It is with great excitement that I can finally announce that Roastmaster 4.0 for iOS is live on the App Store! It’s been a long wait for many folks itching for the update – 10 months to be exact. For me, it’s been 9 months of development – lots of fun, and lots of hurdles. For the folks patiently waiting – thank you for your patience. I knew going into this update, based on the features I wanted to tackle, that it would mean a dry spell for updates, but I couldn’t be happier with the end product.
Some of the great new features in this update:
- Data Logging Add-On
- Roast Analyzer
- Curve Templates in Profiles and Programs
- Better Handling of Numbers in International Locales
- Auto Behmor Curves
- Clone Roast
- Hide Beans with Zero Inventory
- Decimal Numbers in Cupping Scores
- Show Automated Bean Tally for Roasts
- iPad Retina
- iPhone 5 Retina
- Miscellaneous Bug Fixes
- Internal Speed Improvements
Data Logging add-on
Far and away, the most requested feature over the past year has been data logging – a means to automatically record roast temperatures during a roast, instead of having to enter each and every node manually. I was more than happy to oblige, because data logging has long been something I wanted to tackle as well. In fact, some of the code hooks for data logging have been there since I wrote the first lines of code dealing with curves themselves.
The first question you may be asking right now is “What probes are supported?” Well, unfortunately, there is no prebuilt commercial thermocouple I’m aware of that is compatible with iOS (at least for the temperature range required for roasting coffee). The majority of probes on the market are USB, which – as far as iOS is concerned, is utterly useless, as there is no formal USB support on iOS devices. Apple does offer a USB camera adapter, but that is not the same thing as a programatic USB stack built to handle communication with devices using the standard USB protocol. In fact – devices attached over this adapter have to emulate a keyboard in order for information to be passed to iOS apps – something no probe is built to do. Any attempts to bypass this would get an app rejected in an instant.
So, the solution? Phidgets! Phidgets are amazing little pieces of hardware, designed primarily for prototyping, or environmental sensing or control projects. Where they really shine for us coffee roasters, is that they can be accessed over a standard ethernet network, like is used in common WiFi network environments – something Apple does not regulate. Roastmaster now has the ability to, with the Data Loggin option, link to Phidgets Temperature Sensors via a network host and report, and automatically log, temperatures throughout a roast from one or more K type thermocouples.
Check back often for more information on Data Logging in Roastmaster. There are also detailed help files in the app that can be accessed from the Data Logging store in the Probe section of Utilities. For now, though, see the Data Logging Guide for an introduction to how Phidgets can be implemented in your workflow, as well as a parts list for the hardware you’d need to get started.
Roastmaster has always let you record lots of details about your roasts. Though it’s easy to manually browse through that data, there’s not been an easy way to graphically see details about all of the roasts of specific beans and blends, and the associated cupping data. Also lacking was a way to graphically browse roasts that relate to a current roast – a way to not only see more details of a range of past curve data, but also the cupping data tied to those past roasts. Having this data at your fingertips, in an format that is easily browsable during a roast, is indispensable for putting that data to good use in shaping the current roast.
Well, I’ve given the full screen graph a big and much-needed facelift – turning it into the Roast Analyzer. The Analyzer can be accessed from several areas of the app: the home screen, bean and blend details screens, and of course, the roasting console. When accessed via the roasting console, the analyzer will be populated with the same past roasts that are being displayed in the graph, as well, of course, as the current roast. When accessed from a bean or blend details screen, it will contain all of the roasts of that particular item.
You can flip through the roasts displayed in the analyzer with the arrow buttons on the left and right side of the graph, or swipe along the bottom horizontal axis to pan through them quickly. Cupping data for the roast currently being viewed will be displayed on the left side of the graph as an average of all the cuppings of that roast.
There are lots of UI improvements as well: clear markers with icons for durations, crack times and alarm time (both current and the focus past roast), sharper text, better rendering at higher zoom resolution, basic roast controls, the ability to set a roast alarm as well as a host of other small improvements.
Curve templates in Profiles and Programs
This one should be a big time-saver for a lot of folks. Profiles and Programs have always allowed you to store curves. These curves are designed to be instructional curves (in the case of “Control Curves”), or target curves (in the case of “Reading Curves”)–basically recipes for a roast. Version 4.0 introduces the concept of “Curve Templates”. Designed to speed workflow, Curve Templates function as placeholder curves, allowing you to set the name, color, curve type, probe binding for Data Logging users–all of the important curve details, and have new, identical curves automatically generated in a roast whenever you use that profile or program.
Better handling of numbers in international locales
Before this update, Roastmaster did not address the numbering formats of users in locales that do not use the “.” (period) decimal separator. Users in France and Germany, for instance, use “,” (comma) as the decimal separator. These users were forced to enter and read numbers and dates in the US format, rather than their native formate. To make matters worse, one of the main areas of data entry would not honor decimals in any regard for users whose locale was not set to US. These issues have been resolved – international users should notice that number entry now occurs correctly, based on their native locale. My sincere apologies to these users – and thanks for your patience.
Auto Behmor Curves
Lots of folks have been asking for a way to make Behmor curves automatically populate a roast, instead of having to manually define one for every roast. I drug my heels a bit on that one, because, as popular as the Behmor is, only a percentage of Roastmaster users are roasting with a Behmor – lots are shop roasters with Probat or Diedrich machines, or home roasters with one of the other home appliances on the market. To avoid cluttering the interface, I have, and will continue, to avoid anything roaster-specific in the UI design of the app. That, coupled with the international language barrier, made it a bit troublesome as to how to give Roastmaster the “smarts” it needs to be able to tell what profile, program and weight setting to use, in a database model that I designed to be flexible with organization, data use and naming schemes.
I finally settled on a solution that was non-intrusive for folks who do not use the Behmor, and effective for those that do – simple string matching. Following is a list of conditions. If the “Auto Behmor Curves” preference is enabled, and the following conditions are met in a roast, Roastmaster will oblige by automatically creating a Behmor curve for you in that roast. Note: for any of the string patterns listed, the name must either match that string, or begin with that string followed by a space – e.g. a Profile titled either P1″ or “P1 Behmor Profile” would both be considered a positive match.
- Your are roasting with a roaster whose manufacturer field is “Behmor”, and whose model field is “1600″
- You are roasting with a profile named “P1″, “P2″, “P3″, “P4″ or “P5″
- You are roasting with a program named “A”, “B”, “C”, or “D”
- You are roasting with a Custom Weight Setting named “.25″ (or “1/4″), “.5″ (or “1/2″) or “1″ AND that Weight Setting belongs to a Weight Setting Type named “Weight”
Naturally, those Profiles, Programs and Weight settings should represent the corresponding settings on the Behmor machine itself. Following these rules, you’ll find that roasting with a Behmor is a lot faster and more intuitive. I use auto Behmor curves every time I roast with my Behmor – hopefully you’ll love it like I do.
If you often roast the same bean, especially back-to-back in batches, you’ll appreciate this one. In the main roast list, tap and hold on any roast to duplicate it as a new roast, with the roasted items and roaster already filled in–ready to roast.
Hide beans with zero inventory
This was probably the third most requested feature. In any of the bean list views or bean choosers, you can pinch zoom to hide and show beans that have 0 inventory. Pinch-swipe apart to hide out of stock beans, pinch-swipe together to show all.
Decimal numbers in cupping scores
Prior to this update, cupping scores were limited to integers. You’ll now be able to enter cupping scores as decimals for each category, as well as the cupping correction.
Show automated tally of roast ingredients
If you like to roast blends, this one will come in handy. You’ll notice a blue button with a scale in the “Roasted Items” section of a roast. Once you’ve tagged the item(s) you’re about to roast, tap this button to show a list of the green beans you need. Roastmaster will tally up every bean, recursing through blends, and present a list with weights.
iPad Retina support
iPhone 5 Retina support
Finally squashed the elusive “Inconsistency” error that would occur if you closed a database, and tried to navigate the app without opening another database first. Hopefully, only a few folks encountered this, but it’s been bothering me for some time.
I really hope you enjoy the new update, and find the new features helpful. If you have any questions, just let me know.