What happened this weekend… Why more app hacking of course…

Okay, you guys pretty much know what happens with me on weekends now … Hacking together apps. This past weekend was a little bit different in that we brought together a bigger team and got cracking early. In time you guys will see what we’ve been working on, but this weekend was pretty successful. We’re getting much better and putting ‘working’ applications together. Here is some of the technologies and other interesting things that we learned and made use of this weekend. I’m pretty sure that they can be very useful in your own hacking sprints and projects:

  1. Backbone.JS – Basically this is a java script application framework that helps you to build well structured web based apps. Other members of the team were responsible for using this, but from what we where able to put together in the time that we did, this is definitely a framework that I would recommend. In addition to this, it allowed us to build a “Single Page Application” that was a perfect precondition for targeting all the mobile platforms (see next point). Feel free to take a look at it yourself here: http://documentcloud.github.com/backbone/
  2. PhoneGap – I may have already mentioned this on the blog, but PhoneGap is a great set of little framework/tool that allows you to write code as JavaScript and HTML and basically have the application run on many different mobile platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry and others. On the surface it seems as though this framework is pretty much a guided way to build your application using platform agnostic tech (HTML & javaScript), store it in the “application package” as a resource and load it up into a chrome-less browser control at runtime. I do think I’m simplifying it a bit, but I will post more details as I investigate more. I seriously urge you to check this one out here: http://www.phonegap.com 
  3. LESS – Less is a Dynamic Style sheet language with dynamic behavior. Again, other members of the team were working with this, but a quick glace at the official web page gives you a glimpse into what this can allow you to do. Check it out at: http://lesscss.org
  4. REST in ASP.NET MVC3 – This isn’t a technology per se, but to use backbone.js properly, we needed to implement some RESTful services on the backend. There were a couple of choice like building that application on ASP.NET MVC4 with it’s new Web API, or using WCF WebAPI. Seeing as MVC4 was not yet released and not widely supported on web hosts and WCF configuration has been painful in the past, I decided to try another method which makes use of existing MVC3. I found this blog point that was very helpful:  http://www.bitcandies.com/blog/2011/asp-net-mvc3-restful-application-tutorial-with-backbone-js-%e2%80%93-part-iii/. There were some other serialization related things had to come together for this to work (if you need further details, email me)
    image
    Most of the other technology that we used was pretty standard. We use Eclipse and the respective Blackberry and Android plugins to build the application for those platforms. We used Visual Studio 2010 and the Windows Phone SDK to put together the Windows Phone version etc.
    We’re not quite done just yet, but we’re almost there. Stay tuned to see the something interesting come out of this effort.
    Happy app-hacking!

— Cheers

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Posted in .NET, Android, ASP.NET, Hacking, iOS, Java, Microsoft, Mobile, Mobile Applications, Mobile Web, Personal Projects, Random Thoughts, Startup, WP7

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