Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our new app, WiFi QR Share is available now!

Sudo Make Me An App is pleased to bring you a brand new app for Android!  Our newest endeavor, WiFi QR Share, is a lightweight utility tool, one of those indispensable apps that you can't believe nobody thought of before.  One click generates a QR code on your phone that your friends and family can scan with Barcode Scanner to connect to your network (or any of your saved networks) quickly and easily without needing to type in the SSID or password.

The app is extremely easy to use for both rooted and unrooted phones (if you don't know which you have, it's probably unrooted).  Rooted phones will fill in your wifi information automatically, while unrooted phones can get your list of networks and then prompt you to fill in the password(s) in order to generate the QR codes.

We've even included the ability to detect when you are wirelessly tethering and allow you to create codes for that, too.  So when you're out and about, you can easily create networks and give the people you're with access quickly and securely.  No more fussing around trying to get wifi devices connected, just scan and go!

Around this time of year, many of us are visiting family that we only see infrequently, so be sure to give them a gift.  The gift of easy wifi.  :)

Happy Holidays from team Sudo Make Me An App!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New release coming soon!

 Wow, it's been a while since we've released anything new to the public, hasn't it?  For those of you who have been eagerly anticipating new stories, your wait is almost over!

I've actually been working on two stories for Choose Your Path - an automotive one and a travel one. Both of them are very different from the first story, King's Journey, and the traveling story is nearing completion. I got a bit waylaid with school, but my semester is done and now I can get back to writing. I'm probably about 85% done with it, so once I finish we'll release the update in Market.

In addition to the new story, the next version of Choose Your Path is going to have vastly improved tools for those of you who want to write your own stories. In version 1.0.5 the only way you could modify or delete stories you created was by using a third party file explorer app (like Astro File Manager or ES File Explorer), but now that ability is built right into Choose Your Path, along with a fantastically simple interface to add story pages.

Once I finish with the two stories I'm working on at the moment, I would like to get some user feedback on the length of new stories for the future. I'm open to writing short stories and pushing out frequent updates, or working on long epic-style stories which naturally take much longer to write. We want to hear your thoughts, so if you have a preference, contact us and let us know!

Other than Choose Your Path, Hostile and I have also started working on several other Android apps which are mostly geared for utility and power users. Once they're ready to be released, we'll be writing about those on this blog as well, so keep an eye out! :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Choose Your Path version 1.0.5 is out!

We just released the third version of our Android app, Choose Your Path! Other than the usual smattering of minor bug fixes and optimizations, we've included some great new features like the ability to share stories you create with anybody else who has the app. We've also tried to make writing the stories a little easier by giving you a template file to help you create new story pages. If you've never made a story before, you should start by reading this blog post.

To share a story you've written, just hit Menu while you're in the story and you should see a button that says "Share Story". The app will instantly pack up your story and upload it to our servers, and then give you the option to share via email, Facebook, or other apps like Twitter. When your friends click on the links, the app will automatically download and unpack your story, which they'll see then in the list on the main page just like any other story.

We still have The Reddit Adventure included in the app so new users see more than just one story, but you'll find there are many unfinished branches. Since we didn't write the story, we don't feel comfortable modifying it other than making it work with our code. That means that we won't be finishing the story, since we only included it for fun and as an example of another writing style. We will be deleting it once we finish some more stories of our own.

Speaking of stories of our own, I'm getting close to finishing the next one! We will be including it in the next version of the app, which we're aiming to have out the door in about a week (around the beginning of May). It's written in a completely different style from "King's Journey", and I hope it will appeal to just as many people.

Lastly, we tried to make sure people know what options are hidden in the menu without being annoying about it. We moved the share and feedback buttons directly to the main screen, and you'll see infrequent reminders to check out the Settings page if you'd like to change the appearance or behavior of the app.  If you have any questions about writing a story, suggestions for features or options, or just want to tell us what you think, we love getting feedback, so drop us a line from the app or on our contact page here!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's coming up in Choose Your Path

Hey there! Glad you're stopping in to check on progress with our Choose Your Own Adventure style app, Choose Your Path. We have a lot of stuff in the works for the next few updates, including more stories!

Hostile has been working hard to make sure all our users can easily discover the options they have available in the app. I've been redesigning and streamlining the images, and we're both working on writing new stories.

For those of you who want to write your own stories, we're trying to come up with ways to simplify the process. In fact, Hostile is working on an in-app story page creator/editor to go with the story creator we already have. The easiest and fastest way to write pages is probably still to do it on a computer and then transfer the files to your phone, but we understand that a lot of people don't ever connect their phones to their computers. We want to make sure we give everyone the ability to compose stories whether they have computer access or not.

Once you've written your masterpiece(s), we're also going to give you the ability to share with your friends. We are experimenting with proprietary formats to send via email and checking out the benefits of putting things in the cloud, but still have a ways to go before it is ready for the public.

For those of you interested in a paid version, we plan to release it (with additional features and no ads) as soon as we can write a couple more stories to go in it. If you are feeling impatient and want to get rid of the ads and get a back button right now, please send us some feedback and tell us you want the paid version right away!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Advanced Storywriting Techniques for Choose Your Path

You've hopefully seen by now the basic instructions to write your own story for the Choose Your Path app.  I hope you'll agree it's been pretty simple so far.  For those of you who have mastered that or are more comfortable with code and HTML, here are some more options for you to try out.

Creating a story all in one page:
If you are planning on writing a very short story and would prefer to keep the entire thing in one giant "main.txt" file, we have given you that ability as well. The tool that lets you do that is a <marker> tag.  Here's an example:
<text>Here's my brilliant masterpiece of a story. Don't be jealous of its magnificence.</text>
<choice TheMall>Go to the mall and get yourself a congratulatory Slurpee.</choice>
<choice GoSkydiving>Your life is filled with adventure!</choice>
<marker TheMall>
<text>Holy cow! I made a page within a page! This is magical!</text>
<choice GoSkydiving>Your life is filled with adventure!</choice>
<choice main.txt>Go back to the beginning.</choice>
<marker GoSkydiving>
<text>Holy cow! What will you take on next???</text>
<choice main.txt>Go back to the beginning</choice>
The app knows that if you leave a file extension (like '.txt') out of the choice tag that you intend for the next page to read from a marker instead. The page begins at the tag <marker> and ends at the next <marker> tag or the end of the page, whichever comes first.  In this example, the page the story will show for the TheMall marker will start with the text "Holy cow!" and end with two buttons that take you either to GoSkydiving or the first page of the story.

You can have as many markers in a page as you like, so you can write your entire story in main.txt (but be careful how you keep track of it!).  Alternatively, you can mix and match between creating new text files or using markers within files.  Just remember that when you're referencing a file, you need to use the whole name including the extension, otherwise the app will assume it's a marker.

If you want to link to something on the internet, you can do it with regular html code.  Use the formula <a href="the-address-of-whatever-you're-linking-to.html">the text you want as the link</a>.  When someone clicks the link in the story, it will open with their browser.  You can also embed images in pages with html style code: <img src="nameoftheimagefile.jpg">.  The app currently supports most standard types of images, such as .jpg, .gif, .png, etc. but we will need some code modifications to the app so they always display properly. For now we would recommend only using very small images that won't need to be resized, or skipping them altogether.

List of common tags:
<a href="______"></a>
<img src="_____">

We hope that you'll enjoy using these more sophisticated options to create stories just the way you like!  As always, if you are proud of your work and would like to share it with the world, send us a zipped copy of the story folder at [submissions at sudomakemeanapp dot com].  If we like it too, we'll include it bundled in the next version of the app!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Writing your own Choose Your Own Adventure style story

Choose Your Path is both a platform for reading Choose Your Own Adventure type stories, and a method of writing them. We intentionally made the format for writing the story pages extremely basic. If we find that there is sufficient interest in writing stories, I'll consider adding more abilities too (such as randomization or variables).

Before you start:
In order to write story pages, you'll need a very rudimentary understanding of code (which I'll try to explain here) and either a really good memory or some system to remember all the forks in your story.  Leeeeena's preferred method is to plan out a story in advance with Thinking Space, a free Android app which lets you visually map out your story path.  The mindmaps are also compatible with some free desktop programs, our favorite being Freemind.  Here's what the maps look like:

Creating a story with multiple pages:
The first step to writing your own story is to click the "Create Your Own Story!" link at the bottom of the list of stories on the main page. This will automatically create a folder with your story's name inside a folder called ChooseYourPath on your phone's internal storage (or the removable SD card if your phone has no internal storage, like the G1, Nexus One, Galaxy S 4G, or Fascinate). You can find the folder by connecting your phone to your computer and browsing to ChooseYourPath, or by navigating to it on your phone with a file explorer app. Both of us like ASTRO File Manager, which is a free download from Market. If you are having trouble finding the folder, go to the highest level folder you can in ASTRO or any other file manager and search "ChooseYourPath".

We included some sample pages so the story will show up and work as soon as you hit "Create Files". The default files that get created are named "main.txt", "author.txt", "page2.txt", and "The Store.txt". The only file you need to make a story work is "main.txt", which will always be your first page for every story. Keep "author.txt" too if you don't want to be known as Anonymous, and make sure your pen name is in it.

The format for writing pages is very simple. Here is an example of what you might put in "main.txt":
<text>This is the first page to my epic story. It's going to be really cool.</text>
<choice page2.txt>Carry on to page 2!</choice>
<choice page 3.txt>Or will you go to page 3?</choice>
Anything between the <text> and </text> tags will appear as the story text in the app, and text outside the tags won't appear at all. The text between the <choice> and </choice> tags will appear on a clickable button in the story. You can see there's a page name in the <choice> tag. <choice page2.txt> will tell the app to go to "page2.txt" when that button is clicked.

To make more pages, just create new text files in your story's folder and name them however you like. Then you can reference them with the <choice> tag from other pages.  If by mistake you reference a page that doesn't exist (for example, if you have a file called "page25.txt" but you wrote <choice paage25.txt>), then when you click it in the story you will see an error message and an option to go back to the first page ("main.txt").

Something that's really cool about the <text> tag is that all of the text that's inside of it supports just about all of the standard HTML tags. So you can use <b> and </b> for bold, <i> and </i> for italics, etc. If you don't know HTML, that's ok too. You don't need to know any at all to write a story as long as you can remember to use the <text> and <choice> tags. I do suggest, however, that if you're writing paragraphs, you surround each one with a <p> and </p>. This will tell the app to indent the first line of your paragraph for you and put anything after it on a new line.

Things to consider:
Because the app is intended for phones, we suggest a style that uses slightly shorter pages than regular books. When writing the first story, "King's Journey", Leeeeena aimed to try to keep each page at about 1-2 screen's worth of content before presenting a decision, using the default font size. We figure this will allow people to read a page and make a decision without it being a big commitment of time or attention.

That's everything you need to know to get started! If you think you're ready for more advanced features, be sure to check out the options on this page here. If you're proud of your masterwork and would like to share it with more people, please zip it up and send it to us at [submissions at sudomakemeanapp dot com]. If we like it, we'll include it with the next version!

Trivia: The "King's Journey" folder contains over 100 pages!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Our first app is up!

After a lot more time than we expected it to take, we are finally releasing our very first app into the Android Market tonight, a joint project we're calling Choose Your Path. Both of us have fond memories of the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books from when we were kids, and we decided a while back that it would be great to have something like that in mobile format, especially on something with a touchscreen.  (For those of you who don't know, Choose Your Own Adventure books were stories written in the second-person where you were given sets of choices throughout the story that took you to alternate endings on different pages.)  Since we didn't want to rip off the existing books, we decided to write our own and try to crowd-source some more.

There have been a lot of challenges along the way, most notably (for me) trying to write a decent story that wasn't too short while I'm busy with school.  We've had some interesting experiences experimenting with scaling on devices with different screen sizes and resolutions, seeing how some manufacturers' skins affect the look and feel of the app, and learning how to take advantage of SD card storage. We think that we've ironed the bugs out sufficiently to release at this point without anybody encountering any major snags, but if you have questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us here, or email us via the feedback link in the app.

I've had a lot of fun writing my first story for the app, and we're sure some of you might like to try your hand at it too.  I used some tools to help me plot out the story which were tremendously helpful, especially Thinking Space (for your Android phone) and Freemind (for your computer). These two mindmapping programs allow users to chart out their intended story line in a collapsible flowchart-style way, and can read and write the same files (mindmap, or .mm format).

At the moment we are writing stories by creating plain text files following a specific code template, which we will demonstrate in the next blog post with some examples.  Interested readers may wish to start charting out their story ideas using the tools I suggested above (no affiliation).  Then once you learn how to make the files, you can put your own stories on your SD card and view them through the app just like any other story. If you need help with coding the pages correctly, please contact us and we will guide you through the process. If you think you have written a story other people would enjoy too, you may submit it to us (submissions at sudomakemeanapp dot com) for inclusion in the next app update.

We are tremendously excited to be filling a niche, and hope you will join us and participate! Thanks for taking the time to check out our app and our blog; we hope you'll check back often. :)