Batista R. Harahap

A New Breed of Web Potentials

This year 2010 is set to be a cloudy year! Why?

Well it's practically the year where everything cloudy are launched. Web Development has never been so fun and so fresh before. The mobile world is getting its taste of how The Web will change its course.

[caption id="attachment_181" align="aligncenter" width="282" caption="Web 3.0"][/caption]

Over the years, your mobile phone anywhere in the world has been a primary need in metropolitans. When it's came to this stage, mobile phones are practically a part of our daily routines. A new revolution is coming and it's making mobile phones as its stage.

Have you ever heard of the terms Location Based Services (LBS) and Augmented Reality (AR)? Well until just a few months ago, I never knew the terms existed although they have been applied in our digital world for quite some time. The trend is shifting and content (the king of the web) is being empowered (yet again).

LBS have been around for as long as there are cell towers and satellites. These 2 infrastructures combine to actually gifting the web another tentacle to its arsenal. They give us the ability to almost instantly know our whereabouts. Skeptics and pessimists may say that technology is getting creepier everyday and stalkers will have a population boost. What can I say? Just this small sentence: Live or let die. You can either choose to embrace it or ignore, the choice is yours. What matters is that LBS is here and it's staying.

Do you remember the first generation of mobile phones that has a camera built in? I bought myself a Nokia 3650 and it still amaze me that I can type with a circular keyboard. In its camera application, we can choose to have overlays of picture frames among other things we can use before taking a picture. That's AR, a reality augmented with digital images rendered together to a real picture.

[caption id="attachment_178" align="aligncenter" width="318" caption="Nokia 3650 Camera App"][/caption]

[youtube b64_16K2e08] Layar - Android Based LBS & AR Application

There a healthy amount of possibilities and potentials available for tech companies. I say this because the way web technologies are evolving, it's getting a lot of programmers into the scene. Web Development is relatively easier than any other platforms, that's a fact. This particular fact has spawn Open Source and also proprietary projects to create frameworks using web based technologies and incorporate them into the building blocks of native mobile and desktop applications. Here's a roundup of what's available:

  1. Phonegap - www.phonegap.com [bliptv xAzxwhsC] This is a half featured Open Source mobile framework with support for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm. During my initial test-drive, I found it somewhat pre-mature. Gotta be understood because it's not even a 1.0 version yet. Documentation is crappy because I find it very difficult to really dig deep into the API. The most positive things I can see are its support for a vast amount of mobile platforms and its the fastest to create a Hello World. You can use just about any HTML and make it an application. However the fun stops when you need more device-intensive operations. Native GUI of the device must be reproduced manually. So to keep it simple, I think of it more as a HTML/CSS/JS compiler for the platform it supports.
  2. Titanium Developer - www.appcelerator.com Now this is a serious player! I started using it from its 0.8 version and it's a lifesaver! They just released a 1.0 GA release and a 1.1 update shortly after. The support is great and documentation is almost great. This application is Open Source and they monetize by selling the support subscriptions. The documentation has all the macro API explanation and they have a demo application called Kitchen Sink that is always updated to the latest build offering demos of features. Titanium supports iPhone, Android, Windows, Linux, Mac and yes, iPad. Been trying to avoid saying Apple's new product but there you go. The hype of it is just making the web too saturated with reviews and everything iPad. What's great with Titanium is that not only they support iPhone & Android, they support the major desktop platforms. In the coming months, they are also supporting Blackberry. Native GUI support is excellent! Go ahead and download Kitchen Sink and you'll find out for yourself. The only thing that bothers me is that it closed its discussion group support forum and making support calls from its own Q&A part of the website. This makes the search for a solution become slow. I really prefer the old support forum but I guess this is what we get for free. It's good enough but I hope the developers will make their own support forum for others so that information will be in the open not dependent with their website only. I will host it on my server if anyone wants to start one :)
  3. Adobe Flash Pro CS5 & Adobe AIR 2.0 - cs5launch.adobe.com [youtube _hkfOk8P79s]I can only say as much as the video above say, just with an added note: WONDERFUL ADOBE! Now we can make games specifically, with only Flash & AIR. Let's see how this goes. April 12th 2010 is the launch date. Stay tuned!

To wrap things up, I'm very glad the way the web has made an impact in the application development scene. It has certainly bring a whole new level of possibilities for web developers. Not only now we're adept in our own world, we can be as skilled in other parts of the programming world. So I guess a Thank You is owed to the Open Source developers of the first 2 projects, you guys rock! For Adobe, well you have to come up with something, HTML5 is taking over lol.

05 April 2010 by Batista Harahap on adobe air | adobe flash | ar | Augmented Reality | cs5 | lbs | Location Based Services | Mobile | Open Source | phonegap | Technology | titanium developer | Web
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