I’m an avid keeper (and breeder) of a wide range of exotic birds and fish. Over the last few months, I’ve been working on a range of pet-keeping relating projects; both personal and commercial.
In collaboration with a small group of like-minded individuals, I’ve been developing a resource for other pet keepers called PetWiki. As the name suggests, it’s essentially the Wikipedia of exotic pet breeders. We’re also building a social layer (powered by BuddyPress) that will allow members to interact with other enthusiasts.
I’m also working on a Windows application that will allow bird breeders (such as myself) to manage large quantities of birds. With lots of great feedback from the folks at the Aussie Finch Forum, the tool is coming along nicely and will hopefully become available early next year. It’s largely complete at this point, but the genealogical tracking feature still has a few kinks to work out.
Not a pet weirdo? Luckily I still have lots of other projects in the works. System Ninja 3.0.3 and Remembr 0.2 will hopefully be released by the end of the month.
I wanted a simple Windows clipboard management app. Nothing existed, so I made my own. Since then, the project has been heavily improved and is now available for download on SingularLabs. There’s still a decent chunk of work that need to be done to bring Remembr up to scratch; but now that it’s available to a much a larger audience, development will be much faster.
When I relaunched The Web Atom back in March, I mentioned my plan to add a download mirror and using SingularLabs’ apps to initially build traffic.
There are so many download mirror websites in existence that it seems foolish to create another, but I’m in the unique position of owning a software company that experiences tens of thousands of monthly downloads. That traffic could be leveraged to push The Web Atom’s download mirror into relevancy quite quickly.
I spent most of the day designing the download pages for software titles. Thanks to the fantastic WordPress community, the file management and tab creation functionality was available from free plugins. I just needed to create a bunch of theme templates and put together a bucket of CSS.
It’s going to take a while to get all SingularLabs‘ downloads migrated from the existing file management solution into the new software. The homepage for the download mirror section hasn’t been started yet either. There’s a very slim chance that this little side project will be completed by the end of the month.
MetroTextual has always been one of my favorite projects, even though it hasn’t gained the traction that I would have liked. Why? It’s just not very good. MetroTextual is trying to do too many things; it’s marketed as a “simple, minimalist” text editor, but there’s a lot of interface complexity that baffles users. Want to save? Click the little options icon and… no wait, save is hidden under the program icon on the top right. Change the settings? There’s an options button and a settings button. Even the context menu has it’s own set of options.
I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down a set of tasks I might like to perform when I first open MetroTextual. Simple things like “change to HTML syntax highlighting,” “open a file” or “translate the UI into Russian.” Then I wrote down how many mouse clicks it took to perform each of these tasks. It didn’t take long to realize there’s very little MetroTextual can do with less than four clicks.
With MetroTextual’s new layout, I’ve stripped back as much complexity as possible. The MetroTextual logo (and that weird attached menu) is gone, with the existing menu items moved to the existing sidebar and hidden out of view. To improve discoverability, the icon that toggles the sidebar has been replaced with a hamburger menu icon – similar to what you’d find in most mobile apps. Then I completely removed the ‘metrotextual‘ title and replaced it with the ‘text mode’ combobox.
Next I worked on making it look visually slick. A darker ‘Carbon‘ theme was designed, drawing inspiration from my upcoming Clippy project. This theme will likely become the default when version two finally launches. The challenge was adding this new radically different design, without affecting the existing. If you like how MetroTextual looked before, I’m happy to say that you can make it look virtually identical.
Finally, bug fixes. MetroTextual is trying to be a lot of different things at the same time. A plain text editor, a code editor, a markdown parser and even a rich text editor. These elements do not always play nice together, hence why MetroTextual has always suffered from more bugs than the average software project. I’ve spent a lot of team cleaning up the code and reducing the amount of chaos. This release is already a few hundred lines of code smaller than the previous. There’s obviously still a long way to go on this particular stage of development.
And finally; features. There’s really not many new features in this release. Sometimes it’s nice to stop adding stuff and clean up the shit you already have. That being said, I’m exploring the possibility of supporting custom, user-defined highlighting rules and languages. I’ve also added Ruby support at a friend’s request, but’s that pretty minor.