Some weeks ago I heard some echos over the twitter channel about #mcbxl. On Saturday, May 8th, 2010, the first edition of MobileCamp Brussels would be organized by some guys that I was following. I decided to register so as to check out the state of art of mobile computing, mobile internet and the real-time web in general.
This event would also be my first barcamp, so I was pretty excited about that too. A barcamp is a free, user-generated unconference by means of open, particapatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by the participants themselves. So, you can summarize this event as an unplanned geek gathering. Hey, if you know most participants only by their Twitter names … But what an experience that barcamp was! I love the small scale. I adore the interactivity. Energizing! A big thanks goes to the sponsors for the first class venue, catering, etc; to the organizers @emich, @steffest, @kodel and @janosizoltan for … well, organizing this event; and to all the speakers for sharing their experience and knowledge.
State of the mobile development art
Now off to mobile apps. Well, this subtitle says it all. That’s what I seem to have learned at #mcbxl. Development for mobile platforms still seems more of an art than craftsmenship. Yes, for mobile apps you have a totally different target audience and medium, so, yes, you should therefore completely realign your apps. This is what @kodel also explains in his presentation on Mobile Interaction Models. But, as proven by @Steffest‘s geek’o'tar and his presentation on cross-device development, while a fantastic exploit, it makes one wonder whether the mobile devices are becoming to mobile development what the browsers are to web development: a testing nightmare. The mobile devices apparently have even more variability in features than browsers have bugs. @gregone shares his experiences during his talk on Designing for Touch Screens.
Largest common denominator for mobile applications?
The cases presented at #mcbxl, have fairly specific requirements. Indeed, not everyone wants to write his own keyboard application, isn’t it? However, MobileCamp Brussels wasn’t too clear about what features cross-platform development tools like Titanium offer and up to what point mobile web applications can take us. @kodel explicitly mentions to stick with native apps for now, forcing you to choose your deployment platform. Hence, he rightfully says to very carefully choose, depending on your audience!
Or limitless possibilities of the mobile devices?
The reason to go native? Remember that a good mobile app takes the user’s context into account for the services offered. Therefore access to the full features of the mobile device are most likely a key requirement. Hence, the need (for now) to choose for native applications … to fully exploit all possibilities of those devices, only limited by our own creativity.
TIY = Try It Yourself
As with everything in technology, you can only thoroughly make up you mind, after you Tried It Yourself. Mobile web, cross-platform or native, MobileCamp Brussels certainly stung my desire to experiment myself. I’ll be rigging my mobile development environment pretty soon.
So please check back once and a while if you are interested to read about my findings. On the other hand, If you yourself have some ideas or experiences to share, please do not hesitate to leave a comment!