Portable Wine Journal: Part Deux

For those following my blog, I am taking a slight detour from my audio application. I am a little burned out on trying to figure the application out. I have all the parts I need to make it work, I have just reached a mental point where I can’t “see” what I am working on and from past experience with long books and large cross-stitch projects I know sometimes it is good to put a project on hold for a little while and work on something else.

I spoke with Keith Alperin from Helium Foot Software a few days ago and he suggested that refactoring my wine app to polish it up a little bit and convert it to Core Data might be a nice project to do. He suggested showing my initial app and how I changed and improved it might be a nice portfolio piece.

Working on that app will showcase a bunch of more immediately marketable skills than the audio app. Since I am a little burned out on it currently, I hope that working on this will give my brain a reboot.

The biggest issue I need to resolve with the app is the amount of typing the user needs to do in order to store wine data. I would like to find a database or an API that connects to a catalogue of wineries or wine regions so that the user only has to type the name of the winery or the wine into the app and the rest of the information about it (color, dryness level, region, etc…) can be auto populated.

I would also like to change the layout to a collections view. I was disappointed by how unpolished the original piece of code looked and I would like to really put some thought into making the app designed well. I got a book on iOS design and I am looking for sites that have graphics I can purchase for icons and so forth.

I also need to revamp how the data is stored. I have the app set up currently in such a way that if you navigate off of a wine tasting object you can’t go back in and add more wines to your list. I plan to change the app so that you can instantiate a new wine independent of a wine tasting. For example, if you are at a nice restaurant and you have food and wine pairings you should be able to save the wine from your meal and not have it associated with a wine tasting object. After you create a wine tasting object you should be able to manually tell the app which wines are associated with that tasting.

More high-level things I would like to do is to have a map showing all of the regions your various wines come from. I think if you notice that you tend to like wines that come from a specific region you might find that information useful when looking into what wines you want to choose.

I am currently working my way through “Learning Core Data: A Hands-On Guide to Building Core Data Applications” by Tim Roadly. This book isn’t officially out yet, but I have a Safari Books Online subscription that gives me access to a “rough cut” of this book. I also have the Marcus Zarra Core Data book, but it is a little above my current learning level.

I think creating a nicely designed, polished app that utilizes an API and Core Data will be a nice portfolio piece in the way that an audio app does not. As much as I love audio, it is a difficult subject. It will be more of a life-time study for me than something that will immediately get me a job. I think learning Core Audio has made me a much better programmer, but my immediate concern is creating something that will demonstrate that I can do a job.

Any time I tell people I want to learn Core Audio I immediately get this almost panicked look in a person’ eye because they don’t’ really know how to respond to it. Sometimes they will throw out, “Well, we might need an audio app at some point in the future…” I don’t want anyone to try and make work for me using audio. I am totally happy doing anything iOS related and I think it would be prudent for me to focus more attention on my more immediately marketable skills than my interest in audio.

I have no idea what I will be doing after then end of this year beyond the fact that I am going to be coding. If I am coding for someone at a job or I am still working on my portfolio piece, I can’t say. I am not worried about it. Life is a journey. The destination is less important than the trip and so far it’s been a hell of a ride. I am looking forward to whatever comes next.