2016/12/04

Can I learn to program mobile devices?

Not sure how long this will last, but I'm doing these entries because
  1. I've heard that the best way to learn is to trying to teach what you are trying to learn. That seems to be have been true when I wrote my book "Candelas Lumens and Lux".
  2. I've learned so much from other blog posts maybe I should join the contributing community.
  3. Publicly committing to something makes it more likely that the thing will get done.
I was faffing around wondering which platform to use for a few ideas I have for mobile apps. I've already done one WEB app, which has had rather limited success (Ok, zero sales). It is a web site which allows you to create European Energy Labels. I did it because I know about the labels, and I wanted to learn C#/WEB apps and I hoped I'd be able to sell the service...


 
Despite the commercial failure of EuEnergyLabels.com I did learn about WEB apps and I did learn C# (which must rate as one of the very best computer languages ever invented). 

(I think I failed commercially because many of the labels had already been required by law for 4 years when I entered the market, so many large companies already had graphics studios or internal software for creating them.)

The energy label app works on all devices, Windows, Android, iPhone, Mac etc. So why not use the same technology (C# running on a web site) for my other ideas?

One thing I saw was that paid apps on Android devices often work by the user paying and downloading the APK (Android application package) of the full package, and that is that. With a web app how would I monetise the thing?

I found out that there are systems for turning a web page of javascript and HTML5 and graphic libraries into APKs, but I could not really find a clear simple explanation of it. And with a 3 neuron brain like mine clarity and simplicity are essential.

And anyway, was there a way of making a C# + site application into an APK? I did not want to learn a new language after discovering how great C# is.

So I came across Xamarin. Xamarin is a system which is supposed to port C# applications to all systems, including Windows, Android, Apple phones and Apple computers. I started to download it, but two things made me stop:

  1. It was HUGE. It looked to me as if it would take about 2 days to download everything.
  2. I saw that it looked (from the icons) like it installed Visual Studio. I don't know which version, but since I already have Visual Studo 2005 2010 2013 and 2015 on my PC I did not want some new installation to upset my money earning working compilations. Maybe a silly fear, I know.

Whether my reasons were good or not I interrupted the Xamarin download. I intend to look at Xamarin in another computer another day.

So I went back and looked again at HTML5 + JavaScript + ... + what? Cordova apparently,

Cordova seems to be a way of packaging your app so it will run on all mobile devices. But again the confusion in my mind put me off. Is it Apache? Why is there Cordova inside VS2015? Does Microsoft's Cordova compete with Microsoft's Xamarin? If so will one lose? Which one? How do I monetise? If it is Apache open source am I even legally allowed to monetise? What is Phone Gap? Who cares? Pass the whiskey. Can I have some ice in that?

My next post will be about my first Android app created with Android studio. And why I chose Android Studio.

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