Over the next couple of weeks/months we will share our journey developing and deploying solutions for the Android and iOS mobile platforms. We hope to provide valuable information for those who have decided to explore mobile development or are thinking about it or just plain curious.
About 6 years ago, we embarked on a new venture to write applications targeting the iOS and Android platforms. We had been developing applications for the Windows Mobile and Windows CE platforms up until then and knew very little about the requirements to deliver applications on other mobile operating system. Scout v3.x was running at many of our client locations and we were looking towards the future. There was a lot of chatter and interest in the iOS platform. Many of our clients were also looking to the future. iPads seemed to peek a lot of interest. iPads at the time were mostly regarded as consumer-focused device whose primary function was to consume content as opposed to creating it. The ability for a business to effectively remotely manage those devices was non-existent and true business-class applications were few and far between.
iOS back then (6 years is like 20 years in the technology world) was the dominant platform with Android quickly gaining ground. The promise of cross-platform applications running natively while technically possible was still somewhat on shaky grounds and definitely plagued with a lot of claims without much substance to back those claims up. Performance was one of the key concerns. As we thought about what the next version of Scout would look like we needed to ensure a minimum level of features. For instance, Scout needed to run without a WiFi or cellular connection, because of this Scout would need to run natively and connect to the server only when necessary. We refer to this as a casually connected application. Scout also needed to be responsive. We initially made the decision to build Scout to run natively on each of the platforms. iOS was the first platform we would target due to market share, demand, and feedback we received from our customers at the time.
Off we went to Best Buy one weekend to purchase an Apple computer and a few books. An Apple computer is necessary in order to develop iOS applications or using a cross-platform tool such as RhoStudio. If you’re thinking of targeting iPhones or iPads, you will need to purchase one.
The Apple platform was new to us at the time. Everything about how you interact with the operating system other than click an icon was different. I had been a long time Windows user (since version 1.0). If any of you have taken the leap from Windows to Mac OS, you can relate. You find yourself constantly looking for the equivalent options in Mac OS that you normally use in Windows. That’s probably not the best way to approach this. For instance, I was obsessed about where the equivalent to “C:\Program Files” in Mac OS was. There was no real reason other than curiosity. By the way, there is no equivalent because Mac OS installs and manages applications in a completely different manner. The point is that you need to be ready to invest some of your time understanding Mac OS.
I digress …. It took a while, we had a couple of mis-steps but we eventually we got everything installed and configured. A couple of days later we were writing the typical “Hello World” application. You’ll also need an Apple developer account if you plan on targeting the iOS platform as you need it to install the compiler and software development kits. The next step was to slowly build upon the “Hello World” application and start writing a true proof of concept.
In the next installment we will discuss our experiences with the iOS development environment and our eventual switch to Rho Studio including the reasons we did so. Stay tuned for Part 2.