Sunday, September 16, 2012

Meeting Butler for Android v0.98 beta

This is my Android implementation of the original Meeting Butler (for iOS) written by He Ruijie.

What Does It Do?
The interface and implementation are different, but this basically fulfils the same functions. This is an app for secretaries to use to broadcast over sms the progress of a meeting so that external presenters know when to be ready to come in.

The scenario is like this: items for a meeting are scheduled every fifteen minutes, and presenters have an allotted time to show up to present. But Item 2 has just dragged on for an hour and as a result, the presenters for the remaining 8 items each end up waiting 45 minutes longer for their turn (assuming no other item drags). With a lot of items and a lot of people per item, this could be a substantial waste of time. The meeting butler allows the secretary to broadcast an sms each time an item completes, so that all subsequent presenters have a near-real-time estimate of when they should show up, even if items deviate from their scheduled timings.

How Does It Work?

1) To create a meeting, simply enter the meeting name

2) Enter the initial number of items. (Additional items can still be added later)

3) Select the broadcast mode. Either to notify members of all future items or, to conserve sms, only notify the presenter of the next item.

4) Create Butler!

Here are some additional screenshots. I decided not to give detailed instructions to test how intuitive the interface is.

A Little History

Since the first iOS version, which has been well-received in MINDEF and also featured in the MINDEF PRIDE, two key developments made an Android version seem necessary. The first was Apple's decision not to allow the sale of camera-removed iPhones, which meant that there are now very few iPhone that can be brought onto MINDEF premises. The second was the Army's decision to use Android-based phones for various unit roles. Hence, there is an opportunity to develop useful Android apps for SAF purposes. So I decided to write my first Android app.

This has been labelled version 0.98 beta because I have not quite finished it yet. Unfortunately, the workload from my primary work has necessitated suspension of further development for now. Nevertheless, the app is fully functional, and I have decided to post it online to solicit comments and feedback. This will help me to identify bugs and improve the user interface to make it more intuitive.

Your feedback and comments are welcome directly on this post, and development should resume at the end of the year.

Known Issues

When selecting phone numbers from the address book, if a contact has more than one number listed, the app will take the first number as the default, because I have not yet programmed a selection box to allow the user to select from available numbers. This could be a problem if it is not the intended mobile number. And that is why this is version 0.98 :)