• Reviving Shopster - In Review

    I’m trying to revive Shopster, an app we launched 2013, and I’m writing througout the process. If this is the first post you see, you can start here.

    After some time, I finally submitted Shopster 1.2 for App Store review. As I write this, it’s currently “In Review”, and I expect it to be available soon.

    I wanted to wrap up this series with a summary of the changes and what I expect to do in the future.

    Final Metrics

    I took some baseline metrics before I started. Here’s the final summary:

    github.com/AlDanial/cloc v 1.70  T=1.10 s (101.4 files/s, 6675.3 lines/s)
    Language                     files          blank        comment           code
    Objective C                     46           1176            494           3638
    C/C++ Header                    53            295            368            477
    Swift                            7            122             65            350
    HTML                             1             19              0            159
    JSON                             2              0              0            140
    Markdown                         1              3              0             33
    XML                              1             11              0             12
    Bourne Shell                     1              2              4              5
    SUM:                           112           1628            931           4814

    Worth noting:

    • I started using Swift. All new classes were written in Swift, and one small refactor (code I moved out from the AppDelegate) was rewritten in Swift as well.
    • There are some shell scripts, JSON files, etc, that were not present before. I integrated fastlane.


    In the process, I also removed some third party dependencies we used. The app is now much tighter and less dependent on third party code that I don’t manage.


    I solved all the deprecation warnings except one: I’m still using ABCreateStringWithAddressDictionary. As far as I can tell, the suggested replacement (CNPostalAddressFormatter) doesn’t quite cover my use case. I’ll review it in the future, and maybe rewrite that method, as it’s not that important for the app.

    UI and AutoLayout

    All the screens now use Auto Layout. Where there were animations that changed the frame, I changed to update the constraints and animate that change instead.

    Short Term Work

    Here’s a short list of things I’d like to tackle in the near future (wihtout counting major architecture changes such as using CloudKit):

    • Start using the default system font (San Francisco) instead of the custom font we are using.
    • Adopt Dynamic Type across the app.
    • Remove some graphics I think make the app look dated, like the logo on the Navigation Bar.
    • Localise the app in Spanish1. It’s currently English only.
    • Fix the missing deprecation warning.
    • Use the new location based notification trigger. Currently, we observe significant location changes, and when they match the areas we want, we trigger a Local Notification immediately. The new UserNotifications framework, allows you to set a location as a notification trigger, which would help eliminate part of this code. Since this is core to the app, I didn’t want to take on it now, as it will require more testing.
    • Add a new onboarding screen. As soon as you start the app, you need to allow location services and notifications. We simply throw the system dialogs to the user. We can do better.
    • Add @3x assets. I didn’t have them, and wanted to ship soon. They’ll come at a later update.
    • Make the app free, and show ads only to new users (the ones who got the app for free, basically).

    Long Term Work

    This list is shorter in items, but way harder, so I don’t know if or when I’ll do it:

    • Take on major refactors for the app. Adopt MVVM.
    • Start using CloudKit for sync.
    • Adopt a freemium model, where a one time payment unlocks some functionality.

    Closing Thoughts

    • Don’t let your apps rotten! Either pull them from the App Store gracefully, or spend the required time to keep them up to date at the very least through major OS versoins.
    • It’s hard giving up on an app you put effort on. I couldn’t, that’s why this version is on review. This is probably not the best example to follow.
    1. My native language! Shameful. 

  • Updating the Frame of a UITableView in iOS 10

    In Shopster, when you edit an element in the main UITableView, we show a “ruler” to allow for selecting the item quantity. When the ruler is shown, we make the table view narrower, so the text is still visible to the user.

    In iOS 10, however, Apple slightly changed the behaviour of UITableView, and the animation started failing as follows:

    In the animation closure, we are simply changing the UITableView’s frame. As you can see on the video, this makes the animation “jump”. The disclosure arrows move before the animation even start.

    The solution, luckily, is simple: just wrap the frame update in a beginUpdates / endUpdates pair as follows:

    // assumes currentFrame is set previously.
    self.tableView.frame = currentFrame

    If you want to play around with the example, here’s an interactive playground you can download to reproduce the issue or see the workaround.

  • Reviving Shopster - AutoLayout

    I’m trying to revive Shopster, an app we launched 2013, and I’m writing througout the process. If this is the first post you see, you can start here.

    Shopster uses Storyboards. I like them and can say I was an early adopter of them. Now with Storyboard references, I think they are even better and simpler to use.

    As I wrote before, our app only supported 4 inch phones (iPhone 5 / 5s / 5c / SE), and was not written using Auto Layout. So my next step is to enable AutoLayout and fix the layout of every screen.

    Luckily, the app has about 8 screens total, so that should not be too hard.

  • Writing Unit Tests in Swift for Objective-C Projects

    As I wrote previously, I decided to write my (missing) unit tests for an old Objective-C app in Swift.

    Immediately after starting, I run into an issue: I can’t import the Swift module on the test target. All the settings appear to be correct: I’m defining a module, including a bridging header. However, whenever I import my module on Swift I get an error.

    The only workaround I could find, was to include a Swift file in the Objective-C project. I’m not sure what dark magic this triggers in Xcode 8, but it makes the trick.

    Here’s in all its glory, Dummy.swift:

    import Foundation
    // This file is not used at all on the project, but triggers Xcode to properly
    // create the module for testing purposes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Reviving Shopster - Testing in Swift

    I’m trying to revive Shopster, an app we launched 2013, and I’m writing througout the process. If this is the first post you see, you can start here.

    When I mentioned the pile of technical debt in Shopster, I neglected to say that it doesn’t have any unit nor UI tests1.

    Now, with lots of changes to be done to fix deprecations, it’s one of those times when you regret not having those tests that give you the confidence to move forward with the changes.

    So with a better late than never attitude, I created a test target on the project with a slight twist: I’ll write all the tests in Swift. This is a low friction place to start adding Swift to the codebase, without rewriting nor having to deal with too much interop. I’m pretty sure that as soon as I add new classes to the app, those will be Swift as well, but I haven’t hit that yet.

    1. Even though I talked about it during an NSConf Argentina!