Where’s the nearest bus stop? How long does the ride take, and when the bus leaves? These questions can be answered with just a few clicks or swipes. Public transport apps are there to help local travelers avoid disappointment, save time and reach their final destination. Bratislava lacked such an app, and therefore Revolware decided to fill this gap in the market. Their effort resulted in the app MHD Bratislava that allows you to find information about public transport in the capital city of Slovakia even without an internet connection. The struggle of not knowing when your tram arrives finally disappears.
Project goal:To provide information about public transport in Bratislava for Windows Phone users.
Phase 1: Research, Planning
The idea to develop an application containing information about public transport in Bratislava came naturally. Not only that using public transport has economic benefits, but it also supports the environment. Helping it hence seemed reasonable for Martin Hrabovec, the founder of Revolware. He was aware that thousands of people in the capital are commuting daily to their jobs. Public transport app would simplify their lives and possibly encourage other people to leave their cars at home. However, he had to start from scratch and rewrite the bus timetables by his hand. In the beginning, there were just a few bus lines. Though, after making sure there is sufficient demand for the app, data collection had to become faster. At this point, it was more than clear that Martin could not manage everything by himself. The team gradually expanded, and the future of the app seemed to be bright.
Discussions regarding the functionality and obtaining data about departures and arrivals lasted hours. After we had solved the question of the automation of data, functionality was next in the line. We wanted our app to function even without an internet connection. There are numerous advantages of offline apps such as constant availability, quicker loading, or battery saving. Furthermore, mobile data were not commonplace a few years ago. Thus, the inability to use an app without an internet connection might have been a key factor for people to uninstall it. We wanted to prevent such thing and make the user experience as good as possible.
However, the functionality of MHD Bratislava does not end with the offline version. While the internet-free app contains just the necessary data, the online version is equipped with advanced features. It can accurately calculate the fastest path and show relevant news about public transportation. Users may even find out about possible changes in routes or temporary shutdowns.
Phase 2: Problem Solving, Design and Coding
Definition of the Problem: Provide convenient offline access to relevant information about public transport in Bratislava for Windows Phone users.
Android and iOS had their public transport apps already, but Windows phones lacked one. By this time, we had all the data about public transport, but the real challenge was ahead of us. The development of the app requires dedication and effort to turn the idea into a responsive and functional app. Every application needs design, one that is attractive and also functional. The front-end developers make sure the graphical interface is appealing and interactive. On the other hand, the back-end part is hidden from the user and is not meant to be used by people directly. It runs on servers and consists of processing, storing, and securing data.
For front-end development we used XAML. It is an application markup language used extensively in Windows platform apps. When applied to a software developer platform .NET, it simplifies creating a user interface. To put it simply, XAML is responsible for the design of the app. Furthermore, the .NET framework supports various programming languages including C#, which we used for the back-end of the app.
To develop MHD Bratislava, we used the LEAN methodology, which is used to build new applications quickly and at the lowest possible cost. The Waterfall approach, which is based on a linear project management approach seemed unreasonable because it does not allow simultaneous work in different phases of the development. LEAN development stages include traditional planning, analyzing requirements, design, coding, testing, and deployment, but they form a cycle rather than a line. This means the processes are flexible, repeatable, can happen in any order, and parallel. It allows gathering the user feedback, continuous testing against different environments, and changing the scale of the project on the run. Once the application was launched, we were able to test it and detect errors as quickly as possible. In this age of rapid technological change, it is not the largest that survives, but the fastest.
Design and functionality go hand in hand. The application must be not only visually inviting and catching, but also easy to use. Simple interfaces are, therefore, increasing in popularity. We decided to follow Windows Phone design guidelines that users are accustomed to. The main goal was making sure nothing distracts the user’s attention from the main application task.
Phase 3: Testing
Thanks to the LEAN development, the mobile app was released rapidly while providing all the basic features. Users were able to look up the arrivals and departures of specific bus lines and calculate the shortest route. This quick release of the application also allowed us to get feedback directly from Windows Store users. Their reviews helped us focus on the required features, and this brought the application to another level. We corrected all the flaws, and after the major updates and upload of the whole database, MHD Bratislava was back on track, with a significant amount of monthly user sessions.
Phase 4: Summary
To conclude, we have reached our goal and managed to create a public transport app for Windows Phone users. The application was released quickly, and after a while, it contained all the MHD routes in Bratislava. Not only have the users been able to find bus departures and arrivals, but its offline functionality has allowed people to do so wherever and whenever they want. Furthermore, even though we have not promoted the application in any way, there has been a significant number of downloads.
Overall, the app has not only simplified the lives of many people but also allowed our team members to develop their rhythm and styles, which in turn helped to mature the personality of Revolware. Finally, if you do manage to create an amazing app, do not stop there. The next step is to capitalize on that success and try to find new ways to amaze your users a little more!
“Useful and easy to navigate, the app works smoothly :).”
“Works super, I downloaded it mainly because of the offline mode.”
“A very useful application! Finally, I can see my bus departures on Windows Phone.
“Useful and well-arranged app works without any problems.”
Windows phone store : https://www.microsoft.com/sk-sk/p/mhd-bratislava/