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Some iTunes Connect Mysteries

By deans ~ September 2nd, 2009. Filed under: Observations, Random Thoughts.

I submitted both paid and trial versions of a new app yesterday.  As I struggled with the iTunes Connect interface, I started wondering why some parts of it couldn’t be just a little bit easier.  This post is pure venting, as I’m pretty frustrated.  It shouldn’t be this hard to help Apple build their business.  And, “NO,” iPuckLite has not yet been approved, even though it’s been in the queue for more than four weeks.

First of all, let’s consider generating screenshots.  The images produced when we capture shots with the “Screenshot” facility in the Xcode Organizer are in Portable Network Graphics format (.png).  Unfortunately, the submission process explicitly stipulates that screenshots are to be:

High quality JPEG or TIFF image file format. PNG images are not acceptable.

Of course, it’s easy to convert to the proper format, but why make us do this step five times, every time we submit an application?

Second, if iTunes Connect specifically prohibits PNG images, why does it allow us to upload them?  The submission form will reject images that aren’t properly sized for the screenshots (320×460 / 320×480 portrait; 480×300 / 480×320 landscape), but it doesn’t seem to validate the format when uploading the “large” icon (which has an identical restriction on image format).  I was hurrying yesterday, and I inadvertently uploaded the PNG version of my 512x icon for one of the apps.  iTunes Connect happily accepted the incorrect format, and allowed me to upload it.  When I realized my mistake, and tried to upload the correct JPEG version of the file, iTunes Connect crashed.

Which brings me to reliability.  Over the course of submitting two applications, iTunes Connect crashed three times.  Each time, I had to log back in to start the process over — of course it lost all of the information that I’d submitted prior to each crash.  I guess that we’re all used to this, now, so we keep all of our submission information in a separate file and just copy it into the appropriate fields of the form.  I’m not even counting the time that I couldn’t log back in because my session “could not connect to application instance.”

Here’s another thing that strikes me as odd.  Some of the fields, specifically, “Application Description” and “Keywords” have strictly enforced character count limits (4K for the former – even though the form suggests 700; 100 for the latter).  Unfortunately, there are no visible counters to tell us how many characters the field thinks that we’ve entered.  We don’t find out that we have exceeded their limit until we try to submit the form.  I use TextWrangler, which has a handy “info” function that provides character, word, line and page counts for a document, or a selected region.  Sadly, especially for the description field, the character count shown by TextWrangler disagrees with the internal count that iTunes Connect is using.  I generally have to have less than 3900 characters, according to TextWrangler, to avoid rejection for exceeding the form’s 4000 character limit.  BTW, It appears that spaces count against your total for Keywords, so perhaps I’ll eliminate the spaces from future submissions — “keywd1, keywd2″ will become “kewd1,keywd2″.  I wonder if that will work.

With all of the outstanding support that Apple provides to developers (the best documentation, a quite good IDE, wonderful SDK’s…), I can’t help but wish that they would put just a tiny bit more effort into the app submission process.  On the other hand, 148Apps.biz is currently reporting that there are 18,639 active publishers supporting the App Store, so perhaps Apple just figures that we’ll tolerate whatever they put in front of us.  And, of course, we will.


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