Over the time, I received many requests and good ideas to extend Electronic Toolbox. So almost once per month, I brought out an update with more functions and extensions. Now it includes more than 30 mini-tools with loads of calculations and databases. By now, Electronic Toolbox has been updated more than 60 times.
By this however, the App became more and more complex more and more confusing and difficult to use over the time.
So I decided to completely rewrite Electronic Toolbox from scratch. It took me now eight months (and several nights and weekends) to finally let the new Version 4 show up on the App Store.
These were the main goals for version 4:
- Perfect foundation for hundreds of additional mini-tools that will be added over the time
- Easier navigation and searching for mini-tools
- Consistent and easier to use user interface throughout all mini-tools
- Taking better advantage of the higher resolution Retina display and larger iPad screen
- Offering more background information about calculations, formulas and circuits
NEW PROJECT FUNCTION
Another goal was to include a global place where calculations, circuits, components or documents can be stored for later reference. For this reason a global Projects function has been introduced in Version 4. Projects can be used to collect all this type of information. They can also be exported, sent via E-Mail or printed from your device. Documents can also be imported into projects via DropBox.
The new Project function will be the basis of many additional Ideas I have for the future. For instance the possibility to order missing parts online or to connect it with a cross-reference database. I am also considering a Mac-Desktop Version of the App where Projects can be exchanged between the Mac version and Smartphone version.
DATABASE UPDATE OVER THE AIR
As the database of Electronic toolbox already grew quite a bit, I decided to implement a new way to provide each App with new data “over the air”. With the new version, I can distribute data for the mini-tools (e.g. the Sockets database) without the necessity to distribute a new App Version to Apple. This makes it much easier to extend the databases over the time and you will get these updates much easier and quicker.
Hundreds of formulas that have already been used internally inside the App for the calculations will now also are displayed within most of all mini-tools. So with Version 4, you can nut just do your calculations but also look up the corresponding formulas for the calculations.
My goal was to address professionals as well as users who are new to electronics all at once. For this reason, I added a lot of textual background information on how to use each tool but also about the components or calculation of each tool. Most of the tools now offer additional information when scrolling down and much more information when pressing the (i) info button in the upper right corner.
Hundreds of diagrams have now been re-created as Vector images so they now show much better on the Retina display or the iPad and no longer as blur as sometimes in Version 3.
An organizer was added to sort the mini-tools to better suit your requirements. You can order the tools, disable them or even create folders for group of mini-tools.
Version 3 supports six languages (German, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Netherlands). My initial thought was to restrict this to English only for Version 4 since otherwise I would have to deal with those languages for all of the additional text that will come with Version 4. Once I did announce this here on my website, many users wrote me and encouraged me to change my mind and so I did. As a result, Version 4 now supports 16! languages including Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Greek and some more. However, the compromise was, that some of the longer texts like the extensive detail background information will still only be available in English but for the user interface, one of the 16 languages can be selected. Like with version 4, this language can be selected from inside the App.
Besides all of that, there are numerous improvements that are addressing your feedback (Thank you!) and requests to make Electronic Toolbox more powerful.
The new version consists of six times more lines of code compared to Version 3 and the database is about three times as big.
You may wonder how much to pay for the new version. The good news is, it’s for free for all existing users. I was thinking about this quite often but those many E-mails I have received with compliments and suggestions and words like “I love your App, keep up the good work” really helped me in this decision.
About 248.000 users worldwide (figure from December 2011) are using my App without having ever paid for it. They just downloaded it from repositories other than the App Store. I see this as a major problem and this is not just bad against me but also a slap in the face for everybody who has paid for the App in the past.
As I became aware about this some time ago, I was struggling whether it really makes sense to continue to improve my App. I decided, yes, it makes sense and hope now that this new Version 4 of the App will encourage some of those people who are using my App for free to think twice and purchase my App now as they can see, that they just have to pay a few bucks and will continue to benefit from all my improvements over the time for free. Hopefully they will.
Please cross your fingers for me.
There are a few important things to know for the new version:
1.) First version
For this version, I started a big Beta test with users in many different countries and received a lot of bug reports and very good suggestions during the test phases (Thank you!!!) . I tested internally function by function and on all my physical Test devices (iPhone 3G,4,4S,iPad 1,2,3 and iPod 4G). We did our best to find as many bugs as possible. As this version 4 is a complete rewrite, this version may and will have some initial bugs. So please consider this when installing this version. If you find a bug, please not just write a bad review, instead please report the bug and I will ensure you that it will be fixed quick (as always in the past).
As this version was basically meant to achieve the goals mentioned above, I didn’t add more mini-tools so far. I know that some of you are desperately waiting for some new tools or the extension of some of the existing tools (e.g. more circuits in the NE555 tool). With this new
Version it will now be much easier for me to add new Mini-Tools. For the first time after the release of this version, I will be prepared to fix reported bugs with high priority as mentioned before. Once this version turned out to be stable or got stable, I will start over to add and extend more mini-tools and will handle my long “Wish list” for you.
3.) iOS Version
In the past, I did my best (not always initially successful to be honest) to maintain my App for all iOS Versions available. With the new Version I had no other choice than cut the support for older iOS Versions than 4. So for those of you, who have an iPhone 2 or older iPod, you can’t update to the new version 4 of my App. I am really sorry about that and would have been more than happy if there would have been an alternative.
One alternative would have been to introduce Version 4 as a separate and new Version on the App Store. So I would then be able to still maintain the existing version 3 for iOS 3.x. But then, everybody who already paid for Version 3 would have to pay again for version 4.
As I promised to “thank you” for purchasing the previous version by offering the new version for free, I decided against this.