, and Pot Limit Omaha, Pot Limit Hold ‘Em and a new game!! Badugi!!! Watch for that soon as well.

We hope to see you in the AppStore and new WM Marketplace!!

Back to work…

Metal Poker, behind the scenes..

 

Well I still love the idea of the AppStore and the BIG market it represents so I am taking a stab at it with a product line I have been successful with before on other mobile platforms. POKER.

Metal Poker was just submitted to Apple like 10 minutes ago.

A little more background. I was a big Pocket PC and Palm guy. And in 2002 after having a euchre game out there I wrote a pretty good poker simulation game for Pocket PC called PokerHand. It did pretty good as it had a lot of customizations and like 11 game choices including Hold ‘Em. And then as Texas Hold ‘Em(THE) picked up in popularity I started to write a more THE specific game for Pocket PC with better graphics and a ton better AI and options and would actually play either cash games or real tournaments(PokerHand would let you keep playing with negative money, so no busting out).¬†All-In Hold ‘Em¬†was released right around¬†when the “Moneymaker effect” hit poker and it was an instant success! So a ton more work went into making it even better(and porting it to Palm) including a cool career mode!

Im also a poker junkie and was even more so back then so did my “research” with books, playing online and at real casinos, holding tournaments, and even a poker league. So it showed in All-In and I’ve added¬†a few other poker related products to my line up since then too.

Then the talks of the iPhone AppStore came around and my first thought was do All-In for it. But I had some other commitments at the time and obviously didnt realize the importance of being in at the beginning of the store would be… So I went out and had bought a development Mac and dabbled but didnt have anything in major development by the AppStore release. THANK GOODNESS!! Apple decided that they were going to write exactly one game for iPhone. Texas Hold ‘Em. And in a lot of ways it is an amazing game,¬†with some neat concepts and a beautiful interface with a few overly gimmicky pieces thrown in that are more to get the buy than actual gameplay. And oh yeah, they rather unfairly overpromoted their own wares so it would have hurt us pretty good. Thankfully the one thing they dont have is a good AI. If you are even a slightly above average player you own it. Its Bad.¬†And they appear to have no ideas about fixing it, since its over a year later and its still in the Top 100 so why bother.

And yes, there are tons of other Texas Hold ‘Em and Video Poker games on the AppStore. But I’m the Mobile Poker guy. So with my ‘big shot’ I figured I’d combine the 2 games that got me here! I’d revisit the multi-game format of PokerHand, and use a lot of the technology in the All-In game and make it into an even better “All-In Poker Engine”.¬†And who would have thought I’d still be the first.¬† First on the AppStore¬†with 5 Card Draw, Razz, Stud Games(5-6-7) and even basically Omaha. There is one Heads¬†up Omaha game that looks¬†more like Video Poker but nothing that feels like tournament or casino play.¬†¬†

And do you know what I have going forward that helps a great deal? More pieces already written that I can work off of. I can and will add NL/PL¬†Hold’Em and PL Omaha in a quick update. I will add a Career mode with multi-table tournaments very quickly. I have other customization options pretty much ready. And I have the powerful¬†Hold ‘Em¬†AI just sitting there waiting to be tweaked that blows the doors off Apples and pretty much all of the other THE games. And on the product page you can check out my list of some other ideas for improvements that will be coming. I am fully commited to passing everything out there for iPhone if I have the support.

First thing I realized when starting to make this game?¬†Well re-visiting the multiple game format, its amazing how much more I know now about poker than I did in 2002. A TON MORE!! Not to say Im an expert in all of the games offered in Metal Poker, but I’ve played them all successfully and know what I should be doing in a lot of cases. So I spent an extra week bringing over more of the AI from my All-In Engine and tweaking the current stuff as I really want people to not have that be a big complaint about the first version. Of course I plan on aggressively making it even better, but¬†the AI for most games is¬†pretty darn good!

My thoughts on Wifi or Internet Multi-Player. I want it in my game and it will be important going forward. BUT… There are a bunch of Internet based games out there. And with the current iPhone battery life, its hard to play an awfully long session(an actual tournament)¬†while connected. And a couple of things about the genre that Ive known for¬†quite a while based on online play and the WM market. One is you don’t know if you’ll even have enough players in the game you want to play. These internet based games promise lots of players, but Ive checked and they don’t all deliver that. Two, the games can be painfully slow waiting for other human players on poor connections or with other distractions. And most importantly, playing players with play money just doesn’t make for a very good game.¬†It will likely be an all-in fest or players want to play more hands as its not real money and the game gives you more when you bust. Now if you know the guys you’re playing with or setup a game with friends then that dynamic changes, but this is so blatantly true¬†with randoms online using play money. Its just not that fun or good for learning after the novelty wears off. But it sells games, and I absolutely love the idea of having an iPhone party from different locations. If we are all in the same place we use a deck of cards…

So there you have it. Im totally excited to be entering the poker world¬†of the iPhone and¬†iPod Touch. I¬†hope you join me…

 

 

Keep it on the down low.. Wait.. Do the opposite of that…

We are de-classifying this information!

What we’re working on? Well, it is what we are actually only about a day away from submitting to Apple.

¬†Of course its a Poker Game built on¬†our All-In Poker Engine for iPhone and iPod Touch. It will contain limit versions of SEVEN popular poker variations¬†including Stud(3 types), Razz, Texas Hold’Em, Omaha, and Five Card Draw and will allow you to play them in¬†either Sit-n-Go(tournament) or Cash Ring game format.¬†¬†

We think its an awesome start to a game that has the potential to go big. Why, well it will be the only game on the AppStore with Razz, Stud or Draw Games, and the only game with Omaha not in Heads Up format. And we threw in good Ol’ Texas Hold ‘Em too. We’ve kept the graphics and interface attractive and¬†simple with the possibility for a lot more “eye candy” later.

Yes, later is¬†the big¬†idea here. We obviously have more to work with¬†now that¬†our All-In Poker Engine¬†is ported. We haven’t even started bringing over the main features of our Best Selling “All-In Hold ‘Em” for Windows Mobile yet. Pot and No limit, Career Mode, Multi-Table Tourneys, the Advanced Hold ‘Em AI to name a few. And we obviously¬†see expanding on¬†everything¬†in so many other ways, we simply want to be the “mobile poker” goto Shop!¬† And we love poker so we’re excited to get there… All we need is a little support from you guys…

So check out our product page for more information at Metal Poker for iPhone to see a video of the game in action and more.

 

Poker Time…

Well, I have finally¬†been able¬†to pretty much finish¬†a rather important update of All-In Hold ‘Em, arguably the best Texas Hold ‘Em game for Windows Mobile. The product was very well pollished and successful and so it hit a little stagnant development time while other applications were realized to their full potential. Well now we are getting back to what really got us here…Poker!!

 

Version 2.8 will fix a few small nagging things that have been around in the Smartphone and Pocket¬†PC/WM Pro/WM Classic versions.¬†But where it really gets¬†the goods is VGA¬†and 320×320 screen support.¬†We hope¬†you agree that on¬†the newer devices coming out¬†like the Diamond,¬†Touch Pro,¬†Treo 800, and Treo Pro the game¬†looks¬†great.

¬†We were finally able to get an update for our Graphics Library and¬†so are now¬†building on something that we are quite confident in. And we did quite a bit of work under the hood! Why…??? Because we have an AWESOME Version 3.0 Planned…¬†and we won’t be waiting long on getting to this.. We actually wanted to get to this 2.8 mark and then forge ahead with some really cool things… Basically we want to lock up the title for best Poker game on the Platform(s).

¬†So watch for Version 2.8 of All-In coming very soon… It still has the Best Artificial Intelligence on a Mobile Device, the Best GamePlay, The Best Career Mode, and tons of Customizations… And now it has VGA graphics to go along with it!!!

 

Note: Late addition.. We have decided to throw in WQVGA 240×400 support as well!¬†¬† With some of the new¬†code now¬†underneath, it is much easier(actually started it about an hour ago an am about done). So we’ll bring the Samsung Omnia some Love too…

Update: It is out now!

Shot down in the Shootout…

I have been waiting for a long time for a shootout of the Big PIMs on Windows Mobile Standard. Obviously I think¬†Extreme Agenda is¬†on top or very near it. Especially on¬†Standard(non Touchscreen)¬†Devices, which I was there BEFORE the other two by a year or more( despite what the ‘review in question’¬†implies)… And unfortunately the PIM Shootout has come, and based on the scoring of this particular¬†review Extreme Agenda somehow ended up 3rd. Now I guarantee that with other judges this shootout would turn out completely different, but I think its fair that in this judges eyes, the points went where he thinks they were deserved. And part of that I have to think is because of familiarity to the winning program. And a lot was because he didn’t quite do all the homework, which is understandable this would be a big undertaking.

http://www.mytodayscreen.com/shootout-smartphone-information-management/

So as a little rebuttal to the review, I will go through and tell you where we’re coming from on each of the points… You will probably want to read the review first for this to make sense…

Installation

Obviously we won because of size. Makes sense. We like to point this out any chance we can get. It actually probably should have been a bigger point gap, as PIMs are suggested to be installed into the main memory. And with PI we found ourselves having to clear off applications to get the almost 4MB necessary.

Configuration and settings

Unfortunately the review put too much basis on the Out-of-the-Box settings. I agree it makes sense to judge it here, but it just carries through most of the review.

Our design philosophy is a little different. We go for speed, usability and simplicity out of the box and in the program in general. But then you can tweak the heck out of it once you feel comfortable with the program.

We have designed the settings screen and placements almost too well it appears, as people including reviewers seem to think we have less options and customizations than we do. I think¬†it can be argued we¬†have MANY more options than Agenda One, but yet the reviewer actually put us in 3rd in this spot. I would guess its how its presented as being in the settings screens of the other programs almost gets overwhelming, where as we have hopefully organized it down very well, and put feature specific setups(like Search and the Spinner) in the menu only in that view.¬†¬†We just don’t think the user did a good job reviewing the settings, as proof he didn’t find the ‘System Shortcuts’ so didnt really spend much time in our settings screens.

And just to Note, we have a “My View” type implementation as well like was listed for PI…

Interface Usability and Presentation

Navigation Menus – As noted in my comment, you can add Timeline View to the spinner, as well as single contacts, project view, saved views, applications and files. You can also turn on a straight menu based system or a ‘Next’ view right button system.

Presentation – ¬†On the Day view shown in the example here is one example of leaving the program to “out-of-the-box” for this reviewers taste. How about if you configured the program to look like this instead. Yes, we end up showing more information and it can be presented much cleaner then theirs.(Note: Im not sure why he used Pocket Informants ‘Dates’ view against the other two applications ‘Day’ Views.)

And the reviewer didnt notice the display interaction and drawing being slow in PI with its default settings on? Are you sure you tested on a Standard Device? Honestly, PI was called a standout here, when in fact it is actually a struggle to even know what is selected a lot of times or what will happen if you select something. Im not sure where he got a menu, but context menus dont necessarily fit well into Non Touch Screen programs. So again, really, on a Standard Device?

And just a note as Im being totally fair here, I believe PI and AO both have Templates, just like XA…

Information Accessibility

Yes, we do integrate right into the OS as well. We went with not being as obtrusive so did not include it in the install process. This¬† can wreck other PIM installations you may have already done if you are trialing the programs. We do clean it up during an uninstall if you turn it on in our program. It can be found under ‘General Settings’ in Options under the System Section and gives more control on which¬†sections you want to integrate.

For Coloring did he have status coloring or Category coloring turned on… Or…? They are in the settings as well…

Another one of those little¬†examples that the reviewer overlooked about “Out-of-the-Box” is¬†you can turn on¬†Company Names in our Photo List as well(it was mentioned for PI). We just dont believe that that should be defaulted to On. We could be wrong. And what about¬†presenting our Contacts¬†in an Icon type Photo List. And…

Quality and Completeness of Included Views 

This section was a little confusing, but it appears that the reviewer doesnt quite grasp that you can accomplish a lot of the fancy features in PI with Category type filtering. Yes it does take it a step further, but then if you don’t use this feature, well its still in the way all over the Place. And I think he wasn’t up on our Link system, which is separate from our Projects view(try pushing action on an appt or task view; text links and linked items appear).

One thing we do consciously do, is try not to make a menu long enough it scrolls and hides options. So say for sorting(grouping), we moved it into the Sort Dialog easily accessible in the top level menu, and kept it clean. So only mentioning the Secure Wallet here just felt like PI was already the pre-determined winner. He likes the bloated menus… Personal preference.

Application Integration

We agree there are a couple things we need to work on here, but as explained in the last section, I dont think he quite followed everything available in both AO and XA…And he is obviously one who likes to have features there and visible(‘in the way’), even if they will never be used… It makes it hard to be judged when a lot of your design philosophy is so that this isnt as big of a problem…¬†

Conclusion 

Overall a good review and Im not saying the outcome wouldnt be the same for this particular reviewer, XA is up against some good programs. But Im still waiting for a shootout in which all the homework is done, and I can look at what is said and say, “yep he did understand…”

I guess both AO and XA are¬†designed under a different methodology as well.¬†They are both more streamlined and ‘reigned in’ where as PI just kind of kept going, and yes no one will argue it has more ‘features’, but with that comes a lot of bloating and learning curve problems and outgrowing of the interface. And a lot of those features the majority of users will never use… Some reviewers¬†feel that more than others…

I guess I just cant see a spot in any of these “events” where PI should be 2 and¬†definitely not¬†3¬†points ahead of either of the other applications. Its just not really there…

I hope you do your homework… give all the Trials a Try…

July Thoughts…

Ok, A little update on where Birdsoft is at…

I have FairwayWatch working very well with GPS now, and just have a few finishing touches to do on it for usability and testing type stuff.¬†And then I have to add the storing of all rounds in the database instead of¬†as separate files, for easier analysis and synching…¬†I have a new Desktop version started as well, which will be a¬†big improvement…

Its fun that I actually have to golf to work. And boy the first time out with it was a weird one. I just got a new bag(mine was probably close to 20 years old, but was name brand so I lived with it), and so wasnt quite used to the new stand and backpack type straps… And then to carry around a Treo and a Bluetooth GPS. It was an akward round. And as I figured out later, it works¬†much better¬†to keep the GPS in your pocket for several reasons, one of which was both the GPS and TREO dropped out of¬†my mesh bag compartment on the 4th hole, and I spent about 25 minutes walking up and down the fairway to find them… Oops.

It taught me a bunch about usage on the course(had to simplify how surveying points were entered and helped me come up with some other cool options Im putting in) and boy let me tell you that it works great once you have the course surveyed. While surverying it was tricky to remember that you need the GPS and the TREO, another reason you cant just leave the GPS in your bag. I kept getting to the other side of the green with the Treo and realizing that the GPS was in my bag over there.

Can’t wait until I get the 800w or ??? with GPS built-in…¬† But it is sure neat even just with a Bluetooth solution…

So watch for this before the end of the month.

But since I¬†am running out of time…

My flagship product is still Extreme Agenda. And it has been nominated twice in the Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine Awards. And I had thought all along that there were some big features I really wanted to get in 1. Before judging started and 2. Before this new awesome crop of next generation devices really hit the market.  I really think that with a solid group of impartial judges that havent already picked favorites, I have a good chance of taking a PIM award on 1 or both platforms. 

¬† So I have been doing some XA development and am very excited at what is coming for Version 3.30 probably next week.¬†Calendar Text has been added to the program. As has support for the new Windows Mobile 6.1 longer screens 240×400 and 480×800. And now I am completing Drag-n-drop and more context menu support for Pro/Classic devices on the Calendar, Week, and Timeline Week views. Oh, and I believe I have the Q9h strange exit problem resolved too…¬† We’ll see, I might even throw in a couple more things as well…

So thats whats going on right now..¬†Back to the C++…

For those celebrating the 4th of July.. Have a safe and happy holiday…

Birdsoft