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Rockbox Development => Starting Development and Compiling => Topic started by: Apple-Z on April 10, 2010, 08:16:47 AM

Title: Writing a "Lookup List" type of App for 60GB 5G iPod Video
Post by: Apple-Z on April 10, 2010, 08:16:47 AM
Hi all !

I have a 60GB 5G iPod Video (about 4 years old) and have played around with firmware mods a little. My iPod has been Mac formatted since day 1, and just yesterday I made the move to converting to Windows so that I can run RockBox.

I have a project I would like to try for my iPod, which is to create a simple (?) application that will allow me to look up tables of French verbs and their different conjugations.  As far as I can figure, this would not be much different from the way that music is stored on the iPod, so that under a particular "Artist" you have "Albums", and then "Songs".

I would like to have the "entries" for each French verb with its English transaltion  (to be, to eat, to run, to walk, etc) come up alphabetically on a main list, much like the list of "Artists" is displayed, and then when you select the Verb you want to see, you would get a sub-list of Verb Tenses, which would be equivalent to the sub-list of "Albums" for one particular "Artist".  When you pick the Tense you want to see conjugated, you would then get the list displayed on the screen, which would be the equivalent of the "Song" level of the hierarchy in terms of the music library.

Aside from that, each Verb has a few notes that indicate whether it is Irregular, and examples of how it is used in a sentence, etc., and that information would be listed on the main page for the particular verb before you see the list of Tenses.

I believe the project in not "groundbreaking" in terms of what the iPod is already capable of doing with managing Music, Contacts and Games like "SAT Prep". I also have a .pdf file of the eBook I would use as the source for the actual database of verbs, and I realize there will be some work in converting that to the right file type and database format... I also know about Book2Pod, but for my purposes I don't simply want to convert a large (3.5MB) text file into a series of smaller "Notes" files... I want to organize the contents into an alphabetical listing/hierarchy of all the verbs in the book (1 per page).

Does anyone know of an existing app that could be modified or adjusted and the data replaced with my Verbs database ? If not, any comments on how much effort would be involved in creating an app from scratch ? I know there are literally thousands of iPod Touch and iPhone apps out there, but not much for the older iPods like the 5G Video.

Thanks in advance for any comments !

Apple-Z
Title: Re: Writing a "Lookup List" type of App for 60GB 5G iPod Video
Post by: saratoga on April 10, 2010, 02:59:43 PM
Theres nothing like this already, but I guess it probably wouldn't be too hard to write. 
Title: Re: Writing a "Lookup List" type of App for 60GB 5G iPod Video
Post by: Apple-Z on April 10, 2010, 09:32:59 PM
Thanks for the reply :)  I figured it would not be too difficult to write this kind of a data retrieval app, but I am not very savvy on the details...  I read an article by an Apple employee who wrote a tutorial to show how to create a small iPod app using SnoBol (?) which would play a QuickTime movie.  The tutorial is pretty instructive but I admit I am not 100% clear on the commands, but I can see how some fairly simple steps lead to the creation of a series of screens with their applicable sub menus.  Everything ties into a "main folder" where the movies would reside.  In addition, his app does something relating to Quartz to get the QT movie to play on the iPod screen, so obviously I don't need that.

In my case, the "movie folder" would be the directory where each Verb conjugation table would reside.  I think there would need to be a main entry (page) for each verb in the list, and that main page would have some generalities on the specific verb itself (in the form of non selectable comments), and then a selection of menu items for all the possible Tenses for the Verb.  Once you select a Tense, the appropriate table would be called up and displayed.  As I mentioned, he wrote his app using the iPod's resident software, not RockBox.  I don't really care whether the Verb app I write is RockBox or iPod native...  I guess whichever is easier to write, and realistically, a format that I can get some support for when I'm trying to make it work.  There does not seem to be a lot of action in the iPod forums for this kind of stuff, so I suspect the RockBox community is a more likely to have some helpful people like yourself lurking about :)

I've already done some design of the screens and of the relationships between the verb database, and obviously the app can grow in sophistication, but for the moment I'd like to just start with a Main screen which leads to a list of Verbs and then to the conjugations.

For anyone including yourself who might be following this thread, I've attached a few .jpgs that give an idea of a more sophisticated version that includes more options in terms of how the user wants/needs to access the information.

Any ideas or suggestions appreciated :)

Apple-Z
Title: Re: Writing a "Lookup List" type of App for 60GB 5G iPod Video
Post by: saratoga on April 10, 2010, 10:22:01 PM
I read an article by an Apple employee who wrote a tutorial to show how to create a small iPod app using SnoBol (?) which would play a QuickTime movie. 

I believe that was actually an April fools day joke a few years back.

I don't really care whether the Verb app I write is RockBox or iPod native...  I guess whichever is easier to write, and realistically, a format that I can get some support for when I'm trying to make it work.  There does not seem to be a lot of action in the iPod forums for this kind of stuff, so I suspect the RockBox community is a more likely to have some helpful people like yourself lurking about :)

Theres no way to develop apps for the Apple firmware, only rockbox, which is probably why you didn't see much action :)

Any ideas or suggestions appreciated :)

Start looking through the rockbox plugin API and see whats available.  That should give you a pretty good idea how to write this thing.
Title: Re: Writing a "Lookup List" type of App for 60GB 5G iPod Video
Post by: Apple-Z on April 11, 2010, 07:34:30 AM
Thanks for your reply saratoga !  This is the link to the article on the iPod app to play QT movies that I was referring to:

http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.20/20.04/SnowDay/index.html

According to the mactech.com site, the author is Tim Monroe.  I have no idea if it is in fact an April Fool's joke, but there was a lot of work put into writing this fairly long article.  There are no  comments or threads for the article so it's hard for me to tell what the story is.  Based on the iPod screens he provides, it seems he was working on an early iPod with a B&W screen, and the article itself dates back to 2004.
Given what you're saying about not being able to develop apps for the Apple firmware, I'm not sure how this relates to iPod games that are sold through iTunes...  Before changing over to Windows formatting I had several games on my iPod, and 3 of them were for SAT Prep, which is a kind of "lookup app" with questions and answers in a database...  I guess this would mean that the company that makes the games (I think it was "Pop Can" or something) was somehow privileged to have the "secret" programming information from Apple that allowed them to develop these games ?

Anyway, I will definitely have a look at the Plugin API to see what that is all about and if there's anything there that looks like it has potential...

Thanks again for your interest in my post and for your time and expertise  :)

Apple-Z
Title: Re: Writing a "Lookup List" type of App for 60GB 5G iPod Video
Post by: torne on April 11, 2010, 10:45:24 AM
According to the mactech.com site, the author is Tim Monroe.  I have no idea if it is in fact an April Fool's joke, but there was a lot of work put into writing this fairly long article.  There are no  comments or threads for the article so it's hard for me to tell what the story is.  Based on the iPod screens he provides, it seems he was working on an early iPod with a B&W screen, and the article itself dates back to 2004.
Yes, sorry, that really is a joke.

Quote
Given what you're saying about not being able to develop apps for the Apple firmware, I'm not sure how this relates to iPod games that are sold through iTunes...  Before changing over to Windows formatting I had several games on my iPod, and 3 of them were for SAT Prep, which is a kind of "lookup app" with questions and answers in a database...  I guess this would mean that the company that makes the games (I think it was "Pop Can" or something) was somehow privileged to have the "secret" programming information from Apple that allowed them to develop these games ?
Yes, exactly. There was an SDK which was only made available to trusted friends of Apple. This stuff is all over now, also; Apple no longer support the development of third party apps for the pre-iPhoneOS ipods.
Title: Re: Writing a "Lookup List" type of App for 60GB 5G iPod Video
Post by: Apple-Z on April 11, 2010, 11:21:04 AM
Good info, thanks for clearing that up :)  Given that the older iPods like mine whose warranties are expired by now and have been replaced by the iPhone an iPod Touch, it's a little "odd" that Apple has not released the secret code so that people can do some development of their own...  I know they have allowed average Joes to develop iPhone apps, and even 10 year olds are into it now.  I wonder what the big secrecy deal is with the code for the older "legacy" iPods...

Could you tell me exactly (or more specifically) where I should be looking for "Plugin API" (Application Programming Interface ?).  Is it here on the RockBox forum, or should I be looking elsewhere on the "Internets" ;) ?  Since you are obviously a "guru" here, should I post the same question I originally posed in this forum to the "Support and General Use" -> "Plugins/Viewers" forum ?  I see some threads there asking for stuff...

Thanks !

Apple-Z
Title: Re: Writing a "Lookup List" type of App for 60GB 5G iPod Video
Post by: saratoga on April 11, 2010, 04:28:38 PM
Could you tell me exactly (or more specifically) where I should be looking for "Plugin API" (Application Programming Interface ?).  Is it here on the RockBox forum, or should I be looking elsewhere on the "Internets" ;) ? 

Its in the rockbox source code, specifically apps/plugin.h.  All of those functions can be used by rockbox plugins, and allow things such as drawing graphics to the screen, reading the ipod's buttons, and loading text from the disk. 
Title: Re: Writing a "Lookup List" type of App for 60GB 5G iPod Video
Post by: Apple-Z on April 12, 2010, 06:13:14 PM
Roger that !  I'll have a look.  Thanks for your help and expertise in getting me started out :)  I'll no doubt be back later when I run into problems once I do more research :(

Apple-Z