Sep 01 2011

Web App Architecture

Category: Mobile Computing,Software DevelopmentTeknovis @ 7:38 am

I came across this very useful high-level introduction to web apps during the week – Anatomy of a HTML5 Mobile App.

This is definitely an area that is becoming very relevant to me!

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Aug 02 2010

Mobile Websites Versus Mobile Applications

Category: Internet,Mobile ComputingTeknovis @ 1:03 pm

Today is a public holiday in Ireland, so I have a bit more time to write about something that has been on my mind for the last weeks.

I often have to work with companies that already have a well designed website, but they have no content designed specifically for mobile devices. These companies normally have a very strong desire to target mobile users, but they are unsure of the best approach.

In an ideal world, if a website is well written in XHTML then it should be possible to create a separate CSS stylesheet to render the pages well on mobile devices. This solution is usually easy to do, but it only provides a very basic user experience.

Therefore, there is normally a requirement to create new content specifically for mobile users. There are normally three different options, and each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Mobile Application

This is probably the most popular option, and it is the option with which most users are familiar. The advantages of this option are:

  • It is possible to create really attractive applications that make maximum use of the underlying hardware (GPS, digital camera, …).
  • It is possible to create a really rich user experience.
  • It gives a presence in in the application store.

This main disadvantages of this option are:

  • It can be expensive to develop a mobile application because it requires specialist skills.
  • It can be difficult to develop for all mobile hardware platforms.
  • The approval process required to get the mobile application into the application store can be very slow and subjective.

There are many examples of such mobile applications :)

Mobile Website

This is probably the second most popular options. It involves creating a second website that is specifically designed for mobile devices. This new website can be hosted on a new domain (.mobi for example), and mobile clients can automatically be redirected there based on the HTTP user agent header.

The advantages of this option are:

  • It can be very quick to develop.
  • It uses existing web development skills.
  • It does not require any third party approval.

The main disadvantage of this option is that it does not give a presence in the application store.

Hybrid Application

The advent of HTML 5 enables another option that consists of developing a skeleton application that is basically a dumbed-down web browser. This application is configured with an application specific title, icon, and start page.

The main advantages of this option are:

  • It is possible to create a really rich user experience.
  • It gives a presence in the application store.
  • It can be very quick to develop.
  • It mostly uses existing web development skills.

The disadvantages of this option are:

  • It is not possible to use the underlying hardware.
  • It still requires third party approval.

Hopefully I have not forgotten anything!

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Mar 09 2009

Online Photo Editor

Category: Digital Imaging,Internet,SoftwareTeknovis @ 11:34 pm

I came across a really nice online photo editor today called Pixenate that is developed by a company called Sxoop Technologies. Perhaps the thing that I find most impressive about it is that it is written entirely in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The user interface is really smooth, and it is very easy to use due to the helpful tips. There are plenty of editing tools to satisfy most requirements, although some of them seemed to be slow to update the photo. I do not know what caused this, because my CPU was certainly not the bottleneck.  I also really like the way that each time you load the web page there is a new default image to experiment with!

The interface is so nice that I had to include a screenshot (click it to see a larger version). However, this is not a substitute for playing with it ;)

Pixenate Screenshot

Pixenate Screenshot

I am not really clear who are the intended users of the software, because I think that most serious photographers will use desktop applications to edit their digital photos. Perhaps the software would be a good addition to photo printing web sites such as PhotoBox.

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