Monday, July 20, 2009

iPhone Mobile Camp Atlanta

Last Saturday, July 18th, I went to attend the Mobile Camp Atlanta in Marietta the whole morning. There were alot of presentations to choose from crossing iPhone, Android, Palm-Pre, Windows Mobile, Blackberry development. But I mainly focus my interest in the iPhone seminars. The iPhone Development presentations covered best practices user interface design, Parsing XML, Core Data, JSON, Facebook and Analytics, Push Notification. I've attended all of them except for the last one.

I am not an iPhone developer but I'm looking into getting converted before the end of the year. After the end of the presentations, I'm decided to add in my skills Objective C Language which apparently iPhone is using. I believe phones in the not so distant future will become a critical part of the IT Enterprise Infrastructure in terms of delivering important, well formatted content to the business user or customer. I'm sure iPhone will become a great tool to realize this need.

Here's what I've taken for each presentations.

iPhone App Design Best Practices
1. Be true to the device. Know the capabilities of the hardware and what the API can provide.
2. Read the Human Interface Guidelines provided by Apple.
3. Start designing your app after item 2 & 3 are done.
4. Use DataObjects metaphor.
5. Start button design to 324x80 pixels and load it to a temporary button album in iPhone just to see how it fits.
6. Use a third party tool like iView for viewing prototypes of the interface design. You can also use iPhone Stencil created by Design Commission.
7. Remember that 3G S has warmer color that its predecessors.
8. Perform Paper Prototyping to understand the flow of the application.
9. Native apps are more comfortable with users than browser based ones. Native in this context is Objective C.
10. Do not hardcode the screensize, iPhone itself might change the lcd screensize in the future plus if you are developing on iPod as well.
11. Let the app be customizable by users to make it their own. User experience is a need.
12. Pixel density of iPhone is much higher than what you have in a laptop or desktop. The prototype from the laptop/desktop will look different when viewed from iPhone.
13. As a rule of thumb, always design apps both for iPhone and iPod.

Parsing XML using NSXMLParser
The NSXMLParser is SAX based parser. It rides on top of Cocoa. This goes hand-in-hand with NSDictionary and NSArray. NSDictionary allows you to store key/value pair. Like a Map in Java. To manage multiple occurence of same key, which are basically the xml nodes that you are trying to get onto, turn it into an array. This is only true for one level node. For deep level nodes, give the parser a hint then build the array.

Introduction to Core Data
Core Data in iPhone sense means Persistent Objects. All apps have a delegate. iPhone uses managed object model and context. There are 3 main APIs suitable to perform manipulating persistent objects - NSString, NSArray and NSDictionary.

JSON in iPhone
Use the JSON documentation from iPhone Noob. The only thing to do to deserialize JSON objects are to turn them into Dictionaries and Arrays. By the way, the debugging in XCode looks really cool.

FaceBook Connect in iPhone
I'm not really intested in developing applications via FaceBook. But if you do, all you have to do is download t FaceBook Connect Dev and apply to obtain "API Key" and "API Secret".

Analytics for iPhone
This was mainly a discussion about a product called Flurry, which is a better version of iTunes analytics. This comes close to Google Analytics. The presenter just basically showed us on the web his product he created and it does have much more meaningful data than iTunes does.

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