Launching ChessJournal

Hello ChessJournal fans,
So we finally did it! The new ChessJournal app has launched on both iOS and Android and is free to download today!

Because of the all the new features and our switch to cloud-based data storage (cool huh?!), this version has launched as an entirely new app. With it comes the ability to import a games PGN, search for games across seasons, set yourself personal goals and a host of other improvements (yes, you can now even flip the board!).

Perhaps the biggest change to ChessJournal is that you can now better explore variations of key positions in your game. Upgrading to a premium account will unlock the ability to create, explore, annotate, save and share these variations. Becoming a premium subscriber will help support us and we hope to bring more features to our premium subscribers in the future (we will write a separate blog on the move to a subscription model).

Thank you!

We wouldn’t have made it to this point without the help from a number of people. In no particular order, a massive thank you to:

– Joe for the official ChessJournal soundtrack;
– Kate for the super spiffy icons;
– Robin for loaning us his Android phone;
– Gareth, John, Tim and Mike for helping us with testing.

We owe them all a beer for helping us launch ChessJournal.  It just goes to show that even a small team such as us still need to call on their friends now and again.

Stats

The latest version of ChessJournal has been rebuilt from the ground up. To give you an idea of the work involved in getting to this point:

– We worked through 81 Trello cards. This covered anything from user stories to bugs found during testing;
– With the help of others, we tested over 20 release candidates across a number of devices on both iOS and Android;
– We had to renew and purchase developer licenses for both Google Play and the App Store;
– We (well Matt did) wrote 2400 new lines of code and created or changed 294 files.

In total, we estimate it has taken around 126 hours to release ChessJournal (v2), spread across evening and weekends for the past 3 and a half months. We’ve learnt a lot about app development and release during this time, but also we’re reminded just how understanding our wives have been during those late nights and long weekends!

We’re really excited to release the new and improved ChessJournal and we’ve already starting thinking about other features we would like to bring in the future, especially to those that support us and become a premium subscriber! So let us know what you think of this release and what features you might like to see.

Thanks for supporting us – we are now off to the pub!

Matt & Jon

The ChessJournal Team


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet.  Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:

applestore

googleplay

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Fonts and Followers

I can’t believe its been 11 days since the last update, time flies!  Matt and myself have been busy beavering away on various aspects of ChessJournal and have had some great successes and interesting times…

On the positive front, we have almost completed all of the core functionality for ChessJournal, huzzah! The only exception is the ability to extract key analysis data from our open source chess engine and link it to games.  This is the last piece of version 1.0 functionality to be developed and although StockFish is very large, Matt assures me he is in the process to taming the savage beast.  Its just trickier than other aspects of the development and requires a little more time.

codechessjournal

As for myself, I spent the week developing a brochure website for ChessJournal (chessjournalapp.com – going live soon) to explain the premise and benefits of ChessJournal.  One interesting event that happened this week when I went to purchase the very nice fonts that we had been planning on using in the design of ChessJournal (font geeks should know we planned on a nice Optima / Palatino combo which was looking lovely).  Unfortunately I failed to notice a very small dropdown menu on fonts.com which adjusts the price of the font you want depending on usage.  For example, do you want to use the font on a website or an app.  When I adjusted the dropdown menu for “web app usage” my basket price increased from a respectable £75 (which I was quite prepared to pay) to an astonishing £2,490 (which you will be stunned to hear I was not prepared to pay)!  Further digging around revealed that we had to go back to the drawing board on the fonts being used in ChessJournal which necessitated revisiting all the design work to date and generally lost us a couple of days.  This will be why the more astute of you will have noticed a subtle logo tweak this week.

 

The logo and design on the left would cost £2,490.  The ones on the right would cost a hell of a lot less. Ah well, you live and learn!

Finally we registered on the Apple app store and have started proceedings to get ChessJournal into the store and evaluated and cleared.  To be up front, version 1.0 of ChessJournal will only be available for iOS devices but we fully intend to roll out on the Android Play store as part of our development roadmap (I will do another post on the ChessJournal roadmap close to launch).  Its just we had to start somewhere and I feel the mac community is sorely under supported when it comes to Chess.

So that is a very development heavy update from the ChessJournal team.  A real positive this week is our community has continued to grow, particularly on FaceBook.  Some targeted marketing from myself at chess clubs from around the world has boosted our FaceBook likes from 8 to 63 in a few short days.  Twitter continue to ticks along at 144 followers so we can comfortably say the ChessJournal community is now “in the hundreds”.

I want to say a massive thank you to all you early adopters of who have expressed an interest in ChessJournal. It really is lovely to get all the messages, questions and recommendations from around the world and I know moving forward it will put ChessJournal in a really strong place. We want ChessJournal to grow and evolve so if you are reading this and feel your chess club team mates and friends would be interested, please do spread the word.

Until next time!

Jon

UPDATE: We are delighted to say that since this blog post was written, ChessJournal is now available on the App Store. You can download it here: 

http://itunes.com/apps/chessjournal

Thank you for your support.