IBM Worklight Hackathon at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona 2013
Christian Karasiewicz 270005XS4E Visits (3005)
This blog post is contributed by Krzysztof Kucharewicz, an Android Developer with Mobile Jazz.
Background: IBM Worklight hosted its first Hackathon this year at Mobile World congress Barcelona.
The hackathon process and execution was kept simple. Developers with no prior Worklight experience were short-listed and asked to build a GrubCart app on IBM Worklight platform in two hours. The developers were paired in teams of two.
All teams managed to build a functional app and deploy it in on real android device within the specified timeframe of two hours. These developers had never used Worklight before!
Here is a first hand experience from Krzysztof Kucharewicz on using IBM Worklight. Krzysztof Kucharewicz was part of the IBM Worklight Hackathon winning team.
During the first day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona we attended the IBM session in the AppPlanet together with my former co-worker Daniel Ruizn. We heard of IBM Worklight Hackathon at the AppPlanet. In fact this was a very quick (around two hours) hackathon. We arrived late, but we were curious about the Worklight development tools presented by IBM.
Previously, I had worked together with Dani on a cloud-based platform at BCNTouch company based in Barcelona. I was responsible for the Android application and Dani designing and implementing the website and server using the Google App Engine. We've configured our Eclipse SDKs with the Worklight plugin and started coding. In fact almost half of the time was already gone, so we didn't have much left to astound the judges with the next Twitter or Instagram application. Instead we decided to play around with the code and create a simple application that would work like a "shopping list" / "cart" to aggregate items of choice and present them to the user.
There are probably thousand ways to code this kind of application, but our goal was very specific, to present this application working on the Android device. Worklight itself is a tool designed for development of hybrid cross-platform applications. So the obvious choice was to create the re-usable code that can run as well on iPhone, Windows Phone, Blackberry, etc.
The content of our application was created with HTML5 using the jQuery library for the quick integration of mobile-friendly UI components and PhoneGap for integration of the native capabilities of target platforms. Worklight itself is a very intuitive tool with easy learning curve. We could quickly find ourselves around the code. There's no mystery, we were ready quite promptly with the functionality of aggregating selected elements to the list. The big issue is often deployment on real devices because requirements of integration and packaging of non-native elements might vary a lot on different platforms. Worklight impressed us here. It required only a couple of clicks to export the HTML project to a native Android app which could be already deployed on the device.
Since we finished our basic task ahead of time, we also had a couple of minutes left to add some social networking that would be an "eye candy" for the judges. I've previously integrated the Shareaholic API for sharing messages to social networks in a unified manner, so it only took us a couple of lines of code to integrate it with the PhoneGap API and let the device do the rest of redirections to handle Twitter and Facebook URLs natively.
But was it all really so great to use in the field and day-to-day development of commercial projects? Well,there are still a couple of details that need more attention and polishing. One of them is the size of the application generated by the SDK. Although there was only one page/activity in our app, the weight of the apk (installer) was around 8MB and it took twice as much of the cache/data space upon execution. That might be a huge barrier for users if we consider publishing the application for the general public. In the end many (majority of?) Android devices suffer from low specs and lack of storage space specifically.
But after all it didn't take us so much effort to build our "demo" application for the hackathon, and seems our result was the most impressive because we were announced the winners of the IBM hackathon (yay!). That was a honour for us and at the same a good time playing around with new development tools.
Special thanks to John Reddin (follow John on Twitter @jreddin) of IBM for technical support during the Hackathon and Miku Jha (follow Miku on Twitter @miku_jha) for keeping the spirits up.