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I want to (finally) learn mobile app development... suggestions?
4 points by Andrenid 1116 days ago | 9 comments

I've been designing/developing websites for 12 years now, and for the last 5 years running a large corporate (Government) web team, while still coding/designing personal projects on the side. I'm proficient (advanced, I guess) in HTML/CSS/JS/PHP/MySQL on LAMP stacks, but have no major experience in any "proper" programming languages (a few courses to get "familiar" with Java but that was years ago).

I now work for myself as a consultant, and have lots of spare time where I'd like to learn mobile app development, to ultimately/eventually build 2 app ideas I have for iOS and Android (no-one has done either idea yet, and I'd really like it to work on both).


Gurus of HN, where do I start? It's daunting!

Do I start from scratch learning Java / Obj-C and making each app separately, do I learn one of them and use a tool to convert to the other platform? Do I use some kind of tool that lets me build for both at once?

Thanks in advance for any replies.

When I wanted to develop a mobile app, I started with PhoneGap and then Appcelerator, but I really didn't like the outcome. The UX didn't cut it in terms of visual appeal. Then I decided to learn Obj-C and started to go through the Stanford lectures on iOS 5. The only thing I did for 15-20 days was to listen to all the lectures without even jumping into coding. After the lectures were over, I started to work on the exercises. That helped me a lot. I didn't have any idea how Obj-C works and did a whole lot of research after each lecture what it was about and what constructs were used.

I would recommend anyone who wants to learn iOS programming to go through the Standford lectures (https://itunes.apple.com/itunes-u/ipad-iphone-application-de...) and do the due diligence after each lecture to get in-depth knowledge. It is going to take time, but it is worth it.


Thanks for that, will definitely add them to my list of resources to work through.


Don't get distracted by the politics and fighting in the mobile space. Work on what you love and enjoy.

My suggestion: start with native app development for the device that you own and use most. Run through a couple of beginner tutorials and write a few toy apps. This will give you a more solid foundation for making decisions. (I would not recommend using cross platform tool-kits until you understand the trade-offs.)

Then, I recommend that you build one of your ideas for the same device and release it. After releasing it, you can either move on to the next idea or port it for the other platform.


Yeah, I think i'll start off with Android as I do use that the most, but I have an iPhone as well so I can tackle that later.


If you only target Android, which is 85% of the smartphone market (IDC) despite what some would like you to believe, you can try this and conquer the world: http://laughton.com/basic/

Or you could try http://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker/studio/professional which will cost you some money.

Both solutions are easy to learn.

Personally, I don't want to help Apple gain market share. They're too lawsuit-happy and they take unilateral decisions when it comes to getting apps approved.


Which smartphone do you own? Make an app that you would use on that phone.

You can try going the native route, but if you are familiar with JS/CSS, I would suggest looking at PhoneGap. That way, after you ship to one store, you can more easily prepare your app to be shipped to the other store.

Good luck!


PhoneGap looks interesting, will look into that, thanks.


Maybe you could also thing about Web Applications. You have skills, have't you ?

There is lot's of framework like for native apps. But maybe you have good reason to finally want to learn mobile app development.


I want native apps more so I can sell the apps easier. Until there is an easy way to package/sell web apps or monetise them better, I think native apps are still the way to go.

Plus everyone I know whinges/complains about the apps that "wrap" a web app, because they're usually slow/clunky/limited, so that's another reason native apps win for me.


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