4 years of events led to ArtikPix 3.0

4 years. It has been 4 years since the last ArtikPix update! Why did it take that long? Well, several events occurred in the last 4 years, leading me down a long road of learning experiences that helped me finally complete the update now.

2 years ago, I had developers try to update the app. It was going to be a minor update to fix some appearance issues and glitches, but other significant features broke in the app. Additionally, the app really needed a major update that required more experience on my behalf. I started thinking how it could be better if I had the expertise to code my own apps.

Additional events – occurring within my life in the last 4 years – led to this major ArtikPix update. One big event in my life was having children. My wife and I now have two energetic sons, Levi and Jack, who I’ve thoroughly enjoyed guiding through life. They have inspired me to be very patient, to love more than ever before, and to expose them to a wide variety of experiences.

I also learned to code. I had the desire to take a hands-on approach to developing my company’s iOS apps, enabling me to directly implement my vision. Although I’ve always had an inclination for technology, it did not prepare me to code. Learning to code has been a tedious journey, and it has been hard – really, really hard. There were many times I wanted to quit because my code did not work, and the correct code did not make any sense. Thankfully, I stuck with programming, and it just started to click (please excuse the computer pun). There wasn’t just one moment it clicked; instead, it took time to learn from a variety of resources, including online tutorials, in-person mobile programming courses at the University of California San Diego extension program, and online projects on udacity.com. The resources helped me become the proficient iOS developer that I am today.

Before writing code in ArtikPix, I needed to cut my teeth on other projects. I developed small apps such as a todo list, notetaker, and food tracker. After that, I contributed code to a couple of my company’s apps: Raffleway (a medium-sized app for giveaways) and Percentally (a larger app for data collection). I was fortunate to collaborate with other developers who helped me as needed to implement features in the apps. The skills I acquired from working on Raffleway and Percentally Pro increased my confidence to ultimately write code in ArtikPix.

When I wasn’t coding, I worked part-time as a speech-language pathologist, providing speech-language services to students in schools. The services included augmentative communication assessments and therapy, as well as a fair amount of speech sound therapy. Through experiences with students, I learned new techniques, making me a better clinician. The experiences also inspired me to implement features in my apps, including ArtikPix.

This summer, I taught coding for the Make School summer academy in Los Angeles. Among various responsibilities, I helped students develop personal projects to launch on the iOS App Store. It was fun, but challenging to quickly learn and teach how to implement a wide variety of features in their projects. I was glad to realize I made a difference when I received positive feedback from students.

All of these experiences inspired this ArtikPix update, which hopefully showcases all I have learned through my recent experiences, and feedback gathered from the app’s users. 9 months ago when I started thinking again about updating Artikpix, I thought about how users had been requesting the ability to configure student options. For example, users wanted to assign decks (e.g., s deck) and sound positions (e.g., initial s) to students, and did not want to continually reassign them in ArtikPix for each speech-language session. After thinking about how to make this as user-friendly as possible, I decided the best implementation would be a wizard; that is, a setup assistant that walks users step-by-step through a process of configuring student options. Then, I thought about how to implement configured students in group sessions with the Flashcard and Matching activities in ArtikPix. Knowing that these features would be major changes in the app, and that the previous minor update broke significant features, I decided to rewrite the app from scratch. This turned out to be a big undertaking, but I remained determined. With some help from a fellow developer, I took the last 8+ months to rewrite ArtikPix in Swift. The app is designed with a simple appearance, reflecting an easy user experience for accessing all of the great new features in ArtikPix 3.0. The major update includes long-requested features, so users can get the data they need to effectively track student progress on speech sound goals.

It has been a long journey over the last 4 years; however, I strongly believe Artikpix 3.0 was worth the wait, and I hope users will agree.