A Review of 2014

I promised a little while ago on Twitter that I was going to start blogging again. My last blog post was from February, far too long ago for this to be considered an active blog!

My goal is to change from writing solely about Trunk Notes and Go Calc to composing more regular posts on mobile app development, technology and anything else I find interesting.

2014 has been a year of change for me. Whilst there have been a few updates to Trunk Notes, and a much overdue one for Go Calc to support the iPhone 5 screen, I have been mostly preoccupied by other things.

My day job is at a great agency in Birmingham (UK) leading a team of fantastic mobile developers on a wide range of apps. These apps range from an established app which was in Apple’s “Best of 2013, Disruptive category” that is still gaining hundreds of new users each day, to an MVP for two people with a great idea and a small amount of investment. Moving forward I will be working on exciting projects for consumers and on enterprise apps which will have transformative effects on business processes.

There have been many exciting developments in technology this year. For me it was the release of the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 which had seen me move back to iOS for my daily device. My Nexus 4 is now squirreled away in a drawer. Some/many would argue iOS 8 was all about playing catch up with Android. However there are now features, such as action extensions, that provide a major boost to what can be achieved on a mobile device without needing to be an evil genius. My hope, one shared by many others in the tech community, is that Apple focuses more on improving stability and adding polish over the next few months.

As a developer I’ve been excited by the introduction of Swift, however my focus has been on dealing with the challenge of cross platform mobile development. Working with clients who want to see their ideas on both iOS and Android had always meant persuading them that two native apps was the way to go. I’ve never been happy with Phonegap and similar HTML/JavaScript based solutions. Basing the entire interface around a web view produces a UI that is, in most instances, unsatisfactory. JavaScript has seen tremendous growth over the past couple of years, however for me a weakly typed language which lacks built in obvious support for standard object oriented programming doesn’t fit the way I work. The Xamarin platform is the great compromise. C# is a fantastic language and the underlying technology is mature and stable; even more so now that Microsoft is no longer evil and is making exciting moves in development communities. Most importantly being able to work with native interface paradigms is essential. Apart from a slightly slower launch time and a bigger binary an app created in Xamarin should be indistinguishable from one created in Objective- (iOS) or Java (Android). I will be blogging in the future about my love affair with Xamarin! Xamarin is the main reason I’ve only spent a cursory amount of time with Swift.

Of course the biggest life changing event in 2014 for me was the birth of my first child – Rheuben. If you are a parent you will understand why this, as with many experiences, is both incredibly unique and one that connects you with what it means to be human.

2014 was a fantastic year on so many levels. 2015 is also looking to be a year of change. I will continue to improve Trunk Notes. This will be connected with being an evangelist for the personal wiki – a wonderful way to organise personal information. In the main though I’m going to be spending lots of my time architecting great mobile solutions through better project management, systems design and cross platform strategies.

As I said at the start of this post, I’m going to be blogging much more frequently. This post is being drafted on a Sunday morning with a sleeping baby curled up next to me. There are many such moments which I can use to keep this blog alive with content. Enjoy the rest of January everyone and hopefully I will be writing again soon!