400Minutes v2

The experiment of 400 minutes was really simple when I started it in Januari 2012. Turn as many crazy idea’s into products in the smallest amount of time possible.

In a year I came up with, designed and developed 17 crazy final products. And I did this in time that was unproductive otherwise; commuting time.

Halfway during 2013 I started to realize that almost every product turned into a website. First static pages, then desktop web apps and finally responsive websites.

For this reason I started to get more interested in mobile and mobile apps and really wanted 400 minutes to move into that direction.

Tools & Frameworks

The power of 400 minutes was in the end using the proper framework for the idea. Web frameworks such as Bootstrap or Foundation are so mature that making a small website ‘easy’. To make the website interactive jQuery makes creating highly interactive websites accessible to people who don’t have a strong technical background.

The maturity of these tools really shows in the way it’s documented and available help online. Pretty much every problem might run into, some ran into before and is answered online.

Tools for the mobile world

The last couple of months I spent trying out a lot of frameworks and tools for mobile apps and it is obvious that the maturity of these frameworks is much less.

AngularJS is a fantastic tool to create “Single Page Applications” which comes close to mobile Apps. Even though Angular is a really powerful framework, it is much less accessible to people with little technical background. I think the reason for this is mostly because it abstracts functionality a bit more. Basically where in jQuery you could in theory say “hide the green button”, in Angular but you first need to define what a button is, what green is and where things can be hidden. It sounds like a hassle, but in the end it is convenient for building more complex things.

As for templating and lay-outs ionic and OnsenUI provide a lot of help. Again, these are a little more complex to use than for example Bootstrap. Also here the documentation is to blame. Ionic has very decent documentation but is far less used than Bootstrap there’s less hands on questions and solutions. Onsen also makes an effort to document properly but I found that this framework especially has very limited documentation and an even smaller community.

App Builders

Even in 2012 I built one app You snooze, You lose which was built in Java using Eclipse. As for a learning process, I think it was the project I learned the most from. There are two important drawback from building native Java in eclipse: building time and cross platform use. It really takes a lot of effort to build simple things and once built, you wind up with an Android app, with no way to publish it to Apple IOS devices.

So therefor I looked into tools to build hybrid Apps. Basically they work as an app, use much of the device’s capabilities (camera, gps, accelerometer, gestures, etcetera) but get rendered as webpages. This is perfect as I know how to make webpages now, and  they are ‘easily’ published to both Android devices and Apple devices (and windows and blackberry, but who uses those?)

‘Easy’ publishing? Even though it’s easy, it still takes quite a bit of working out how to publish to the stores but once you get it, it’s really quite easy to do. Basically I use Cordova / Phonegap to build the app (using the tools and frameworks above) and then use Eclipse and Xcode to finalize the app for distribution.

First app

For a first app I used the side project website Lyrics Radio that I created together with Reinout Wolfert and turned it into an App. You can dowload it in the App stores:

Get on Google Play!

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