If you are planning to attend the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive event in Austin next spring, or even if you aren't but feel generous and inclined to help me out, please vote for the session that I proposed to deliver during the event. This year part of the selection process for the sessions includes a public voting process, so the sessions with the most votes have the best chance of making it onto the agenda. There are thousands of proposals submitted, and only a handful of presentation slots(!) So I can really use all the votes you can spare!
The topic I proposed is about the IBM Design Center in Austin and how we've developed practices for "round-trip" mobile app design, transferring the design output effectively to the developers, and receiving design feedback from them as well as directly from the end users of the mobile app.
Here is a short recording where I talk about the proposed presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FARgRmbrq0
And you can click on this link to vote for this topic, or just click on the SXSW webtile at the top of this blog entry (Please!): http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/20201
Thanks for your vote! And, whatever you do:
Something occurred this past week that indicates to me that the industry for mobile development tools is maturing. The OSLC (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration) has announced the formation of a group to explore standardization for the APIs used by tools related to mobile application development. OSLC is a industry standards group formed to define common APIs for the integration of software development tools. The fact that tools for mobile development are being considered for standardization means that there is enough critical mass of such tools and that the realization that a comprehensive development solution for mobile projects requires these tools to be integrated. Open standards is the best way to make integration easy (or easier anyway). So this seems like a very key step in the maturity of the mobile app development industry.
This blog post is contributed by John Reddin, Staff Software Engineer and part of the Mobile Center of Competency for Industry Solutions.
As most mobile developers (and indeed most developers) are aware, the
trend of developing mobile applications as a hybrid of web and native
code is becoming ubiquitous. The current landscape of hybrid development
tools is only beginning to leave its infancy—with open source projects
including Sencha Touch and jQuery Mobile leading the way. However, a
common complaint often reiterated in developer-focused communities is
that while hybrid tools are very capable at
delivering what they promise, things get more difficult when it comes to
packaging these tools together and deploying one or more
applications—complete with the necessary security and application management requirements—into many application stores (or possibly your own custom enterprise app store).
IBM Worklight is a mobile application platform for smartphones and
tablets that allows for the efficient development and management of web,
hybrid and native applications. Worklight makes use of existing
best-in-class hybrid tools such as PhoneGap, while extensively
supporting Sencha Touch, jQuery Mobile and Dojo Mobile out of the box.
While other documents and blogs clearly outline the advantages of Worklight
to the management of applications and interactivity with enterprise
application servers and databases, few highlight the advantages to the
mobile app developer. Let’s do that now.
Mobile development tools can be hard to install and configure. Not so with Worklight,
which in the Studio development edition can be installed as an Eclipse
plug-in that comes prepackaged with PhoneGap, Eclipse templates and
wizards to help you get started. It’s a great starting point.
When creating a new Worklight
project, I am offered the option to create a hybrid application and add
beginning. After my project is quickly created, I select support for
iPhone and Android in a few clicks, and Worklight immediately lays out
HTML from those specific to each platform, as well as creating the
native project files required to build my hybrid apps.
But it gets better. When I begin editing the template HTML to add a
UI to my app, I’m greeted with a WYSIWYG HTML editor and widget/HTML
palette, allowing me to click and drag my UI together using the
choice, in this case jQuery Mobile. After dragging out a list view, a
text input and a couple of buttons, the basics of my UI are complete.
With a few clicks I can sample my work in the Worklight web emulator or
build and run my hybrid app inside the native iPhone and Android
simulators. Building hybrid apps has never been this smooth, but
Worklight offers more.
On top of supporting the top tools for hybrid development, adding
wizard-level simplicity to the creation of multiplatform support for my
app and expediting the coding process with WYSIWYG editors and component
palettes, Worklight includes its own set of hybrid APIs that make life
even easier. A common busy status indicator, dialog box, tab bar and
network detection, encrypted cache and push notifications across
multiple platforms are rendered simple, and detailed reports and
analytics are provided within a few clicks. Couple all of this with an
excellent set of publicly available getting started guides
and it’s easy to see just how simple life can be for the hybrid mobile
developer, with the right tools. The infancy stage has ended, and
world-class tooling has arrived.
John Reddin is a Staff Software Engineer and part of the Mobile Center of Competency for Industry Solutions and an IBM Redbooks Thought Leader. Follow John Reddin on Twitter at @jreddin.
I recently published a paper on the topic of how to open the mainframe up to mobile applications. You can think of this as connecting systems-of-engagement (mobile apps) with systems-of-record (transactional mainframe services and data sources). Please have a look and post your comments: http://ibm.co/X8BRGn
This post is contributed by Bas Pluim, Architect, IBM Smarter Mobile Development
Using a mobile device is like going camping with a tent and backpack: The freedom to go anywhere is nice, but it's somewhat lacking in facilities and comfort. One thing I learned from camping is that you can make perfectly good coffee by boiling water in a kettle. You don't need one of those fancy machines. This came in pretty handy at home when there was a power outage last year. Likewise, mobile application development can teach us several things that also apply to web- and desktop applications.
1. Security is more than passwords
Entering long, complicated passwords like Qre56Z!ko8a22 with a full size keyboard is bad enough, but on a mobile device, it's twice as hard. Plus, there is no good place to stick that little yellow memo with all your passwords to the screen. Instead, mobile applications make increasingly use of other information for authentication, such as the network ID and geographic location. For example, a nurse working in the Emergency Room (ER) can access a patient's record on a tablet without a password, because the tablet is connected to the hospital's Wifi and is physically located within the ER. But when that same nurse takes the tablet to the coffee shop across the street, he has to enter a password before gaining access to any patient information.
Desktops and laptops typically do not provide a geolocation for an application to use. But there are other options, such as verifying the user's IP address, and checking the time of day. Not every application is used 24x7 world wide. For example, a web application to schedule court appearances would typically only be used within one country, during regular business hours. That doesn't mean the application should be unavailable at midnight, and a lawyer on vacation abroad should still be able to schedule a case. For those users, an elegant solution is to use a second method of authentication. After entering an ID and password, the user must also answer a security question ("What was the make and model of your first car?"). Some web sites already do this when a user authenticates for the first time from a different computer, which can be detected through the absence of a permanent cookie.
2. Laptops get stolen too
According to a study by McAfee and the Ponemon Institute
, close to 5% of smartphones are lost or stolen every year. With a typical life span of just over two years, the cumulative chance a phone going missing is almost 9%. More than half of these phones have no protection at all, and only one in five has local storage encryption. It's no wonder security is a major concern for businesses trying to adopt mobile devices.
But the numbers are almost as bad for laptops. A study by Intel in 2010
showed that the chance of a laptop being stolen during its three year life is around 7%, with 70% of them lacking basic precautions such as encryption, back-up and anti-theft technologies. A laptop has a lot more storage than a smartphone, which means a single incident could be disastrous. Mobile devices deserve some leeway, given that they're relatively new and the challenges associated with using a personal device for company business. But these excuses don't apply to laptops. It's mind-boggling that security hasn't improved in this area.
3. You don't need to see that
One advantage of a small screen is that developers are motivated to limit the amount of information to display. If a data attribute is not essential to the task at hand, it is simply left out. And while accidental, this approach has also improved data privacy. It wouldn't hurt to apply this principle to other applications as well. Some of the administrative applications I've seen appear to be a cross between a spreadsheet and a teenager's bedroom. Fields are stacked haphazardly on massive data entry forms, using a one-size-fits-all approach. Sensitive data regarding finances and family members is placed right below the question on whether you'd like to receive the company newsletter. Just because we can cram everything onto the screen doesn't mean we should.
4. You don't need to see all of them
A good friend
of mine has owned an iPhone since they first came out. He probably has accumulated several thousand pictures over the years. Whenever he wants to show you a really funny photo from a couple of years ago, the conversation stagnates as he furiously scrolls through screen after screen of thumbnails. If screen swiping was an Olympic sport, he'd win a gold medal every time. To his credit, he does always find it, and the photo is usually funny enough it was worth the wait. Regardless, mobile devices are not good at handling large volumes of data. Even the most humble laptop will eat a spreadsheet with 28,000 rows for breakfast, but give most smartphones a bad case of indigestion. Better search features such as type-ahead have helped developers limit the amount of data to return, which is also beneficial when the device has a slow data connection.
A positive side effect of limiting the number of records that can be accessed is security. Even if the device falls in the wrong hands, records can only be accessed one at a time. By contrast, some web applications allow users to dump the entire database and download it as a spreadsheet. Application designers should not only consider which data elements a user should have access to, but also think about volume. A call taker answering questions from clients only needs to access one record at a time. On the other hand, the financial analyst computing the average profit per policyholder does need all the records, but probably doesn't need sensitive items such as birth dates or social security numbers. The step-up authentication described under point (1) can also be used here. Whenever you want more records than is normal, answer a security question first.
5. The more, the merrier
The best mobile applications are the ones that are dedicated to a single task. Do one thing, and do it well. Unfortunately, there is a lot of desktop software that does a lot of things poorly. These so called "productivity suites" are usually bloatware by consensus: A bunch of features crammed together because nobody told the customer they couldn't have everything. Mobile apps on the other hand are entirely task based. If I want to look up someone's phone number, I get a phone number. I don't get someone's social media page with their latest Tweets and Pinterest photos carelessly strewn around their contact information. This doesn't mean there shouldn't be consolidation. Deep inside the corporate Cloud, you still want a single (federated) database and centralized business logic. But it is perfectly acceptable to have multiple applications that access the same data and services if it helps people be more productive.
Mobile applications are changing the way traditional software works. Overall, I think this is a good thing. When you're going camping in the woods, you quickly discover that items such as an electric razor just aren't worth the weight. And you can actually survive for a week without an espresso machine, panini grill or electric can opener. Less is more.
Bas Pluim is an architect for the Development Support Team, which provides cloud computing services to development and test teams. His focus is on mobile solutions using IBM Worklight. Bas is also a member of the IT Specialist certification board, and helps maintain the ITS Wiki. Follow Bas on Twitter at @baspluim.
Bas is an IBM Redbooks thought leader
Please access the new mobile trail on developerWorks today!
This trial is on the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise and features our recently announced IBM Mobile Development Lifecycle Solution (IMDLS).
IMDLS combines the capabilities of the IBM Rational Collaborative Lifecycle Management solution, with the IBM Worklight mobile application platform.
You can access the IMDLS Cloud Trial by filling out the Request an invite form
for the IBM developerWorks Cloud Trial. On the form, type in "IMDLS" for the promo code.
Coming soon! A scripted walk through using the sample mobile application for trial users
If you are interested in learning more:
· Blog and highlight video
· Watch IMDLS trial video
· October 30th announcement: IMDLS V4.0
· IBM.com: IBM Mobile Development Lifecycle Solution
· White paper: Mobile Application Development Primer
· Solution brief: Develop enterprise mobile applications with IBM Rational software
A Dr. Dobb's Journal Live Webcast:
Mobile Apps: Testing For Success
Date: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Time: 11:00 AM PT/ 2:00 PM ET
Duration: 60 minutes
applications are quickly emerging as the face of many companies at the
same time they help increase employee efficiency and drive down
With stakes this high, quality of applications is critical. Yet
testing professionals and tools steeped in traditional desktop/web
testing environments are playing catch-up with app developers who are
racing ahead with new functions leveraging the power of the most modern
Attend this webcast to learn the strategies and tools you need to maximize mobile app quality:
Key take-aways from this session include:
- Metrics that must be tested and validated before app release
- Benefits and drawbacks of various approaches and tools
- How mobile device clouds can enhance testing results
- The importance of collaboration to quality testing procedures
If you're responsible for overall development and testing
strategy, or are developing mobile apps specifically, this webcast will
deliver the business and technology insights you need to maximize
quality and results in your mobile application strategy.
Software CTO Team,
Software CTO Team
In this two-part podcast we discuss the best practices and comprehensive set of capabilities for enterprise mobile application development and lifecycle management using an agile methodology. This tightly integrated solution—which leverages our open standards-based mobile application platform and ALM capabilities—delivers capabilities targeted at key mobile development lifecycle stages. Teams can use the solution to more easily support multi-tier mobile application development and to develop and deliver high-quality apps more rapidly, successfully and cost-efficiently. In the first part we discuss the challenges faced by application developers and IBM capabilities and in the second part we discuss the best practices for developing mobile applications . Leigh Williamson and Paridhi Verma, speakers.
Also watch the video "Lifecycle Management in Mobile Application Development" to see how Application lifecycle management (ALM) solutions, with collaborative capabilities, help align the development and delivery of mobile applications with business objectives, within budget and time constraints, while meeting customer needs.
Watch this video to learn more about the new offering: IBM Mobile Development Lifecycle Solution 4.0.
Webcast: Developing a Mobile Nation...And delivering it faster with agile
Speaker: Roger Snook, Worldwide Enablement Leader, Mobile/ADC Community Leader, IBM Rational
Date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Time: 2:00 PM ET
Our nation is one of people on the move, people who rely on mobile devices as their main access to the web and to government services. As technology has evolved to an any time, any place, any device value proposition, so have the expectations of citizens. Delivering government experiences over multiple channels requires an end to end approach to managing the complex systems and assuring the quick, comprehensive, and safe delivery of those services. The rapid evolution of new devices and capabilities in the mobile space leaves developers with an ever changing landscape of requirements and challenges, yet the pressure to deliver effective, quality apps quickly is more prevalent than ever. IBM's complete mobile development solution accelerates your time to value and provides development teams a scalable and structured approach to develop signature apps on multiple mobile device platforms, including the integration of legacy system capabilities.
Join this webcast to hear solutions for handling unique aspects of mobile development and delivery from the challenges of fragmentation, security, and the importance of the user experience to meeting requirements for multiple languages and standards, and back end integration of legacy systems. Learn about our new complete mobile development solution combining market leading solutions for multi-platform mobile development and application lifecycle management. IBM can help you take control of the development lifecycle and accelerate the delivery of high-quality mobile applications.
The Mobile Developer Summit
has grown into a preeminent forum for the mobile software industry globally. It's a great opportunity to network amongst your peers and hear all the latest information and points-of-view on the industry. I encourage everyone to come to the summit and especially to listen to the IBM Mobile
I was really impressed with the new top-notch facilities and the energy level of the audience. It's clear that Malaysia is getting into IT
in a massive way. The infrastructure of the country can certainly support it. I was also impressed by the transportation systems and the modern hotel and business environment. I am definitely looking forward to the next chance to visit and see how things have grown.
I find it fascinating what a company can get away with once it has established good-will momentum in the market. Case in point: The so-called Mapocalypse
delivered by Apple in the recently released iOS 6 and new iPhone 5, for which the CEO was compelled to publicly apologize
. For any other company (RIM
, for instance), this would have spelled a massive drop in orders and punishment of the stock by Wall Street. Apple's main competitor, Google, isn't cutting the leafy logo any slack, gleefully withholding a native Google Maps app from the iTunes App Store
. (for those of us who upgraded to iOS 6 already and are in anguish about the possibility of aimlessly wandering the streets of the next city on our travel itinerary, there are instructions for how to set up the Google Maps web application to resemble an app on your iOS 6 iPhone here
So... has this epic fail hit Apple where it hurts
? Eh, not so much. In fact, Apple actually set a record
for shipments of the iPhone 5, despite
the maps debacle! And the folks on Wall Street are playing one-up with each other to see who can predict a higher price for the company's stock - $700
, do I hear $850
How does this happen?? I suspect that this is a hint at the residual value of past investment in user-centered focus and design
. Discarding the outlier Maps fiasco, Apple products are still a joy to use. Frankly, I think that the Map thing is an example of Apple making a rare solely-business oriented decision, straying from their usual focus on the end user experience as primary. The executives blinded by competitive zeal to hurt someone (Google) caused the company to hurt a lot of us in the process. But there are so many other elements of the company's products that are so delightful
, and this kind of overt crass behavior so rare in the past, that the market (consumers and Wall Street) will give Apple a "free pass" ... this time. To me, that shows the huge value of user experience investment and design - it can overcome a stupendous business blunder.
It is a worrisome chink in the old halo, though. Too many more of these invidious
incidents and the sheen will start to wear off the fruit. One thing's for sure: there will be a lot of people
all over the globe watching...