I just released a slightly newer version of Beta 5 that fixes 2 bugs: the most important issue resolved is that posting prices over 3G/Edge wasn’t working for some strange reason, though I didn’t change that code between releases at all. So I switched to a different method of communicating with the server and it seems to be working well again now. The other issue resolved is one that I had hoped would be in the initial Beta 5 release: you may now double tap on a location in the map to enter a gas price at that location. I’m still not 100% sure why this wasn’t working on Android 2.x but was on 1.6, though it may have to do with code obfuscation that is now being done. Whatever the cause, it’s fixed now.

I just want to give a quick status update on Gas Up Beta 5, so here we go:

As of about 5 minutes ago, double tapping on a location on the map will switch to the “Submit Price” tab, and attempt to look up the address of the tapped location. This is not fool proof, and it’s not guaranteed to get an address ever, let alone on the first try, simply because of network congestion, server latency, or even if Google simply doesn’t have an address for the tapped location. But, when it does work, it gives you the ability to submit gas prices at locations other than where you currently are. For best results, zoom in as closely as possible before double tapping.

The code to prevent double accidental duplicate price submissions caused by network lag is mostly done in the application. I still have a few loose ends to tie up in the app, and to handle on the server side of things, but so far so good.

I’m now considering downloading all current gas prices for the selected fuel type at once rather than doing it based on the viewable area in the map at designated intervals. Although I’m not too concerned about network traffic on the server side of things, the repeated querying, several times a minute, from all running clients can slow down overall performance for everyone, not to mention it could affect your bill if you don’t have an unlimited data package. What I will probably do is switch it to download all the price submissions once every 15 minutes for the selected fuel type, and if the app hasn’t checked in the last 15 minutes on start-up or when the fuel type is changed, to download updates immediately.

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Also under consideration, though not deeply yet, is the possibility of adding some kind of excitement to the app. I don’t know how many of you have even heard of it, but there’s a social mapping/gps app called Waze. It makes using the app at least somewhat fun by giving subscribed users points for exploring previously unexplored or not recently explored streets, and it maintains a leaderboard on a state by state and national basis. Perhaps something similar can be added to Gas Up with a little effort, but that would mean that I’d have to add account information, which in turn means that when a gas price is submitted, I’ll be associating that account with a location. Not to mention storing that location and user information. I’m a bit reluctant to do that, but I would appreciate getting some feedback from my user community on the issue. (Assuming there is a user community for Gas Up… 😉 )

November 30, 2010 8:27 pm

Just wanted to make an addendum. As of a few minutes ago, double tapping ton the location of a gas station already in the database will automatically load that gas station’s name, address, and coordinates (latitude/longitude) in addition to switching to the Submit tab. I’ll be applying the same thing for when you switch to the Submit tab normally as well. If the gas station isn’t in the database, you’ll still need to enter the information as before.

Also, I’m in the process of changing how the data is transferred to your device. When building or rebuilding the database, it [Beta 5] will now download all gas stations currently in the database, though I’ll probably change that to be all within the country that you’re currently located in. Yes, I’m considering opening this up to more countries now, but initially I’ll probably only expand the beta to Canada.

As a further note, I just updated the server side code to handle some of the new changes, and everything still seems to be working. Please let me know if something isn’t…

This is just a quick status update on Gas Up…

The basic application concept is nearing completion, and I’ve managed to get server data to the app and properly processed once there. I’ve still got a lot of server-app communication code to work out and implement, but everything is going pretty smoothly. The biggest headache I’ve had so far was getting a spinner (drop down menu) control to get data from a content provider (database access point more or less) and display it properly. With the exception of one line of code, my code was correct. The problem was that I was under the impression that the spinner needed me to provide a text view which it would use to write data; it turns out it already has one, and I had to specify it in just the right place… Needless to say, that wasted about two days of my development time…

Nonetheless, I’ll post a pair of screen shots here later.

Oh, and I’m having trouble finding people to test the application and be early adopters… Maybe it’s just that I’m not drawing much attention to this site (as in none at the moment), or perhaps it’s that I’m not using the proper marketing methods. I’d hate for this app to get uploaded to the Android Market with absolutely no data but that little amount I can put in myself… The comments and ratings will be brutal, but ultimately I don’t really care about those right now. Once the app is live, and people are hopefully entering data on a regular basis, then I’ll care.

Screen shots as promised. The first is a screen shot from my Nexus One. It’s showing an overlay icon somewhere over Mexico, but that’s beside the point. Th

e screen shot is merely to give an idea of what to expect… 🙂 With this screen shot, you see two of the three tabs that are present in the application; the third one, Donate, is currently disabled despite being complete. (There’s just no point in having the donations system enabled when the application has no data and no users.)

The application starts up on the Stations tab and theoretically will display gas stations within the viewing range of the map. Scroll the map around or zoom in and out, and the results will change. Eventually.

The second tab, Submit Price, is shown in this screen shot from the emulator. (I don’t have that screenshot app on my phone, yet, and I didn’t want to take a screen shot that would include my home address, so I used the emulator and the longitude & latitude of a gas station known to me.) This tab includes everything you need to submit a gas price back to the system. ALWAYS SUBMIT THE PRICE WHILE YOU ARE AT THE GAS STATION! Note the address listed for “Associated Address”. This is submitted to the server as the recorded location of the gas station being entered. Unless you want to share your address with everyone, submit at the gas station! (Admittedly, no one will know it’s your particular address, but I won’t be held responsible for angry and confused gas seekers showing up at your house in the middle of the night.)