Monthly Archives: June 2013

Native Mobile Apps Vs Web Based Apps

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Apple’s refusal to allow Adobe Flash on its mobile devices, namely the iPad and iPhone, has seen the company come under a lot of fire since the first iPhone was released in 2007. While Apple insists that Flash is a dying format, many in the industry think it poses a threat to the dominance of Apple’s iTunes store, and would allow anyone to make applications for the phone without Apple’s approval.

Apple already provides support to HTML5 in its web browser, and this new programming language opens up a whole new realm of web-based applications for mobile Internet devices.

Let’s take Google’s web-based email, Gmail, as an example. For owners of an iPhone, Gmail was accessed through a Gmail application downloaded from the iTunes store. That application was designed, and then Apple had to approve it before it could be distributed to customers. Further, to use the application, users had to go through an extended process in registering for iTunes, logging in, downloading the application and installing it.

So how does HTML5 change that? Instead of going through the process of downloading the app, users can go straight to the Gmail website through their web browser and use it as if they were on a PC.

The downside is that web-based apps are never going to be as fast as installed (native) apps, because they have to be accessed through a web browser. They do, however, offer a far greater selection because they are not restricted by the approval process of an app store, such as iTunes.

So what can we expect in the future for mobile apps? HTML5 potentially offers a far greater selection of applications for users, but at the expense of some quality control, which services like iTunes offer.

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Selecting the Best Web Design Language for Your Project

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If you’d like to create and publish your own web site on the Internet, your first step should be to decide what type of web site you would like to create and what web design language you would like to use.

Although there are several web design languages to choose from, make sure you take some time to research your options to ensure you’re making the best choice for your project.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

The easiest and most popular web design language is Hypertext Markup Language, better known as HTML. This language is so simple you can type the syntax into a text editor, such as Notepad, save it with an .html extension and instantly have a web page.

You can learn more about HTML here:

http://www.w3schools.com/html/

Although HTML will enable you to create simple web sites, if you want something more dynamic, you’ll need to look into using other languages:

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, better known as PHP, is a highly popular, server-side scripting language that can be embedded directly into HTML coding.

PHP can do anything that CGI (Common Gateway Interface) can do, such as process form data and auto generate dynamic content. However, PHP can do much more. It can be used on all major operating systems and supports most web servers.

PHP’s main focus is development for the web, so it has a quick development time and can solve scenarios much quicker than some of the other web design languages.

You can learn more about PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor here:

http://www.php.net/

ColdFusion

ColdFusion, developed by Macromedia, is used to build and serve web pages. It consists of ColdFusion Studio, which is used to create web pages, and ColdFusion Server, which is used to display the web pages.

One of the best features of ColdFusion is the ability to create web pages ‘on the fly’ from content stored within a database.

For example, a variety of content can be placed within a database as ‘pieces of content.’ When a user types in the web address to retrieve the web page, ColdFusion dynamically develops the pages, from the ‘pieces of content,’ as they are served.

Although it is very reliable, ColdFusion may be better suited for larger companies rather than individuals, as it is fairly expensive.

You can learn more about ColdFusion here:

http://macromedia.com/support/coldfusion/tutorial_index.html

Java Server Pages (JSP)

Java Server Pages, also known as JSP, is a web design language developed by Sun Microsystems. It is used to control web page content via servlets, which are little programs that run on a web server. These servlets modify the web page on the server prior to it being displayed within a web browser.

The JSP technology enables you to combine regular, static HTML with dynamically generated HTML.

You can learn more about Java Server Pages here:

http://java.sun.com/products/jsp/docs.html

Active Server Pages (ASP)

Active Server Pages, also known as ASP, is Microsoft’s solution to dynamic, interactive web pages.

Active Server Pages are web pages that contain scripts in addition to the standard HTML tags. These scripts are processed prior to a web page being displayed within a web browser.

Unlike standard HTML pages that have an .html or .htm extension, Active Server Pages have an .asp extension.

An advantage of ASP is that it is language-independent and therefore is easy to use across all platforms and applications. It is very flexible and powerful, yet some people don’t like it merely because it is a Microsoft product.

You can learn more about Active Server Pages here:

[http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/dnasp/html/asptutorial.asp]

Conclusion

With so many different web design languages to choose from, which is the best language for your project? That will depend on your web site needs and how much time and/or money you’re willing to invest.

If you want a simple web site with text and images, HTML is definitely the way to go. Not only is it easy to learn, but there are also many HTML editors available online that will write the code for you.

Although HTML is usually the right choice for most, if you’d like your web site to be dynamic, you will need to research some of the other languages until you find the best solution for your project.

Take your time and do your homework before you begin. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to create your own web site, hire a professional. It will save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run.

Copyright © Shelley Lowery 2005

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Current Web Development Trends

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If you are new to the realm of web development, you may be wondering what some of the current trends of the industry are. If you want to get ahead in the web development industry or to keep up with the crowd, it is important that you have some familiarity with these trends and that you utilize them in your work.

CSS3

Cascading style sheets, also known as CSS, is how the look and formatting of a website is defined. CSS3, the newest version of the program, includes many new features that are designed to make web development much easier and much more attractive. The features include: border radius, rounded corners, box shadows, multi-column layout and opacity.

HTML5

Flash’s popularity is all but dead in the eyes of many web developers, especially as they have discovered that HTML5 can do many of the same things that only Flash was able to do before. But why are developers avoiding Flash like the plague? Because it doesn’t work well with many of the newer technologies, such as mobile phones, and it can actually have a negative affect on the usability of a website.

‘Lifestreaming’

These days, people demand to be ‘constantly connected’ to enable them to share their lives with others at all times. Before, web developers made this possible by including links to a Facebook or Twitter page on a website. These days, developers are actually able to use a social network aggregator to combine a number of social networking profiles. This allows for a live feed of sorts to be incorporated into a website or blog, allowing users to stay up to date.

QR Code

Quick response code, also known as QR code, is by no means a new web development concept. It has, however, recently increased in popularity, thanks to the rise in usage of internet-accessible mobile devices (such as smart phones and iPads). Basically, a QR code is a barcode that incorporates certain information, such as a website URL. A user takes a photo of the barcode, usually located on advertising material, with their mobile device and is immediately taken to the corresponding information.

While these are the current web development trends, there is nothing to say that this will not change in the near future – the internet and associated software is always changing and evolving, and it is important for developers to stay on top of the newest trends.

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Native App Vs Web App: Perhaps A Hybrid?

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Hybrid mobile applications are functionally somewhere between native apps and web apps. As these two types of mobile software serve completely different purposes, standing poles apart, hybrid apps fill the space between them, and incorporate features of both sides. What makes them close to native apps, is their ability to utilize native features of a mobile platform. Hybrid apps are distributed through application stores, and may utilize such native feature as, for example, geolocation. On the other hand, it shares many useful features with web apps. It might be so that if you want to build an application, a hybrid one would be the best solution for you.

Features of hybrid apps, shared with web apps:

– Created upon web technologies (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3). That’s the main distinction from native apps, which presuppose all the further features. The most popular tools for creating hybrid mobile software are PhoneGap and Appcelerator Titanium.

– Easier and faster to build than native apps. This results in lower development cost.

– Cross-platform capabilities. A great advantage, provided by web technologies – you may create the app once for various mobile platforms. But keep in mind, that an app may not run the same on various devices, that is why quality cross-platform software requires comprehensive testing on a list of devices chosen by you. That’s how the possible problems are eliminated before deployment.

– Lower performance than in native apps. That is why more sophisticated apps will be affected by slightly lower speed and graphics. Consider the balance of features and speed carefully – users are quite likely to switch to another app, if they face delays. That’s why hybrid applications are not good for creating complex apps like games.

Features of hybrid apps, shared with native apps:

– Distribution through application stores (such as Apple App Store, Google Play, BlackBerry World and Windows Phone Store).

– Use of native device capabilities. That is an inaccessible option for mobile web apps. In case your software is going to depend on geolocation, camera, accelerometer etc. – a hybrid application will provide you with that.

– Offline capabilities. That’s a feature of the foremost importance for many apps. And that matters much to users – having what they need and what they like anytime, anywhere.

You may consult with your software developers to find out whether a hybrid app is really ‘the golden mean’ that will perfectly fit your project. That must be discussed and firmly decided before the development. The decision depends on the user experience you need to provide, the features of the project, and the market/user audience you chose to encompass and engage into using the app. Business apps that require native access or apps with moderate graphics – these are examples of a good choice for hybrid development.

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