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February 26 2014

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February 16 2014

February 13 2014

Ask A Dev: How to Add Real-Time Updates to Your App
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In the latest video of our Ask a Dev series, web developer Jake Riesterer discusses ways to make your web app update in real-time, as well as how to make animations run more smoothly on mobile devices.

"Using things like server-sent events and WebSockets, you can actually get communication directly from the server to the client," says Riesterer. "That actually opens up the possibility for real time communication where you can literally send messages as the event happens."

Our developer experts are from Mutual Mobile, a leading development and design firm that builds mobile strategies for top companies such as Audi, Google and Citigroup. The team is eager to answer your questions about mobile, so ping us with your top queries on Twitter, using the hashtag #AskaDev. Don't forget to check out our Ask a Dev YouTube channel and subscribe. Read more...

More about Apps, Developers, Web Apps, Animation, and Tech

February 07 2014

The Enterprise Strikes Back On Open Source Contributions

In celebrating the significant contributions Twitter, Facebook and other Web giants have made to open source, did ReadWrite fail to credit more traditional software vendors for their own contributions? That's the accusation being leveled by some members of the open source business community. But is it fair?

When I Was A Kid, We Didn't Have GitHub ...

Not if you ask the enterprise software crowd. And you should. When many Web entrepreneurs were still finishing high school, the open source movement was going mainstream in enterprise computing. The first contenders were Linux and the Apache HTTP server, both of which owe a huge thanks to IBM, as Apache Software Foundation president Jim Jagielski calls out.

I still remember IBM's provocative announcement in 2001 that it was putting $1 billion toward the development and promotion of Linux. While such billion-dollar commitments from IBM are now so routine as to be unremarkable, back then a billion dollars meant a lot. I was working for an embedded Linux vendor at the time, and most of our sales cycle was spent explaining why GPL-licensed Linux wasn't the technology equivalent of terminal cancer. (Thanks in part to Microsoft's contribution.)

But after IBM's announcement, the world completely changed. Suddenly it was not only safe to use open source, but advisable. 

IBM thus paved the way for the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world to grow up in a world that actually encouraged open source usage. So when Eclipse marketing director Ian Skerrett lauds IBM (and Red Hat) for its contributions ...

 ... he's talking about more than merely code.

Raising A Generation Of Developers On Open Code

And yet I still think Lauren Orsini, who wrote the "offending" post, is right. She highlighted companies who were the most generous in contributing to open source, not necessarily the most voluminous. And that's a crucial distinction.

Enterprise open source contributions are different from LinkedIn's or Square's. In IBM's case, it is trying to create low-cost complements for its proprietary software, hardware and services.

As for Red Hat, it is the industry's only billion-dollar pure-play open source software company. It, more than any other company, makes open source easy to consume within the enterprise. 

Both are compelling business strategies. But making money on open source feels smart and self-serving rather than generous. IBM and Red Hat's contributions don't feed developer productivity the way these newer contributors do.

If IBM and its peers like Red Hat helped to kickstart open source as a business reality, the new wave of Web giants is making it a developer reality.

Yes, I know that open source has always been about developers. Millions of projects have been born and died on Sourceforge, Codehaus and GitHub to prove that. But while IBM, HP, Red Hat and others have been rubbing shoulders with enterprise developers, often on the sell-side of software, Web companies like Facebook and Twitter are enabling a different class of developer.

While their work on Storm, Kafka, Hadoop and other open-source projects benefits the enterprise, they are really writing code that will allow developers to completely change what the enterprise means by making a world from data.

Red Hat has sought to rectify this by embracing CentOS, popular on developer-friendly OpenStack. It's a good move. With OpenStack Red Hat has a chance to enable a significantly more agile enterprise. But will it thereby enable more data-driven enterprises? That remains to be seen.

The Future Of Open Source

Skerrett and Jagielski point out that "old school" companies like IBM don't get the credit they deserve. They're almost certainly right. As Skerrett notes, tongue firmly in cheek, all these boring old enterprise infrastructure companies do is "mak[e] sure the Internet keeps on running." 

But it is the Web companies that are building data superstructure on the Internet. Do they owe a huge debt of gratitude to yesterday's open source pioneers? Yes. But does this make it wrong to call them out for the exceptionally exciting work they're doing enabling a new future built on data at unprecedented scale? No way.

Image by Shutterstock

Tags: developers

February 06 2014

How to Start Building Your Own iOS Hardware Accessories
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In our latest Ask a Dev video, Consulting Architect Kevin Harwood discusses how to start building accessories for the new iSense 3D scanner.

Harwood recommends two hardware starter kits: Raspberry Pi and Arduino. "Both contain modules that allow for network connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0," he says. "They also have other modules such cameras, or switches, or many others that allow you to really make some incredible prototypes".

Our developer experts are from Mutual Mobile, a leading development and design firm that builds mobile strategies for top companies such as Audi, Google and Citigroup. The team is eager to answer your questions about mobile, so ping us with your top queries on Twitter, using the hashtag #AskaDev. Don't forget to check out our Ask a Dev YouTube channel and subscribe. Read more...

More about Developers, Tech, Arduino, Ios, and Apps Software

January 31 2014

Ask a Dev: Making Apps for Wearable Tech
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In the latest video of our Ask a Dev series, iOS Director Sean McMains discusses how to store encrypted data in an app, as well as what developers should learn to get ready for wearable technology.

"The bad news is that all of the different wearables that are on the market now use different development platforms," McMains says. "The good news, however, is that lots of the concepts transfer from one platform to another."

Our developer experts are from Mutual Mobile, a leading development and design firm that builds mobile strategies for top companies such as Audi, Google and Citigroup. The team is eager to answer your questions about mobile, so ping us with your top queries on Twitter, using the hashtag #AskaDev. Don't forget to check out our Ask a Dev YouTube channel and subscribe. Read more...

More about Apps, Developers, Wearables, Wearable Tech, and Data Encryption

January 21 2014

Git Is Giving Subversion A Run For Its Money: What Took So Long?

There was a time when Git wasn't a dominant presence in the software industry, hard as it may be to remember.

Back in 2010, Subversion ruled with more than 60% of the market and Git accounted for a mere 2.7%, according to Forrester. Today, according to data compiled by Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady, Git accounts for 28% of the software version control market, with Subversion now only narrowly beating Git.

Given Git's clear superiority over centralized systems like Subversion, why has it taken so long for the market to embrace Git?

The Future Is Distributed

Version control systems (VCS) matter because they're the primary tools for developers to manage software projects and track changes, and developers are increasingly calling the shots in everything from enterprise computing to mobile applications. A VCS monitors access to source code, keeping track of all changes, as well as who made the change, why they made it, and what the changes were meant to accomplish. It's like a Google Doc for code, except far more powerful.

Within the VCS landscape, there are both centralized version control systems (CVS) and distributed version control systems (DVCS). A CVS forces developers to treat the central source tree as "The One True Source," keeping all development tightly tied to it. A DVCS is very different, allowing developers to fork the main source tree, run it offline onto one's personal machine, and then submit pull requests to merge changes back to the primary source tree. Ultimately, a DVCS is about communicating the changes made while a CVS is more about control.

Developers, it turns out, love to be distributed. 

Using Ohloh survey data of more than 600,000 software projects, O'Grady plots a clear trend away from centralized version control systems toward distributed version control systems:

While there are other DCVS alternatives, Git looks like the clear winner:

Git has jumped 30% since 2010 while Subversion has declined 13% in the same period. That jump was accelerated in 2012 when developer darling Atlassian moved from Subversion to Git. Indeed, Subversion slid just 4.3% from 2010 to 2012, then fell off a cliff from 2012 to 2013, helped along by Atlassian's defection. 

Reasons For The Rise Of Git

Git hasn't grown so significantly because of superior marketing or better funding. While GitHub, the company and that provides a hosting service for Git repositories, raised $100 million in 2012, the money hasn't been used to buy Git's success. That success was already well underway when the funding came in. Indeed, the funding was a response to Git's rise, not the cause for it.

Git has boomed with developers simply because it's better for developers. As O'Grady notes, "The speed of distributed development, which can occur in parallel, is likely to greatly exceed that permitted by centralized alternatives, which operate on a serial model." Checking out a single version of a repository with Subversion is hugely inefficient, and takes about as much time as cloning an entire repository with Git.

Such a DCVS allows developers to not only work in parallel, but it encourages more granular updates to shared code because they can make individual changes without concern for upsetting the primary development line. Such forking, along with the super-easy "pull requests," whereby a developer requests his or her changes be automatically added back to the main source tree, make Git amazingly powerful for developers. 

Why Did Git Take So Long?

Forking and pull requests have helped Git's rise in popularity, but, as O'Grady suggests, it doesn't explain why it has taken so long to do so.

For that, O'Grady has a hunch:

DVCS...not only requires that developers learn an entirely new tool and syntax, but that they change the way they think. This philosophical difference in approach has caused even high profile developers to struggle with its implications, and thus be more slow to adopt and propagate the technologies. 

Despite the bother, the payoff from using a DVCS like Git is so big that, over time, developers have invested the time and resources to learn it. Technologies often take off when they're substantially easier or cheaper to master than older incumbents. Not so with Git. It's winning because of the increased developer productivity it enables, even if there's a learning curve first associated with grasping its essentials.

Check out the relative growth in jobs requiring Git versus Subversion:

 Or even the absolute number of jobs:

It's clear that now would be a good time to master Git. In fact, given how much Git has taken center stage among DVCS alternatives like Bazaar, the likelihood is that it is already the standard, meaning enterprises looking to embrace DVCS-based development will almost always be looking for Git experience. Different though it may be, it's a difference that will pay dividends for years.

Tags: developers

January 14 2014

Android Developer Interest Is Catching Up To Its Market Share

The app developer community may have finally hit an inflection point for Android. A year ago mobile developers preferred Apple's iOS, given superior tooling and revenue opportunities.  Yet, today's developers simply can't ignore Android's and outsized and rapidly growing installed base. Practical wisdom would say that the tide of developer interest in Android has to shift eventually, just because it is so massive and global. New survey data from Vision Mobile and Evans Data shows that the shift developer interest may indeed be starting to gravitate to Android while still remaining strong iOS.

What it often comes down to is developer maturity and experience. Broadly speaking, the new survey data from Vision Mobile says that the more years a developer has been working on mobile apps, the more likely they are to choose iOS over Android. In many ways, this is informed by geography. The presence of iOS developers and mobile consumers is very strong in the United States and Western Europe and we have seen over the course of the last several years that developers in those markets are better able to monetize their apps. Android performs well in these areas as well but is its reach is much more global, hitting nascent smartphone markets in regions like Asia, India, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. As more users come online with Android smartphones in emerging markets, we correspondingly see new and relevant interest in developing for Android.

Developers Prefer Android

According to Vision Mobile, 34.4% of developers now choose Android as their primary application platform, compared 32.7% that first target iOS. On average, developers target 2.9 different platforms for mobile development, indicating we live in a multi-platform world. But forced to choose where to start, more go with Android.

This trend is more pronounced in tablet application development. According to a new Evans Data developer survey, 84% of those that want to develop for tablets target Android compared to 62% targeting iOS and 52% targeting Windows.

Emerging Markets, Emerging Opportunities

A little over a year ago, GigaOm surveyed the developer landscape and found that most app programmers were in North America or Western Europe. Since that is where they lived, they localized apps for those particular markets. Today there are signs that this is changing.

For example, Vision Mobile's survey of 5,266 developers shows a clear preference for Android among new developers (see chart below).

This data doesn't necessarily mean Android is easier or more approachable platform, though many would argue that it is. Another way to read this trend is to correlate Android development with emerging markets. Much of the growth in mobile device shipments is moving to developing economies, leading to rising developer populations in these regions. 

This supposition seems to be borne out by how much Android developers make compared to iOS developers.

This data could be read, as Vision Mobile does, to "lower barriers to entry for Android developers and the use of Android among Hobbyists." But it seems at least as reasonable to suppose that Android developers make less revenue per application because they're building for markets that have less money to spend.

A Land Grab For App Buyers

The geography and user base of Android in emerging markets may help to explain the Evans Data finding that Android apps are developed much faster than iOS apps. According to the survey, 41% of developers targeting Android said their typical app is finished in one month or less compared to 36% for iOS and 34% for Windows Phone. As these markets boom, there's a corresponding boom in the developer population for these emerging markets and a rush to get apps developed as fast as possible.

Apple and its supporters contest that Android serves a "junk market" where devices are bought but not used. As I've argued before, this is wrong. Android gets used, but in different ways than iOS devices get used.

The Android vs. iOS developer monetization gap is narrowing. This is likely being driven by developers in established markets that give Android more time and attention, but it's also being pushed by emerging markets becoming more established. As such, with emerging markets maturing, we're likely to see Android not only dominate mobile shipments but soon, perhaps, developer wallets.

Tags: developers

December 10 2013

Where in the World Are Facebook's Developers?
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Facebook users come from all corners of the globe and, apparently, so do its third-party developers

This new heat map from Facebook shows which countries around the world claim the most developers. The social network released the map on Tuesday at LeWeb, a global startup and tech conference in Paris, France

A heat map depicting the locations of Facebook's third party developers.

The company considers a third-party developer to be anyone who incorporates the Facebook login into their app or builds with the company's software developer kits (SDKs) made available for iOS and Android, according to a company spokesperson Read more...

More about Facebook, Developers, Leweb, Social Media, and Apps Software

December 08 2013

How to Recruit a Good Developer When You Don't Code
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As a startup founder, hiring your first developer will be one of most crucial decisions you ever make. And if you can't tell the difference between PHP and Python, the decision will be one of the most precarious, too. Without any tech game of your own, how do you know what kind of developer to look for? How can you find someone who’s going to do the job right?

I've been on both sides of the developer hiring process. Over the course of my 15 years in web and mobile as a developer and a manager, I've been pitched quite a bit. And now, as CEO of Touch Lab, an Android dev shop, I’ve had to seek and find my share of quality coders Read more...

More about Developers, Recruiting, Job Search Series, Business, and Jobs

December 07 2013

Ask A Dev: Why Did Apple Decide to Offer a Budget iPhone?
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Since September, Apple's iPhone event has sparked many questions about iOS mobile development.

In the latest video of our Ask a Dev series, iOS architect Kevin Harwood provides answers to those questions, including why Apple chose to sell its "budget" iPhone 5C. He also offers helpful resources for those starting to develop iOS apps.

The new Apple A7 system-on-a-chip found in every iPhone 5S is twice as fast as its A6 predecessor. The A7 also introduces twice the level of improvement on graphics performance, especially apparent in gaming, and it opens the door for apps to be made with faster and more powerful 64-bit chip architecture in the future.  Read more...

More about Mobile, Apps, Iphone, Developers, and Applications

November 22 2013

Why Canada Is a Testing Ground for Apps
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Developers worldwide are using Canada as a testing ground for apps before rolling them out to other markets

This testing process might be common knowledge among app creators, but the typical mobile user may not realize an app he downloads today has undergone months of testing in Canada.

Global developers have kept an eye on the Great White North, using it as a way to work out bugs and kinks before introducing software elsewhere

"Canada is a good test market for several reasons. The data you get there is reliable and comparable to the other major markets — the U.S., the UK, Denmark and so on — and the country is also of a good size," Thorbjörn Warin, CMO of Finnish gaming company GrandCru, told Mashable"It is big enough to get enough users for reliable data, but also small enough that you don't loose too much by testing there." Read more...

More about Mobile, Apps, Gaming, Developers, and Canada

November 21 2013

Developers Dish Advice on Building Apps That Will Sell
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There's a lot to juggle when developing an app: The expectations of your users, the demands of your boss and a multitude of other facets that need to be weighed — and possibly tossed.

These topics and more were part of a lively discussion during the "App development: the right way to build your tablet app" session at the recent TabletBiz Conference & Expo.

Panelists Andreas Pfeiffer, president of Pfeiffer Consulting; Joe Zeff, president of Joe Zeff Design; and Kevin Kim, co-founder of App Orchard discussed what they’ve learned about the not-so-nascent world of app development.

Zeff said he created Joe Zeff Design to bring current magazines to the iPad. He found Apple's tablet a natural fit for the publishing industry. "The tablet is the ultimate storytelling device." Read more...

More about Apps, Developers, Tech, App Development, and Apps Software

November 13 2013

The 10 Fastest-Growing Job Titles Are All in Tech
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Technology jobs have replaced those in middle management as the positions employers are trying to fill most, new research shows.

A study by job-matching service TheLadders revealed that the fastest-growing jobs shy away from management, and instead require deep educational qualifications and specific skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Of the fastest growing job titles over the last five years, seven of the top 10 are technology positions that necessitate specific technical skills for developing software and mining data. Based on their data, the fastest-growing job titles between 2008 and 2013 were: Read more...

More about Developers, Technology, Employment, User Experience, and Ux

November 07 2013

Ask a Dev: How Do You Develop Apps for Multiple Android Devices?
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Android is a robust platform which runs on a wide variety of devices. But with so much diversity, how can developers make sure their apps look great on every device — from the biggest, most high resolution tablets to lower quality displays?

The latest video in our Ask a Dev series looks at how Android developers can accommodate different screen sizes and resolutions into their apps. As Android engineer Michael Morgano explains, it wasn't always an easy task.

Newly developed Google tools make developing for multiple devices much easier, he says in the video, above. He recommends taking advantage of Android's different density bucket, which can select the optimal image for each device running the app. Read more...

More about Android, Developers, Tech, Dev Design, and Mobile

October 28 2013

Ask a Dev: How Do Web-Based Frameworks Perform in Real-World Apps?
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You've asked our iOS and Android experts a slew of mobile questions. Now, our web developers are ready to tackle all your inquiries.

The latest video in our Ask a Dev series is our first edition dedicated to web development.

In the video above, web developer Jake Riesterer explained how web-based technology frameworks perform in real-world applications.

"In general, for most of the apps that you're building, web actually holds up quite well, and it's getting a lot better," Riesterer said. "Software and hardware are both advancing at a very rapid rate." Read more...

More about Developers, Web Development, Tech, Dev Design, and Ask A Dev

October 05 2013

Ask a Dev: How Do Developers and QA Engineers Work Together?
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It can take a lot of people to develop an application, and managing a team of professionals with different skills can be tricky.

The latest video in our Ask a Dev series takes a look at the relationship between developers and quality-assurance engineers, and discusses ways they can successfully collaborate.

Ajay Pall, director of Android Engineering at Mutual Mobile, explains that communication between the two parties is crucial, and that each team member's duties should be discussed early on in a project.

"Developers and QA engineers need to have a conversation about the testing strategy for the application that is being developed," he says. Read more...

More about Developers, Developing, Tech, Apps Software, and Dev Design

October 03 2013

Ask a Dev: Does a Developer Need a Computer Science Degree?
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The newest video in our Ask a Dev series discusses what's more important for an aspiring developer: a computer science degree or a great portfolio.

Andrew Frederick, an iOS engineer, explains that both a degree and professional experience are useful ways for a developer to gain skills. For instance, while you work towards a degree, you can have a development job, complete an internship or work on open-source projects to apply what you learn in the classroom to the profession.

"There's a lot that you can learn in school, and it's very valuable, but you can learn a whole lot more on your own," he says Read more...

More about Open Source, Developers, Development, Computer Engineer, and Tech

September 18 2013

Student Hackathon Aims to Break World Record This Weekend
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With free catered food and gallons of energy drinks fueling wired, red-eyed coders, the organizers of MHacks, University of Michigan's second-annual hackathon, say they're confident that the 36-hour marathon will break the Guinness World Record for largest student hackathon.

To do that, they will have to beat PennApps, University of Pennsylvania's hackathon, which took place last weekend, and attracted 1,000 students in what was billed as "the biggest university hackathon in the world." MHacks organizers say they expect their event to eclipse their rivals, beating that number by several hundred. Read more...

More about Developers, Students, Hackers, College Students, and Hackathon
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