Best mobile app development tool?

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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Did
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Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Did » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:32 am

Hoping to train myself up in app development for iPhone or android (or both - android sounds like the growth area). Googling best language/dev environments leads to a large number of options, and I'd prefer to not run down unnecessary rabbit holes.

Preference is for free environment (licence, not open source necessarily), but one that is commercially popular so I have the potential to gain remote part time work once I am skilled up. Would also like the ability to develop own apps.

Crossplatform ideal but not necessary I guess to start out.

Happy to learn programming language obviously.

Anyone with practical experience who can recommend something sensible?

I own a PC.

Jean
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Jean » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:39 am

I have no idea, but if you find something matching those criterion, i'de like to know.

Scott 2
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:45 am

I'm not a mobile developer, but I do know Microsoft has put a lot of money into visual studio code and Xamarin.

Visual Studio Community is also free, but might be tougher to get started on.

Paying for courses through something like pluralsight could be worth it.

ducknalddon
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by ducknalddon » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:04 pm

If you are starting from scratch I'd forget the phone bit for a while and just learn Python. It has excellent documentation, the learning curve is shallow, there are a ton of YouTube videos on it, it is used for serious work if you want to pursue a career in it and it will run fine on your Windows machine.

Did
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Did » Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:18 pm

@ducknalddon Have you used Python to develop mobile apps? I would get up to speed reasonably quickly having done some programming in my youth.

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bryan
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by bryan » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:35 pm

Android Studio (java) for Android. XCode (swift) for iOS. Last I recall you need a mac for iOS development?

Cross Platform is meh and I don't know what most people prefer to do. Obviously Xamarin is what shows up when you search around but I've heard bad things as well. It largely depends on what your use-case is (what device/OS or other 3rd party features you will need). If it's not such UI related stuff (say you are just doing number crunching) Android/iOS both support shared libs so you can pretty much program in any language you want if you can output a no system dependencies shared lib w/ C interface and access that from the higher levels (probably too complex for beginner..). There may be some tools out there that do this for you already? Maybe people roll their own abstraction layers..

You could also look into web apps that are probably easy to port to mobile apps (React Native?)

Maybe look at app developer job postings of companies with popular apps and see what skills and experience they are asking for.

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Fish
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Fish » Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:03 pm

Once I "invested" in a MacBook thinking app development was a fast track to early retirement. It was a fantastic computer but I never made a dollar. Blame Tim Ferriss for me trying.

For iOS development there are ways around the Mac requirement, but it's extra work. In addition to Xcode (free) you'll need a developer subscription ($99/year) to test your apps on real hardware and get your apps in the store.

Delay getting the developer subscription until you have completed the tutorials and made something worthy of testing. In my case, ~100 hours and some programming experience got me to the level where I could make anything I wanted using basic interfaces. It was fun running my custom apps but I never made anything good enough to sell. There's a lot of competition.

Did
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Did » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:09 am

Thanks guys for the tips. If I make any progress, I will be sure to report back.

ducknalddon
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by ducknalddon » Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:38 am

Did wrote:
Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:18 pm
@ducknalddon Have you used Python to develop mobile apps? I would get up to speed reasonably quickly having done some programming in my youth.
Sorry, I misunderstood and thought you were starting from scratch.

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BRUTE
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by BRUTE » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:42 pm

bryan wrote:
Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:35 pm
Android Studio (java) for Android. XCode (swift) for iOS. Last I recall you need a mac for iOS development?
bryan is on point.

android == java == 'open' (and available on all platforms)
ios == mac == 'not open'
bryan wrote:
Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:35 pm
Cross Platform is meh and I don't know what most people prefer to do.
on point again. cross platform is usually a year or more behind and doesn't deliver 100% of what native does. depends on what the goal is: getting a job/becoming a professional => native. just messing around, doing that one cool idea, just getting something out the door: any cross platform will likely be fine.

Did
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Did » Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:34 am

thanks Brute

simplex
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by simplex » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:50 am

I'd say there is no "best" tool. App development is a commodity now.
Also the tools are changing all the time, for example now the following toolchain is "hot" https://blog.twitter.com/2017/how-we-built-twitter-lite .

Did
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Did » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:11 am

White bread is a commodity. There are still well paid jobs all over the world for app development. I doubt twitter paid someone 3 bucks an hour out of india.

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BRUTE
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by BRUTE » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:26 am

$3 is unlikely. in fact, purely anecdotally, Twitter pays some humans enough to rent a $4k/mo apartment on market street, only a few blocks from Twitter's office.

mobile is growing much faster than desktop or web. phones are getting new features faster than regular computers. brute suspects mobile devs will be hot for another decade or more.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:13 pm

I am willing to pay $300 for the design with prototype of a solar-powered robot that can visually recognize pests harmful to orchard fruit, climb trees, and exude a biodegradable liquid-to-glue-spray with which to hit and trap the pests. If it can also multi-task for "weed"-munching and/or random-continual intelligent design seed-planting duty, I might go as high as $450!!!

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BRUTE
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by BRUTE » Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:40 pm

that would pay for about 1.05 hours of work in the industry Did is trying to get into

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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by jacob » Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:51 pm


7Wannabe5
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:51 pm

@BRUTE: Well, I guess he better get snappy then. I might be persuaded to throw in pie-of-the-month club lifetime membership.

@jacob: lol- My design suggestion was influenced by some articles on bio-mimicry high-tech engineering I read in elementary school science weekly magazine. I will probably need some frogs and some birds in addition to the ladybugs and spiders.

simplex
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by simplex » Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:19 pm

@Did : By commodity I meant it is readily available widely for a predictable cost.

To take your bread example: White bread is a commodity, but artisan hand made gluten free French rye bread commands a high price.

It is the similar with apps.

pukingRainbows
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by pukingRainbows » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:03 pm

@fish - I'm just curious but what what were your custom apps?

@did - please do keep us updated!

Did
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Did » Sat Apr 08, 2017 2:33 am

Thanks. Am watching an MIT EDX free course to ease myself into it all.

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Fish
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Fish » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:34 am

@pukingRainbows For an idea of what can be made at the beginner level, search for "CS193p" which is Stanford's iPhone App Dev class(*). Course materials including video lectures freely available through iTunes U. Doing the assignments on your own is a great way to gain experience (and test your frustration tolerance). I used the foundation from this course to make my own games and personal productivity apps. Nothing particularly impressive compared to what is offered for free, but it's rather magical seeing your ideas come to life on a smartphone.

(*)This was a while back so there might be even better resources now. For obvious reasons, follow the current course offering if you do this. Otherwise you'll quickly get frustrated when the lecture code examples don't work as you attempt them using the latest tools.

@bryan/brute/others: How much experience is needed to get good enough for paid work? In my estimation 1,000 hours would suffice for entry level; much less for someone with CS background and actual dev experience.

One thing that struck me, as someone working outside of tech, is how fast this stuff is changing. Tutorials from last year won't work verbatim using the latest tools. And tutorials from 3 years ago... forget it. While the barriers to entry may be low due to demand, staying current requires an ongoing time commitment, preferably through paid work experience. You can't leave and expect to come back in 5 years without paying your dues again.

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BRUTE
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by BRUTE » Sat Apr 08, 2017 12:20 pm

Did/Fish:

like with most skills, it's 5% lecture/learning and 95% practice. still better to have good instruction over no instruction, but CS class isn't what makes a programmer, it's programming.

1000 hours sounds about right. brute knows several humans that went through various coding bootcamps instead of CS, coming from diverse backgrounds such as literature, philosophy, or social sciences. these humans have all the requisite knowledge, got tons of practice in, and are making six figures. these bootcamps seem to last about 12-16 weeks, and are 60+ hours per week of effort. this would yield about 700-1500 hours of practice, depending on how much effort an individual human has put into it and how much experience they had before.

it's likely possible to get the 1000 hours without the bootcamp. the difficulty is in structuring 1000 hours of practice in a field one does not know yet, without the social support and pressure of the bootcamp. brute isn't saying bootcamps are the way to go, but they seem a pretty efficient way of getting good at programming quickly.

the 1000 hours are more for general programming. once the general skill is picked up, adopting a specific framework should take far less. some can be picked up over the weekend (new javascript frameworks), some will take a few months (getting into iOS first, or something else that's rather specific).

brute's a big fan of getting paid to learn on the job. if sufficient basic programming skill is demonstrated, companies are happy to hire humans and have them learn the specifics on the job. a month or two later, the human is practically an expert in that skill, or at least good enough to be productive and earn their keep.

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bryan
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by bryan » Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:39 pm

Fish wrote:
Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:34 am
@bryan/brute/others: How much experience is needed to get good enough for paid work? In my estimation 1,000 hours would suffice for entry level; much less for someone with CS background and actual dev experience.

One thing that struck me, as someone working outside of tech, is how fast this stuff is changing. Tutorials from last year won't work verbatim using the latest tools. And tutorials from 3 years ago... forget it.
First I'll echo @brute's response about practical experience and learning on the job. One of my best educational experiences during my university years was actually at my coop job one semester. So it may be worth it to do what you can to target an entry level job (probably at a start-up, as competition would be more fierce for big companies) using your github or personal website as most of your resume and plan to jump to a better job after six months or a year.

I'm in lower level software where things don't change so drastically or as fast. You could probably pick such a software engineer from 20 years ago and ta would be in fairly good shape from day 1. For better or worse you can follow hacker news RSS feed to keep abreast of trendy technologies or big news.

Scott 2
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Re: Best mobile app development tool?

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:41 am

The pace of change isn't as fast as it first seems. There is a core set of principles in use, once you learn to recognize them, they repeat in every hot new trend.

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