Today was spent at a preconference workshop on creating apps for mobile devices. Ruben Puentedura did a great job with a mixed bag of participants and relatively limited bandwidth. He started by discussing ways that smartphones and related devices can be particularly useful. Ruben outlined his concept of “The Lively Sketchbook,” a compelling vision of the mobile device as a multipurpose electronic notebook. His work in this area has received a lot of attention over the past few months.
With that grounding in mind we proceeded to dig into hands-on development of a mobile website based on blog software. We each created a local web server on our laptops using MAMP and then installed WordPress on it. After adding a couple of plugins we had a great little platform for publishing multiple media and aggregating content from other blogs. Ruben reminded us that blog software is really a kind of content management system that can be dedicated to many different purposes.
In the afternoon we received an introduction to Dashcode and the iPhone Software Development Kit. Working through a few well-selected examples, Ruben helped us become comfortable with this WYSIWYG development environment. At the end of the session, we returned to more philosophical matters as Ruben discussed design concerns. For one thing, he urged us to read the Apple Human Interface Guidelines.
My goal for the day was to become comfortable enough to continue exploring on my own, and I was able to accomplish that. I also met some great people and learned about two interesting projects: MobilAP, a web-based platform developed at the University of Cincinnati for conference and classroom experiences with features like discussion and scheduling; and Ubiquitous Presenter, a program for Tablet PC that allows instructors to annotate slides and students to interaction with them.