FillLPG for Android was originally developed back in 2012 to scratch a couple of itches
- I had a car running on LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) and
- I wanted to see how difficult it would be to leverage my programming skills on the Android platform
The original incarnation of the app was written using Java and the Android SDK and as of March 2015 has in excess of 7500 installs. Not the next Angry Birds but then I would be been content with a couple of hundred downloads!
While it was functional the original application was pretty ugly and also used a now deprecated version of the Google Maps API (version 1). Add to this the fact that I was receiving a few feature requests and it was clear that further development was required - and herein lies a problem.
I'm not a Java developer! Sure I've used it in the past and it's not a million miles away from my programming language of choice (C#) but my knowledge was out of date and frankly I didn't have time to get up to speed while keeping my C# skills current. Fortunately there was a solution in the form of Xamarin.
Xamarin allows developers to develop applications using C# for Android, iOS and Windows Phones with extensive reuse of core code. What's not to like about that?
A New Era
So as of June 2014 I became a Xamarin Certified Mobile developer and set about rewriting the app from the ground up. Using the Java version as a starting point but implementing practices that could allow an iOS version to be created in the future (and maybe even a Windows Phone version too). It took a little longer than expected but using the Google Play Beta functionality the app was deployed to a handful of users and a great deal of useful feedback was received. That coupled with a realtime error tracking system from Xamarin built into the app which reported details of crashes and other errors has resulted in a much more stable application than could have been developed in isolation.
At the time of writing, March 2015, the application is nearing release - albeit in a Beta state. Due to changes in the FillLPG website it has been necessary to 'hobble' the old version and make some stations read only, making the release of the new version more important. The final tweaks are going into the application now and the updated version should be released in a few days - fingers crossed that the efforts of the testing team have been fruitful and the rollout is relatively problem free.