May 152012

I’ve been using Ansca’s Corona SDK for almost a year. I made the decision to use Corona because it allowed rapid development via Lua, and the SDK met almost all of my needs at the time I chose it.

I’ve made numerous contributions to the Corona Community, and even donated my time in solving other people’s issues. Because of my strong belief in the SDK I signed up to be a Corona Ambassador.

Over the past few months something has become painfully obvious to me and a number of other Corona developers. Corona just doesn’t have the support it should. The software development process is flawed and because of this they keep pushing out Daily Builds that are buggy and cause any of a number of issues for developers.

Just go into the Corona Forums and you will see what I mean. One common thread goes something like this:

“I’ve had lots of problems with Corona. I write up the issues on the Forums and hear nothing back from Ansca. If I do get support it’s almost always from another developer who has gone down the same road and run into the same issue. It seems like the community is figuring out solutions to more of the problems than Ansca is. What gives?”

The above isn’t an exact quote, but it is a compilation of a number of complaints developers have had. As a Corona Ambassador I try and jump in and solve the issue whenever possible, but that doesn’t work when it is a fundamental issue with Corona.

For instance, recently I submitted 3 apps to the Barnes and Noble Nook store. All 3 passed for Nook Tablet, but all 3 were rejected for the Nook Color. I searched high and low for differences between the platforms, but other than the Color having half the memory of the Tablet and some differences in the video card and clock speed, they are supposed to be identical. Our apps only use 80MB of memory so it shouldn’t have been due to memory. After spending days trying to figure out what might be happening, I contacted Ansca and asked them about any issues they might know regarding the Nook Color. This was Ansca’s response:

yes we are aware of this issue. We think it’s due to some rendering changes a week ago on Android

On the one hand, I was glad to hear it was a known issue. However, why didn’t they post something in the Corona Developer Forum letting people know to hold off on Nook Color submissions? I mean really, if you know there is an issue, then why keep it a secret?

One typical response goes something like this: “the daily builds are NOT stable and we make that very clear”. Sure, that is very true. However, since the stable builds only come out a few times a year, and because there are KNOWN crash bugs that have been fixed ONLY in the Daily Builds what is a developer to do? What until the next stable build? That could be weeks or months away and we have no idea when it will occur.

Here’s another example of the instability of Corona. We recently submitted 3 apps to iTunes. All 3 were accepted and are now available in the iTunes store. Almost immediately we started getting complaints in our reviews from users that the game wouldn’t load. These negative comments materially affect our business. Having people make comments that our games are crap or that our company sucks is NOT good for business.

So we posted an update to our description asking people who experience the problems to let us know what device and OS they are using. The response so far is iPhone 4, OS 5.1.1. Of course we had tested on this device, but we believe the user is having an issue so we do some more testing. Our app runs fine for us. If you know much about software development then you can probably guess that the issue is almost certainly an uninitialized variable. That would cause it to work fine sometimes and not other times.

Guess what? Any uninitialized variables have to be in the Corona SDK as it uses Lua for the developer coding and Lua sets all variables to “nil” unless you explicitly set them to some other value. That means that our code will run the same way from one run to another, unless you are past the load and into the game where random numbers get used. Since the app just gets a black screen at start-up for the user, it is clear this is not in our code, but something in Corona.

Ansca, PLEASE fix these issues. PLEASE stop with the Daily Unstable Builds. PLEASE put out regular stable builds every 2 weeks, every month, whatever period works for your team size.

I want to continue using Corona as it is a very nice solution when it works. However, if these issues aren’t resolved soon I will be forced to move to another SDK (and there are a number of them now).

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 Posted by at 5:32 pm

iPhone – Why do you taunt me?

 Rants and Ramblings  Comments Off on iPhone – Why do you taunt me?
Oct 132011

Overall I love my iPhone. Almost all of the features you’d want in a phone are there, and the User Interface is intuitive and easy to learn. However, there are some things that Apple just doesn’t seem to understand. For me, most of these issues revolve around their email application.

Pop Email Hell

If you have had your email account for more than a few months you get Spam. I get 400+ Spam emails a day. If I turn my ISP’s automatic Spam filter to be more aggressive to reduce the emails in my Inbox, then it also tosses important emails. Sure I could go in and check my web mail spam folder every day, but I don’t always have web access throughout the day. This results in getting a LOT of emails on my iPhone for my personal email account.

Since I get a lot of mail, once I have scanned it I want to be able to select all of the messages and delete them. You’d think that Apple would have a “Select All” feature. Nope! This means I have to select each email individually. Annoying and a waste of time; especially if I haven’t checked mail in a while. However, even MORE annoying than having to select each email so I can delete them, is the bug where your selected mails spontaneously deselect! So I have just selected 30+ emails and am about to press Delete, when BAM! they all deselect. This happens randomly, with no pattern that I can discern.

I don’t recall seeing the deselection bug happen prior to iOS 4.2. Apple, can you fix these two items? Surely you have people smart enough to address these bugs/features? If not, I am willing to volunteer my time (for free) to help you address these items.

While I am on the topic of the iPhone, can anyone tell me why you cannot end a call by pressing the big red “End” button? Yes, it works most of the time, but about 20% of the time I press the End button and it doesn’t hang up. So I press it again. Still no disconnect. I press it again and again. No luck. Then 10-20 seconds later it hangs up on it’s own. Maybe the Apple engineer that wrote the code to handle the End button wanted to write a game and wasn’t allowed to, so he made hanging up a game; albeit a lousy and frustrating game.

Apple, if I press the button, I see it depress, then PLEASE hang up the phone! If you need help, the offer I made above for your email bugs applies to this as well.

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 Posted by at 3:22 am