[tog] Tog Mobile App

Sean Nicholls seannicholls at gmail.com
Fri Mar 2 11:19:23 GMT 2012


> Unity as in the game engine? It may be harder to squeeze that into a
> 'normal' app usecase than go another route. Spending money on the
> toolchain should be out of the picture, since others should be able to
> fork and build this, IMHO.

Yes, it'd be a squeeze, but not impossible. Particularly if we used a custom UI. But yeah, its far from an ideal solution, and costs far more than Mono for those without the toolchain (about 4,000 total). I only mention it as the Unity group has been in Tog a few times for their meet-ups and I've been digging into it for the past few days, but yeah, Unity is pretty much a last resort.

> These apps are HTML5/Javascript things that live in a webview (or
> mini-browser), inside a native 'shell'. 

This concerns me. Apple is known for ejecting apps that do not make use of the device. Furthermore, you are limited by what native capabilities you can make use of, and performance does get a hit.

If the app is actually compiled, and is an actual native app, then fine; but anything less and I would really rather not do it. 

As an aside, I personally have more experience writing apps in C# and/or Objective-C, so I would prefer to use those technologies just so we can get a better quality app out. I've done a lot of web design etc, but have not used HTML5 in the context of web design, and when working with what you dont know, there is always room for error.

I would much prefer C#.

> You can download PhoneGap and use the application
> shell and local device APIs for free, and put them on app stores.
> PhoneGap is in fact an open source thing.

If that's the case, then great, I'll look into it more later when I get a chance.

> GIven the caveat that there is no particular hurry, I can kick off an
> OSS project for an iOS version once there is an outline of whats to go
> into the app.

I would like to put the Tog app in for the Microsoft App Me up scheme (submit 4 apps, get a Lumia 800), which has a deadline of 22nd June. But beyond that, no, there is no pressing rush.

I suppose that should be up for question too, if Tog members would be against me using it as 1 of my 3 app submissions. 

> One thing which hasn't been mentioned here is design chops - no-one
> wants an app that looks like a U+1F4A9 - are there any TOGgers that
> have graphic design skills that they could contribute?


I have experience making graphics for mobile apps, so we're okay there. If we can get someone who wants to dedicate their time specifically to that, then great, but in the meantime I'm happy to draw some mockups, which we can discuss pros/cons of etc.

- Sean

On 2 Mar 2012, at 11:01, Oisin Hurley wrote:

>> 3. A cross platform tool such as Unity or MonoTouch.
>> 
>> I am currently leaning towards option #3 as it provides a single language
>> for all platforms, making updates and maintenance much more likely. Unity is
>> not a platform built for apps per se, but it can be done. MonoTouch costs
>> about 800eur and I haven't invested in that toolchain yet (unlike Unity).
> 
> Unity as in the game engine? It may be harder to squeeze that into a
> 'normal' app usecase than go another route. Spending money on the
> toolchain should be out of the picture, since others should be able to
> fork and build this, IMHO.
> 
>> I haven't got any experience with Phone Gap, but I'll look into it. I'm
>> somewhat suspicious about the whole HTML5 -> Native App development trend
>> that's kicked off recently.
> 
> Don't forget that the best way to banish suspicion is to invoke facts!
> These apps are HTML5/Javascript things that live in a webview (or
> mini-browser), inside a native 'shell'. You just program the browsery
> bit. The main reason that these cross-platform kits were created
> (originally, before there was a chance for money to be made) was to
> allow web developers harness their existing skills to produce mobile
> apps, rather than them having to learn Objective-C or Java, or
> whatever native languages and frameworks were required.
> 
>> There's a lot of copycats. Looking at the
>> pricing model - I'm already pretty much against it. A subscription model for
>> a toolchain? I'm not sold. It takes a lot of control out of your hands -
>> what if the build service or your internet is down? you're screwed.
> 
> That's not how PhoneGap works - that's how the *PhoneGap build
> service* works. You can download PhoneGap and use the application
> shell and local device APIs for free, and put them on app stores.
> PhoneGap is in fact an open source thing.
> 
> Of course, world+dog is trying to make a buck by setting up services
> that add value to the process.
> 
>> tl;dr tech will probably end up being C#, using Mono(Touch/Android) and a
>> separate WP7 project which reuses code/classes etc.
> 
> GIven the caveat that there is no particular hurry, I can kick off an
> OSS project for an iOS version once there is an outline of whats to go
> into the app.
> 
>> I think a Calendar, Contact form and a "Find my local hackerspace" features
>> are great, I'll add them to the list.
> 
> +1
> 
>> I think some of these features will require a little change to Tog.ie -
>> namely RSS feeds, which as far as I can tell are entirely missing from the
>> site. If there was an RSS feed for blog posts, TOG status etc. I think that
>> would help a lot.
> 
> +1
> 
> One thing which hasn't been mentioned here is design chops - no-one
> wants an app that looks like a U+1F4A9 - are there any TOGgers that
> have graphic design skills that they could contribute?
> 
> cheers
> --oh




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