Just recently, I caught up with an old friend of mine, Pat, who earns his keep doing graphic design and Web programming work in the public sector. While chatting about our jobs, Pat expressed a good deal of dismay at a vexing problem involving mobile app development: His boss wanted him to create them for nearly every platform you can think of, the boss wanted them to be native and he wanted them soon. As in "yesterday" soon.
You can probably understand why Pat wailed and gnashed his teeth at the prospect. He was supposed to quickly create apps that ran natively on these mobile operating systems, yet he had no prior experience. He also didn't have the hardware. How was he supposed to create, run and test an iOS app with confidence in the absence of a Mac to do so with? How was he supposed to give due diligence to things like compliance and security concerns?
Given the kind of content his organization deals in, and considering the time, expense and staffing constraints (being a coding army of one), I think my friend came up with a great alternative: Instead of trying to craft apps for each OS, he pitched the idea of creating a Web application that was designed for mobile browsers. Anything more custom-tailored would have been costly overkill anyway. Pat hasn't heard back yet, but he's hopeful.
Trying to be as helpful as I could, I recommended a few of the mobile software development resources we have on hand. In particular, I pointed Pat to our excerpt from Wei-Meng Lee's "Beginning iOS 4 Application Development," since the iPhone and iPad topped Pat's manager's want list. Not only did I think the excerpt, which focuses on getting one's feet wet by creating a simple app, would help Pat learn the basics quickly, I thought his boss would benefit from an understanding of the forethought and inspiration it takes to make a useful, well-made app.
In the event that his Web app idea was shot down and he had to hit the development ground running, I told Pat to check out these resources:
I hope these help both managers and programmers get acquainted with the requirements of mobile app development before jumping in.
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