Recently I started a side project to create a mobile application using the AppMobi service. http://www.appmobi.com. I wanted to take a minute to share my experience.
Fast, simple and FREE!
My first impression with using AppMobi was that if you have a simple mobile application that needs to be made – this will be the fastest way to do it in almost no time at all. The major downside (which could be a positive note for some) is that you are not actually programming in the target languages.
The other major highlight in my humble opinion is that AppMobi made the publishing process to the Apple Store and Android Market incredibly simple. Submitting your applications to these markets actually requires a rather steep learning curve that can be confusing if you only intend on launching one or two applications. Major mobile developers most likely have specific engineers who are experts with these markets and are probably the goto person for their company.
My First App
I setup an AppMobi account and was impressed with the overall look and feel fo the service. Very slick and modern. I admit that at first glance it was a little confused as to where exactly to start – but I was quick to get my bearing. Within a few mins I was able to load one of their demo apps using their iPhone emulator and got a good feel for what my development environment and test cycle will look like.
Next up was actually creating a hello world app. I went through the steps they outlined to create a new project and modified a few basic pieces of code. In this case this was just some basic HTML which took no time at all. I then started experimenting with CSS, JS and other changes to create buttons, styles, layouts, etc.
Once I was done playing it was time to actually start creating an application. I choose to start with a simple number game. 9 numbers from 0-9 were displayed. In that list there are 10 possible but only 9 showing. The object of the game was to find the missing number. Simple right.
To get the game up I wrote a quick bit of JS to get the actual logic in place. I was able to test this in a basic test environment outside of the AppMobi dev environment since it was simple JS. Next I added my styles, background, etc and made a nice little game really in just a couple of hours. The game itself is supposed to be simple – I really wanted to test the development of a mobile app.
Once I had the game finished I began my testing. The first real issues I ran into had to do with visual issues on the mobile canvas that did not show up in my test environment. This is mostly due to the canvas sizing and having to set a viewport sizing to control your scaling. For example – if your image is 300 pixels – do you want it to remain 300 pixels on both the iPhone and iPad – or do you want it to scale appropriately.
The other real issue I ran into had to do with device interactions. My app was boring as crap – I took no advantage of the device environments that I was working on. For example – you could not swipe, shake, rotate, use the GeoLocation, use the camera, etc… That was simply because my app was simple and I had not yet included those hooks.
All and all I was up and running in no time at all using AppMobi. It was relatively simple and they had a great test environment. The downsides were that I was unable to code in the application specific language, display properties were difficult to work with