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A new version of Boatie

It's been a long time coming...

Over 18 months in fact, and this blog post is to give you a little more of a personal insight behind the scenes during that time.

As you can read [about me](, I'm not a full time developer. My apps are for too much of a niche market for me to have made it a full time career. Instead they are a marriage of my interests in technology and sailing, for my own use, and often just a labour of love.

Thinking about what features would make it more useful for me, I've long wanted to add tidal curves to the app. I was fortunate to meet John Barry of Whitsea
Services Limited at the [Cruising Association]( in April 2013. John has a passion for astronomical and tidal mathematics, and was invaluable at helping me understand the necessary maths. It was then down to me to implement that maths in code and design the interface for displaying the curves. That was the work of many evenings during the Summer of 2013.

The other big consideration I had was how to support iPads better. They hadn't existed when Boatie was first launched - and it had really been designed to be a pocket source of information. To me, much of the content didn't expand nicely to fill an iPad display. However there was strong demand for an iPad version of Boatie, and I'd [promised]( to do one.

In June 2013 Apple first showed IOS 7 to the world. As we all know, that has a very different design from previous versions, and there were a matching set of new design guidelines for developers. There had also been new technical changes introduced on how it is possible support different screen sizes. These started with IOS 6 but have been added to with IOS 7 and 8. All in all, this meant that both a substantial re-write and re-design of the app was going to be necessary.

As an aside, the other major new addition to the new version is the 7 day meteogram. Again, I've included this because I found I was looking at alternative weather sources to get either a complementary or a longer term view. As I process the [GFS]( data on my server for [iGrib](, it was a relatively simple addition to create a data feed for Boatie.

I contracted some help with the design - for better or worse but design isn't my forté - and worked on rebuilding the app during the winter of 2013/4, alongside the other preparations for our [UK circumnavigation]( That was the first test of the new version, and showed some improvements were still needed when we returned.

The list of bugs - and frustrations - with the existing app was growing. It was over a year since the last update. I couldn't do a quick update to that, as Apple required that all apps or updates were built for IOS7 which was itself quite a job. The only way was forward. But IOS 7 had broken the ability to add new Waypoint folders, and I'd not issued an update with 2014 Solent Waypoints. Then in November 2014 the feed I'd been using for the Inshore and Shipping forecasts was taken offline.

With IOS8 Apple has introduced its [TestFlight]( program. This makes it far easier than ever before to give pre-release access to many more people for testing apps. It came at the perfect time for me. The silver lining of the problem with the weather was that for people who contacted me I was able to both offer a solution through early access to the new version, and recruit many volunteers for testing at the same time. This means that the new version is the most tested release I've ever been able to do (at least on IOS8).

I already have a small list of further changes for the next update so the cycle begins again. If you'd like to be part of it and to test new versions then please join in. I've created a private Google Group for which you can [apply to join](!forum/boatie-testing). That's where I'll first post news of future updates.

I hope you enjoy the new version - please let me have your feedback and ideas for improvements. And above all, keep safe.


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