This is mostly a behind-the-scenes update to make the app easier to maintain. (There are some user-facing changes too - see the 2nd half of this post for details)
Most of the data shown in Commons is pulled from the web at runtime, but some is cached to make the experience smoother. The cache was originally constructed in a relatively hands-on, piecemeal way because I didn't expect it would be worth the development time to automate. I thought the data was relatively static, maybe needing updated once a year or so, but the last couple of months in UK politics has proven that assumption very wrong!
So I have now built a proper back-end to handle cache updates automatically. My server periodically rebuilds the database to check for changes and notifies me when an update is available.
I've made a simple little management app for myself to make this 'quality control' step as simple as possible. This lets me install the update for myself so that I can confirm that nothing is broken before pushing it out to other users.
It also lets me manage featured people and groups that will be shown on the main app's front page. For example, I'm currently using this to highlight the newly appointed ministers in the Cabinet, as well as the candidates in the Labour leadership contest. Going forward, I can use it to feature any other groups of particular contemporary interest to ensure the MPs who people are looking for the most are the easiest to find quickly.
So in summary, the app content is now super easy to keep up-to-date and should never fall behind again!
- Automatic night mode.
- As mentioned above, the front page now allows featured collections of people so that, for example, party leadership candidates can be displayed together.
- Constituency maps are now handled in-app (no longer requires Google Earth).
- Full support for multiwindow in Android Nougat.
- Enabled pull-to-refresh on the front pages.
- Improved animations and transitions.
- Optimisation and generally cleaner code.
Rebuilt home activity for a smoother and more organised experience. This will continue to evolve as new features are implemented, but for now it is split into three tabs:
Added constituency phone numbers (where available) to contact card.
Most data items can now be long-pressed to copy their text to your clipboard.
Tapping on the constituency now provides a link to view its page on Wikipedia.
Fixed inconsistencies that could occur with the accent colour in MP profiles.
Minor stability fixes.
New permission: Vibration, used for feedback when you long-press on text to copy it to your clipboard.
Commons is a tool to make it easier to follow and get involved in UK politics.
Every active MP has a profile full of useful information including:
You can search for MPs by their name or constituency, or use location services to easily find your local representative. You can add people you are interested in to your favourites for quicker access from the app homepage or even add a widget to your home screen to easily track their parliamentary debating activity.
Data in the app is collated from parliament.uk, TheyWorkForYou and Wikipedia.