Make the Most out of Patrons’ Show With the Art Thief App

Today’s guest post is by Steve Roberson, the founder and president of Zurka Interactive, a web development and information technology company headquartered in Tysons. This will be his 6th year attending the Patrons’ Show. He typically sits in section A2 and would love to get your feedback about the app.

The Patrons’ Show Fundraiser is a fabulous, unique event, and this marks its 50th year. Can you believe that?!

My hope is that if you’re coming this year, you’ll be using Art Thief of the Patrons’ Show, the app designed and built just for this event. If you’re not sure about going to the Patrons’ Show, stop that nonsense — you need to buy a ticket now. You really don’t want to miss out.

I’d like to think that Art Thief makes the drawing a whole lot easier and the weeks leading up to the event more fun and engaging. Of course, I’m biased — I wrote the app. If you’ve read my previous guest blog post, you already know the history of Art Thief, so I won’t go into it here.

Using the Art Thief app at Patrons’ Show.

What’s new?

This will be the third year the app has been available to the public. It’s mostly the same as it was last year. Only one additional feature was added for 2018: Art Thief now displays the width and height in inches for all the art. To give you a look under the hood, the code base was updated to the latest version of the Swift programming language, Swift 4, and some refinements were added. A colleague of mine at Zurka Interactive modified the server side code to help updates happen smoothly.

I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about some features of Art Thief that many users aren’t aware of, but, before I do, let’s get something straight. Do you have to use Art Thief to have a fantastic time at the Patrons’ Show? Absolutely not. If you have a paper system that has served you well for years, good for you. I respect that. I won’t judge you.

We’re all here to have a great time and support a phenomenal institution, The Art League. In fact, if the people in the row behind you make fun of you for your paper system as they pour yet another glass of what is reported to be a well-balanced Bordeaux, let me know. I’ll talk to them. After all, I’m particularly fond of Bordeaux.

Swiping all around

When you’re looking at a work of art in the app, you can swipe left to jump to the next piece or swipe right to go back to the previous artwork. If you swipe up, it adds a star to the rating of the art, and, just like you’d expect, swiping down removes a star. This works on both iPad and iPhone. I find this particularly useful while walking through the gallery with an iPhone because I can rate the art and swipe to the next piece with one hand and a glance to confirm my actions.

Sneaking a Peek

During the drawing, you spend most — if not all — of your time in “The Show” tab of the app. It’s not obvious, but if you swipe from the left edge of the app, this reveals a list of available art in the order you’ve set up.

This is particularly useful later on in the drawing. I know I’ve been in the third round and thought to myself, “Should that really be my top pick?” By taking a peek at my list, I was able to quickly look at the other art that was still available. If you’d like to rearrange the order of the art you’re peeking at, just press down and hold onto the art you’d like to move. It will dislodge from the list, and you can slide it into its new position.

If you swipe from the right edge, you can reveal a list of all the art you’ve marked as taken. This is useful if you want to make sure you’ve entered the correct number. Or even just take one last loving look at that beautiful piece that got away.

QR Codes in Action

While you’re peeking at the artwork that’s been taken, you’ll notice there’s a link in the upper righthand corner called “Scan.” During the breaks, a QR Code will be be displayed on the monitors in the Torpedo Factory. Tap the scan button, and your camera will appear on your screen. Now point your device at the QR Code. Your phone/iPad vibrates once it takes a picture and then automatically updates your list of taken artwork, correcting for any mistakes you may have made. That QR Code contains the official list of art that has already been taken.

An Android Counterpart

I’ve been talking about the iOS version of Art Thief because that’s what I know best, but there is an Android version as well. The Android version was written by a brilliant programmer and all around great guy, Ryan Conners. After seeing the iOS version in 2016, Ryan volunteered to make an Android version. It’s essentially the same as the iOS version with some minor differences.

Art Thief Version 3.0?

Art Thief is currently at version 2.4. Will there be a version 3? I expect so, but that’s where you come in. Please let me or anyone at the Art League know what you think about the app. And don’t forget to rate it on the app store! Knowing that people value the app is what fuels its further development.

If you have ideas for additional features or enhancements, please let us know. All of the features in the app today are courtesy of people who have participated in the Patrons’ Show.

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