Off Shore App Development

Little did we know the LONG ROAD that was ahead of us...

Being software developers, we often are asked by our clients what the experience is like with Off Shore development.

Of course, being a development company, you don't want to throw everything away and say "yeah, it's great and cheap". But in all reality, we didn't have any idea until this year.

With the launch of one of our products, we underwent having an "App" developed for our product. We already had the browser interface that we built but a native app for the mobile was something we thought maybe we'll outsource it as we didn't have the skills at the time for native iPhone development.

Native iPhone apps are written using XCode, using a language called Objective-C and must be compiled on a Mac in order to submit them to the AppStore. Being primarily a Microsoft shop, these are 3 things we didn't have.

So we decided we'll look to outsource. We were put in touch with a company in India, had a Skype call with them, found out the costs and how the process works.

Here is how it worked:

  1. Inhouse, we developed a full prototype of the app that we wanted. (this took 3-4 weeks to develop). The prototype tool we used was "Just In Mind". Great product to work with.
  2. Inhouse, we developed the web services that would allow the app to interface to our backend. (2 weeks of development)
  3. Technical Design document was written to explain how the web services were used, what routines needed to be called when and how by the App. It also explained the flow of the App from the Prototype development by us. (another 1-2 weeks of development time).
  4. We then had to monitor closely the development of the app, ensuring that it followed the guidelines of the prototype document and also the technical design document.

In the end, we had a working app after about 10 weeks of development (not including our time). Also after 2 quick bug releases soon after it was submitted to the AppStore, we finally had the initial working version that customers could use. 

If we hadn't gone to the effort to put together the prototype, technical design and the web services, we would probably still be in development phase.

It's a great app, don't get me wrong.

Would I go through the process again? Probably not. We would develop the skills inhouse or hire a local developer savvy in XCode and Objective C.

This is just our experience and now I can say what we had to go through to achieve this.

It wasn't a bad experience but it required *a lot* of effort on our part in order to achieve a successful result. The company we dealt with were lovely. If we weren't software developers and couldn't produce the pre-requisites in order to get this app to production, the process would be all the more harder.

 

IE11 not triggering postbacks

I took the plunge to install Internet Explorer 11 last week after a customer noticed their site (developed and hosted by Advantech Software) wasn't triggering postbacks on one of their pages.

I felt like I only just upgraded to IE10 not that long ago and had a mountain of problems then.

It then began - "the search" to work out why IE11 wasn't triggering these events. We are using Auto Postback events on UpdatePanels to make changes on this page.

User-Agent

After a bit of googling, there was a lot of chatter about Microsoft changing the "User-Agent" of the new browser.

So what you say?

Well, this means that all webservers out there around the world need to make changes to accommodate this new user-agent.

The Good News

I found 2 hotfix's out there that we installed that thankfully resolved the issue.

1. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2836939

2. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2600088/en-us

Unfortunately a reboot is necessary after installed these updates but thankfully, this resolved the problem.

Hopefully this helps someone else out there with the same issue.

 

Group Deals sites

What are your thoughts on all the hundreds of deals sites that are popping up? They are pretty awesome for the consumer, I've personally bought quite a few hair dressing deals and dinner vouchers.

But are they worth it for the business? Firstly - if you buy a deal for $40, the group buying site usually takes 50% from the business, so the business only receives $20 of the $40 deal. They are already selling the deal at well below half price and possibly making a loss on the deal. But the *HOPE* is there that they will get repeat business if you *TRY* their goods or services.

In my experience, I went to the few hair dressers where I bought the deals, but I haven't gone back. Why would I want to go back and pay full price? $150 full price versus $49 that I paid for the deal. I can just buy another deal for another hair dresser. Sure, if you find your most awesome hair dresser to go to regularly I understand it's worth every penny to go back there, but with the deals, it's not often the case.

Are there any businesses out there that have had good or bad experiences with using group deal/buying sites? I'd love to hear from you or your opinion on this topic! :)

 

Are you using Dropbox?

What is Dropbox some of you might be asking? http://www.dropbox.com. It's a Cloud storage file sharing system. Basically, your files are on the internet but you can easily share these files with others.

Dropbox has now become a pivotal part of our business. For us, it is a way of securely sharing documents with clients and it's easily accessible via your file manager on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android etc.

You can sign up for a free account of 3Gb of disk space. Even if you use it for backing up your precious photos, it's more than worth it.

There are others around in the market, you can give Google Drive and SkyDrive a try. They each offer free disk space, Sky Drive being the largest of the free offerings by Microsoft.

But as I was alerted to more recently, it is worth checking out the privacy policies that these companies have. It is very important that you understand these policies closely. Google Drive state in their privacy policy that by using their service, they can use your files as they see fit to. Sky Drive will only use your content to ensure the service is working as expected. They will not take your content and use it for advertising or use it for their own intent and purposes.

Dropbox also have in their privacy policy that your content remains your property and they don't use it, however if you store anything illegal on Dropbox, they will turn it over to the police without your consent (which is fair enough I say!).

Have you tried any of these file storage services? What's been your experience?

 

 

Pseudo-Css Styles for :hover, :active and :focus

As a web developer, being able to inspect HTML and modify styles and layouts in real-time is extremely powerful. So much so that an extension (like the mighty Firebug) are no longer required to access these great features (amongst a ton of others) with many browsers now making it an inbuilt feature

One area that has always been tricky however are active, hover and focus styles. It doesn't matter what ninja like skills you may posses, you won't be quick enough with your mouse to be able to change the styles (trust us, we have a Kung Fu guru here in our office and he isn't able to do it). Thankfully, where there is a will there is a way (at least in Firefox, Chrome and Firebug).

Firebug

 

Chrome

 

Firefox