Using Agile Methodologies to develop an Open Source Android app

The Wi-Fi Analyzer started as a simple idea, and has grown into a very successful free app available in the Google Play store.  This is the story behind how the app was developed, the philosophies behind it, and how it has become a thriving Open Source project.

The Idea

Back in January, the IT department at Intelliware was going through several issues setting up new routers and establishing a strong wireless signal throughout our offices. After discussions amongst our colleagues, the challenge became apparent. Although the overall wireless network was working well, many Android users found that they were unable to consistently access the network, or measure signal strength and identify crowded channels or dead spots.

The Team decided to take a look at the Google Play Store and examine the various Wi-Fi Analyzers that were available to the public. To no one’s surprise, we found that of the many apps that existed, most lacked in HT/VHT Detection support,  Material Design and/or Ease of Navigation, and none were Open Source.

After a quick discussion within our team, the decision was made to create a new Wi-Fi Analyzer app for Android devices.

The Goals

Starting the project, we had 3 goals in mind.

  1. Build using Agile philosophies – As an Agile software development company, Intelliware has been using Agile methodologies on a daily basis for many years with our clients. We wanted to leverage the Agile ideas that are core to our approach to software development.
  1. Use an Open Source community – Upon discovery of other Wi-Fi Analyzer apps available in the Google Play store, the team noticed that not one app was a community supported, Open Source project. In our view, this is a key factor in the long term success of an application.
  1. Show quality code – As developers we’ve noticed many Open Source projects with subpar quote quality and poor development practices. We wanted to develop a project that used continuous integration, good code testing coverage and code quality analysis. We wanted to set an example of good coding practices for our Open Source community.

Developing the app

Working with a core Intelliware team, we were able to successfully develop our very own Wi-Fi Analyzer app.  We used Agile methodologies, which included collaboration tools, co-teaming and iterations to code and test the application.

As time went on with the project, we were able to build each feature and continuously evolve the next.  The iterations contributed to the app’s clear design and simple navigation.  Using Agile methodologies and open sourcing we were able to develop a new Android Wi-Fi analyzing app built on quality code.

The Social Experiment

From the beginning, we did not intend on listing the app in the Google Play and F-Droid stores.  It was an Intelliware colleague who suggested that listing the app might contribute to improved functionality through the use of Open Source.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-12-10-12-pmThe app was listed in the Google Play and F-Droid stores in March 2016, since then, the team has been constantly improving the app to keep up with feedback from the users.  Github connected the Intelliware team to users of the app, and we’ve had the ability to have conversations about feature requests and other feedback.

In particular, we had several users contact us requesting support for multiple languages.  With help from the Open Source community, the Wi-Fi Analyzer now supports 7 languages; including: English, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian.

The App – Wi-Fi Analyzer

The Wi-Fi Analyzer app allows users to optimize their current Wi-Fi network through the examination of the surrounding networks, identification of crowded channels and the measurement of signal strength.

Features include:

  • Identify nearby Access Points
  • Graph channel signal strength
  • Graph Access Point signal strength over time
  • Analyze Wi-Fi networks to rate channels

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-10-47-22-am

 

Since its release in March 2016, the app has over 100,000 downloads and is still climbing, it has also ranked within the top 5 downloads in the Tools category on Google Play.

Download on:

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Thank you to the Intelliware team that contributed to the success of this project: 

Alex Orchard, Caren DesBrisay, Dan Light, David Jones, Gina Chaves, Graham Foster, Jean Bourgeois, Lee McCallum, Michael Melo, Michael Pickard and Vadim Karantayer.

 

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