News

WordPress 5.0

WordPress is due to be upgraded to version 5.0 on November 27, 2018. It is slated as a major new release, but there is little that will affect the overall look and feel of WordPress sites:

  • There is a new block editor, that WP pompously calls Gutenberg. Lots of people are grumbling about it, but I do not anticipate any problems myself, and it will not affect the site directly.
  • There is a new official theme called Twenty Nineteen.

This site uses a heavily customised child version of the Twenty Sixteen theme. I had issues with the Twenty Seventeen theme, and there was no Twenty Eighteen. I will check out the Twenty Nineteen theme, but given the investment I have already made in the current theme, I would be reluctant to switch. The main motivation would be responsiveness, i.e. the ability to work on smaller screens. But the current site looks OK on my elderly Nexus 4, with its 4.7″ screen.

Just to clarify, the main website runs WordPress, but the hosting service does not.

SMS and call log permissions on Android

Old Contact Menu
Old Contact Menu

Android is clamping down on apps sending SMS messages, and accessing the call log. I can understand the reasoning behind this, but it means that the Sales Manager will suffer collateral damage. The deadline for compliance is January 9, 2019, but I intend to release a compliant version of the app ASAP, probably over the weekend.

The features that will be pulled are the SMS and Call Log options on the Contact menu on the Customer screen, as shown on the screen on the right.

iOS progress

I have bought an iPhone 5S on eBay, which I hope will serve as my new test device. The last one I bought had not been reset properly, and I had to send it back. The iPhone 5S is the oldest model that still runs the latest version of iOS.

In the meantime, I am working my way through a cloudkit tutorial, and have I discovered that I may be able to test iCloud apps on the simulator as well. If all goes well, the new release should be ready by the end of the month.

Although iCloud support is the most pressing issue, the most important one in the long run is an analogue for the navigation drawer in iOS. That will involve redesigning all the existing storyboards, and I am hoping that my new development system will help with that.

Material design

Introduction

Sample Design

Material Design is Google’s new paradigm for website design, which it showcased in late 2014. The design was ported to Android at the same time, in version 5.0 (lollipop). Because our app has such a large number of users, we never adopt new technologies straight away. But now is a good time to revisit Material Design, and look at the figures.

Statistics

The table below shows the breakdown of users by version:

Version Percentage
4.x 21.5%
Earlier versions 1.2%
5.0 and later 77.3%

Version 4.0 was already the prerequisite for the current version of the Android client. Raising it to 5.0 would allow native support for Material Design. But without backward compatibility, an additional 21.5% of users will be cut off.

Conclusion

Material Design does not seem to offer much to this particular project, which is mainly text oriented. In the meantime, there is much more urgent work to be don on the iOS client.

Hosting service changes

Introduction

The much needed makeover for the web app component of the hosting service is complete. It upgrades the app from an undisciplined HTML4, to a much nicer looking HTML5.

Rollout

The new version has been developed in a separate directory. It can be viewed clicking on the Preview link at the bottom of the sidebar. The Login link still takes the user to the old website, but eventually the two will be swapped over. In the meantime, please take the opportunity to review the new version, and pass on any comments.

Newsletter

Until now, we have announced changes to the Sales Manager on Twitter. But a lot of our users are not on Twitter, so we have decided to send out emails instead. To sign up for our newsletter, just send us a contact message, with the newsletter option checked.