Programming: Bug fixes

Today we encountered a large problem when trying to load the app onto an iPad for testing. The problem was that the app was using too much memory for the iPad to handle loading the app. We were testing on an iPad 2 which only has ~1gb of RAM. We had to significantly reduce how much memory it was using to get it well below this 1gb threshold as the iPad still needs to run iOS as well as the app.

Once the app started up, it was using 1.53gb of RAM to run it. We never noticed this problem before as it never had an issue running on my laptop during the development as it has 16gb of RAM. During our short time learning how to program for iOS we weren’t taught about this kind of issue and what to look out for.

Xcode has some built in debugging tools which can be used to find issues within the app. With the help of the swift magician, Marc, we were able to find where about the problem was. We saw that as soon as the app opens, the memory spikes up to an exceedingly high value and they stays there for the duration of the app running. This make us think it was something to do with the Magna Carta image in the scroll view. Our suspicion was confirmed when we changed the image file to a far smaller one and it was using significantly less memory.

As mentioned in a previous post, we already had to compress the Magna Carta image as the original file was far too large. This file was compressed down to ~188mb, about half the size of the original. Apparently this image is still far too big. When loaded into to the scrollView to display the image, the memory needed vastly increases to approximately 3 times the size. We’re not entirely sure why it uses so much memory, but if we reduce the image file size enough, it will be able to run on the iPad.

The original image we were using was using over 60,000 colours. This gave us a good level of fidelity when zooming into the image. Unfortunately we had to vastly reduce this amount to compress the image to make it usable in the app. We reduced the image down to 128 colours, saving 73% on file size. This reduced image size meant that the app only used ~380mb of RAM to run. While this is still very high, it is just small enough for the iPad to be able to run it without crashing.

The client has said that they will be purchasing an iPad so they they can use our app in the exhibit. We are hoping that they will be buying one of the newer iPads as they have more memory than the one we’ve been testing with – meaning that the app will be more stable while running.

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