Good News For Aspiring App Designers

marvel_appJust when you thought the mobile app world couldn’t get any more crowded and competitive, along comes Marvel.

The UK startup has come up with a new iPhone app that can turn the average person into a web or mobile-app designer, regardless of design and technical skill. With no coding required, users can easily turn their concept into an interactive prototype, and share it with friends, clients, coworkers, or through social media.

To the seasoned app designer, this might seem like amateur hour. But here are 4 reasons why this has the potential to gain momentum and completely alter the software design (and therefore testing) world.

1. It’s extremely easy.
Draw your screen ideas on a piece of paper, take pictures of the wireframes and use the Marvel app to apply “touch” hotspots to the image. Apply links to screens in order indicate how you would like to app to be navigated and boom – you have a touchable, interactive prototype.

“In the past, if you wanted to see your app or web designs and ideas in anything more engaging than PDFs and PowerPoints, you needed to have the skills and the time to code it into an interactive prototype,” explains Marvel co-founder Murat Mutlu. Now, all you need is this app on your smartphone.

2. It turns the average person into a designer, and reaches a wide audience.
Remember when Instagram turned the average person into a photographer? Users could process high quality photos without needing an expensive camera or experience. People who had never edited a picture before were suddenly part of the craze.

Similarly, Marvel hopes to inspire individuals to “pick up and play” with the app and attract non-designers to give it a try.

Co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, attributes the success of Instagram to its ability to appeal to a wide audience of individuals and companies alike.

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Each Programming Language and its Influence on Software Development

299601-3524-37There are programming languages we love – and ones we could live without.

Yet, each programming language has made some type of contribution to the software development world. Most of the posts you read about programming languages are rants, or compare and contrast them.

However, Dustin Marx of Java World recently took a different approach. Marx looked at each programming language individually and  how it influenced software development. Here’s a look:

Basic

Most software developers I know have written some code in some form of BASIC(Beginner’s All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). I remember, long before public availability of the Internet or even mice on PCs, typing in Basic code from magazines I received in the mail with code listings for various simple games and PC utilities. Like many developers, Basic was the language that attracted my interest at a relatively young age to programming. It was from my Basic programming that I learned firsthand the dangers of the goto.

C

C may be the most influential of all programming languages on today’s software development. In Steve Yegge‘s well-known blog post The Next Big Language, Yegge’s #1 rule for the next big programming language is that it has “C-like syntax.” Many people’s favorite programming languages are themselves (interpreter or runtime environment) written in C and many of these languages provide mechanisms (JNI and XS are two examples) for “escaping” to C for performance gains. C also remains one of the most popular and highly used programming languages in the world despite its relatively old age. Wikipedia even has an entry devoted to C-based programming languages.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Software Update Fixes Bugs (but cannot kill spiders)

yellow_sacSometimes in software testing you are finding and fixing coding errors, sometimes you are addressing requirement gaps, and sometimes you have to deal with spiders.

Spiders? Exactly. And no, I don’t mean that as a metaphor for some new fancy software issue. I just mean, sometimes you are actually dealing with spiders.

Mazda has recently announced a voluntary recall of 42,000 Mazda 6s, due to… spiders. The yellow sac spider or Cheiracanthium, for those of you that are arachnid enthusiasts, are attracted to hydrocarbons and gasoline. These adorable little guys have taken a liking to Mazda’s vent lines. The webs restrict air flow and can potentially cause cracks in the fuel tank, which ultimately could lead to fires.

Mazda first addressed this “more common than you’d think” problem a few years ago with a mechanical solution, aimed at keeping the spider out of the lines. However, they proved to be persistent and continue to breach the Mazda’s security. So Mazda has now turned to new software. They offer the free upgraded software to Mazda owners which regulates the pressure level and notifies the owner if there is a problem. True, it is not an actual solution to the spider problem; however it is great to see that Mazda is looking to software proactively to ensure the safety of their customers. It should also be noted that although the problem has persisted for a few years, no injuries or fires have been reported as a result of pressure build up related to spider webs.

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A Few Things Every Mobile App Developer Needs to Know

Sea-of-appsIt’s no secret that the app stores are exploding. With every new app that launches, the competition gets tougher and tougher for new players trying to enter the market.

So what can new app developers do to stand out?

Gil Dudkiewicz, of The Next Web, recently pulled together a list of 5 things app developers need to know. Here’s a look:

“1. Imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery

If your product is good, people will copy you. The better it is, the likelihood of being ripped off increases exponentially. This is a multi-industry reality and it’s the first thing you should keep in mind as you develop your mobile app.If you know you have an excellent product in the works, a strong launch is critical. The initial loyal user base you attract as a result of high visibility will help you stay on top when the imitators eventually end up publishing similar products.

The more active users you have, the better your app holds its ground in the store. Additionally, those are the users who convert to paying customers.

#2. It is far too easy to get lost in the crowd

One of the biggest challenges mobile app developers face is discoverability. With more than a million mobile apps in each of the app stores (Apple and Android), it is becoming harder and harder to generate organic users.

To overcome this, you should plan on putting time and effort into app store optimization techniques. The app name, icon, description and screenshots – all of these need high attention and professional care to reach the best results.
Invest time and money to produce a unique presentation of your app before it is downloaded to grab the attention and pique the interest of users.

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Making Agile Work Across a Large-Scale Enterprise

imagesMost development teams today have found the agile methodology to be a success – helping teams to increase flexibility and thus develop better, more intuitive software. But when we say teams, we are usually talking about those nimble, fast-moving teams within a smaller organization.

So how can large enterprise brands scale agile and make agile work? Felipe Brito, of IT Business Edge, recently pulled together a list of 5 ways to scale agile for enterprise companies. Here’s a look:

# 1 Establish an enterprise-wide conversation

Agile, and especially enterprise agile, is all about change.  And to create an environment that embraces change, you must establish an enterprise-wide conversation to foster transparency, engage cross-functional teams and create champions. Be sure to involve leadership – they must lead by example and promote autonomy and trust by instilling a problem-solving mindset and encouraging responsible risk-taking. You will see significant strides when the leadership team and development team are connected because of the agile shift across the enterprise.

# 2 Be obsessed with your customers

Because what are you without them? Fixating on your customers just enough is a powerful component so make sure you do these three things:

  • Understand your customer: All areas of the enterprise must be driven to comprehend customer needs. Involve cross-functional groups and implement a product canvas methodology.  Encourage field exploration, group design thinking and journey map analysis of different personas to fully understand your customer. Only then can you tap into technology to devise a solution.
  • Design for your customer: Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know enough – engage your customer early and often to create the best solution. Evolve your user experience and enhance the customer relationship by connecting with influencers. Don’t push narrow-sighted solutions. Pull confirmed needs.
  • Deliver for your customer: Adopt a business value framework and stick with it. Prioritize business and technical features to deliver a value stream aligned to customer expectations. Be disciplined enough to establish cadence, but nimble enough to embrace change. Inspect, adapt and grow, always obsessed with business outcomes.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing