Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reading smart ideas is not just enough

Take an minimal essential features, put them into the pot, boil it, stir occasionally ... Finally serve to the customer in the nice form. I'm not talking about cooking as you can think. It's one from many advice I've captured from my "start-up" books regarding. This advice is obvious but not as simple to stick with as it could looks.

We've broken this rule many times in the past couple months and realized this fact later on. I'm talking about our new web project called Monitems.

Main idea behind is to monitor items (Monitems is just abbreviation of those two words) for individuals and companies. This service is mostly called as asset tracking.

Our problems starts due to our thinking which tends to create highly abstract model for the particular problem. In general you can create highly universal piece of software and cover many possible scenarios. This solution is good for developers but users suffer a lot. Users cannot see their solution, cannot see how to use the software and get lost in this type of scenario.

Hope we have learned our lesson and steped back to simplify our output. I still think Monitems could find users but this seems to be step TWO - now we work on step ONE. And this step seems to be much more easy to reach due to low complexity and its easiness.

Let me finish this post with another smart thought I've got from my recent reading. Make your first version of your web app quickly and easy so you don't waste time in case your idea doesn't catch users. We lost some time but we took it as a learning process hoping we could proceed gained knowledge in the next project.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Electronic exhibition guide

Few days ago we have finished development of the Electronic exhibition guide for the Czech Architecture Week 2011 (link here). The guide is designed for iPad and uses the latest web technology - HTML5.

Primary intention was to build offline electronic guide that can be saved to iPad and can be run from Home screen via application icon. In the first point of view, it seemed like straightforward development process without any hidden problems. HTML5 specifications describes offline mode very precisely and we had previous experience with iPad online web applications too.

During development I've discovered that iOS devices (Safari web-browser) can't simply handle larger offline applications than 5 megabytes (i.e. this link). If you try to save such application user is requested to "Increase Local Storage" (see following screenshot).
This behavior occurs by steps of 10 megabytes, 25 megabytes and finally 50 megabytes. Our app has unfortunately 32 megabytes, so user should run application, accept storage increase, shutdown application and this circle 3 times more! Then the application is completely saved in local storage. It is totally annoying for any user.

I did some googling and I've found an opinion that the offline application limitation is due Apple's App Store. The opinion seems right because the limit used to be 10 megabytes and now it is only 5 megabytes.

So my recommendations are following:
  • If you build non-native web application make it smaller that 5 megabytes
  • If you can't compress your application under 5 megabytes develop native application that will wrap your website

We are now aware of this problem and we are planning some better solutions for the future, so follow our Twitter or subscribe RSS.