Thursday, November 15, 2012

Whiskers v1.1

I've updated Whiskers for Windows Phone 7.5 to version 1.1 and have submitted this to the Store. Pending certification, it should be available within five days from now.
I've added a few new features and changes with this release. The first being the ability to backup and restore your data so if you upgrade or switch to a new phone, you can transfer your data. I've also added more new icons, so we have about double the amount now. Lastly, just a small tweak with the all items list in the main panorama view. If you have less than ten items, its just a flat list without the groupings. Once you go over ten items in your list, it switches to a grouped items list for quicker access to your items.
For the backup and restore feature, I did not add the ability to connect to the Cloud or SkyDrive, etc. I wanted to keep Whiskers "safe" and not require access to the Internet. So, in order to accomplish the recovery feature, you simply email, to yourself, an unencrypted but encoded block of text data, that you copy & paste back into the app where you want to restore your data. While doing things this way is fairly simple and albeit rudimentary in some ways, it does have a couple of important limitations.
The first limitation is the approximate 16kb message body limit for email messages in Windows Phone 7.x. If the data block you email yourself exceeds this built-in limitation, you can't backup and restore your data. The data block is unencrypted but has been compressed and base64-encoded so it can reside as plain-text in an email message body. If you have 50 or more entries in Whiskers, you may start to hit the upper limit of 16k characters, which is the limit of an email message body in Windows Phone. How can you tell if you've hit this limit is to check if your email contains both tags that delimit the encoded data block.
In this example, you can see both the ---BEGIN DATA BLOCK--- and --END DATA BLOCK--- tags. This is safe to email to yourself. Then on your new phone or phone you want to restore this data to install Whiskers, then go to the email you sent yourself and copy and paste everything in between the two tags. Don't include the tags! Next, open up Whiskers, go to the Recovery page, then paste in the data block you copied and tap Restore. You should see a message stating your data was restored.
What's nice about this method of backup and restore is that Whiskers does not need access to the Internet, so your data is safe and secure and leaves you completely in control of it. For Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 users, I will be creating a new version of Whiskers for those platforms exclusively that will safely store your data in the Cloud using Windows Azure Mobile Services. Since Windows 8 revolves around the usage of Live ID, Whiskers for Windows 8 and Phone 8 will take advantage of this so you don't have to provide extra credentials to Whiskers and you will be able to authorize Whiskers at any time through your Live ID account settings. More on that later in another post...
Here's a sample of some of the new icons:

I'm pretty excited to provide this update. I know some users have been asking for it so I know the need is there. In fact, I recently upgraded to Windows Phone 8 so I needed a way to transfer my data.