PopToo is updated to Version 1.2.7!

After struggling in revising the check-in process for a while, updated PopToo fixed the critical issue.

While PopToo is running background, most of its views are unloaded from memory for optimal functionality. But because the controlling elements and the displaying elements were not perfectly separately, often the important elements for Auto Check-in feature were also unloaded along with the displaying ones.

If Auto Check-in was initiated while being in background, the count-down seconds and the indicators for phases of process, which used to be residing in the displaying objects, were not being activated.

It didn’t affect Auto Check-in itself, but when PopToo was restored while it was in the middle of count-down, the displaying elements were not showing the current state of Auto Check-in correctly with count-down seconds.

This issue is fixed by completely separating the controlling objects from the displaying object which may have been unloaded while PopToo is running background.

Thank you for your patience, and keep enjoying your favorite music with PopToo!

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PopToo’s one reason for performance lagging: Unreleased allocation

PopToo uses Core Data extensively. However, the way it uses fetched objects is not good for memory management, especially for an app like PopToo, which is focused on running background.

Unlike what’s often recommended, PopToo simply uses a few number of NSMutableArray instances to manage fetched objects from Core Data. Due to the original design structure for sectioning these objects into UITableView based on time or distance, I have postponed to use NSFetchedResultsController instead.

Though the design has worked as I intended, using NSMutableArray wasn’t the right way. As PopToo is running background, new objects will be constantly added, when new stream of PopToo Friends’ check-in data is downloaded and when the user checks-in his media information. Inevitably, memory allocation for NSMutableArrays will be grown until the user terminates PopToo, or the device system does. And as they grow, performance of PopToo is affected, which is more visible when it’s restoring to be active from being background.

For next update, I will refactor PopToo’s workflow to be more suitable for running background. Memory allocation will be strictly minimized, instead fetching objects from Core Data will be refreshed more often. I am fully aware that fetching requires some time and may not be the right solution for better performance, but I am confident it will make PopToo’s lagging issues to be less visible, enhancing the user experience.

Optimizing PopToo’s performance: Found the cause which can’t be removed

Lately, I’ve been doing some tests on my iOS app of PopToo project to optimize its performance.

The main situation I wanted to solve was when the PopToo is restoring to be Active from being in Background, it freezes for at least a second before starting to respond to user interaction.

I’ve examined a few areas and these three areas came to my attention: saving transformable objects in Core Data model, delayed selector callings for dismissing certain views while in background, and activating different accuracies for Core Location service. I tested them by eliminating each one.

Initially, I thought saving transformable objects in Core Data was the main cause. As recommended by many, I changed it to store numerical data types. Though it could save some storage space, which may positively affect migrating to new database scheme in the future, it didn’t solve the problem of experiencing freezing.

Next, delayed selector callings for dismissing certain views were dealt by simply excluding them to be used simpler without delay. Which had started for dismissing keyboards when PopToo iOS App goes background, gradually became too complicated, and currently requiring to be refactored anyway.

For saving device power, PopToo changes Core Location service accuracies to be Best if it’s Active, or ThreeKilometers if it’s in Background. And this is the spot where PopToo’s performance is significantly lagged. Core Location seemed to do a lot of critical jobs, that are important enough to cause freezing for a while, when it’s activating stronger accuracy.

Though a cause of performance lagging was found, I couldn’t develop ways around it yet. Since it’s very important and useful way to save device power while using PopToo’s Auto Check-in features, this accuracy changing can’t be removed.

Also, PopToo’s lagging interval seemed to get longer as it’s kept running until being terminated. This means there can be other reasons too, in different areas. I’m guessing it’s related to memory management.

Guess my search is to be continued.

Renewing domain and hosting services

Hosting and domain renewing time has come. And by examining what new options are available, I could also review what resources I have for development.

Hardware, iOS developer connection membership, and other subscriptions, are usually fixed cost, with little variety. But most of all, I need them with no other choice. Fortunately, considering their importance, many of them are quite affordable, relatively.

But domain registration and hosting is different story. There are so many different options for different purposes. New options can be found from many places.

For domain registration, I used GoDaddy, but just transferred all my domains to Hover. Except for being cheap, there is almost no advantages in using GoDaddy. Their interface is so crude and excluding privacy option in basic purchasing of domain is not right, I think.

For hosting, I decided to stay with generic PHP and MySQL combination for one more year. Though there are disadvantages, it seems nice option for my personal blogging. I seriously thought about using Squarespace, but until my projects are grown big to attract so much traffic, having inexpensive hosting with option to use multiple WordPress installations sounded good to me. Also, revitalized respect for PHP and MySQL affected me to make such decision.

Dealing with busy situation of finalizing development

About last 5 days were dedicated to prepare newly developed iOS app to be submitted to the App Store. During those days, unknown but high priority errors were found and prevented other issues to be solved in time. It was extremely stressful to find the causes and solutions, especially if every line of code compiled and worked just fine. As expected, the main causes were architecture related, run-time issues, which are usually considered to be more difficult than anything else.

What made me more frustrated was that, the architecture was working just fine until new feature were added for the requests that were made so late as when we were just ready to submit the product to the App Store. As we were adding new feature, processes were changed and other components were affected without our knowledge. To those who request, it’s just one more feature. However, to those who develop, it’s one more variable affecting entire system.

Also, I have realized how inexperienced I am, especially if I am under time constraining situation. If newly added feature is not working right at first, I easily lost confidence in my own design of software, and attempted to modify it to accommodate the new feature. And because this modification on the currently working design was made hastily, I often overlooked how important components were affected by recent change.

I should have more training on staying calm and keeping the confidence in finely working software design in the midst the frantic development.