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Inside the Lab: iPhone Software Development

DDJ: We're talking today with Alexander Tyagulsky, coordinator of the ConceptDraw Lab Project, a Web site sponsored by CS Odessa that provides freely available widgets, utilities, and add-ins, and public beta testing of new software. Alexander and his co-developers at ConceptDraw Labs are students of Applied Mathematics in Odessa National University. In a recent announcement, CS Odessa said it is releasing an iPhone version (developed by the Lab) of its logic game Aha!.

Alexander, what is the ConceptDraw Lab all about?

AT: At ConceptDraw Lab, we look for the best way of quickly implementing interesting ideas that aren't related to our commercial products, but still may be useful to our (and other Mac) users. We have a long-term partnership with Odessa National University with the main purpose of partnership to deliver strong practical knowledge to computer science students. Students usually have a good knowledge about programming, but no idea about software product marketing and sales, user-interface design, and its importance for overall product quality -- and, of course, they have never seen a single Mac :)

We have a summer program for students during which we show them the real software development process, and with ConceptDraw Lab they have possibility to invent new products, develop them, and market to a wide audience. Additionally, we investigate new technologies and trends in software to implement in our future products. The first technology we researched was widgets and now we are a making Web 2.0 diagramming service (we haven't announced it yet). That project will help us to bring our desktop products into the Web. And of course an iPhone game is the best way to test an iPhone application platform.

DDJ: So that's why are you developing an iPhone edition of Aha!?

AT: This project is intended to provide the new Apple mobile platform with high-quality game content since an iPhone without good games is like an iPod without good songs. Aha! game was the best choice for our first iPhone application.

DDJ: But according to what we read, there are no SDKs planned for iPhone software development. So what tools did you use to implement the game for the iPhone?

AT: We are developing this game using HTML + Javascript + animated gifs (to create animations) and Apple Dashcode Beta as a development environment. As the result the game will be available as a dashboard widget as well.

DDJ: Were you able to port the game logic, but write new code for system issues?

AT: No.

DDJ: What was the most difficult aspect of creating the game for the iPhone?

AT: Well, we haven't finished yet because, we have just started :) . But the most difficult part of development will be testing on real device not Mac OS X based Safari. Since we are Ukrainian-based company, we can't get iPhone into our hands on June 29, but we hope to get one at the middle of July. Meanwhile our sales personnel in U.S. will work as testers :)

DDJ: Is there a web site that readers can go to for more information about Aha!?

AT: Yes, they can play a demo version of Aha! or another logic game called Alchemist.

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