Inside Look At App Building with Paulo Ramos

Our Strategic Collaborator and Lead Developer, Paulo Ramos, shed some light on the work behind building our latest app “Kensington Market: Hidden Histories” which is a project that stems from a collaboration with a Digital Humanities course at the University of Toronto.

What was the biggest technical issue you encountered during development?

Technically speaking, we didn’t have too many problems. We occasionally found that trigger points got obstructed by cars, trucks, or other visible obstacles in front of buildings. Like awnings when it rained. And we did have to refine a couple trigger images along the way. Including when a park sign trigger “disappeared”. Trust me, we asked, both the city and the federal government. And then the park itself was suddenly under construction, all surrounded by fences.

Were there any challenges during development outside of the technical build? 

There was sooooo much more content than we had first expected. While we had limited the number of points of interest (POIs) in the app, we had not set limits on how much content was associated to each POI. .. the Standard Theatre was a perfect example of this… there was easily 30 pieces of great historical content related to the address, between it’s incarnations as a gothic mansion belonging to a Doctor, a burlesque house, a movie theatre, and more… we ended cutting lots of it out but it is still the most content heavy POI in the app.

Were there any significant performance enhancements that have been made since the first version?

As planned, every new version has improvements. Before the final beta version all the assets were compressed to an acceptable quality vs. app size. New features were added in every alpha release, with the beta releases are to fix bugs and implement minor changes.

What process of development took longer than you had initially anticipated?

The timeline development took much longer due to the huge amount of content in various forms (audio, video, large photos) were not originally planned. Populating the app with this content was also a step that took significantly longer than anticipated.

The real challenge was creating a UI that was true to Kensington Market’s unique atmosphere while still being easy to use. About half a dozen design mockups were made before we settled on one that was true to both those goals… our designer clearly felt that the typography played a huge part in making this possible. In addition, we had to decide what kind and length of content to show that was rich enough to keep our users’ interest, while being short enough that they didn’t feel like they were standing there with their elbows up holding their mobile device for hours. We chose to go with short content video “trailers” for each point-of-interest – this gave us enough “wow” without having to sacrifice the quality of all the content the app had.


Paulo is *no campfire required’s Strategic Collaborator and Lead Developer, a digital and interactive trend builder who creates new and innovative approaches to delivering high quality interactive content.