Speaking at COLTT 2015

I’ve been absent from this regional conference in Boulder, CO for a couple of years now – but will be at the University of Colorado campus for COLTT 2015 in August. The title of my talk is Mobile Application Development Technology Roundup – where I’ll be examining the differences between some of my favorite cross-platform mobile development frameworks.

Have a look at the full schedule and list of presenters and do register if you’ll be in the area.


Mobile Application Development Technology Roundup

Date: August 6th 2015 – 2:45pm
Session Type: Technology Round-up
Topics: Disruptive Innovations, Mobile Technology and Devices, Research

Learning objectives:

  • Explore current choices in cross-platform mobile development
  • Be aware of the current landscape and what may lie down the road

Abstract: So many choices! With many schools opting for a BYOD approach to mobile learning, what is the best technology to build upon which can target all the major mobile devices? This session will present a solid rundown of a number of cross-platform mobile application development technologies to give you a leg up on expectations and application. Which technology is best??? Not the most simple question to answer but here is some information that can help!


PhoneGap Jumpstart

I’ve always found that getting started with PhoneGap if you hadn’t used it before (and sometimes even if you have) to be an exercise in frustration which even when it all goes well… takes some time and dedication. For example…

Here are the steps I take when setting up on a new Windows environment for Android:

  1. download and install Java- add to path [C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.7.0_45\bin]
  2. add new system var JAVA_HOME [C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.7.0_51]
  3. download and install ANT – add to path and be sure to RESTART [C:\ANT\bin]
  4. download and install ADT [https://developer.android.com/tools/help/adt.html]
  5. download and update the Android SDK from tools [pray]
  6. create a new Android VM for emulation [pray harder]
  7. add references to Android tools to PATH [C:\Program Files\ADT\sdk\platform-tools;C:\Program Files\ADT\sdk\tools;]
  8. download and install node.js [https://nodejs.org/]
  9. Install PhoneGap via NPM [npm phonegap]
  10. Install Ripple emulator via NPM [npm ripple]
  11. setup new PhoneGap project
  12. build project
  13. emulate via ripple
  14. Test, test, test…
  15. Build using command line or PhoneGap Build services

I’m probably missing a few steps – and if any one of these configurations if off… good luck fixing it.

You have to admit… that is a LOT for a newcomer (I teach PhoneGap at least once a year – it is seriously a lot for newcomers to deal with).

Well now we have some really nice tools to make the whole process much, much nicer! There is the PhoneGap Desktop Application for starters. It allows the creation and management of PhoneGap projects from a simple installed application interface. Grab it from http://app.phonegap.com/

PhoneGap Desktop Application
PhoneGap Desktop Application

While the application currently does not support managing platforms or plugins – if you are targeting PhoneGap Build at the end… this really doesn’t matter. This one installation covers steps 1-12 above. No kidding.

Notice the server address that is displayed at the bottom? We will use this later to test our application using the dedicated mobile app.

Once a new project is set up… we can start working on the layout and design as well as functionality that is not specific to hardware. I do this with Brackets and Chrome. Get Brackets at http://brackets.io/

Testing with Brackets and Chrome
Testing with Brackets and Chrome

As you see above, editing the HTML, JavaScript, and CSS within Brackets is pretty straightforward. That is the focus of this IDE and it does it very well. You can also launch a live preview from Brackets for testing functionality and layout in a browser like Chrome. As displayed above, using the mobile device simulation aspect of Chrome is great for layout – while access to the other developer tools like the console makes debugging and problem solving and immediately accessible task.

To test on a real mobile device, just install the PhoneGap Mobile App from http://app.phonegap.com/

PhoneGap Mobile App
PhoneGap Mobile App

Once installed and running on the same wireless network as the desktop app, you can fire up the app on mobile and type in the server address on display within the desktop app to test your PhoneGap application on a real device. Much nicer than any crummy emulator and you have the full functionality which browser testing lacks. That takes care of steps 13-14.

Once ready to compile your application for various mobile platforms, it doesn’t get much easier than using PhoneGap Build. Access PhoneGap Build from https://build.phonegap.com/

These are a great set of tools that make the whole process much, much easier to get started with :)

Adobe Generation Professional: App Design

Do you have an interest in App development? Are you constantly being asked to show students how to create an App? Do you teach a computer class and have a desire to take your own class in a new direction through App development or are you simply intrigued to know how to build your first app? Either way, this intensive 2-week online Adobe Brackets Bootcamp is for you.

This course takes place on the Adobe Education Exchange from June 13th, 2014 – June 30th, 2014. It’s a great idea to have a sort of bootcamp-style introduction to app development like this. My understanding of the course is that each day, on the first week, a certain piece of application functionality is explored in a workshop-style environment. The second week is reserved for students to complete a full app with assistance from the course instructors. It’s actually very similar to the format I use for my PhoneGap courses – though these are dived across a 10 week quarter term.

I was asked (along with 9 other “guest experts”) to prepare a short, 20 minute presentation around my creative journey and some interesting projects I’ve worked on. The slide deck for this presentation is included below.

Thanks to all of the students who attended the session and had such nice things to say. Happy to present for you all.

I’m sure that is this is successful, that Adobe may offer the course again – so keep a eye on the Education Exchange if you are interested!

We are well into 2014… isn’t Flash dead already?

There been a bit of a stir lately around Flash (again)… caused by this Adobe post on some PhoneGap announcements for marketing. The Adobe Flash Runtimes platform PM, Chris Campbell, has posted a response to these comments and I’ve thrown in my opinion as well. Incidentally… while I do plenty of web standards work… most of my income with Fractured Vision Media still comes from Flash Platform technologies and 2014 looks to be no exception to this. At all.

Balance and perspective, people…

Thanks for the (formal) update, Chris. This should go some ways to alleviating the fears out there inadvertently caused by the marketing post on PhoneGap enterprise tooling.

I remain a huge proponent of of Flash Player and AIR. I work with these technologies every day. 2014. Working with Flash Player, in the browser, daily. Working with AIR on mobile and on the desktop/server… daily. Most of this work is done in applications which support rich media and video creation, management, and delivery. The platform excels in gaming (of course), and video… but also general app and utility development. This is to say nothing of the incredible workflow established over the past decade. Incredible creativity. Perhaps Adobe could re-visit the strategy of pigeonholing the platform to such a narrow set of targets?

I also work with web standards on a daily basis. this stuff has come a long way obviously… and Adobe is right to want to take advantage of these advances and contribute to moving things forward. There is no question that web standards developers want a better experience. Adobe is enabling this. PhoneGap is one way in which this is being done for mobile. This work is needed… it is welcome… and appreciated.

I teach on PhoneGap and Edge Animate. I work with various HTML5 libraries all the time and some of them are very solid. Have you all seen the Phaser HTML5 GDK? Incredible what is now possible in the browser. Does this take away from my work in… or support of… Flash and AIR? Of course not. I’ve ALWAYS believed in choice and balance when it comes to web technologies and see no reason to change my perspective or my daily practice. I do wish that Adobe (as an organization) would realize that this balance is the true sweet spot.

You have the Flash runtimes platform AND the web standards platform in your domain. The only thing missing is balance. Flash on.