29 December 2015
Corona Labs — 2015 year in review
2015 was a busy year for Corona Labs! We enabled app development for three new platforms (OS X, Windows, and tvOS), released two new public builds, created a marketplace for plugins, and enabled Lua developers to build custom Lua plugins. Of course, we created several new plugins ourselves, and we have a new corporate parent in Perk.com.
Many of these accomplishments came about from requests that you submitted through the feedback site. Over the course of the year, we completed over 40 feature requests, started about 15 more, and cleared over 3400 of your votes in the process.
Let’s look back at 2015 and our accomplishments together…
Corona = free
At Corona Labs, we believe in supporting and encouraging our developer community to build the apps of their dreams. So, in June of 2015, we “tore down the wall” and made Corona SDK entirely free for all developers. This includes access to all plugins, all premium graphical features, and the ability to implement in-app purchases.
Two of the most highly-requested features from the Corona community included the ability to build and deploy to both OS X Desktop and Windows Desktop. With support for these platforms, you can deploy your apps to a whole new audience!
In addition, Apple introduced the new tvOS platform earlier this year, built for the new Apple TV platform. Our engineering team worked very hard to get this to a beta state by the end of 2015.
We released over 200 daily builds in 2015, including two official releases. Some of the major additions included:
Keyboard and game controller support
For quite some time, Corona has included HID game controller support for Android-based devices like Android TV and Amazon Fire TV. In 2015 we expanded in this realm by introducing keyboard and/or game controller support for all platforms, including iOS. This means that both OS X and Windows can use the desktop’s physical keyboard, and you can even use “guitar” game controllers on both of these platforms.
Improvements for native text input
As part of Windows Desktop support, a long-requested feature for Windows users was implemented: native.newTextField() and native.newTextBox() support for both the Corona Simulator for Windows and Windows Desktop builds!
In addition to extending their support, native text input elements received considerable attention from our engineers in 2015. This includes the ability to add them to display groups for positional synchronization with other display objects, new keyboard types, and major improvements in regards to how native fonts are sized/scaled across platforms.
Part of our revamping of the core Corona graphics engine a couple years ago brought about shaders for visual effects like blurs and gradients. This year, we gave developers the ability to create custom shaders. Not only that, but we created a web-based playground which lets you write and test your custom shader code.
Build and Simulator improvements
Corona has always made it easier to build mobile apps, but there is always room for improvement. In 2015, our engineers delivered some key improvements to the Corona developer workflow, including:
- The build process now lets you install an app directly to your device without needing to use Xcode/iTunes or ADB. Simply connect the chosen device and, in the “build” window, check Copy to device.
- You can now stop/terminate builds mid-process.
- The console now outputs clearer error messages produced by the build process.
- A new and improved message console in the Corona Simulator for OS X. This new console highlights errors in red, warnings in yellow, and allows you to search for strings.
- An improved console window for Windows users. This new window shows your Simulator output messages/errors and, when the app is installed on a connected test device, it shows similar messages from the device!
A major step in this regard was the introduction of the Corona Marketplace. Initially, this was populated with only Corona-created plugins, but we have opened it to 3rd-party developers and providers as well. To assist with this, we open-sourced many of our existing plugins so that you, our development community, can see how plugins are developed. We now allow Lua developers to build and submit custom Lua plugins without requiring a Corona Enterprise subscription.
Among the current 51 plugins, 21 were produced by our incredible developer community (our sincere thanks to those who contributed their work for the benefit of all Corona developers!). Some of the noteworthy plugins released in 2015 include:
- iCloud — You can now store and share key-kalue pairs, documents, and databases in Apple’s iCloud.
- AdMob v2 — Our AdMob plugin was upgraded to Google’s latest SDK and now supports child-safe ad serving and several new features.
- Facebook v4 — The “v4” plugin, currently in beta, coincides with Facebook’s latest SDK.
- QR Scanner — Sergey Lerg provided the community with a highly-requested QR Scanner plugin.
- Twitter — Jason Schroeder followed the pure Lua plugin route and released a simple plugin for accessing a full range of Twitter services.
- Page Curl — Steven Johnson of Xibalba Studios applied his skills with shaders to create a “page curl” transition effect, bundled as a plugin.
- IAP Badger — Simon of The Happy Mongoose Company put together an in-app purchase plugin which eases much of the complexity in setting up and customizing this important monitization feature.
On December 1st of this year, Perk.com officially purchased Corona Labs. Perk.com, a publicly traded, profitable company who uses Corona as part of their core development wanted to ensure that Corona continues evolving into the best 2D development platform available. So they acquired us! Learn more in this video interview with Roj Niyogi, the new CEO of Corona Labs and the President and Founder of Perk.com.
In just a short time, the impact has already been felt. We’ve hired two engineers to focus on the creation and enhancement of plugins, including former Corona staff member Danny Glover and long-time developer/supporter Sergey Lerg. In addition, the Perk.com marketing team has already become involved in ramping up press releases and helping to tell the Corona Labs story.
Looking toward 2016
Here are just a few of our major goals for 2016:
Zero “friction” for Corona SDK
Although we already have an extensive collection of guides and tutorials, we will improve the experience for both new users and veteran developers. From revamping the website to providing better educational resources, using Corona should be simple and straightforward.
Leveraging Perk.com’s existing monitization strengths, we plan to create an elegantly simple ad monetization system for all Corona developers. While we will continue to support existing ad platforms, Corona Ads should be easy to use as the SDK itself.
Core Product and Plugins
We plan to continue our efforts on desktop build support and tvOS build support, bringing them as close as possible to the mobile build platforms. We will also continue to develop new plugins and encourage the community to contribute with paid plugins coming to the marketplace as well.
CoronaCon, meetups, and hack-a-thons
Perk.com attends many trade shows and so shall Corona Labs. We will encourage more local meetups where you can connect with other Corona developers. We will sponsor hack-a-thons where Corona developers can tout their development skills, and we have plans to sponsor the first ever “CoronaCon” where developers can learn new skills, meet old friends face-to-face, make new friends, and enjoy the awesomeness that is Austin, Texas. Keep an eye out for more details in early 2016.
As you can see, 2015 was an incredibly productive year for Corona Labs, and we have big plans for 2016. If you haven’t already, download Corona SDK and get ready for a new year. It’s never been a more exciting time to be a Corona developer!