Over the last year of working on the iOS platform, I have found myself with an unexpected arsenal of tools and apps that help me do my job better and faster. Check these out, and please suggest your favorite apps!
Dev & Design Apps
These apps and systems represent the core of the 3rd party apps that I Need to have around to save time during our development processes here at IQ Foundry. On the design side, having tools to help with building sprite sheets, font glyph sheets, and particle previews is fantastic.
Zwoptex is my favorite tool for working with sprite sheets and cocos2d. It has streamlined my sprite sheet production, and made it very quick to update entire sheets as I need them.
$15.00 (And Worth It)
A lot of folks like TexturePacker from code’n’web as well, so I would encourage you to try both!
For a long time I struggled with Hiero for creating fon
t sprite sheets for cocos2d. It was the defacto default tool for bitmap fonts on many platforms. The guys over at 71squared saw a need, and filled it with a fantastic application that needs no competition (really, it’s good). You can use basically any system font, customize shadows, fills, outlines, and make things look very close to what that designer wanted you to implement in those Photoshop mocks.
In addition to GlyphDesigner, the 71squared guys also put out a great particle emitter tool to manipulate settings and configurations for designing particles! It’s very much geared towards cocos2d and their particle system, and a ton of fun to play with. And it’s useful too!
One of the hardest things to manage as a developer has been distributing beta builds and gathering crash reports. The guys over at TestFlight have got this covered. And it’s free. Free? Free until they start a pro version with additional features for a fee, but still–I think a lot of indie devs would be lost or crippled without this tool around anymore. It is pretty quick and easy to get set up–both for the developer and for the end-users testing your apps. If you are doing beta releases of your titles, this is the platform to manage it with.
At the end of the day, numbers matter. Both knowing what is coming in, but also knowing who is looking at your apps and possibly purchasing them!
This was one of the first apps I grabbed as soon as I realized how limited, and generally uninformative, iTunes Connect was for app developers. It is fantastic to be able to get an overall historical view of how your apps are doing inside the App Store, as well as see how they are doing financially each morning (or whenever the updates are ready from iTunes Connect).
The crew over at idea swarm is very on top of supporting this app and making updates available when Apple changes their site structure, so I’ve always been pleasantly surprised that any time Apple changes something and breaks stat apps that AppViz is quickly updated.
My only complaint is that I can tell each hour when AppViz is updating because my normally quiet laptop turns on its fans as the cpu’s heat up processing all the data.
App Statistics are powerful. Use Them. For a long time we’ve always built Google Analytics into our web applications and Flash based games. It gave us a picture of where our visitors were coming from, how they were using our applications, and how we could better tune experiences to maximize customer experience and profitability! Most of the developers I talk to put no Analytics into their applications to measure usage, effectiveness of advertising in app, or general performance of their game beyond looking at purchase data from iTunes Connect.
Get in the habit of integrating Analytics into your apps and also in your websites! Knowing where potential customers are coming from and how often they are using your games can give you some real insight on how to spread the adoption of your app within the world. Plus they have an iOS API now that you can use to more easily send stats out, so there is no longer an excuse.
This may be a little known trick, but there is a great way to get from a 30/70 split to a 25/75% split with Apple on your app sales. And that is by promoting the heck out of it using links that pass through your own LinkShare affiliate account. If you have a business tax ID, a company website (you do sell apps, right?), and some time to get things set up and learn their system–this is a fantastic way to make just a little more each month.
Things I Haven’t Tried Yet, But Am Curious About.
They have the coolest charts and graphs! Really! The Coolest! I just signed up for an account yesterday, and look forward to seeing how this stacks up against AppViz2. All of the really great Numbers posts I’ve seen in the last year have been using charts output from AppFigures, so it looks like it gives a great visual overview of how your apps are doing in the marketplace.
This is an alternative to Google Analytics that quite a number of folks are talking about. I’ve never used it, but thought I would stick it in my list of things yet to check out. It looks like it is free for indies, so give it a shot (or give me your feedback below!)
What about you?
Are there any apps that you feel I have missed that should be on this list? Let me know, and I will add them! I would love to learn more about other tools out there that I haven’t seen yet, so please feel free to continue the discussion below.