Building for BYOD – An app developer’s challenge

Developer-byod.pngIt’s Monday morning and you’re in the daily stand up meeting and the product owner says to the team, that we really need to support BYOD. Our employees are bringing their devices to work and they expect to be able to access our systems from their phones and tablets.
 
As a developer, you’re used to working around and with missing, ambiguous and impossible requirements. You’ve helped build parts of the API for your system, but at least for many of your enterprise systems, the technical domain is somewhat predictable… always changing, but predictable.
 
BYOD….. at best seems chaotic.  Just look at the hundreds of devices that were introduced last year. Don’t forget there will be hundreds of new ones this year.
 
How many mobile operating systems can you name?
 
I haven’t even mentioned the ever-changing mobile OS environment. All these Android operating systems have sweet sounding names like “Key Lime Pie”, “Jelly Bean” and even some “Frozen Yogurt” left over from three years ago. And then there is the news about Apple’s OS with exciting titles like iOS 6.1.1 or iOS 6.2 or even iOS 7 (which is now in beta).  We can make this even more complex, when we look at Windows, Tizen, and other platforms that are emerging around the globe.   
 
Let’s face it.  The challenge of learning and mastering new technologies is what you love as a developer… I get it… it’s what I loved when I was coding. But, if I had to simultaneously master multiple languages so I could create and then maintain two or three different identical apps… I might consider a career change.
 
A beacon in the chaos
 
The good news is that in the BYOD world, we have a good alternative.  Actually there are choices.  I suggest that you start with HTML 5.  Some say it’s not ready.  I would argue that those people—the “some”—are either misinformed or perhaps trying to spread misinformation. (I’ll let you figure out what their motivations are).  
 
With HTML 5 and Java Script, you can create compelling enterprise mobile apps that can operate on many different platforms. Write once… Run ‘anywhere’. In many conversations I’ve had with CIOs and developers, it’s clear that HTML5 is not only an adequate answer, but an essential path forward.
 
My recommendation to you, the developer facing this new challenge of implementing apps in a BYOD world, is to start with a platform approach. Check out different platform options that will support your creation of multi-device/multi-os apps. Look at UX frameworks that will give you the best controls and user experience possible (there are many to choose from).  And then start building your first apps… and iterate until you nail it.
 
What do you think?   How are you dealing with BYOD and the pressure to deliver? Feel free to reach out to me in the comments section below. I would love to hear more about your experiences. 

 

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