Jordan Terry

Voyager 1 is the limit

Android – Google Play Services

This is more for me, so I can remember but if anyone else stumbles across this I hope it helps them!

Whilst developing an Android App that makes use of the Google Play Services API I accidentally deleted a number of libraries that I was using. Thinking nothing of it, I re-imported them back into Eclipse. The “google-play-services_lib” library I imported straight into the project from it’s location within the Android SDK “/extras/google/google_play_services/”. This caused my App to crash every time it started throwing a: “java.lang.ClassNotFoundException”, this is because, for some strange reason, the Google Play Services library doesn’t work when imported directly from the SDK.

What the!?

What the!?

Anyway, to fix this, you just need to copy the library from the SDK into another directory, preferably one you are using that holds all of the android libraries you are using.

The Shoot Redesign

Part way through my second year at University I was given the opportunity to pitch some ideas for the opportunity to redesign Shoot Magazine’s website. Whilst Football isn’t my favourite sport in the world I was thrilled at the opportunity to work with such a well known brand, and to work with a topic I am not familiar with.

I was successful with my pitch and I was given the job of redesigning the Shoot Magazine website. Woah.

After pitching I worked out a quote and the estimated time for the project. I underquoted the time as I am a student and this would be my first big client. But I was out by a country mile plus football field. I think this was okay as this was the first time I quoted for a project as a free lancer. However, I was aware that people make these mistakes so I should have done more to prevent it.

I will take the quoting mistake as a learning experience. I now know to take into account the other work I have to complete simultaneously!

The new website had to fulfil a number of requirements from Shoot:

  • Allow easier discovery of content
  • The website must make good use of images
  • Make the design of the website modern
  • Allow a form of integration with Youtube videos
  • Make it easy to update the website with recent league results

The above are only a few of the key features of the website. A lot of the areas relating to the content on the website pointed to the use of a Content Management System. The goto CMS for me was WordPress, this was because I was comfortable using it and because of its great blogging features it made a perfect match to the websites requirements.

The ‘design’ part of Web Design has never been my strongest area. I am more of a developer and I thrive when working with PHP and JavaScript, or implementing someone else’s design. But working with Shoot has allowed me to improve my design skills. The website was designed by an in house designer, but I was able to cut my teeth with some design work in some sections of the website. This made me feel more confident working with Photoshop and I am now 100 times more confident using it than I was a few months ago.

As I mentioned above, I am a developer, so I really enjoyed the JavaScript and PHP side of working with WordPress. I liked discovering how to create WordPress plugins and working with WordPress themes. My favourite section of the website is the big slider at the top of the Homepage and the Category pages on the site. It was built from scratch and it integrates with YouTube videos. If there is a video embedded in the slider it will prevent the slider from changing for the duration of the video. I thought this was pretty nifty and it allows more and more content to be integrated into a small area on the website. The slider isn’t actually very reusable and it required a lot of markup to make it work, it is also dependant on the YouTube iFrame API being present somewhere on the page. If I were to recreate, or update it, I would design it as a jQuery plugin, this would make it easier to use and update and could be potential just a single line of code. Potentially reducing the implementation to a single line of code, which is obviously a massive win!

Another section of the site that I particularly enjoyed working on is the teams section at the bottom of league pages. This section integrates with the categories in WordPress to provide two recent news articles about the team in question. Shoot have the option to add teams or move teams between leagues when a new Football season begins.

Looking back on this project I can say that I wrote a few bits of clever code, but they were not my best bits of code. Within the piles of JavaScript and PHP I can safely say that I went the long way around with some parts of the code. I was writing things to make it work, not taking my time to create something that just works. This has resulted in hulking piles of code that are doing a job that could be achieved with a shorter, elegant solution to the problem.

Since releasing the Shoot redesign into the wild I have been able to sit down and tackle a number of these problems one by one. There is one issue that I do need to resolve on the Shoot Magazine and that is to make each of the plugins a widget. At the moment each plugin is hardcoded into the theme, which is a big NO NO, but bad things happen when you are under pressure to reach deadlines.

A key skill I have developed throughout my time working on the Shoot Magazine website redesign has been developing relationships with clients. Throughout the project I communicated directly with one of Shoot’s editors, Dan Tyler and he was excellent at communicating what he wanted with the website, which isn’t always what you get from a client. I have also met with a number of different members at Pedigree, who own Shoot, and I really enjoyed my time working with them.

Thanks to my work with Pedigree I have been given the opportunity to work on a number of other cool projects with the staff at Pedigree and I can’t wait to have them finished and ready to show off to the world.

Checkout my work on Shoot Magazine here:

Shoot Magazine

The redesign that became myth

Well, I finally re-re-re-redesigned my site. Probably the 6th iteration in the last 2 years. But, this is one that I really, really like and it will be around for a long while.

I want to use this site, and blog to showcase things I learn and work on, it will act as one big ubër online portfolio.

When I set about making this site I had to throw everything I knew about Responsive Web Design out of the window, it turns out I didn’t know much about the important stuff, and what I did know and do was flawed. I have learnt a lot of super cool stuff over the last few days and I can’t wait to share it, below are just some of the things I want to cove:

  • Just what is responsive? – It isn’t just catering for Mobile Phones, that’s for sure.
  • The Grid – This is a new way, to me, of designing a website and I am very excited about using this method more, and hopefully create a basic bootstrap to share.
  • EM’s – Really. Why did it take me so long!? Death to the px.
  • Images – Oh boy, these are a pain, and they will be something I cover in detail as I attempt to implement different “Responsive Images” to my site

Anyway, this is just a brief post to get things rolling, but I will be bulking up my blog with some hopefully, helpful content in the coming weeks.