Nick Harris

Archive for May 2016

Core Animation

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Core Animation is by far my favorite framework to mess around with. Its been my favorite since I started writing Euchre way back for iPhoneOS 2.1. Its simple to use and can be incredibly powerful in calling attention to UI elements when they change. Its also very easy to over do it with animations. I liken it to salt and pepper in cooking. You can enhance your app with just a pinch but too much and it ruins everything else you’re trying to do.

I’ve been playing around with how to show trick winners and hand winners in Euchre for the umpteenth time over the last two evenings. Its one of the parts of continuously re-creating a Euchre game for iOS that I really love. This effort is especially meaningful after getting a grip on how to represent the game in AutoLayout.

I overdid my animations in Super Euchre (the version available in the App Store) particularly around when a team wins a trick or a hand. The state of the game was over represented on the view and the animations to those changes were jarring. With my new take on Euchre I cut those down substantially while still doing subtle things to draw attention:


I like it but I’d be interested in hearing thoughts*.

I had a blast with animations on Solitaire. Dragging piles was a little challenging but fun.


*I don’t present myself as a designer. I’m just a developer who wants to tinker with the design of my own apps that make little money.

Written by Nick Harris

May 11, 2016 at 5:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Top Toolbar Design

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I saw this screenshot from the Starbucks app tonight. I was curious (I’m not a Starbucks guy) so I downloaded the app myself.

Screen Shot 2016 05 05 at 10 29 57 PM

Personally I like the design a lot. But what really caught my eye is the use of a top of view toolbar instead of a bottom tab bar.

For my Solitaire experiment I decided to go with the same top toolbar approach. When I went back to working on Euchre I made the same decision.

Screen Shot 2016 05 05 at 10 30 23 PM     Screen Shot 2016 05 05 at 10 31 43 PM

The biggest reason for me was the perception of persistence that tab bar views have. Each tab feels like something that’s always active in the app. For my dumb card games, things like rules or best scores don’t need to feel like they persist. You can bring them up when you’re interested but can then dismiss them and feel like they’re “gone”. Using animations can enhance that feeling for the user instead of the flat feeling of switching between tabs. Presenting modal views on top of your base view feels more interactive to me then tabs.

I’ve also accidentally tapped another tab when holding my phone and jumping me from what I was trying to do. Having the navigation buttons further away from my “work area” means I need to make a more definitive action to switch my working context.

The Starbucks app seems to do exactly what I’ve been attempting to do with my horrible design skills. Views appear from the bottom and overlay the base view while leaving the menu visible. Swipe gestures can be used to dismiss them instead of reaching all the way for the top toolbar. Its not a difficult effect to do and I really like the feel of the app more then I would if they had used a tab bar. There are some things they could do to tighten down the animation (adjusting the background image after viewDidAppear is rather jarring) but all in all I do like this approach to app navigation.

Are there other apps taking this approach?

Written by Nick Harris

May 6, 2016 at 4:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized