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January 24, 2012 / sguergachi

Development Diary #13

Hello World!

So yesterday I uploaded r_106 snapshot to sourceforge, the release included some major restructuring of the start up/loading screen:

  • Performance improvement in how threading is done for loading and transition as well as removing the need to recreate the entire AuroraUI for the Dashboard
  • fixed some memory leak when going in and out of a dashboard item
  • Improved and fixed how the going “back” button works
  • Major refactoring done for aPrompter component in the Engine
  • aPrompter is dynamic and prompts text on the fly
  • selective color selection of what color each prompt can be dynamically.
  • Text rendering of aPrompter and Time Label visibly better
  • Loading now does correct folder checking (AuroraData) and can create profiles with complete folder structure.
  • Loading includes slightly smarter internet checking
  • aFilemanager now can create files, find files, and fully support serialization and deserialization of objects
  • Games Cover Icons now Download to AuroraData folder the first time, then load from folder every other time.

This release has a lot of the stuff I have been wanting to do for a long time especially the recoding done to the loading screen and the various improvements to aPrompter as well as the ability to download game Icons. However I really feel like I’m just going over details and not focusing on the real core features. So here is the plan, I am planning on making an official alpha release by the end of march, which means core features like adding games, removing games, launching games, settings must be done by then, the Beta which will be released later will contain the tracking and recommendation part of the app.

In the next few weeks I will be working on implementing the database for Aurora, which will be a new experience for me since I have almost no experience in dealing  with databases. We will be using the H2 Database Engine to handle most of the Game library and probably the tracking data. This database engine was introduced to me by a professor who found it to just as simple but much faster and slimmer than other database engines like JavaDB or MySQL, H2 is purely Java based and uses the JDBC api to connect to applications. I will be experimenting around and researching how to get this to work.

Other than the database integration, there are two things bugging me that I want to work on for the next release, the first of them being loading the dashboard in the loading screen instead of on the spot loading and rendering. It takes a heck of a long time to load the dashboard the first time (with no info in memory), so I need to either do some sort of pre-loading to make rendering all the stuff faster. A couple days ago I was tinkering around trying to scout for where the loading problem occurs and how I would go about to fix it, I asked questions on stack overflow and found some ideas, I even tried to enable Hardware rendering to boost frame rates with both OpenGL and DirectX, both failed to work properly. I think I found a fix that involves how we render images how we should use Volatile Images and Canvas etc. but we might push hardware acceleration to 1.5 and stick to just optimizing code for speed.

  The other thing I want to fix is the instant search functionality which works and searches pretty well, except there are some problems with regards to selecting the game you search for in the library and a lostFocus handler detects the need to reset when ever something outside the search component is touched. Hope fully the latter two fixes can be made for the next release.

Meanwhile the rest of the team is still working on their own side projects: Carlos is currently finishing up the aCarousel improvement, which is much needed since its one of the focal points to the whole app. Demetrius should be working on the aInfofeed (news crawler) and do a similar recoding to what was done with aPrompter and make it more dynamic and less buggy. If any of these features are finished by the next snapshots I will let you know!

Thanks for reading!

Have a nice day!

-Sammy Guergachi

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