Sparkol approached me for two reasons; my long list of mobile titles launched across multiple platforms and my knowledge in optimising Adobe AIR mobile applications. I was put in a two-man team with another developer to help create an iPad port of the company’s leading software product; VideoScribe Anywhere. Together we had three months to develop a touch-friendly, resource-light and highly-optimised version of the desktop version.
It was obvious that due to hardware limitations, this version of the video-editing software had to be stripped back a lot. A week of giant flip boards and frustrating meetings made us realise we’d need to plan this out from the start; create a blank canvas and add to it rather than taking the existing product and removing the heavy luxuries. We created a list of user stories and ranked them on three criteria; importance of outcome, strain on resources and time to develop. From there we re-imagined how each story would work on a touch interface compared to its desktop counterpart.
Working from the current codebase and splitting what was compiled on different platforms meant the core functionality – a timeline of “drawing” vector images, saving to the cloud and accessing an enormous library of art – was already coded for us. We spent a lot of time creating mobile-based user interface adjustments and ensuring gestures were both functional and natural to the workflow. We worked in an agile environment and spent two months knocking stories off the wall whilst the rest of the development team was fiddling with the desktop version. As the mobile and desktop codebase was the same but were each being worked on by both our teams, it was important for us to have a constant dialogue with the other team to understand where everyone was tinkering within the codebase and understand why people had done what they had.
The list of stories and features we wanted to address were long. Less than 40% of this list was deemed “MVP level” and even then it looked like we wouldn’t meet the deadline. When we really hit our stride and started ploughing through the tasks we were met with a hefty waiting-time for the testing team to get through the work we were throwing at them – Sparkol had multiple projects on the go which were all being tested by the same team. The final two weeks were spent fixing bugs that came back to us and assisting the media personal to create some excitement for the new features we had implemented. The product eventually launched in April 2015 – just as planned. A demo can be seen below.
Part of working on a shared codebase and the work we had done throughout this project was to allow for more mobile versions of the app. Smaller devices such as phones and an Android version were in the pipeline and once the iPad version had launched we moved straight on to scoping out what would be required in the next iteration of VideoScribe Anywhere; which features should come next and which platform(s). At this stage the product had reached the stage I had joined to help with; it was optimised for low-spec devices and it felt satisfying on a touch-screen. Sparkol were happy for me to step away at this point and I believe my time there was amongst the most educational of my professional career.