Tag: rant

05
Mar

Soapbox: Native vs Web-Based Applications

As you’re probably aware, I develop mainly for the web. I love developing Web Applications – the technologies are great, it’s easy to use a blend of technologies, deployment is simple and they can provide a fantastic user experience. However, I also do quite a bit of native development in Objective-C and Cocoa, which I also love – the applications are quick, they fit in to your OS environment, and you can take advantage of really low-level APIs for threading etc. There are hundreds of debates on the web where web developers and native developers try and convince each other that their technique is best: this isn’t one of those debates.

This post was inspired by a talk at devnest this past Tuesday, where someone gave a presentation on developing mobile applications with jQuery Mobile. It was very interesting – I think jQuery Mobile is a fantastic framework, and it really simplifies the process of turning your web application into something that people can use on-the-go with their mobile devices. However, this person then introduced a piece of software called PhoneGap, which allows you to take an application you’ve developed in HTML/CSS/JS, offers you access to the low-level APIs, and lets you deploy it across multiple platforms as a native application.

Don’t get me wrong, jQuery Mobile looks great and works really well – but put it alongside a native application on an iPhone, for instance, and suddenly you see that the jQuery Mobile app actually is slow as a pig and looks out-of-place. That’s the sort of user experience I’d expect from a web app, but I’d expect a load more from a native application, especially if I’d paid money for it.

At work, I’ve been doing a load of research into different technologies and how we could utilise them in our roadmap. One thing I’m continually pushing for is using the best tool for the job. If it turns out that PHP is the best solution, great, but if it turns out that Python is the best solution, and you don’t know Python, you better get hold of some manuals and start learning. If you want to develop a mobile application, the device’s native language is the best solution. If you want to deploy across multiple platforms, and don’t need access to the device’s APIs, then develop a web app. If you do need access to the APIs, you’ve got a lot of work to do.

04
Feb

On Design and Being Annoyed

Sometimes, people really annoy me. This time, it’s a small subset of student “designers” who produce promotional material for societies. Our student’s union has a very active set of societies, and as a result campus is generally always littered with posters advertising socials, events and various other things. There’s nothing annoying about this in itself, but a good few of them defy what I believe to be a very simple but very important rule of design: you don’t use someone else’s brand or product to promote something unrelated. As an example, one society’s poster uses a picture of an iPod as the main focus, the tenuous link being that the event features bands or a DJ. Another’s features scenes from a movie, the link being the movie is vaguely related to something in the event. Although these techniques may be effective, in so much as they grab the attention of passers-by, it’s quite a lazy approach to design, and is, let’s face it, subject to possible legal matters. A good designer can create a poster which is eye-catching without needing to resort to serious plaguerism, and these “designers” should be able to as well.

One other greivance is this: my band was asked to submit a logo for the Battle of the Bands programme-booklet, so I spent a fair amount time making one I was happy with. When I saw the programme yesterday, the logo hadn’t been used, and neither had any of the logos any other bands sent in. The excuse was that only around a third of the bands submitted logos, so they decided not to use any of them. With a bit of stretching and over-dramatizing, this is akin to changing someone’s brand when promoting your own. I can’t decide whether this is through laziness or what, but I still believe it’s bad design practice. If you’re using someone’s brand, and they submit a logo, you should use it.

Sorry for the slight rant, but all this has really got my goat.

12
Oct

jPod

I just finished watching the TV series of jPod. I absolutely loved the book, and have read it many times over. The TV show, whilst a bit rocky to begin with, turned out to be FANTASTIC. AND THEN THEY CANCELLED IT. The last episode ends SO abruptly, it hurts. I don’t know if all the cliffhangers were supposed to be answered in the next series, or in some unaired episode, we may never know. And this upsets me. Very, very much. Stupid CBC.

The show itself has left me in the middle of a mental turmoil regarding the rest of my life. Although I’ve got a couple of years of uni left (although, technically less than 40 weeks of lectures – scary) I think I need to start thinking about what I want to actually do when I graduate. This way I can focus my application energies on one things rather than on the four different options I have at the moment. Perhaps I shall share these with you in a later post, once I’ve cleared things in my head a touch.
In other news, the third year project is coming along wonderfully. I shall give you an update tomorrow (hopefully…) when I’ve completed a couple of little tasks.