Scrabbling for Mastery

a patzer's journey

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Zyzzyva iPhone app is getting very close to ready
It seems impossible that less than a month ago, I was completely freaking out about finishing the Zyzzyva app before the end of the year. It's taken a hell of a lot of work, but as of right now, quiz features A and B on that list (the ones that absolutely had to be done) are done. You can now take standard quizzes that save your progress and sync between devices. You can also take cardbox quizzes, and can add and remove words from your cardbox, and of course everything syncs between the iPhone and your computer via Dropbox. The one major feature I haven't yet implemented is a dedicated Manage Cardbox screen to let you examine, edit, and reschedule your cardbox contents. I'll be doing that this week.

By the way, if you will want to use the sync feature and don't already have a free Dropbox account, please sign up using THIS LINK. If you use this link, you and I will each get a bonus of 250 MB of extra Dropbox storage space.

I've decided that December 18 is my absolute drop-dead date for submitting the app to the App Store. That's probably not quite early enough for it to be approved by the end of the year (especially since Apple is taking a week off for the holidays), but I would expect it to be available by the first week of January or so.

Just to be clear, the app you will get in January is not the final release. I've been calling it the initial release, because there is a lot of work still to be done. In particular, there are a few big features that will not be in the initial release, but will be implemented in a subsequent release:

- Database-centric searches like Probability Order and Playability Order
- Word definitions
- Movable tiles on the quiz screen (non-Flashcard Mode)
- Landscape orientation
- Support for lexicons with non-ASCII characters
- Native iPad interface
- Automatic sync, as opposed to the current manual sync
- Nice UI improvements like pinch/stretch to zoom, etc.

... and more that are on my list. I'm listing them here because I don't want people to be surprised that these features are missing, or to think that I will never implement them. I think it's more important to get an imperfect, usable app out into the world so people can start using it. Then I can iteratively add features to improve it.

I've also decided to start eating my own dog food by using the app as my exclusive study tool. That will expose many of its deficiencies pretty quickly. I've been taking notes as I've been using the app exclusively over the past few days, and I already have ideas for several improvements that won't be in the initial release, but will be available soon because they will personally make my life better. Once the app is available, I hope to hear suggestions from you all, too!

Here are the latest screenshots:

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This looks wonderful. By the way, I've been wanting to let people upload their cardboxes to Aerolith and data mine them to see what are the toughest bingos, etc. among all users. It seems that the Dropbox API may make this a lot simpler!

Yeah, I'm interested in that information, too. I wouldn't gather it without explicit permission, but in a future version I might have a "Share aggregate data" option for people who are willing to share it.

Looks awesome.
btw, what's a dropbox account, and why should I have one?

Dropbox is a free service that lets you sync and share your files. You should have one if you want to sync your Zyzzyva data between computers and/or between your computer and an iDevice, since that's the service that the iPhone app uses.

Sounds good. Now might be a good time to work on developing some Zyzzyva data;-)

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