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Kurogo, Open Source, and Foot in Mouth

Several years ago I worked on a mobile project using modo labs’ kurogo. What we did was simple enough. It provided a mobile framework, using its own phonegap-like technology as a way to “compile” we code into native apps for android and ios. When we were a decade behind in mobility, it provided a means to do things that sounded like they should be done.

Fast forward to present. Modo labs is touting their new v2.0. That’s interesting, right? I knew their 1.x platform and was not impressed, but this is new. In the wake of the new rages in mobility (spa’s and APIs) I couldn’t wait to see what they had come up with.

But wait I did. It took several months to provide me with code to muck with. A project that really enjoys calling itself open source — but they’re not making v2.0 open source. That’s the secret sauce. Okay, fine, maybe they’re having trouble making money with an open source project. I shouldn’t judge it too harshly on that.

Well, I finally got into some training on the product. Got my hands on the code literally 20 minutes before the training. The setup docs were poorly written. In a time where vagrant and docker are on my mind a lot, not having a VM, having to set things up manually seemed like taking a step backwards in time.

Finally got into the nitty gritty, and quickly noticed not much had changed. They are still peddling the same design decisions they made a decade ago. A new enhanced administration, but the apps being created will look pretty much the same. The configuration files write the application for you. As a developer, this was disappointing.

But I realized they’re not making a product for developers. They’re creating a product for configuration managers.

I was floored when I saw PeopleSoft “development” for the first time. It’s the future though. It’s a way to create applications without having to pay for developers with specialized education / experience.

As the people who are putting together the University’s PeopleSoft campus solution I’m sure will tell you, it’s a double edged sword. A LOT can be done by people with minimal training, but getting outside of the box, creating “experiences” becomes borderline impossible.

That said, Kurogo I’m sure has its place among a certain breed of application. And I hope it will take off, and people find use for it. But it is an elegant product, for a more civilized age.

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Accessibility and Mobility and Web Development

Mobility and Accessibility are not new technologies that have come up. They are not extras that some of us need to tack on to what web developers do.

They are an essential part of web development and should be considered as basic skills.

Accessibility is not hard. It used to be, it really used to be, but with HTML5, it’s actually quite simple. Simply a small part of the HTML5 spec, something web developers should know. Mobility was a hot new topic 6+ years ago. Now it’s expected that the applications you build are in some way available on a mobile platform.

It is an expectation.

Why is this not the reality? Why are web developers still making applications the same way they were 10 years ago? It partly has to do with web development being a “full stack” profession for so long. Traditionally, the front end has been small and the back end has been “the application”. The direction of the web is putting more of the application on the front end, so developers that are considered full stack have to now know more than basic HTML and the minimal JavaScript it takes to do some validation. JavaScript has become huge, for large applications, it requires its own framework.

I don’t think that’s been adequately realized by the web development community yet. The future of the web is a partnership, where the applications are separate. the back end an API, the front end the “actual application” that gets the data it needs from the API. As such, people are turning more to micro frameworks for the back end, and away from what had become the staple Rails clones — and much further away from the even larger, more complex frameworks.

SPA-Architecture I’m not sure if Single Page Applications are truly “the” future. But they are the now. It is important to stay on top of this, as this industry is constantly changing. But one thing is for sure, if you’re a business fully invested in back end developers, you’re hitting a problem where you feel like you need to hire “UI specialists” when you really need either 1) for back end developers to beef up their front end development skills or 2) to hire developers focused on front end “development” (as opposed to graphic designers).

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