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Run through the finish

Make that last code change.

Write that last test.

Look in that document, rather than trying to remember what color the icon is supposed to be.

Write that documentation.

Look at your work with the eyes of a user.

I work in a small development department (2 developers plus a number of contractors) and I need to constantly remind myself to run through the finish.

I ran in high school and college (cross country and track) and at the very end, it is easy to let your guard down and coast.  After all, you’ve done almost all of the hard work.  And no one is really behind you.  And it hurts (oh yes, it hurts).  So, why not ease off a bit?

The problem is, there is someone behind you, and they have you in their cross hairs.  They have the incentive and the vision of their competition, but you have the lead.  Why give up any advantage?

Development isn’t painful, but it can be a slog.  Yes, yes, I’m sure there are shops that never have a slog.  But, for most mortals, there are requirements that are changed or were forgotten, tasks that are less fun than others, tweaks to the UI for the Nth time, vendor rigidity that never surfaced during the sales process, and other sundry annoyances.  But you as the developer own the final product.  You can choose to coast, since you did 99% of the work (and did it well), or you can choose to run through the finish.

Run through the finish.

Towards a native maps plugin for PhoneGap/Cordova and Android

I recently did some prototyping for a native maps plugin for Android.  For iOS/phonegap, you have the mapkit plugin which I was able to get working on phonegap 2.0, with some help from the google group.  But for Android, the concensus seems to be that you should use the web version of Google Maps (either the javascript version or the static map images).  While that advice works for a subset of users, if you pull out your Android phone and compare the performance between the web version of Google Maps and the native app, you’ll quickly choose the native app.

There are two paths forward for a native map plugin.  The main limiting factor is that a native map view is only instantiable by a MapActivity,”because it depends on threads which access the network and filesystem in the background; these threads must be shepherded by the lifecycle management” of the MapActivity.

So, you can either:

  • have your app be managed by a MapActivity and embed a Cordova webview in the app.  This would probably work well for apps that are really really map heavy, and only have a slight bit of webUI.  I’m not sure what value PhoneGap brings to that type of app, though.  It also seems pretty complex.
  • or have the PhoneGap app transition from DroidGap activity to the MapActivity and then back.
I went with the second choice.  As I said, this was an exploration, so there are plenty of problems that I skipped that will need to be solved to have a robust plugin:
  • which activity/technology gets the points to display initially
  • which activity/technology gets points as the map is moved around
  • testing on a real device (what do you do when you are running an Android device without native Google maps)
  • passing full featured events back and forth between PhoneGap and the MapActivity


Nine years of blogging

Wow, it is hard to believe it has been nine years since my first post.  This is the 660th post!

When I started my blog, I was just back from a sabbatical in Australia, living in a rented basement.  Now I’m a family man with a house.  When I started, I was a contractor, happy to get $40/hr to do development, tracking time and invoicing using MS word docs.  Now I use google docs for almost everything, am an employee, and manage a department.

The benefits of blogging keep me going.  I encourage everyone I meet to start a blog, because I think the act of writing forces you to crystallize your thoughts.  It has certainly crystallized mine.  I also enjoy the historical record, much like a public journal, and the projects I can look back on.  Plus, it is fun to occasionally hear someone say ‘I ran across a post you wrote’.

My blog has been much more about broadcast than conversation.  I think that’s because it varies in content, and in quality, and in timeliness.  The couple of posts that have blown up were due to them turning into forums on a controversial topic (Yahoo Mail problems, Skadate review).  But I’m OK with that.

I wish I had twice the time to write, but am happy that I’ve had the time I’ve had.

Thanks for reading!