Archive for Web

Balsamiq GDrive Edition

I have been more than a little critical of Google Drive, because of its poor support for source control (Git), however, I still use it for a number of document editing tasks. At the same time I have been looking for a wireframe editor that supports designing mobile, web, and desktop applications; I am a big fan of designing the UI first and iterating on that initial design over the lifetime of the app, so that type of tool is an important part of my toolchain.

Balsamiq, the cross platform (Adobe Air, Linux, Mac, and Windows) wireframe tool has been on my radar for some time and I even tried a demo version of the Mac app a few months Overall, I liked it but wanted to something more. It was hard to explain what was missing but something seemed lackingl, then they released the web app for Google Chrome.

This is the tool that I’ve been looking for. It is pretty much as responsive as the desktop app and saves your wireframes right in your GDrive. I found this to be a one two punch of power and convenience that was too hard to resist. Better still, the tool integrates with a number of services including Jira (more on that later) and Fog Creek.

There is a also a number of community developed templates that you can add to the app by uploading them to you GDrive, for example there is a template specifically designed for working on apps for Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Android 3.0 tablets.

I know this sounds a lot like a commercial, but balsamiq for GDrive is a great tool and given how hard it was for me to find a wireframe editor that I like, I assume there are others with the same problem. As a pro level tool, the app is not free. It costs $50 for a year or $5 a month; there is also a free seven day trial. Let me know what think. I can be found on Twitter and Google+.

Picking a Backend Software Stack pt1

If you have every been lucky enough to be able to pick the technology stack that you work on you know how exciting the process can be. However, it can also be a daunting task. Sure if you are developing an Android app or an iOS app you are pretty limited on what software stack you can use, so that makes your choice pretty easy. The real fun comes in when you are developing  a back-end service for an app.

Open-Source or proprietary? REST or SOAP? Windows or Unix? Dedicated hardware or cloud solution? These are  just a few of the decisions you will have to make before you can begin coding your web-service.

Before we get too far off the rails here, I should explain why I am writing this now. If it weren’t obvious enough I am writing  a back-end service for a mobile app and the best part is that I am the client. That’s right no worrying about a client’s IT staff not being familiar with UNIX-like systems (a lot more common than you’d think) or having a culture that doesn’t want to implement anymore services in their aging technology but is at the same time unwilling to look at any more modern solutions; believe it or not, there is a lot of VB6 code still running out there. I’m not bitter. I promise.

So, as the client, what do I want? Well, I basically need a web-service that will return JSON to mobile clients, interact with social networking services, store user data, be fast to implement, easy to maintain, and deploy-able to a number of possible cloud hosting solutions. I am trying to do this project as lean as possible. Meaning I want to fail fast and as cheaply as possible. Tall order, I know, but I think the developer (yours truly) is up to the task.

OK so where does this leave us? Well, we know what I want and now we need to take a look at the options. For the purposes of this series I am going to limit my choices to the following platforms: Ruby on Rails, Sinatra (Ruby), Play (Java), ASP.Net (C#), NodeJS(JavaScript), and CakePHP. From here, I am going to go through each option in its own post and discuss the pros and cons of each technology. Check back soon for part two].

Questions? Comments? Hate mail? Find me on Twitter or Google+.