Tuesday
Dec212010

Mac Grading app

The most commonly requested feature for Attendance that I haven't implemented is grading. There are a few ways you can do simple grade recording with Attendance:

  1. copy the class and use statuses corresponding to grades
  2. take attendance multiple times per day and use the second time for a grade
  3. use the new daily note per student to record a grade

The reason I have not tried to add full grading capabilities to Attendance is with all the different capabilities people will want (total points or weighted averages of categories, drop lowest X grades for a category, etc.), I do not think I can design a good interface on the small iPhone/Touch screen.

I previously used some scripts written in Python to keep and calculate grades for my classes. In November I began developing a Mac app based on the ideas from these scripts and the capabilities I thought people would want. I've spent a number of long days and nights in December working on it and it's at the point where it's now usable by me. I'm going to get some feedback from a few friends and have a few colleagues beta test it with me this semester. Assuming all goes well, I'll try to finish it up over our mid-semester break at the beginning of March. It always seems to snow during our week off so it should be a good time to get version 1.0 ready to submit to the Mac app store.

The main items I need to finish our polishing the GUI a bit, design an icon, and create the help files. That's probably at least a full week's work. Here are the main features:

  1. document-based app so you create one file per class
  2. support for using total points or a weighted average of categories
  3. option to drop lowest grades from each category (different number per category)
  4. add/delete students, categories, assessments with full undo support
  5. configurable letter grade scaling
  6. import students from a CSV file
  7. email grades for an assessment to students
  8. email full grade report to students
  9. export a CSV grade report with all grades

Once I do a little more GUI polishing, I'll post a few screenshots and/or videos of it.

I plan to price it in the $15 to $20 range in the Mac app store. At the moment there are no in-app purchases or upgrade pricing in the Mac app store so at least for now, it appears all updates will need to be free forever unless you create a new app that people need to buy. I don't want to ask people to pay for a new version so I'll probably price it at the high end of the range.

If sales are decent and I think I can design a reasonable iOS app based on it, I may try to do that in May-July 2011. My guess is that if I do, it will be an iPad only app to take advantage of the larger screen.

 

Tuesday
Dec212010

Attendance 4.1.1 submitted

I submitted a minor update to Attendance that includes a setting in the Attendance section of the iOS Settings app that controls whether the student note or the daily note for the student appears in the Take view. Also, if you've locked the date, you cannot change the daily note. I expected the update will be available in iTunes early in January as people begin their new terms/quarters/semesters.

Monday
Dec062010

Video showing new import options in Attendance 4.0 and 4.1

Version 4.1 of Attendance has been submitted to Apple and should be available in the second or third week of December 2010. I've made a new video that shows how to use the CSV import options. In addition to the note per day per student that was added in version 4.0, it also added the option to import CSV attachments directly from Mail on iOS 3.2 and higher devices.  Version 4.1 adds support for importing CSV data along with photos from a free Dropbox.com account. Here is a Dropbox referal link that will get both you and me extra free space on Dropbox if you want to create a Dropbox account.

Here's the higher quality video on my MobileMe gallery that shows how to use the new import options:  http://gallery.me.com/dave256#100209/Attendance-Email-Dropbox-import&bgcolor=black

Here is an embedded YouTube version that does not look as good:

Wednesday
Dec012010

Attendance 4.0 released (and crashing bug on iOS 3.1.x)

Attendance 4.0 was approved by Apple. It adds the ability to import CSV data directly from an email attachment by tapping and holding the attachment and choosing to open in Attendance. The same CSV format that is used for pasting and importing from a URL is used. It also adds the often requested feature to add a note for a student per day. I also made a tweak to the GUI on the other note screens so the note textview expands when you hide the keyboard. Unfortunately, I used some code that is only available on iOS 3.2 and higher so trying to view or edit the student, course, or date note crashes on iOS 3.1.x. I'm submitting a fix to Apple, but it will probably be 7-10 days before it is approved. Sorry for the inconvenience in the mean time.

Tuesday
Oct192010

Date range for Attendance reports

Version 3.6 of Attendance added the ability to specify a date range for the reports on the Report tab. The last date range specified is also used when email individual reports to the students. Version 3.6 accidentally defaulted to using the date range  for individual reports which resulted in individual reports being sent for one week. The work around was to first select the "Dates through now" option on the report tab and then send the individual reports.

Version 3.6.1 (approved Monday October 18th) and above default to all dates for the individual reports, but if you select a date range on the report tab, that date range will be used for the individual reports. If you select a date range for a report on the report tab and then want to send individual reports with all dates, go back to the report tab and select "Dates through now" and then send the individual reports. This will allow people to use a date range or all dates for all reports.

I have one more update (version 3.7) in the testing phase and will probably submit it to Apple some time next week. That is likely the last update for 2010 (unless there are bugs that need fixed) although I still have more features planned when I have more time.

 

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