Julia Purdy, former Kepler College MA student, and Mark Richardson recently released their first astrological applications for mobile devices. This article is about the challenges they faced.
How to create an astrology application for mobile devices in three easy steps:
- Have an idea that you like a lot
- Write up a concept description 25 words or less
- Call up your friend who is genius application developer, but doesn’t know astrology exists beyond his sun sign and say, “I have an idea; do you want to build a phone app?”
The trick to getting a commitment from your developer in step three requires that he be totally oblivious to the complexities of astrology and the scope of effort required to build this idea of yours, until things have progressed to a point that there is no turning back.
I can tell you it is possible to do this because I did it, we did it -- Mark did it. It took more than a year to complete, but we did it. And now we have launched “The Jupiter Advantage” and “The Venus Advantage” for both Android and Apple IOS.
The original idea evolved over time as the constraints of the mobile device operating systems dictated certain adjustments. But the basic concept stayed the same—
An app that calculates the current astrological chart of the sky from the vantage point of the device location using its native GPS coordinates and then runs a set of rules to determine how advantageous the planetary lineup is for a particular objective based on the astrology of creating elections.
It should introduce astrological concepts for planets beyond the Sun but still be simple enough to follow so that the results are easily accessible by anyone regardless of their previous knowledge of astrology.
It should be pretty (because I like “pretty”), have some personality and be fun to play with so that people will continue to use it.
My closing argument to encourage Mark’s participation was that it would be “Easy-Peasy.”
With my natal Jupiter in Pisces, I really believed that. With Mark’s “willing to try anything” Jupiter in Aquarius, like lambs headed to the slaughter, we proceeded onward.
The first and most obvious problem for me, as the designer, was that I didn’t actually have an iPhone or an Android device. I had a Blackberry. I liked my Blackberry and I wanted to keep it.
As I fired up Adobe Illustrator and began imagining images and navigation, I (and everyone else) quickly realized that I had absolutely no clue how mobile apps actually worked and how to create them. After a month of struggle, I finally gave in and bought an android tablet and started doing my homework.
The second elephant in the room was the question of how to build the astronomy within the limitations of mobile device memory. After several false starts with ready-made ephemeris databases, Mark said: "Show me how to create a chart, and I will write the code.”
“Thank God for Kepler” was my first thought as I got out all my old books on how to do the math. I documented all the calculations using arithmetic and showed Mark how to do it. He took that and all my old books of tables home, recreated my arithmetic in trigonometry, and wrote the code to run it. I don’t know how long it took him, but I am guessing a trip to see the world’s largest ball of twine would have been more fun.
As the following year unfolded and I kept coming up with additional ideas to make it “better” meaning Mark had to do it over … again, we kept going and learning and improving. And now, finally, we have two apps in the Android and iTunes markets, one highlighting Jupiter and one for Venus with more in the pipeline.
I can comfortably say now that we have figured out how to build them, although new device releases present constant challenges. “Hey Mark, what about the new Windows phone, and Blackberry 10?
There are free versions of both apps available for Android in Google Play, full versions only in iTunes. If you give us a look, please hit the review button. It helps the apps get promoted in rank and become more visible in the search functions.
About the Authors
Julia Purdy. A career path with a Capricorn Sun and mutable Pisces on the MC with north node and Jupiter has manifested in what can be politely called “education and career diversity” Beginning with art school and a job as an advertising art director at the local newspaper and ending (so far) with a degree in business and technical communications, as a project manager at a big three telecom. Meanwhile, her real passion for most of her life has been astrology. A spotty education in the subject consisted of local classes and lots of books until Kepler College appeared online and provided an opportunity to fill in the holes in her accumulated knowledge and perhaps complete a Master’s Degree. While not quite making it to the degree she credits Kepler’s very challenging program with stimulating enormous growth in her understanding of astrology and its place in world cultures. What she also realized is that just like the internet, you can’t get to the end of it. So she just keeps studying.
Mark Richardson. With a stellium of planets including Jupiter in Aquarius and on the MC and Uranus opposing, one could easily say that Mark was born to work with computers and an engineering degree from KU sealed the deal. He has spent most of his career as a highly respected consultant in a variety of industries, from telecom to the department of defense and in different capacities, from manufacturing to a director of information architecture and business restructuring. As an innovator and problem solver new challenges are what motivate him. So when Neptune transited across his 10th house Aquarius Sun and opposed Uranus, a new and very different opportunity presented itself combining astrology and mobile software and he said “Why not? It sounds interesting.” He started a new company, Right Times Research, developing mobile apps and now has a full pipeline of new projects that keep him challenged and very busy
Both Julia and Mark live in Kansas City.