Friday, February 17, 2012

Picking a Mobile App Strategy (Slides & Links)

One of the main new technologies that I've been working with this year is PhoneGap, as that's the tool I picked to help me make the mobile apps for EatDifferent. So, this week, in addition to the Client-side Storage talk, I also gave two talks about why I chose PhoneGap and how I'm using it — a short version at Jfokus and a longer version at Valtech.

For both the talks, I wanted to make sure the audience had a clear idea of all the options that are out there for making a mobile app, like using a cross-compiler (ParticleCode) or a bundled runtime engine (Titanium). I spent a day researching those options to make sure that I myself had a good idea of them, and I found that there were many more than I knew about. At a certain point, I just had to stop looking because I feared that the results would be never-ending.

It's a good thing that there are so many tools out there for developers to use, but it also means it's that much harder to know which tool is the right one for you. Plus, these tools are all so new, so there are few developers that have attempted to make real, full-functioning apps using multiple tools, which makes it hard to compare the developer experience across them. It makes me wish we had a Yelp for developer tools — but even still, what works for one developer/app may not work for another.

For the longer talk, I went into some detail on my architecture, workflow, and testing process for my PhoneGap apps (much of what I've detailed in blog posts here), and I did a small demo in front of the audience. I didn't have time to talk about debugging, logging, and offline use this time, but hopefully I can expand that part in my talk at Mix-IT in April.

You can view the slides online for the short talk and the long talk. If you want to research more, you can also browse the links to comparisons and reviews below. Keep in mind that these tools are evolving all the time, so you should always check the current documentation before trusting a reviewer (hoping, of course, that one can actually trust the documentation). If you are embarking down the path of making a mobile app, let us know what you pick and how it works out for you. And good luck!


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