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Roastmaster for iPad

At long last… it’s here – it’s Universal – it’s approved and ready for download, and yes, of course, it’s a free upgrade!

Looking at my last post, I realize it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I tend to get a bit, shall we say… focused when I’m coding. I also now realize I was wrong on two counts. One, even with Roastmaster’s complexity, it was possible to make it a universal app, and second… I was nowhere near as close to completion as I thought!

When I last posted, I had a working version of Roastmaster on the iPad. It was really exciting to be using it on the ‘big screen’. But, after a few weeks and many roasts went by, and I finished up all of the artwork for the iPad screens, I realized that a straight clone of the iPhone version just wasn’t going to cut it. All of the full-screen animations transitioning to data entry screens, or related views started to feel really cumbersome – almost dizzying at that screen size.

So, I set to work on making the UI experience more aesthetically pleasing on iPad, and, more importantly–faster. iPad supports a great little addition that the iPhone doesn’t – what Apple calls the Popover Controller. These view controllers let you build the great little popup “cartoon bubble” views you will see used everywhere throughout the iPad version. These views eliminate the need for full screen transitions for normal data entry, and makes Roastmaster much snappier and more responsive. There are also other things you may not even notice – like that when adding a new item, the new view that appears only occupies a part of the screen when in landscape mode, leaving the view that spawned it partially visible in the background. It doesn’t seem all that exciting, but I’ve found it helps to eliminate screen confusion when you’re entering and exiting related detail views, as it is a visual reminder that you’ve entered a “transient” screen that is waiting to be saved and dismissed. It makes it harder to “get lost” in all of the data views.

What else is new? Well, you’ll never be locked to portrait mode again, no matter which device you use. I had always felt that landscape mode would be helpful on iPhone, but it’s an absolute necessity on iPad. Personally, I rarely use portrait on iPad, I just simply like the landscape orientation better. So, I finally bit the bullet and coded all of the views to be orientation-aware. Once I had that ironed out and finished, I realized I had some screen real estate on the home screen, and decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. I’ve been bothered by the fact that Roastmaster can collect all kinds of great data, but there’s no global way to see the ‘larger picture’ about what beans you have on hand, or what you’ve been roasting. So was born the new home screen graph. Tap and slide to see details about each chunk of data, or tap and release to go to the next mode. It will show you the breakdowns of your inventory by region, county and vendor, and what you’ve been roasting by region, country or vendor. This scratched the itch I’ve had for some time. It almost feels like a little “reward” for diligently storing all of that data – letting you see how it all fits together, and what your roasting patterns are.

Also new is the inclusion of notes in both the headers views (when the orientation provides enough room) and in iPad’s library listings of beans, blends, roasts and cuppings. We all record notes, and having to load a detail view and swipe to the bottom just to see them was way too cumbersome. This little “featurette” should be a big time-saver. Most of the remaining work was behind the scenes – for instance, alarms are now more elegantly handled when they ring outside of Roastmaster.

I want to give a really big “thanks” to all of the beta-testers! This was by far the biggest update for Roastmaster that I’ve put out, and the one that has made me the most nervous. I added a lot of new code to literally every single interface view in the app, and in very crucial ways, so it was important to make sure that it was working without problems before releasing. You guys gave me great peace of mind – thanks!

So, how do you migrate to iPad? If you’re an existing Roastmaster user who wants to transfer your iPhone or iPod Touch database to iPad, you’ll find instructions in the much improved “Crash Course”. Open the drum door on the home screen, tap “Help”, then “Crash Course”. Follow the instructions for “Manual Backups Via iTunes File Sharing”. In essence, you’ll copy your “Databases” folder to your main computer’s desktop from your iPhone or iPod Touch, then copy your database “.sqlite” file (one by one if you use multiple databases) from inside that folder from your computer to your iPad. Once it’s copied, just make sure to quit Roastmaster if it’s running in the background, then relaunch it. Your database will appear in the list of databases – just load it and you’re right where you left off on iPhone.

What’s coming? Well, I have a few things planned. The first thing I want to tackle is a minor inventory drift that some imperial system users are seeing, and pay a little attention to the way in which inventories are reported. I also want to explore the possibilities for automated temperature collection via a Bluetooth thermocouple. Code-wise, it won’t be hard to implement. The problem is finding hardware that will work without forcing everyone to go out and buy a soldering iron and build their own Arduino board. So far I’ve struck out with the iGrill thermometer. It looked promising, but after purchasing one I found that it won’t register temps high enough for coffee roasting. I’m still looking though, so I’ll keep you posted.

Hope you enjoy the update, and Happy Roasting!

Cheers, Danny

About the Author

Danny HallHome Coffee Roaster and App DeveloperView all posts by Danny Hall »

  1. Jerry Kalpin
    Jerry KalpinMay 01, 2011

    Regarding your plans to do temperature collection (via Bluetooth): For me, the best two features in my TENMA 77-7712 datalogger are a) it allows me to adjust out the type K thermocouple error at the ice and boiling points and b) it has a resolution of 0.1F so I will always know the temp is rising, however slowly. Resolution of 1 degree F is not good enough as I might be advancing only 2 or 3 degrees a minute.

  2. Stefan Borowicz
    Stefan BorowiczNov 14, 2011

    I gotta tell you, Roastmaster is such a critical tool for me…THANK YOU!

    Here’s a question though (and forgive me if I haven’t done my homework enough here…)

    I use the iPad app as my main device for Roastmaster, but sometimes want to see my latest info when I’m on the road from my iPhone. The copying the SQL file through iTunes you mention doesn’t sync data between devices (correct me if I’m wrong). Is there a way to use a file sync service (e.g., Dropbox) so that what I’m seeing on my iPhone is always what I’m seeing on my iPad? I use a handy “to do” app (called Paperless) that does this really eloquently. I have no idea if this is possible or not with this kind of data.

    • Danny Hall
      Danny HallNov 15, 2011

      Hi Stefan – glad to hear it!! The next update will have Dropbox support for databases as well as other data types. The code is finished – I’m in testing stage now, so far it works great. Should be soon!

    • Danny Hall
      Danny HallNov 15, 2011

      I wanted to elaborate a bit. You are correct, iTunes file sharing is a crude way to accomplish this, and it’s not true syncing. Once the database is transferred, you’ll have to remove the old one, and manually open the new one. The upcoming version of Roatmaster will let you import and export data via Dropbox, email, and a more elegant version of the current iTunes file sharing. You can accomplish the same thing with just a couple of taps.
      I do want to explore iCloud in Roastmaster. iCloud syncing is nice and full featured, but it happens at a granular level in the database – not with the entire database file itself, so there’s a lot of work I need to do under the hood to make that happen. Roastmaster’s database model is straight forward, but still extremely complex for something like this. I worry that it might be pushing the limits of iCloud, but it’s a very exciting technology, and I’m anxious to see what it’s capable of. I’m going to do some research and see if that’s something I can offer users in a future update, after the technology has matured just a bit.

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