What’s new in Context Beta 2

July 19, 2016

After another week of solid progress, our 2nd beta is ready to be released to our first batch of testers. Beta 2 has a series of new features and thanks to the feedback from our testers a bunch of UI improvements, bug fixes and other under the hood improvements…

Working together with Context

July 15, 2016

When Context started, it was all about having a to-do list that would organise itself, so my focus was on #tags and how they could be used to replace fix structures. Once Andy joined in on the design however, it became quickly clear that there would also be @mentions and…

Hello Context

July 06, 2015

Context is finally ready for beta and our first batch of testers get their hands on, to experience a new way of getting things done.

Context has been coming a long way since 2014 when it all started with my frustration in every task management app forcing my tasks…

Hill88 2.4.2 — Breaking Changes

March 20, 2015

Back on 17th of February, the Asana platform team contacted me to give heads up on some minor API changes to the way the Asana API interprets empty values like removing the due date from a task or setting no color on a project.

To swift, or not to swift: that is the question

February 09, 2015

Swift was introduced during Apple’s WWDC in June 2014 as the “one more thing” and has since taken the iOS developer community with storm if we believe The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings.

I started to learn Objective-C with iOS3 and found myself commercially developing for iOS from late iOS4. That makes about 4+ major iOS releases that I have been developing full-time with Objective-C and I have to say that I really loved it (even it has various odds that makes it look alien for developers working on other platforms).

When Swift was announced during last WWDC 2014 and consequently rolled out as beta over the following months, there was nothing stopping me in going full in, to learn this new language that was officially sanctioned as the future standard for iOS and Mac development.

Today, about 6+ months and 4 released Swift apps (+3 currently in development) later, I am getting regularly asked from various mobile agencies, startups and friends who advice startups: “What’s your experience with Swift? Is it ready for prime time? Shall we start using it for production projects?

My answer to that kind of questions tends to be “Let me share my experience, so that you can answer your questions yourself based on where you are in your app development”. That’s not what everyone likes to hear, but I believe that’s the only way as there isn’t one answer that fits everyone.

Around the time Swift got announced and released as beta, I was to start one of my latest projects, Context the “team communication and collaboration app that we have always dreamed of”, and even Swift was not ready for production at that time, I decided to write this new project entirely in Swift.

Here the main reasons why I decided for Swift (at that time not ready for production) over Objective-C (well established and me having years of experience with):

  • New project, no existing code that would have needed to be migrated from Objective-C to Swift.
  • I wanted to learn Swift from the very beginning in order to grow with the language.
  • I wanted to avoid having a newly written Objective-C app to migrate to Swift just a year or two later.

Just a few weeks into developing Context in Swift, I found myself in a love-hate relationship going back and starting over a few times from scratch as it took some time to write actual Swift style code without the “Objective-C” way of doing it. Even today, I believe that the Swift code we write is still to much influenced by the existing Objective-C frameworks which will be a long term process to clean up and I assume it will start for real with WWDC 2015 when Apple will announce/release its first native Swift frameworks (at least that’s what I wish for).

Swift has been in flux since it’s official release (beta) and it still is today with it’s latest release of Swift 1.2 (beta) which caused me multiple times to make substantial changes to my Swift code. You might now think “that’s one more reason to not jump into Swift for production projects”, but that has been exactly the process that helped me to learn and understand Swift and I am very grateful for that experience (even it felt quite annoying at some times when building would result in 100+ build errors after updating Xcode).

The best way for me to learn anything is to do it for real, I am really bad in just learning via tutorials or reading books. I need to actually build a real thing and therefore my approach with going full in on a real project worked best for me.

At the point where Swift 1.0 was officially released, I felt so comfortable with this new modern language that I decided to write every single new project with it. That was an easy decision for my own projects (particularly for Context as well as the new major release of Hill88 3.0, and surprisingly my clients were in on that decision for their projects as well.

What do I love most about writing in Swift:

  • Swift has caused me to rethink how I design my apps
  • Swift code is safer and reduces the bug rate significantly (according my production app stats)
  • Swift requires me to write less code (which is good in many ways)
  • Swift code is easier to read and most importantly to maintain

I hope that so far you have been able to answer the question
What’s your experience with Swift? as well as “Is it ready for prime time?”, but what about “Shall we start using it for production projects?”

The answer to that question depends mostly on where you are in your app/business. If you are just starting a new project it would be a definite yes to go with Swift, however if your app is in production you might prioritize your efforts towards the implementation of all the new features that your users expect from iOS8 and the new iPhone 6/6+ before you look into Swift. You also might want to spend your efforts towards Apple Watch, Share Extensions, or any other new technology that your users might benefit from when using your app. In that situation I would at least wait until WWDC 2015 before I would migrate to Swift as the migration from Objective-C to Swift won’t add any immediate benefit to your users.

Just in case you have read my blog post Announcing Hill88 3 you might think that I am not very consistent in what I say here. Hill88 for Asana is currently in production and I decided to re-write it from scratch in Swift. Why that? … that’s a subject for another blog post.

Feature fatigue

February 06, 2015

The day I moved all the previous blog posts over to medium I got present to the number of features that I was building into the current version of Hill88 2. I wrote a blog post for each new release, going into much detail for each new feature and each new setting. I haven’t used many of these…

Lost and Found

January 19, 2015

Back in the days when I started using Asana heavily with various startups I was really upset about how dodgy Asana’s initial mobile app was. I found myself wanting to capture new tasks on my commute to and from the office, but the mobile app was not more than a simple web wrapper, which made it…

Announcing Hill88 3

December 29, 2014

Several months ago, actual some time before Apple announced the new iPhone 6 and iOS8 was officially released, we started to work on an update of Hill88’s current codebase to bring it up to date with all the…

Here’s why we go Pro only

April 25, 2014

We used to offer Hill88 Lite for free and we had to decide on increasing the price for the Pro version or to go Pro only. We decided to eliminate the free version after all and go Pro only, starting from…

Hill88 meets Attachments

April 18, 2014

This Easter we decided to put in some more over time, and with great pleasure we’re happy to announce the introduction of attachments to Hill88. Our latest release is now available on the app store.

What happened to the Inbox

April 15, 2014

With this blog post, we are following up on our previous post as to why the inbox feature was causing the app to crash at launch, and why we have decided to remove the inbox, as well as the…

Hill88 2.2.2 — How we’re fixing the latest app launch crashes

March 13, 2014

Today we have released Hill88 2.2.2 which fixes all known issues related to Asana’s recent changes regarding completed tasks, including much…

Asana’s changes regarding completed tasks and its implications

March 07, 2014

Before I get into the consequences of Asana’s recent changes around completed tasks an important warning for all Hill88 users, using version 2.2…

Hill88 2.2 — Navigate like a pro using gestures

February 17, 2014

One of the most challenging areas, and the one that usually goes wrong when trying to bring a desktop experience to mobile, is navigation. Mobile devices have their own…

Hill88 2.1.1 — Why you should Go Pro

January 30, 2014

Today we’re releasing version 2.1.1, this update brings improvements and bug fixes to our previous major update (2.1) that included a wide array of features such as the inbox…

Hill88 2.1 — Inbox, our biggest update yet

January 23, 2014

Today marks a huge milestone in the development journey of Hill88 as we are releasing our most extensive and feature-packed upgrade to date. In our mission to create the…

Hill88 2.0.4 — Improving Hill88 by listening to our users

December 16, 2013

It’s almost four weeks since the arrival of the completely re-imagined Hill88 for iOS7 and today we are incredibly excited to release the 4th update…

Hill88 2.0.3 — Let’s celebrate the holidays with a massive update

December 11, 2013

Christmas is nearly here and you are probably in full swing to complete your remaining projects before the end of the year, organize your…

Hill88 2.0.2 — Your links just got smarter

December 01, 2013

Hill88 2.0.2 has just been approved from Apple and is now available on the app store and of course as update if you are already enjoying it on your iPhone or iPad.

Hill88 2.0.1 — Introducing beefier settings

November 27, 2013

Now where the completely redesigned Hill88 is finally out, it’s time to focus on refining the new design and to implement all the features that haven’t made it into the first…