Oredev 2012: Day 3 Summary

Published 13 Nov 2012

My third and final day at Øredev 2012 offered some really nice talks, as well as a really crappy one.

Jonas Birgersson – Tailwind/Headwind in the pursuit of the Fibre to All

Jonas was one of the Swedish IT Boom’s golden boys in the late 90s. I missed his talk, but will definitely watch it. He is not afraid to go his own way, which is a fitting characteristic for this year’s rebel theme.

Felix Geisendörfer – The Power of node

Felix started developing node.js way back in 2009. He decided to ditch what tech he used before and went all in on node. Today, he clearly thinks that it was the right thing to do, despite being bleeding edge is sometimes exhausting.

Felix’s talk was extremely entertaining. He used a Parrot AR drone 2.0, and used its open api to control it from a simple web page that he live-coded in node and express. The page fetched and displayed sensor data and current controls from the drone, then posted new controls to the drone from a simple web ui. Using sockets to control the drone, he then sent it away to attack my colleague.

This was a fun talk, despite some network problems that also affected some other speakers (Øredev, please give the speakers a private network next year).

Gergely Orosz – Building Highly Successful Windows Phone Apps

Gergely has created Windows Phone apps like CocktailFlow, WeatherFlow and several other apps. He was early on the platform and has found a nice design pattern for his apps, which have huge download counts on the Windows Marketplace.

Unlike Johan Lindfors previous session, Gergely’s talk focused less on technology and more on strategy, so attending both was a perfect choice. His talk touched on design, content, quality and marketing, all of which were very interesting.

When designing for Windows Phone, Gergerly says that following the Microsoft design guidelines too strictly will not do you much good, since:

  • Clean Design mostly result in boring design
  • Celebrate Typography is most often applied by devs, using standard fonts
  • Alive in Motion most often means that developers use standard animations
  • Content, not Chrome results in boring apps
  • Authentically Digital often end up in apps with no graphics, just gradients

I totally agree, judging from the many Windows Phone apps that I’ve seen so far. Gergely’s apps demonstrate Windows Phone’s ability to provide us with fresh apps, that feel way more modern than most iOS and Android apps do.

When designing for multiple mobile platforms, Gergely adviced us to start on Windows Phone, then convert the result to the other platforms. This will make you stick out from the crowd in the overcrowded iOS and Android marketplaces.

When it comes to content, you can either create your own content (like he did in his cocktail app) and/or using already existing content. When you create your own, content try to minimize future headaches by making the content management as simple as possible. When using existing content, be careful to not use copyrighted material without permission.

The perceived quality of the app is the sum of all factors, from marketplace presentation to image and text quality, load times, animations, fluidness, crash stability, implementing live tiles etc. Put effort into all these things. One flaw may cause people to see just that flaw, ignoring other qualities of your app.

The marketing part of this talk was awesome! Gergerly strongly suggested you to market long before the first release, using press releases, teaser videos etc. to make people wait for your app to be released. After the app is released, focus on getting coverage, tweak how you use freebies and promos and make sure that you put effort into getting featured on the Marketplace. If you find the marketplace to be too crowded, Nokia App Highlights has almost the same coverage.

Gergerly urged (while also admitting that it’s easy to say) us to think different. When building for Windows Phone, learn from the massive amount of apps that exist for iOS and Android. Since most apps are super simple and beautiful, yours should be so as well. Also, don’t try to be smart. If you find a simple concept that works, don’t cram more features into the app. Obviously, people use the app because they like it. Many frequent updates and features can actually make them dislike the app.

When it comes to monetization, Gergely was generous with details. He added a trial mode to all his apps from start, but disabled it at first. When an app was high on the charts, he disabled the trial mode. When the apps started to drop, he could simply enable the trial mode again, to attract new users. He also suggested give-aways with a twist…perhaps adding some bonus content for users who paid for the app after trying it out.

Gergely advised us to abuse the system in any way possible. For instance, the marketplace keywords could initially be abused to get high search ranks…and he sure did abuse that. If you see a feature that you like, but can’t understand how it is done…have a look at the source code. Wow, is nothing sacred? :)

Besides this, Gergely also had some more morally defendable advices, like working a lot with localization, both in the app and the Marketplace material (including the images). One of his apps was actually translated for all available languages in the Marketplace. Kudos!

To sum up, watch this session. Then watch it again. Thanks Gergely!

Lars Vogel – Whats hot in Android 4.0 + 1

I am just starting Android development, so this talk went over my head, since it focused on what’s new in Android 4.0. It was very well-presented talk, but I was lost from the start.

Lars talked about news in the project generator, emulator improvements (host GPU and Open GL support, x86 virtualization etc) the new Gradle build system and how you now have one single API for phones and tablets, instead of the previous two.

Last also talked about new components, like the ActionBar, Fragments, GridLayout (do not use table layout anymore), drag activities, TextureView etc.

If you’re into Android, I’m sure you’ll find this talk very informative.

Jeff “Cheezy” Morgan – Test Driven Android

I will keep this short.

Jeff, if you are in your 50’s, which I assume you are, you should have learned a set of golden rules by now. For instance, complaining about how terrible you find Android Test to be is OK, since I assume it is a rather large framework with many people behind it. However, bashing on small frameworks created by one person and point out that “this framework was not maintained enough”, “this guy didn’t even test his own system”, “this code looked like crap” is not very nice.

Hojun Song – From Collective Intelligence to Collaborative Creation

The final keynote was not exactly a disappointment, since I did not know what to expect. However, it left me rather annoyed. I’ll try to explain why.

Hojun is an artist (as he tells us so many times) that has made many cool things, like a giant hand, an attention seeking apple that turns red when you take a photo of it, a big button that says “I love you” when you hit it with a sledgehammer etc.

This talk was about him wanting to build his own satellite. One of many problems I had with this talk, though, was that when he started to talk about the project and describe the process, it turns out that many others are already building the same thing, while he seems to only be interested in talking about it, rather than working on it. I was particularly annoyed that he joked about the “serious Russian scientists” that helped him out, while he is just out to have fun.

Why should we care about this particular project? Because Hojun is an artist who can back up the project with cool graphics and nice videos? Well, I don’t buy it. Hojun has worked on his satellite for a while, but most of the time he tours the world, talking about the project and selling t-shirts to fund it. I don’t buy it.

Summary

Øredev 2012 was a fantastic ride, with some very high highs. I’m happy that I got the chance to attend this year as well.