Vacation Over, Back to work on Gas Up Beta 5

For the last few weeks, I’ve taken a mini-vacation from working on Gas Up. I’ve been monitoring the price submissions, looking at the comments in the Market, and communicating with a few of you, but I haven’t actually been coding very much. Part of it has been that this summer has been brutally hot here in Michigan, so I haven’t wanted to be near my nearly overheating computer. Part of it has been sheer laziness. Either way, not much has been done since the release of beta 4.

What has been done, however, is that I’ve started laying the ground work for implementing a price submission queue, so that the application will only attempt to upload your submitted gas prices when there is an established internet connection. I’ve gotten reports from some Droid users that they can’t seem to submit gas prices, and I suspect that it’s due to internet connectivity, but I have no way of knowing to be sure. I asked Verizon if they could loan me a phone for a few weeks to try to work this issue out, and I got the expected “no” response. (Although to be fair, they did mention options I had no idea they had available, such as month to month plans.) Being broke and unemployed, I won’t be able to do a detailed debugging for Droid phones unless someone is willing and able to part with one for a short time. If you’re in a position to do that, please contact me through the application’s Send Feedback menu item, or one of the forms on the site.

Although it may still be too early, I’m enabling the PayPal donations tab and functionality. I’m enabling it for the obvious reason (I could use some extra income), and so that when I release the official “1.00 final” version (whenever that may be), people won’t be surprised and claiming that I ruined a great app by introducing this option. Here’s the scoop, so please pay close attention and spread the word as necessary: Even though I’m enabling donation support, it doesn’t change Gas Up’s functionality in any way. You won’t miss out on features if you don’t make a donation, and you won’t get any special bonus (other than my appreciation) if you do. The application will not change in any real way. In fact, the application’s size won’t change significantly because the library and functionality has been there all along, just disabled. I’ve explained all this, and hopefully more, on my Donations page, but feel free to ask any questions or concerns you may have and I’ll address them there.

A final change that I had begun working on is how the gas station icon overlays work. In all the releases so far, I’m using three separate overlays to display the gas stations based on the price ranges. The lowest, highest, and mid-range gas prices each have their own overlay on the map. That’s worked fairly well, but I think that it’s caused a bit of a performance penalty. I think that by using a single overlay, and setting the icons individually would yield better performance, and in my experiments it does seem to behave a bit better, but at the moment there’s a price: the icons automatically generate shadows on the map, but the problem with the new method is that the shadows aren’t in the proper positions, and I haven’t found a way to get them lined up properly. So, I’m going to temporarily abandon this streamlined approach, and come back to it at a later date. It’s a silly reason to abandon the slightly improved performance, but cosmetics issues are often a bigger issue to people than performance.

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