Archive for March, 2009

Welcome to Yatca!

Monday, 30th March, 2009

Yatca is an innovative Twitter client application for BlackBerry (OS 4.6+) that delivers updates and replies directly to your device’s inbox. This enables you to tweet and reply in much the same way that you work with email and SMS. We hope you enjoy using Yatca but it is a work-in-progress so please bear with us until we get it right. Oh and please check the FAQ page before posting a question!

Yatca now supports identi.ca and much more

Monday, 30th March, 2009

A new version is now available for download with lots of improvements to get your teeth into.

  • In addition to good old Twitter, you can now use Yatca with any microblogging service built around a Laconica server. This includes identi.ca, TWiT.tv and many others – including private corporate servers. Simply choose the service you want at the top of the Yatca Options screen. The only issue with non-Twitter services is that TwitPic’s dependence on Twitter for authentication means that you can’t upload photos. But we are working on a solution.
  • The filtering introduced in the last version has been reworked. Previously, for a given category of update or reply (e.g. ‘Updates sent by me’) you could only choose between having it merged into your main message list or keeping it in a separate non-merged folder. You can now choose between ‘Merged’, ‘Non-merged’ and ‘Discarded’.
  • A further improvement in the area of filtering is that instead of a folder for each filter category there are now just two folders. Anything that gets filtered into the ‘Merged Items’ folder will appear in your main message list and anything filtered into the ‘Non-merged Items’ will not. It is easy to associate a shortcut key with a search that will quickly open the ‘Non-merged Items’ folder from within the main message list.
  • Paging is now used when downloading updates and replies from the server. This fixes the “request entity too large” problem that occasionally affected users with lots of friends who did not regularly refresh their friends timeline.
  • Yatca now has a homescreen icon which gives you something more obvious to look out for when switching applications. It also means that you can open Yatca from the icon to quickly update your status. Lastly, it means that you can uninstall Yatca by just deleting the icon.
  • When replying to somebody, the recipient’s @username is now shown before the text. Previously, this was just silently prepended to the text before uploading to Twitter. But it freaked some people out that they couldn’t actually see it so now they can.
  • The retweeting function has been improved and it is now possible to review and edit the text of the retweet before sending. Also, if the length exceeds 140 characters, the last three characters are replaced with the ellipsis instead of just truncating.
  • A new setting way down at the bottom of the Yatca Options allows you to choose wether you want to see screen names (droozr) or full names (John Smith). We prefer full names so that remains the default 😉
  • There are times when you get so far behind that all you want to do is mark all unread tweets as read and get rid of that useful (but occasionally annoying) notification icon at the top of the screen. Well now you can, thanks to the ‘Mark All Items Read’ command.

As ever though, it’s not all good news. We still haven’t been able to sort out the photo upload problems that affect models with a 3 megapixel camera (Storm and 8900). Providing direct support for the camera is surprisingly tricky. And even if all the wrinkles could be ironed out it would still be fairly limited; RIM do not currently provide the means for an application to control things like zoom, flash, etc. So we’ve decided that today’s release of Yatca will actually be the last to include direct support for the camera. We’ll move instead towards providing an image browsing capability to allow you to select a photo taken with the Camera application proper.

One last word of warning before you rush off to install the new version…we’ve had to change the ‘shape’ of some of the objects that we store in the device memory. This means that when you install the new version it will blow away all Yatca updates, replies and settings already stored on your device. This is unfortunate but unavoidable.

Need volunteers to help to fix camera problems

Monday, 23rd March, 2009

Camera problems have been reported on some Curve models including the 8900 and also on the Storm 9530. The difficulty in trying to fix them is that I don’t have access to any of the affected devices and the problems aren’t occurring on the simulators. So if you’re the owner of an affected device (i.e. you get the “Error accessing camera: null” message when you try to take a photo) and feel like devoting 5-10 minutes to the Yatca cause, please shout! All that you’ll have to do is install and run a test build that will display some debug information on your screen and then mail the debug info back to me. I’ll close this post to comments once I’ve found volunteers.

Edit: Thanks to all volunteers! I now have a decent sized ‘panel’ on a variety of different device models so I’ll close this post for comments.

New version addresses the biggest complaint

Friday, 20th March, 2009

The most common complaint about Yatca has been that it swamps the inbox with updates and replies. The lack of control over what gets merged into the inbox (or ‘message list’ to use the official term) and what didn’t was particularly a problem for those with a large number of friends. This has been addressed in version 1.2.1 which is now available for download. A quick look at the expanded Options screen is perhaps the easiest way to see what I’ve done to address this problem.

Options screen showing merge settings

Options screen showing merge settings

This will hopefully provide sufficient flexibility to keep people happy for now. I will eventually provide a fine-grained filtering capability.

Note that any updates and replies that you choose not to merge into your inbox are still viewable from the Messages application. Simply use the standard ‘View Folder’ command to get to whatever it is you want, e.g. to review a reply you sent to somebody open the ‘Replies Sent by You’ folder.

In addition to this major feature, there are a number of other improvements and fixes:

  • In many corporate environments, BES is used only to provide e-mail delivery, and Internet access is provided using BIS or the carrier network. Yatca can now support this scenario thanks to a new setting on the Options screen. By default Yatca will continue to connect to Twitter through the BES and only users who experience connection problems should change this setting.
  • Curve 8900 users should now be able to take and upload photos!
  • Users on all devices should notice an improvement in the quality of uploaded photos.
  • In previous versions, Yatca would always refresh the timeline on starting, even if the auto-refresh setting was ‘None’. This has now been fixed.
  • Some of the commands have been renamed to be more meaningful, e.g. the ‘Yatca Update Status’ command is now the ‘Update Twitter Status’ command.
  • In response to a very common request, the ‘Update Twitter Status’ command is now available from all the system applications. So it is no longer necessary to open the Messages application to tweet!
  • Feedback from Storm users suggests that Yatca works better on the Storm when compatibility mode is disabled. So I have added a couple of attributes to the OTA download file to force the Storm to run Yatca in this way. N.B. These attributes are only detected if you uninstall the previous version of Yatca and then do a clean install of the new version – upgrading will not suffice.

A quick note for Storm users

Thursday, 19th March, 2009

Yatca is built using the OS 4.6 development tools. As such, it doesn’t have any Storm awareness and depends entirely on the automatic compatibility mode that Storm devices enter when running pre-4.7 applications. If you’re seeing UI problems such as unresponsiveness to the accelerometer, poor layout with ridiculously large buttons, or strange focus behaviour, the most likely explanation is an…issue…with the compatibility mode.

I would love to be able to offer a Storm-specific build of Yatca with support for gestures and greater cognisance of things like button sizes but I simply don’t have the resources at this time. I need to target the largest possible number of users (subject to the 4.6 restriction that is intrinsic to Yatca) and the reality is that the majority of 4.6+ devices out there are not Storms. With the release of fantastic new full keyboard models like the Curve 8900 this is unlikely to change any time soon.

Edit: User catstide has reported that he/she has a much better Yatca experince on the Storm when compatibility mode is disabled. So this might be worth a try. You’ll find details in this article.

FAQ page now available

Wednesday, 18th March, 2009

I’ve added an FAQ page – you’ll find the link in the Pages section over to the right. There is only one Q&A in there for now but I expect this will grow over time. I don’t propose addressing feature requests in there.

Fix for camera permissions problems

Wednesday, 18th March, 2009

Some users have reported a problem when trying to take a photo for upload to TwitPic. This was caused by Yatca not requesting the ‘Recording’ permission, though for some reason this problem wasn’t affecting all devices (including my own). This has been fixed in service release 1.1.2 – link on the right in the usual place. Users must now grant the ‘Recording’ permission to Yatca in addition to the ‘Internet’ permission that has always been required.

Another permissions-related fix in this service release is that when granting a permission to Yatca it is no longer necessary to grant full ‘Allow’ acccess – ‘Prompt’ access will be sufficient. This enables Yatca to be used in environments where BES policy prevents users from granting ‘Allow’ access to third-party applications but does allow ‘Prompt’ access.

This service release doesn’t fix any of the other issues raised (such as the “Error accessing camera: Requested format not supported” that 8900 Curve users are getting when taking a photo), nor does it provide any new functionality or performance improvements. In other words, if the problems described above don’t affect you, there’s absolutely no benefit to be gained from installing this service release!

How to uninstall Yatca

Tuesday, 17th March, 2009

I forgot to address this important question which was asked in a couple of comments yesterday. Apparently, many BlackBerry users uninstall applications by deleting the homescreen icon and this is obviously pretty difficult to do when Yatca doesn’t have a homescreen icon! My bad. I always uninstall applications using the following procedure, which is why the lack of a homescreen icon hasn’t been an issue for me.

  1. On the homescreen go into Options -> Advanced Options -> Applications.
  2. Scroll down the list and select Yatca (be careful that you haven’t got something else selected!).
  3. Press the BlackBerry key to call up the menu and and choose the ‘Delete’ command.
  4. Because Yatca is an autostart application, the system will advise you that the device must be rebooted to complete the uninstall.

Yatca now does TwitPic!

Tuesday, 17th March, 2009

Version 1.1.1 is now available to be downloaded – use the link over on the right. The major new feature is TwitPic integration. It also has a one-click retweet feature which follows the convention of prefixing “RT @username ” to the original tweet. And Yatca is now a registered Twitter client application so tweets and replies originating from Yatca will now be identified as such.

I’ve received an absolute mountain of feedback in the last couple of days. Most of it has been very positive and all of it has been very useful to me. Very much appreciated. As soon as I’ve gone through all the feedback properly later on I’ll write up a post outlining my action plan for the next version.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the unseasonal sunshine – it’s our national holiday St Patrick’s Day here today. Slán agus beannachtaí na féile libh go léir!

Policy on publishing of comments

Tuesday, 17th March, 2009

I’ve been accused by a reader of deleting a comment so I thought it would be a good idea to clarify my policy on same. I’m not in any way attempting to censor discussion on the merits or otherwise of Yatca and I think the warts-and-all comments that I’ve published to date reflect this. But I can’t publish every comment. I will delete any comment that appears to be spam. In many cases such comments will get picked up by the spam filter and I will be just going along with its verdict. I will also delete any comment that is likely to cause offence to other readers. So unless you want to be binned, please ensure you avoid profanity, etc. Lastly, I will delete any comment that reveals my real name. This might seem strange but that’s just the way it’s got to be. So if I reply to you by e-mail (and thereby reveal my real name to you) please don’t use this if posting a follow-on comment. Thanks!