Archive for April, 2009

Oops! Lets try that again…

Thursday, 23rd April, 2009

Following the now-established pattern from previous releases, I’ve had to do a service release to fix something! It seems that the “deleted replies back from the dead” problem wasn’t just restricted to the special case when mention-checking is first enabled. This is the sort of thing that only gets found when others use the software. Big thanks to everyone who has reported this and apologies for having to update again so soon!

Incidentally, sometimes when installing an update your device will report that you are attempting to replace the current version with the same version. This is caused by erroneous reporting of a cached version number and can be safely ignored – you will definitely be installing the latest version.

Deleted replies back from the dead

Thursday, 23rd April, 2009

Just a quick note on something you might notice when you upgrade to the latest version. Some users have reported seeing deleted replies from friends re-appear when they turn on mention checking. Please be aware that if this happens at all it will only happen once, on the first refresh after the feature is enabled for the very first time. It happens because the mention checking logic within Yatca has no previous ‘state’ and seeds itself by downloading the 20 most recent mentions. Once Yatca has this initial state it works incrementally thereafter. If, like me, you never delete any tweets (relying instead on the housekeeping to do that) you won’t see this happen at all.

Yatca now does shortcuts and mentions

Wednesday, 22nd April, 2009

Top of the list in the new release is support for shortcuts (aka hotkeys). Woo hoo! People have been asking for this since version 1.0.1 and now that I’ve been using it on my own phone for a few days I’m really enjoying the productivity gains. The shortcuts are mostly in the reading panel where conventions established by the Messages app have been followed:

  • ‘u’ – next unread tweet (stops when you’re up to date).
  • ‘n’ – next tweet.
  • ‘p’ – previous tweet.
  • ‘r’ – reply.
  • ‘f’ – forward.
  • ‘del’ – delete.

Shortcuts are also active in the simple yes/no dialogs, enabling you to press ‘y’ for yes and ‘n’ for no.

Another major new feature in this release is support for mentions. A mention is a relatively new Twitter concept. It extends and supercedes the previous notion of replies to include tweets from any user in which your username appears anywhere in the text of the tweet. N.B. This feature is disabled by default and there are two reasons for this. The first is that users who receive a large number of mentions would quickly find their message list swamped if mention checking was enabled by default. Secondly, mention checking requires an additional request to the Twitter servers on each polling cycle. This increases the amount of data transferred by Yatca and also eats your battery life. If you want to enable mention checking simply go to the Yatca Options screen and change the ‘Check for mentions of you’ setting from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’.

Storm users have long complained that the idiosyncrasies of typing on a touchscreen mean that they often accidentally send a tweet before they have finished composing it. So just for them Yatca can now be configured to ask for confirmation before sending a tweet. Just go into the Yatca Options screen and change the ‘Confirm before sending’ setting from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’.

Twitter continues to grow at a mind-blowing rate (the North American user base doubled last month!) and although the engineers at Twitter are doing a fine job we’ve all seen the famous ‘fail whale’ from time to time. The fail whale means that the Twitter servers are too busy and this manifests in Yatca as an occasional cryptic message when trying to refresh the timeline or send a tweet. Yatca now handles the fail whale much better and will automatically retry any operation that fails due to the Twitter servers being too busy.

Finally, I’ve fixed a problem that prevented photo upload when the SD card was missing or disabled (or indeed not pushed in properly…ahem!). In this situation the photo gallery will now only offer whatever images are found on the built-in device memory.

Which replies are received and which aren’t

Friday, 17th April, 2009

This is discussed on the FAQ page but probably worth an airing here on prime time. All versions of Yatca up to now only receive updates and replies from users you follow. Replies sent to you by other users are not collected. This is very much by design. The rationale was that receiving replies from strangers (?) would require Yatca to make a second request to the Twitter servers on each polling cycle which would adversely affect your data usage and battery life.

The feature is however increasingly supported by other Twitter clients and it has been heavily requested for Yatca. So it will be included in the next release of Yatca as an optional behaviour that is enabled by default. To be completely accurate, what will actually be added is support for receiving mentions from users you don’t follow. A mention is a recently introduced Twitter concept for a tweet that includes your screen name anywhere within its text (and therefore includes all replies).

Important Service Release!

Tuesday, 14th April, 2009

Version 1.4.2 is a service release (i.e. no new functionality) which addresses one major bug and three minor ones:

  • Some people reported that tweets were disappearing from the message list, or that they were being notified of new tweets that they couldn’t see. It turns out that Yatca was being a bit over-zealous with its housekeeping in certain circumstances! Problem now fixed.
  • Image upload was running into a 50 KB size limit and anything larger than that was timing out on upload (another popular Twitter client for BlackBerry has the exact same problem!). This new version of Yatca tries progressively higher compression rates until the image is less than 50 KB.
  • When a BlackBerry is connected to a computer and in mass storage mode, third party apps such as Yatca cannot access files in the device memory or SD card. This was causing Yatca to display a cryptic error message when opening the image gallery. A more meaningful message is now displayed.  
  • Twitter has an unconventional way of handling the ‘<‘ and ‘>’ characters that Yatca was not taking account of. This is now fixed (and thanks William for pointing it out!).

I am sorry for the second update in 4-5 days. In truth, I probably rushed the last one a small bit in an effort to get it out before the Easter break.

Incidentally, this new version is called 1.4.2 because the last one was supposed to have been 1.4.1 – further evidence of my rush to release late last Thursday night.

Going away for a few days

Friday, 10th April, 2009

It’s a holiday weekend here and I’m going away on a few days R&R. I will have only limited acess to email and web during that time – just the BlackBerry with a signal quality that is likely to be variable at best. I’ll be back to civilisation on the evening of Monday 13th and will get to comments then. So keep ’em coming. Thanks and Happy Easter!

Photo uploading and lots more now available

Friday, 10th April, 2009

A new version of Yatca is now available. You can download it using the link over on the right. Here’s what it contains…

  • Photo support has been completely reworked. Yatca no longer attempts to integrate directly with the device camera. Instead it presents a gallery of all photos on your device from which you can choose one to be uploaded. There’s also a button to launch the built-in Camera application and any photos taken will be detected and added to the gallery when you close the Camera application and return to Yatca. N.B. When you open the photo gallery for the very first time it will be very slow. This is because it has to create thumbnails for all the photos. Painful I know but sadly unavoidable because RIM doesn’t share the inner workings of their ‘thumbs.dat’ file so Yatca has had to reinvent the wheel. Please remember too that when it comes to the reliability of uploads, Yatca is completely at the mercy of (a) your carrier and (b) TwitPic.
  • When reading a tweet you’ll notice that the ‘Retweet’ button has become the ‘Forward’ button. When you invoke it, you’re asked if you want to forward by retweet, SMS or email. Choosing SMS or email invokes the relevant application.
  • Also when reading a tweet you’ll notice that there’s now an indication of when the tweet was sent. I follow the modern convention of displaying a relative description (e.g. 15 minutes ago) for tweets in the recent past and a date for tweets older than one week.
  • Previously, Yatca did not correctly identify a reply from somebody you follow unless it was a reply to a specific tweet from you. So if a friend simply tweeted “@username blah blah blah” that was not filed as a reply but rather as an update, causing replies to be missed on occasion. This has now been fixed.
  • If a user has been offline for an extended period of time Yatca will now stop playing catch-up once it has downloaded the maxium number of tweets it can store, which is 1,000. Previously it would keep going way back to clear the backlog, which was pointless because the user would never actually get to see tweets beyond the 1,000 most recent.
  • The ‘Mark All Items Read’ command on the menu is now the ‘Mark All Yatca Items Read’ command. This is just to avoid confusion about what the consequence of running the command might be!
  • There is a new option to hide the display of the @user in the reply dialog. Please note that if you choose to do this Yatca will still prepend @user to the text of your tweet before sending.
  • An awful lot of the effort that went into this version was spent in what we programmers like to call “refactoring”. This is just a fancy way of saying that I replaced all the bad code written in a hurry with something that I could stand over. Although much of this work is invisible to the end user, it has resulted in a few significant performance improvements here and there. But perhaps more importantly, the refactoring should make it easier for me to add future enhancements to Yatca.