ChessJournal Pivots…

Hello ChessJournal fans!

Its been a quiet couple of months on the blog following the launch of version 1.4 back at the beginning of September.  The reason being is life took over for a while (as well as the new chess season started!) but also its been a period of strategic contemplation at ChessJournal HQ.

As regular readers will know, myself and Matt like to adopt a lean design and development approach to ChessJournal, gradually iterating and adding new features regularly.  The reason for the pause has been two fold:

  • The launch of iOS 10 by Apple scuppered many of our plans as a new range of bugs, especially around keyboard use and scrolling.  What we thought would be a quick fix actually turned into a considerable rewrite of the underlying ChessJournal code (leading to much soul searching over beer).  Thankfully version 1.4.5 of ChessJournal shipped yesterday and is now available for updating, huzzah!
  • A small percentage of ChessJournal users reporting that they were losing games. Matt has donned his finest forensic development gloves and been searching tirelessly for why some users appear to lose their games.  It appears that for those users whose phones memory are almost full the iOS will routinely wipe non-native apps first…charming!

With both of these incidents occurring in quick succession as well as a flurry of new feature requests from you lovely ChessJournal fans, me and Matt have been thinking long and hard on how to move forward.

Its clear that we have a real demand for a feature rich app that helps ‘over the board’ chess players but at the same time we need to address how to help our existing user base when a significant redevelopment of the application is required. Hmmm.

Its time to pivot

Having weighed up all the options available to us we have decided to bring forward an idea we have had for a long time which we affectionately call “ChessJournal Pro” (readers familiar with lean start up philosophies may refer to this move as a pivot!).

ChessJournal Pro is effectively a new app that we have started designing and developing as of this week. Launching a new app provides two major advantages to you, the ChessJournal fan:

  1. We can build in all of the feature requests that you have been sending us into our data model from day 1.  We have learnt so much about chess players needs in the first 6 months of ChessJournal that we couldn’t possible have known when we lunched back  at the end of May!  ChessJournal 1.0 to 1.4 has been a real pleasure to work on but there has always been certain requests (variations analysis for example) that were very difficult to provide without a complete rewrite of the app.
  2. We can move ChessJournal to a cloud based service! Yes I know what you are going to say: “Jon, what about all those blog posts where you said it didn’t need to be cloud based?” `Well I was right and wrong.  ChessJournal 1,4 works great as a local storage app but it is ultimately limited in the long run (just ask the users whose Apple phones are deleting data when their phones memory is almost full…).  Ultimately, local storage on the phone will have limitations across years of use.  A final advantage of moving to a cloud based app is that we can allow users to access their games from any device or platform (hurrah for all you Android users out there!)

“But Jon I have already put loads of games into ChessJournal 1.4!”

Dont Panic! Me and Matt are dedicated to both our existing and new ChessJournal fans.  The very first new feature added to the ChessJournal Pro roadmap was a PGN import feature. Happy days!

Next Steps

We will continue to support ChessJournal 1.4 for the foreseeable future as we finalise and start work on ChessJournal: Pro Edition.  Now would be an excellent time to send in any feature requests that you have always wanted to see in ChessJournal but are not currently supported!

I plan to blog a much more detailed run down of the new app and all its lovely new features in due course but please give myself and Matt time to finalise next steps.

As always thanks for reading and being patient with us.  We are determined to bring to market the best app for personal chess study available and it is no light decision that we have decided to pivot in this new direction.  Ultimately its for the good of all!

Cheers

Jon

 

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