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MonoCross 1.0 Released

After many months of intense development sprinkled-in between our client obligations, we have released MonoCross version 1.0!  Many thanks to Ben, Kenny and John, as well as the rest of the team at ITR Mobility for your help pulling this together.

Here some highlights:

  • Core Navigation Re-factor:  added multi-threading support to navigation, and re-worked the navigation logic to be available directly from your Views.
  • Enhanced iPad Support: extended iOS navigation to enable large form-factor concepts for iPad.
  • WebKit State Management: added multi-session support to MonoCross.WebKit; previously state management was entirely the responsibility of the application developer.
  • MonoDroid.Dialog Updates: new element types, and enhanced support for dialog development on Android.
  • WebKit.Dialog: added a new project and elements to support for dialog development on WebKit.
  • Data Management Samples:  a new sample, (CustomerManagement), that demonstrates common data management operations, (List + CRUD), in a simple three-view application.
  • Data Management Services Sample:  a new RESTful services sample built in WCF to show device/server interaction.
  • Windows Phone Support: added support for Windows Phone, including XAML-based views, navigation helpers, and containers for both the BestSellers and CustomerManagement samples.
The download is available at monocross.net, and if you like what you see come join us.

Now here’s where I make a shameless plug for the book ;^)

Professional Cross-Platform Mobile Development in C# from Wrox Press is available for pre-order at Amazon.com for delivery in early 2012.  In it we’ll cover even more ideas to make your MonoCross development efforts successful, such as:

  • Choosing the Right Archtecture:  considerations for mobile architecture decision making.
  • Designing your UI: best-practices in mobile user-experience design and prototyping.
  • Cross-Platform Development with MonoCross: details on successfully using the MonoCross MVC pattern to deploy your apps.
  • Building and Consuming Data Services: how to build RESTful services that are optimized for mobile applications, and how to consume and process data, even when you’re disconnected.
  • Accessing the Device: tips and techniques for accessing device features such as audio-video, contacts, messaging, geo-location and more.
  • Using MonoCross Utilities:  how to incorporate MonoCross.Utilities into your shared application for a unified approach to storage, threading, network, cryptography, serialization and logging — all from your shared, cross-platform applications.
  • Building Hybrid Applications:  how to get the best of both the web and native worlds by using techniques like custom URI schemes, and device function hooks.
  • Delivering your Application to the Enterprise: how to extend your mobile application to the enterprise desktop, web, and even the cloud; plus advanced techniques for sharing code including view-abstraction and mixed-view-models.
Thanks to everyone in the community who have shown such tremendous interest in MonoCross; we’ll continue to move it forward, and hope to build a vibrant community of propeller heads!

 
 

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Data Services as a Platform for Innovation

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working with clients to define RESTful services architectures for their mobile applications.  Most of them have a large SOA implementation using SOAP, and are just beginning to dip their toes into the world of REST.  More often than not these existing SOA’s are designed for enterprise applications that live behind the firewall, and are called by machines that are not lacking for any bandwidth or processing power.  When we begin discussion how to utilize these services for mobile applications, we quickly discover that the existing services just won’t do.

These enterprise services generally come in two flavors.  Either they are too coarse-grained, and provide too much unnecessary information, or they are too fragmented, and require multiple requests to piece together a view that can be used in the mobile application.  My recommendation is usually to spend some time putting up a simple RESTful services facade that handles the mismatch on the server, where the heavy lifting is less costly than the device.

One of the key benefits of taking this approach is that it gets the services architects and designers to begin thinking of their data in a different way.  Most enterprise services start from the database, or the system of record, and expose the information contained there in a representation that is often not very far from the way the data is stored in these system.  This “inside-out” perspective is very common in most SOA implementations I see.  But to effectively create and consume a mobile services API requires a little different perspective.

User experience has become the only metric that matters in mobile apps.  And in order to deliver exceptional user experiences, you must have service that cleanly support the delivery of that experience, while managing the bandwith and resource constraints of a mobile device.  So I generally recommend they flip the traditional “inside-out” perspective on it’s head, and start thinking of their services from an “outside-in” perspective.  When the do this, whole new worlds of possiblilities begin to open up.

What I’m referring to is what we’ve begun to call a “Platform for Innovation”.  RESTful services are intuitive, and with frameworks like WCF making them easier and easier to create, organizations can begin to build whole new services API’s with varying consumption patterns that are specifically tailored to the needs of a broader audience, both inside and outside of the organization.

Best Buy has an excellent example of what I’m talking about in their BBY Open API.  It’s an extremely flexible implementation of a RESTful platform that exposes products, stores, categories reviews and much more information and make it available to anyone who wants to register.  This platform is used not only by external developers, but by Best Buy employees to develop enterprise and mobile applications — in fact one of the questions when you register is “are you a Best Buy employee?”.

The mobile revolution is forcing many oranizations into re-thinking their SOA’s.   The smart ones will jump on the opportunity to expand their reach to not only mobile developers, but a new class of enterprise developers who are empowered to solve business problems by exploring and stretching the services to their limits.  This paradigm leads to an accellerated rate of innovation in the technology they use to put critical business information into the hands of the people who need it.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Enterprise Mobility

 

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View the Monospace Keynote @ InfoQ

For those who were unable to attend the Monospace conference in July, InfoQ posted the video of my keynote this week.  Thanks again to the guys at Monospace for the opportunity, and to the crew at InfoQ for the coverage.  I’m already looking forward to the conference next year!

 

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Monospace Attendee Party

Well I finally found some time to sort through my photos of the Monospace attendee party. Here are the “best” shots. Thanks to everyone who made it out last Sunday; it was a great time!

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2011 in MonoCross, Uncategorized

 

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Xamarin Parteners with Attachmate to Support Mono

Miguel de Icaza announced today that Xamarin has reached an agreement with the SUSE business unit to support Mono, including MonoTouch and Mono for Android.

This is great news for all parties concerned, particularly the community who have missed the support of the brilliant team who created the technology. The timing is rather fortuitous with the Monospace conference kicking-off on Saturday. I’m sure this news will help make a great conference even greater! See you all in Boston!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Mobile Development, Mono

 

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iPad in the Enterprise

In just a few weeks my good friend Nathan Clevenger’s book iPad in the Enterprise will hit the shelves, (pre-orders are now being taken at both Amazon and B&N from the preceding link). In it Nathan imparts copious amounts of the wisdom he’s earned over the past twelve years in the trenches, and the executive suite of mobile enterprise software development. I highly recommend it for anyone developing, or making decisions about developing mobile software for their company. I intend to quote heavily from it in my talk at Monospace ;-).

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Enterprise Mobility

 

HTML 5 vs. Mobile Apps

I just read an article regarding mobile web vs. native app usage. Kevin C. Tofel over at Gigaom reports on a study done by Flurry that shows mobile app usage has surpassed mobile web usage for the first time since they’ve been gathering these statistics. The study shows we’re spending most of our time, 79% percent of it, using social networking apps like Twitter and Facebook, or playing games.

What is interesting to me is this is the first study I’ve seen that shows the trend I’ve been seeing for some time now: that consumers are choosing the native user experience over what HTML 5 can currently provide. I’m still very bullish on HTML 5, and with the advances made every day in tools and frameworks for mobile web apps I expect HTML 5 will soon be able to deliver the same experience native apps can today. But the native platforms are also evolving. Time will tell if HTML 5 can catch up and keep up.

 
 
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