Monthly Archives: December 2013

Saga Series – Brian K. Vaughan – Artwork by Fiona Staples

image
Alana (female), Hazel (baby) and Marko (male)

This comic series is amazing. I have only read Chapter One (47 slides) and i’m a fan for life! So far, its about primarily about Hazel the baby in the image above and her mother and father’s fight to live in harmony with her. Alana (mother) and Marko (father) are very much in love. Unfortunately, they are fro different sides of the coin amidst a war. They have just had a baby and are trying to suvive. There is a snitch, a mystery map, galaxy war, robot kingdoms, human/unicorn specie, mages etc. If you like a burgeoning, probably, savior from the prophecy, true-lovesque plot, you’re in for a doozy of a series! Brian K. Vaughan is funny judging from the newsletter at the back of the comic and his story [duh-uh] and Fiona Staples (@fionastaples) is an amazing illustrator. The artwork is gorgeous and obviously well sorted. Look at that cover! Just beautiful and Staples put some of her handwriting artwork in there. Personal touches are a favourite of mine. The first chapter is currently free on Comixology. The next chapter is only 1.99 on Comixology. There are 17 comics of the series so far and I will be reading them. If you liked Chapter one and two, you could get the rest here. I’m off to la la land!

Android vs. iOS : A Developer’s POV

Jon Evans is a novelist, journalist, and software engineer.  Jon also has a degree in electrical engineering and a decade of experience as a software developer, building everything from smartphone apps to billion-dollar asset-allocation services. His recent article “Android vs. iOS Development: Fight!” is an article on the ongoing battle between the Android and iOS from the developer’s point of view. He compares all the various components.

Environment

The Integrated Development Environment or IDE is an interactive program that is used to create software and apps for our everyday tablets and computers. It usually consists of a text editor, debugger, compiler and a GUI (Graphical Use Interface) builder (particularly good if you don’t have an extensive knowledge of the command language needed). The iOS IDE is  Xcode which Evans thinks is phenomenal. He is particularly enamored with its debugger. Android’s Eclipse is comparatively bad. Evans states that it is hard to load and is needlessly complex. So…… iOS 1, Android 0. Although, he notes that there is a cross-platform for both iOS and Android; Xamarin.

Configuration

Evans compares Xcode’s configuration to that of the Lovecraftian horrors of 1970s programming. Ok so he was joking, but still if it can be compared to programming from the 70’s? Sheesh. But, yeah, he finds the setting, links, targets, macros and header files appallingly erroneous.  In comparison, Android’s app configuration has a single manifest file and usually, according to Evans builds the app in its entirety every time the file is saved. Although, he does not that more clarity is needed in error messages. So…… iOS 1, Android 1.

UX Design

The user interface of iOS wins because the visual tools has three screen sizes (including iPad) and two screen densities, and also other attractive visual elements. So, yes, it is all about the visual. Although, as even points out, the competition is fierce. Android provides an Icon pack for developers to use, a trait that the iOS platform doesn’t possess. So…… iOS 1, Android 2.

Language

Evans confesses that Java is his niche. The traitor has grown very fond of Objective-C which is mostly an iOS phenomenon.  He finds it better and cleaner than java because it categories and blocks. He notes that an advantage that Java used to have over Objective-C is it’s stack traces which meant that tracking down bugs were easier but now with the Xcode’s Automatic Reference Counting (ARC), the gap has been evened out. The ARC reduces the time required in programming and exponentially makes it easier. So…… iOS 2, Android 2.

APIs

The APIs govern how the components of the software interact with each other.  Evans concludes that very roughly, an iOS ViewController is equivalent to an Android Activity. iOS has an extra set of frameworks and features of which there is no android equivalent. He also concludes that lines of codes for iOS is 32% smaller than of Android. A plus. Therefore…iOS 3, Android 2.

Internet

In these days when many-to-most apps are conduits to Internet APIs, Evans notes that this criteria is worth evaluating. When the internet runs in the background, multithreading comes into play. A Evans states, Android provides an AsyncTask which is easy to use while iOS provides equivalent but unsatisfying facilities. So Android wins, right? Alas, no. Apparently, as there are a host of open-source libraries that operate on a block level, Android doesn’t fly because Java does not utilize blocks. Objective-C does. So…… iOS 4 Android 2.

Sharing

In a shocking move, Evans concludes that neither wins. They both have equal advantage. I would agree. It is not really a bone of contention… iOS 4 Android 2.

Fragmentation

iOS wins again. Evan awards them that point because within the first five days of distributing the iOS7, there were 200 Million Downloads, a 64% Adoption Rate, 20 Million iTunes Radio Listeners (a new radio platform that people might just be predicting will one day be competition for Pandora).So yeah…iOS 5 Android 2. This is getting akwardddd. Oh, apparently, Google, Android’s for lack of better word, parent, has a strategy for becoming more popular. Disconnect the interesting updates from Android updates and upload them as Google Play updates. I use this service and it is awesome. I sincerely think it could one day have the same results as iOS does. This could happen especially because most Android apps are supported by Google Play.chart1

The plan just might make Android win this category in the next competition…. iOS 5 Android 2.5. .5 is my addition.

Publication

I am happy to not that Evans gives them the well deserved win here. Their app publication is seamless and easy unlike iOS. Yes!!! So… iOS 5 Android 2.5.

Sadly, Android loses. But we’ll rise up (Woopsis!) If you didn’t already glean that, I’m Android all the way.

Evans is obviously knowledgeable about what he is talking about. His audience based on what I have read is to developers. He is nice enough to provide links for us fluffheads and that really helped me in understanding what he was talking about.  As you will note, I spent an amazing amount of time explaining his article, because my audience is different from his. He is right on all counts and I can’t help but agree with him even though I am an Android fan. With the advent of the Google Play Services, I believe that Google will be tougher competition to beat in regards to their system. Check out this page. It’s just expanding on the defragging strategy of Google.

The Mobile Web: Does it exist?

Stephen Hay’s article There is no Mobile Web is a short article on the limits and delineation of the web. Stephen, according to his webpage is a web design and development strategist who has his own user experience consultancy Zero Interface. He is a popular speaker on the subjects of CSS, web accessibility, and (web)design and open web standards, and has published several articles on these subjects. He can be contacted via email and can also be found on Twitter @stephenhay. One day he posted this on twitter;

“There is no Mobile Web. There is only The Web, which we view in different ways. There is also no Desktop Web. Or Tablet Web. Thank you.”

He received a lot of re-tweets and decided to give a little article on it. It seems to me that his audience is a person knowledgeable about the idea of the One Web, although a layman would sorta understand it. A one web system is one in where the manner in which a person gets on the web doesn’t matter, be it a mobile device or a desktop computer. The content or URL should not change. He talks about the idea of Desktop web and Mobile web. He reminds the audience that the idea of a mobile web gave the desktop web its name. Before the advent of the mobile web as it is, there was just the web. Web content was designed for the desktop user, although it wasn’t called Desktop web, simply because it was just the web. But, with the existence of tablets , there are settings on websites where you can check a box requesting desktop web as opposed to the mobile web which has different content and sometimes different URLs. Hay seems to me to disagree of the label “mobile web”. He says,

That said, simply adjusting the presentation of content or pieces of content on a website does not, in my opinion, constitute a “mobile website”. It’s a website for which the developers have considered the users of mobile devices and adjusted certain things accordingly.

He views the mobile web as an excuse to revisit all the old ideas about web accessibility and progressive enhancement. He is right about this as far as I am concerned. When I use my tablet, I always click on the desktop request check box. I hate the idea of progressive enhancement link to the mobile web as it is, progressive enhancement means according to the famous Opera article Graceful degradation versus progressive enhancement by  that ” You start by establishing a basic level of user experience that all browsers will be able to provide when rendering your web site, but you also build in more advanced functionality that will automatically be available to browsers that can use it.” This is an idea that was prevalent when the web was being established, it is now as most will argue dead in regards to “desktop web”. Revisiting this idea on a mobile platform will mean that web universality will be compromised. Based on a person’s device, the same information may not be seen. Good idea? not so much. Hays says,

Which data you get and use and in what form will depend on your device and your circumstances. Your context, if you are so inclined. And that will constantly be changing.

Very true. He concludes that maybe his view on the mobile web is not based only on a semantic distinction especially as developers are now creating websites for tablets and such, such as iPod web etc.

Do I support his idea? Wholly. The web was created to provide the same information to everyone, if the old ideas of progressive enhancement and graceful degradation are reintroduced on a mobile level as they are, one could argue they already are right now, the universality of the web will be compromised.

This is very evident in the University of Houston-Downtown’s website.  Below is the image of the first version of the UHD mobile web. It has changed since then but the core ideas are still the same. The same information from the “desktop website” is not present.

UHD Mobile webpage image

Below is the actual website.
UHD WebPage Image

The massive amount of information missing is staggering. This is what people would me missing out on if the mobile web doesn’t provide universal content.