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Wednesday
Aug142013

EquiSketch Records Backup

EquiSketch Records has been available for almost three years and has become one of the most popular equine management apps on the App Store. Over those three years, I have heared from users who are just starting out with the app and from users who have been using it since it was released. One item I have noticed is that very few users take regular backups of their data.

From the very first version of the app, EquiSketch Records has been able to backup your data via email or through iTunes File Sharing (although neither option is widely used) and while the data is also backed up through the iOS backup (iTunes or iCloud), the iOS backup does not allow selective restore should the app be deleted or data accidently be erased. Because of this, I have added several new features in the latest update (2.0.6) to assist users in backing up their data to ensure this critical data is safe should a user lose their phone, replace their phone, delete the app, etc.

Backup Reminders


The first feature is backup reminders. Upon launching the latest version, EquiSketch Records offers to notify you if you go more than 10 launches without taking a backup. This option can be turned off in the settings, but I highly recommend you keep it on to ensure your data is safe. Once you have gone more than 10 launches without a backup, an alert will be present on each subsequent launch stating how long it has been since the last backup and asking if you would like to be taken to the new backup menu.

Backup Menu


The Backup options are more prominently called out in the Utility Menu (as seen in the image) to make finding these features easier as well to highlight the difference between export and backup. In addition, when a backup is performed, a zip file is created containing the database and all images for easier storage. Even with these changes, the biggest change is the new backup option: Backup To ...

Backup to ...


"Backup to ..." will create a zip file just like "Backup via Email" but will then provide a list of apps that support storing files, such as Dropbox, Box, or Evernote. This is very useful for anyone that has a large amount of data or images in EquiSketch Records or for anyone who just wants to deliver the backup immediately to the cloud or another app.

 

Hopefully these changes will enourage you to backup this critical data frequently but I will continue to work on additional features and enhance the existing ones to ensure EquiSketch Records is there when you need it.

 

Tuesday
Mar262013

What's New in EquiSketch Records 2

Features

  • Wifi sync
  • Integrated record lists
  • Simplified record creation
  • Export HTML
  • Pull down to search
  • Custom background image for launch screen
  • New "Look and Feel" across entire app
  • Subscribe to our mailing list from within the app (see "About" page)

Horses

  • Walkthrough when adding a horse on the iPhone
  • Simplified basic information view
  • Unlimited custom contacts for each horse
  • Track Board / Stable records
  • Certification and Membership records
  • All medications on a single list
  • Simplified medications
  • 4 common vaccines automatically added to each new horse
  • Archive horses - hides horse and reminders without deleting data

Records

  • Cost tracking with paid or invoiced flag on each record
  • Multiple images per record
  • Optional use of time in every record
  • Filter records by type, paid status or reminder status

Reminders

  • Reminders are linked to actual records for easy updating
  • Email and print reminders

Riders

  • Archive riders - hides rider and reminders without deleting data
  • Export rider information in HTML or CSV

Shows

  • Venue field that links to a contact
  • Website field for each show
  • Export shows as HTML or CSV

Technical

  • Requires iOS 5 or later
  • iPhone 5 Support

Bug Fixes

  • Several
Friday
Mar222013

EquiSketch Records 2 Preview - Sync

The last preview of EquiSketch Records 2 is by far the most requested. Sync is something that I left out of the initial version due to the complexity of implementing it and the fact that I wasn't sure how users would use the app. After reviewing feedback, usage of the app, and my future plans for the app, I have implemented sync in what I feel is the best method: via wireless network. Let me explain why I chose this method.

Since I originally released the app, Apple has released iCloud, which promises seamless integration and sync of data across all iOS devices and has been requested time and time again. Unfortunately there are a few issues with implementing this for Records:

  1. Records uses Core Data, which is not yet stable when paired with iCloud.
  2. iCloud only works with iOS devices and
  3. Only for devices on the same iCloud account.

Issue 1 may lead to data corruption or unreliable sync, something I don't want my users experiencing. Issue 2 limits future expansions to non-iOS devices from sync with iOS devices while issue 3 prevents stable managers, trainers, owners, and others from sharing data with anyone that has a separate iCloud account. Put these together and you can see why the app uses wireless networks to synchronize data between devices. So how does it work?

The image below shows the first view when sync is launched. When a list of devices are found on the same network, they will appear in a list and selecting one will automatically start sync on both devices. When this happens, the data on both devices will be merged with conflicts determined by the latest modification date (i.e. if you update the cost field of the same record on two devices, one after the other, the record that was modified last will override the other).

Sync

Finally, for the first sync, I recommend that one of the devices be a clean install of EquiSketch Records (by uninstalling and reinstalling the app). This will help avoid any data duplication since the records in two separate devices aren't linked until after sync. If you have any questions before or after sync, please let me know.

Well, since the app is close to being released, this post wraps up the previews of EquiSketch Records 2. Thank you for following these posts and as always, please let me know if you have any comments or questions. Have a safe ride.

Monday
Mar182013

EquiSketch Records 2 Preview - Horse Records

Simplifying the management and viewing of horse records was a top priority for EquiSketch Records 2. Based on a high amount of feedback, I have moved from a list of record types to an integrated timeline of all records for each horse. This makes it very easy to see all the information for a single horse without having to navigate through several screens. In addition to the records, there are several different areas of information for every horse, as shown in the image.

Horse Info

Basic Information, Daily Nutrition and Medications & Vaccines are all now on the main screen, right above the records. The bottom toolbar provides quick access to filter and export records, view contacts and frequencies and create new records. I'll go into these in more detail in a minute, but Basic Information, Contacts and Frequencies have been covered in a previous blog post.

The filter and export buttons are now available on every horse. Filters can be applied by due status, paid status and record types while exports can be emailed in CSV or HTML formats. Finally, all the records are now color coded to make identifying upcoming and overdue records very easy. Red records are overdue while blue records are upcoming and have reminders associated with them. You can now add information such as notes, cost and exact dates to records and the corresponding reminder will change.

All of these changes should make managing a horse (or rider, which has similar changes_ much easier than in previous versions. While I won't be able to write a preview for every new feature, I do have a final one coming shortly that I think will make several customers very happy.

Wednesday
Feb272013

EquiSketch Records 2 Preview - Adding a Horse

Adding a horse is not one of the most used features in ES Records, but it is probably the most important...after all, the app isn't very useful without it.  I have taken all the feedback and redesigned several aspects of adding a horse. This all starts with a "+" button that is no longer hidden behind an edit button.  On the iPhone, this button starts a "wizard" that takes you through several views.  On the iPad, it takes you to the Basic Information view along with the other horse tabs.

The Basic Information view now contains several fields that used to be in different sections of the app including Lineage and Medical Normals.  This makes it much easier to manage information that doesn't change very often.  There is also an Archive switch that will hide a horse and their reminders while still keeping the data in the app.

Tapping the Save button will automatically load the Contacts view. In addition to Owner, Vet and Farrier, there is now a standard field for Stable (to go along with the new Board record) and a section to add additional contacts. Each additional contact is linked directly to the address book and can have a custom type, such as owner, saddler, chiropractor, etc.  

The final view is Frequencies, which consolidates all the frequency settings into a single view, including the medication frequencies.  This is another attempt to simplify the management of data that doesn't change very frequenly (no pun intended...ok maybe a little).  Futhermore, four of the most common vaccines are also automatically added for every horse.  

Once all this information is entered, the new horse records view will be shown, but more to come on this in a later preview.  That sums up the "Adding a Horse" portion of the app, but please let me know any thoughts you have in the comments or send me an email (link above).  Until next time, have a safe ride.