Posts in Apps

Microsoft open-sources its Windows calculator on GitHub

March 8, 2019 Posted by Apps, News, Programming 0 thoughts on “Microsoft open-sources its Windows calculator on GitHub”

Microsoft is making the source code for its Windows calculator available on GitHub today. The software maker wants to “build an even better user experience in partnership with the community.” Opening up the calculator means anyone can contribute code to improve the app, but Microsoft wants to evaluate prototypes of new features or user interface changes before the company starts implementing them or reviewing code.

The source code is now available on GitHub and it includes the build system, unit tests, and even the product road map for the calculator feature in Windows. While it might be a relatively minor part of Windows, the open-sourcing of the calculator follows years of Microsoft embracing open source. Microsoft even open-sourced the original File Manager from the ‘90s to allow it to run on Windows 10, and just recently made 60,000 patents open-source to help protect Linux.

Microsoft’s calculator source code will help Windows developers more easily integrate calculator logic or UI into their own apps, and developers can also report or fix bugs, participate in discussions around the future of the calculator, and help design and build the app with Microsoft engineers.

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Wattpad Revamps Its UI For The Better

February 28, 2019 Posted by Apps 0 thoughts on “Wattpad Revamps Its UI For The Better”

Wattpad, one of the world’s largest fan fiction websites, has recently done away with its old design in favor of a design that’s trending everywhere in the world of UI. That’s the all-white design. The absence of color or white space makes elements within the UI pop. This is especially important for websites that are text-based, like blogs or fan fiction websites. But there’s more to creating a complete user experience than simply changing color scheme. Logos play heavily into the way people think about a brand, so usin a logo that expresses intent is crucial.

 

Take these two logos:

 

 

If you didn’t know anything about Wattpad, you would still know nothing about the brand based on the first logo. Since the company choose a non-descriptive brand name, there has to be emphasis on the logo design. Yet, the first logo simply features text with a wide text shadow. Notice also that the color of this text shadow is muted and lacks “wattage.”

Now, if you were to look at the second logo, you might be able to guess that the website has something to do with creativity. That’s because Wattpad’s new logo employs a combination mark. That’s the combination of a wordmark(Wattpad) with a symbol or icon that will represent the brand. In this case, the symbol is a w represented in the form of a brush stroke.

This symbol does most of the heavy lifting in that it succinctly expresses the mission of the website. This succinct message is especially important now that more and more people are interacting with website from their phone. About 47% of web traffic in the last quarter of 2018 came from mobile devices. Being able to have a recognizable symbol on your app icon goes a long way in attracting new users.

Another way to attract users is through color. Signature colors improve brand recognition by 80%. A symbol needs bold colors to express a bold message. The new Hero Orange color that Wattpad has employed on their web app is more in line with modern tastes. Similar to Reddit’s orange, the color shows off that Wattpad is a place to boldly express your ideas.

Wattpad’s new wordmark also contributes to the company’s message by employing a custom serif font. The old font suggested that Wattpad might be a tech website with its flat edges. You can see sites like TheNextWeb and TechCrunch for examples of tech sites that employ this type of font. Now, the new font is in line with the idea that Wattpad is a creative writing app that connects readers with writers.

With their revamped branding, Wattpad can now present their platform as a place for creative writers of all ages to share their voices.

 

 

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Facebook Might Kill Pinterest The Same Way It Killed Snapchat

February 26, 2019 Posted by Apps 0 thoughts on “Facebook Might Kill Pinterest The Same Way It Killed Snapchat”

A TechCrunch article surfaced days ago claiming that the Instagram app associated with Android contains code that alludes to giving users the option of making collections public. This seemingly benign discovery was leaked to TechCrunch by Jane Manchun Wong, a reverse engineering specialist.

The code itself is not operational and appears to be a prototype that was pushed into production. Perhaps the release engineers in coordination with the rest of the team did not think that someone would snoop around their codebase.

They may have been planning on continuously pushing along new versions of the prototype along with the functioning code so that should they choose to A/B test the feature, it would roll seamlessly into their newest iteration.

Or, it may have been a complete oversight, which is doubtful but an option nonetheless. Either way, this revelation spells doom for Pinterest, an app that has carved out its own market share as an image-sharing site alongside Snapchat and Instagram. It offers what both Instagram and Snapchat do not offer: a repository of public images scoured from the web. Writers and artists often use the site for inspiration. Casual observers come for the quotes and pastry.

All of this is something Instagram can easily offer by allowing users to make their private collections go public. Just as imitating Snapchat allowed an uptick in the amount of users on their app and cratered Spanchat’s growth, imitating Pinterest may have the same effect.

Just like Snapchat, Pinterest only has a fraction of Instagram’s 1 billion monthly user base. Now add that to the fact that Pinterest just filed for an IPO and you can begin to see how Pinterest’s momentum might be halted.

Of course, Snapchat has stabilized. But Instagram has proven that it has a sort of gravitational pull on users. If they offer what another app offers, smartphone users would rather stay on Instagram than be forced to make room for another photo app.

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App Spotlight: Orai Seeks To Change Workplace Communication With $2.3M Funding

February 20, 2019 Posted by Apps 0 thoughts on “App Spotlight: Orai Seeks To Change Workplace Communication With $2.3M Funding”

 

With the success of Slack and talks of an IPO fluttering around this chat app, other apps have arisen to carve out their own slice of the workplace niche. In this decade, communication has been something tech companies have capitalized on. Whether it’s Trello or Jira, these apps took what most companies did by pen and paper for years and brought it to the digital world. In a way, the Slack effect mirrors an age in which the phone has become our primary source of communication. This is a form of communication that’s  text-based.

 

This is where Orai, founded by Danish Dhamani, Paritosh Gupta, and Aasim Sani, seeks to differentiate itself. The company bills itself as, “an AI-powered platform designed to empower your people with better communication skills and drive results.” The differentiation isn’t in the AI, since most tech companies these days have to stick an AI solution somewhere in their copy to appear relevant, it’s in the fact that the company endorses face to face communication skills.

 

The founders made this app with the goal of improving public speaking skills when they found that their poor speaking skills had hindered them in their professional life. So, they built a machine learning algorithm to analyze speech patterns and offer tips to improve based on the results. Unlike most communication solutions, this isn’t a tool that is supposed to disrupt the speech coaching industry. Rather, it’s serves as  a supplement to one-on-one learning. Here, technology does not replace, it enhances.

 

Some investors evidently see the potential in this approach to improving communication within the workplace because Orai has received $2.3 million in seed funding.

 

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The Timeline of Dating Apps [Infographic]

February 11, 2019 Posted by Apps 0 thoughts on “The Timeline of Dating Apps [Infographic]”

Technology is constantly evolving the way we as humans interact with one another. For some, no longer is a night out complete without tweeting about it to a virtual audience. Food cannot be consumed unless they’re made ‘gram worthy. Even something as simple as tab-splitting has been digitized by Venmo to the point that the word Venmo has practically become a verb for paying a bill. All of these new forms of media, spurred on by the existence of the IoT, revolves around the most (media-wise)popularized form of human interaction: romance and dating.

Doctors and smart Harvard students put their minds together to develop technology that would maximize our urge to connect with the opposite gender. Algorithms based on Meyers-Briggs and other personality matching test have been used to match people with similar interests. For a time, using these new applications to find “matches” carried an unfavorable stigma among the mainstream. Online dating was more for the fringe sect of the populace. But as more and more social applications slowly started creeping their tentacles into our lives, socializing online became more of a norm. Now, swiping left or right on potential matches (as dystopian as that sounds), is no stranger than getting a haircut on Sunday.

Let’s explore the timeline of dating apps with our infographic.

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8 Best Fitness Apps of 2019[Infographic]

February 8, 2019 Posted by Apps 0 thoughts on “8 Best Fitness Apps of 2019[Infographic]”

To continue to be a productive web or app developer, one must first be able to develop the right health habits that will allow them to continue working within a field as difficult as software engineering. The problem is that very few of us are active. Here are some stats pulled from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services regarding our lack of physical productivity:

  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
  • Only 35 – 44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.
  • More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.
  • 28.0% of Americans, or 80.2 million people, aged six and older are physically inactive.

We have a lot of work to do to decrease obesity and other serious health conditions that result due to poor dieting and lack of exercise. Appropriately, it’s app developers that are creating ways to integrate health into the tech we use everyday. Whether it’s through wearables or our handy dandy smartphones, these 8 fitness apps are leading the way towards making us healthier, more productive human beings.

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Codesmith Rises in Clutch’s Ranks of Leading Web & App Developers in Atlanta

February 7, 2019 Posted by Apps, News 0 thoughts on “Codesmith Rises in Clutch’s Ranks of Leading Web & App Developers in Atlanta”


Atlanta, GA — (ReleaseWire) — 02/05/2019 –Solidifying a strong first impression with customers starts with having a functional and accessible online presence. Investing in a quality mobile app and website is now more important than ever before. Codesmith Development understands how vital it is to attract customers online and they will use their expertise in custom software development to help launch, run, or grow a business. With this in mind, they’re excited to see their own recognition expand through their new profile on the ratings and reviews platform, Clutch.

Based in Washington, D.C., Clutch’s goal is to help buyers select a service provider in the B2B space. They analyze businesses across numerous industries and rank them according to their ‘ability to deliver’ to clients. Their research helps us to compare our company to other service providers in the development industry. Codesmith Development was evaluated for their industry expertise as determined by the services they offer, the client base they’ve developed over the years, and examples of IT and development projects they’ve completed. They received high marks across the board and are now featured on Clutch’s list of the best mobile app development companies in Atlanta in 2019.

The most important factor in Clutch’s evaluation is client reviews. Clutch conducts telephone interviews with a company’s former clients to obtain direct feedback on how their work has served them. Codesmith Dev loved serving these clients, so they were happy to know that the clients love working with them, too.

Read the full reviews on our Clutch profile. And, due to their prominence on Clutch, they also appear on their sister website, The Manifest, as one of the best web developers in Atlanta. The Manifest is a resource that provides industry reports, how-to-guides, and lists of top service providers across various industries.

From custom software development to app development, they strive to offer clients a full breadth of IT solutions and services. Now, clients can verify the quality of the work through positive client reviews on Clutch and The Manifest. If looking to outsource digital needs, consider Codesmith Dev as one of the best agencies to trust when it comes to building beautiful, creative, and engaging web apps that are sure to impress.

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If You Knew Better, You Would Code Better with Lean Coding

February 7, 2019 Posted by Apps, News 0 thoughts on “If You Knew Better, You Would Code Better with Lean Coding”

Lean coding aims to provide insight into the actual coding activity, helping developers to detect that things are not going as expected at the 10 minute-level and enabling them to call for help immediately. Developers can use it to improve their technical skills to become better in writing code.

Fabrice Bernhard, co-founder and CEO of Theodo UK, and Nicolas Boutin, architect-developer and coach at Theodo France, spoke about lean coding at Lean Digital Summit 2018. InfoQ is covering this event with summaries, articles, and Q&As.

Lean coding is our effort to study the way we code scientifically, and using kaizen, identify bottlenecks that will give us insight into how to code better, said Bernhard. We have tried one technique in particular that we call ghost programming, he said.

Bernhard explained how ghost programming works:

The idea is to first write the detailed technical plan of what you plan to code for the next few hours in steps of a few minutes. And then, like racing against your ghost in Mario Kart, to compare the actual execution steps and time spent on each step to the initial plan. This allows discovering strong discrepancies between expectations and reality at the code level which are goldmines of potential improvements.

Using lean coding, Theodo improved their productivity. It also helps their teams to improve their way of working.

InfoQ interviewed Fabrice Bernhard and Nicolas Boutin about lean coding.

InfoQ: What is “lean coding”?

Nicolas Boutin: We were trying to improve our work on a daily basis, solving problems that delayed us the next day. And when we asked ourselves what happened during coding time, we realised it was blurry. No wonder since our most precise problem indicator was in fact the daily burndown chart, so the realisation that there was a problem happened only the next morning.

Inspired by a trip to a lean factory in Japan, we wondered how we could create “andon” indicators at a much more granular level. We realised that if during the design phase before coding we added an expected timeline, we would be able to detect that things were not going as expected at the 10 minute-level and be able to call for help immediately. This enabled two very interesting changes: first the team could react to issues and call for help from more senior team members immediately and not the next day. And at the end of the day we knew exactly where things had gone wrong, tremendously helping us identify where to invest our continuous improvement efforts. We called it lean coding in reference to the lean factory that had inspired us.

Fabrice Bernhard: Lean Coding is one of the areas we have explored at the cross-roads of lean and software development. It is interesting to see that since the agile movement took over, there has been a lot of focus on how to improve development work from a project management or operations point of view, but much less from the coding point of view.

InfoQ: How do you do lean coding?

Boutin: Concretely, this is how I do it:

  • At the beginning of the day, I choose the next User Story I’m going to ship.
  • Then, I break down the User Story into technical steps which last less than 10 minutes, during what we call the “technical design” step.
  • The technical design step can last up to half an hour to prepare for a few hours worth of work.
  • And then I start coding: each time I exceed the 10 minute takt time, I have identified a discrepancy between expectations and reality. I can either “andon” for another developer to help me get past the issue, or just record the problem for later analysis.
  • At the end of the user story, I take a step back to list all the problems I encountered, identify the root causes and planning small actions to help me succeed the following day.

This is what we call ghost programming at Theodo. We even created an internal digital product to help us in this called Caspr:

  • Linked to Trello, the tool we use to do project management, Caspr helps during the technical design step to transform my user story into technical steps which last less than 10 minutes.
  • During the coding phase, we created a bash interface so that I can drive steps directly from my IDE.
  • When I have a problem during coding, Caspr helps me identify how to solve it, suggesting the standard associated to the gesture and who I should ask for help.
  • At the end of the day, I know which coding skills I need to improve first, and the team leader can train me through dojos or pair-programing sessions.

InfoQ: What benefits have you gotten from ghost programming?

Boutin: I was the team leader of a 7-developers team. Five weeks after we started doing ghost programming, we managed to double our productivity; we delivered twice as many features compared to what was expected.

At the same time, I coached people to improve their technical skills by doing dojos and improving the work environment of the project. This way people became better in their work.

Since the approach requires strong discipline, there is still some work needed to ensure easy adoption by further teams. One dimension we are looking at is using the technical design steps to proactively help the developer in their upcoming task using machine learning.

Bernhard: We have seen productivity improvements of up to 2x in teams adopting ghost programming. We showed these results in our presentation Toyota VS Tesla? What Lean can learn from Digital Natives.

But beyond these impressive productivity gains, the real benefit is the learnings for the teams. These learnings are quite broad; some examples include quickly identifying skill gaps in the team that can be addressed through training, addressing problems in the infrastructure that slowed down tests and deployments more than imagined, automating some of the developer’s tasks to avoid unnecessary mistakes, and adopting a new way of testing the code.

This is the first time I see coders looking scientifically at the way they code to learn how to code better; the potential of this is enormous.

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What is Enterprise Software?

February 5, 2019 Posted by Apps 0 thoughts on “What is Enterprise Software?”

At a basic level, enterprise software is large scale software that solves a business’ pain points. Still, this definition does not fully describe why this sort of software sits in a category of its own. Neither does it describe why some developers tasked to develop these sorts of apps find it one of the most difficult tasks to perform. We’ll break that down in this article. First, let’s demystify the terminology a bit by listing all of its variations.

  1. Enterprise software
  2. Enterprise application
  3. Enterprise app
  4. Enterprise Application Software (EAS)

All of these terms are one and the same. Throughout this article, we’ll interchange these terms just to prove it.

The Needs of an Enterprise

An enterprise app can be better understood by understanding why a business would need one in the first place. When you look at the careers page on a large company’s website, you will likely see job openings for sales, marketing, HR, engineering, among other roles. What you’ll notice is that different sectors within a company often overlap. For example, the sales team interacts with the products team while the products team interacts with the development/design team, and so on and so forth. Not only are these sectors usually linked in some way, they all have functions that are unique to them. HR deals with onboarding while sales people chase leads.

All of these teams must function at a high level to minimize costs and maximize gains at a company. The old way of doing business was to keep a paper trail. Now, software can do all of the grunt work–or at least most of it. What this software has to do is provide solutions within a the context of a business.  

That’s where the enterprise app steps in.

HR may need tools that track recruitment data, 401k administration, onboarding tasks, along with a host of other responsibilities that pertain to HR. At the same time, the sales team needs tools that track client information, sales, leads, etc. An enterprise app covers the needs of both of these teams. In other words, enterprise software is a type of software that solves most, if not all, of the problems that a business faces.

The Difficulty of Enterprise Software

This focus on a specific business rather than overall industry is what makes developing an enterprise app difficult. The software must be compatible with almost every aspect of the company that requires automation. Due to that fact, enterprise apps tend to have a host of features that are difficult to plan for in the design phase. Dr. Lance Gutteridge, CTO of Formever Inc. presented an anecdote that supported his reasoning for why enterprise apps are the most difficult apps to develop:

“Once, I was building a system for a large union. At that time I still believed in methodologies, and I had a design document. I wanted to make what the system did and didn’t do very clear. There was a feature that was clearly listed, in large type, that the system would not have. All the managers signed off on the design. When the system started to be used operationally, one of the staff came to me and said that she couldn’t do her job without that feature. It was an essential operation to the organization. None of the people involved in the reviews had realized that the feature was essential.”

Dr. Gutteridge’s anecdote illustrates what workers at a company expect out of enterprise software. If the software falls short in one area, a new feature must be added to the existing software. Otherwise, the software no longer solves the problems of the enterprise. These issues usually crop up once the software is in use, so testing must be done by the users to ensure that the software meets all of their needs. It follows that the enterprise dictates what must be included in its custom software.

Summary

Here are some extra points to takeaway from this article:

  • Whenever business logic changes, the app will then have to be changed to meet the enterprise’s new demands.
  • Databases in enterprise software are meant for the specific business. These databases store a large volume of company data.
  • Enterprise software most commonly handles accounting
  • Enterprise apps are usually hosted on physical servers owned by the organization, which allows for high availability and security
  • Enterprise apps are scalable and robust, serving various needs.


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Three Design Stages You Should Use To Build Apps

February 5, 2019 Posted by Apps 0 thoughts on “Three Design Stages You Should Use To Build Apps”


Before a house gets built, a blueprint must be developed and approved. The same goes for apps. There is a lot of planning and research that goes into building a fully functioning app. This process involves developing a wireframe, then mocking up the wireframe, and finally building a prototype before developers can get their hands on the project. We’ll walk you through each step of the design process so that you know what goes into developing apps.

Wireframe

The first step in the design process actually occurs before the wireframe. That involves creating a user story which details everything a specific user should expect to get out of the app. The wireframe is then created with the user in mind.

The wireframe can be drawn to represent the different functions of an app. These designs are often represented using quadrilaterals, lines, and sparse text. The purpose of this phase is to get a broad sense of the app’s features, so details are not important in the wireframe. Using a wireframe, designers can discuss how pages should be structured, create project requirements, and test the overall flow of the app with the team. Since wireframes are easy to draw up, there is less stress about abandoning one idea in favor of a new one. This allows designers to whittle down an app to its essential components, saving time and money down the road.

Andre Picard

Mockup

Once the wireframe is completed, a mockup of the wireframe is then designed using software like Photoshop. Here, details aren’t spared. Typography, buttons, colors, and other visual elements are usually presented in a mockup. This allows the client to get a clear sense of what the app will look like. Corrections can then be made to the design based on the client’s feedback. The main benefit that comes from implementing this design stage comes in establishing a strong brand identity from the outset.

Arif H. Mahmoud

Prototype

The prototype of a product combines the high fidelity of a mockup with the functionality of a final product. All elements of the app are connected to create an interactive flow that can then be A/B tested. The feedback that can be received from creating a prototype is invaluable. Instead of wasting hours restructuring code, designers can tweak a prototype until it satisfies the needs of the client or consumer.

Gautam Lakum

Conclusion

Wireframes, mockups, and prototypes are the three stages of design that, when implemented, allow for powerful user experiences. Ideas are nebulous and ever-changing. A wireframe pins down the idea so that you can examine it from every angle. The mockup adds color to your idea, allowing developers and users to visually interact with the idea. Finally, the prototype allows users to physically interact with the idea.

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