I went to webDU 2011 with an aim to see what is happening in the mobile space as that is an area Patersons is looking at getting in to. I have built a prototype / proof of concept with jQuery Mobile so was happy to see that this was getting a lot of attention at the conference.
The conference had sessions on using jQuery to build web applications for mobile devices, and also how to build native application using the same technology. Craig Sharkie took us through what HTML 5 the brand is, verses HTML 5 tags, and CSS 3. He then went through the steps to build a web app using this technology (code to appear on his GitHub). This app uses a manifest to assist with off-line asset (images).
A team from Massive Interactive discussed using HaXe to build multi-platform solutions. Paul Burnett (Adobe Australia) stood in for Greg Rewis (and Terry Ryan) that could not make it to Sydney as their flights were cancelled. He showed the yet to be released DreamWeaver 5.5 with built in jQuery Mobile support to build native iPhone and Android. Under the hood it is using PhoneGap to build the deployable solutions which you then need to get into the market places.
As I do not have access to a Mac, and I don’t want to have to pay for developer licences, and cannot be bothered with market places, I will stick to my plan of building mobile web applications.
Due to a schedule clash, I did not make it to Lachlan Hardy’s session on backbone.js. This, along with corMCV are frameworks for managing what can quickly can very messy jQuery coding. I will definitely be looking into these!
The other side of application development that I am keen to learn more about it is service oriented architecture via RESTful web services. This was one of the recommendations from Nick Randolph. Mark Drew’s session on CouchDB has convinced me to take a look at this solution for noSQL, but my main interest is it’s RESTful implementation – they seemed to have done it very well.
The first session of the conference I attend was by Matt Voerman about Front End optimisation. Even though the points covered were quite basic, I am sure most in the room would have been guilty of not implemented at least two of them, me included. This was a great session to have in the conference as it is important to remember the basics when moving into shiny new things like jQuery on mobiles as they are still applicable.
Probably the session, well keynote, that had the biggest impact on me was one that I thought was going to be quite dull and dry. Maybe that is because I was not acquainted with Mick Liubinskas from Pollenizer. It was far from dry and dull! His keynote on keeping focus when starting out on the ‘next big thing’ gave me plenty to think about. And like Matt Voerman’s session, was very timely. With all the new things I learnt at webDU I would have been very tempted to go back to work and try and squeeze as many of them as possible, if not more, into my next project. The main concept that Mick shared with us was to pick one thing and do that very well. Then move onto the next feature of your killer app. Another key part of this is to find about 200 people that would value you application the most and TEST TEST TEST on them. These people will be very tolerant of any mistakes and will go out of their way to help you as they can see the benefit of your solution.
The idea of market research was further discussed by Christine Soriano as she talked about the mobile application built by ANZ Bank. Things that seem obvious and brilliant to a developer may not be to the end client. Taking mockups and early prototype to the streets caught what could have been an application killer.
Christine went on to describe mobile usage as ‘snacking’; people have a task that want to perform and they want to be able to do it very quickly. Added to that, they may want to be able to do it while they are walking or on the train. Who has ever been frustrated by having to login with an email address and password that requires mixed case, numerals and a special character? As they say in twitter land #fail.