As I wait in the airport for my flight to board, I figured I would put together a quick Mobile Connections 2011 ’Top 5 take-a-ways’ post from my perspective. Lots more detail in my previous posts for each session, this is just my ‘mind dump’ without looking back at my individual session notes.
My original “big goals” coming into the conference were to get a feel from the experts on where cross platform mobile development is headed, if there are any tools to build for the four major platforms with one code base and if so… what tools are leading the charge now, and expected to lead in that space going forward.
#1 Take Away: Cross platform development via one code base (including HTML5) is tough at best, crazy to try at worst. A number of the experts flat out said, if you want a average at best application, go ahead and try to use a cross platform tool. Average meaning it won’t specifically feel like other apps on each platform… compromises have to be taken because of the lack of support for some features on each platform, as well as the different UI styles. If you want a decent application, the UI needs to be built with native code. Plain and simple. Furthermore, this isn’t changing anytime soon so just get used to it.
#2 Take away: The “cloud” term has different definitions to different people (no surprise there), but the idea of the ‘private cloud’ vs ‘public cloud’ really hit home for me. Our ability to leverage the cloud technologies without actually having to put our data/etc on some ‘public’ server is attractive… especially for a transition in the short term, as the technologies around public cloud based security/etc mature. The ability to do hybrid Cloud offerings, having your web servers hosted by a public cloud provider but the data being hosted on company owned cloud technologies sounds great for SaaS providers that have sensitive data they need to protect the best they can, while still trying to allow for max scalability. Cloud and Mobile really go hand and hand now, if you expect to support a significant number of mobile users anyway.
#3 Take Away: NoSQL solutions are super fast, and scale 1000’s of times better than Disk Based SQL solutions. If you are going to be supporting numbers of mobile clients in the tens of thousands or more, you need to be utilizing this type of technology. Redis seems to be mentioned in every conversation regarding this platform type. (NoSQL at is most basic is a fully in memory key-value data store). Excellent tips were shared in my notes writeup of the Architecting Back End Systems for Mobile session.
#4 Take Away: SaaS companies (and others using web technologies) need to look at the product offerings that BiTKOO has. Their Keystone app is an amazing abstraction of Authentication/Authorization and from a coding perspective, is really Plug and Play. Also, their SecureWithin application gateway brings about many possibilities regarding accessing corporately stored data on the web securely. More info can be found in my notes writeup regarding the session BiTKOO CEO gave.
#5 Take Away: The speakers at these conventions are top notch from a know how perspective. The value they provide to the attendee’s in question answering after the sessions alone, is worth the cost/time invested to attend.
I do feel it’s important to throw in this ‘bonus’ takeaway… I will call it 1a as it’s a continuation of the first takeaway:
#1a Take Away: I did attend a workshop yesterday related to the RhoMobile toolset for cross platform development. Though I wasn’t crazy about how the session was conducted, the products they have do look very promising. Using web developer skills (Ruby), the tool supports all the major Mobile OS’s (WP7 and WinCE support too, in about a month) and generates Native code for each platform. It has a number of excellent features of which the one I liked most was it’s support for specific style sheets per OS. So you build your UI using web programming skills and the product styles the UI to look like the ‘normal’ app presentation for the OS. It comes with stock style sheets for each OS and it really does work well. Has support for camera, BlueTooth, etc, as well as a mapping control that makes the use of the OS’s preferred mapping API very nicely. The toolset also has a local data storage tier that takes advantage of SQLLite. If the platform you deploy to doesn’t have SQLLite embedded into it, the tool will deploy a binary representation of it so you can plan on a single local data source across all platforms. This tool has great promise from what I can tell.