In this post I discuss the path I took to enable TrackAbout to react more quickly to failures in our application’s email delivery. I wrote a service using Node.js which relays email delivery failure events from SendGrid to a HipChat chat room that our support staff monitors. The project is open source and available on GitHub as sendgrid-webhook-server.
TrackAbout is evaluating cross-platform mobile application development frameworks for the next version of our mobile software. There are more than a dozen competing frameworks, with more appearing every week. It’s daunting to place a bet in a marketplace with this much flux.
Recognizing the confusion in the marketplace and choosing to do something about it are the people behind the PropertyCross web site. You can read about their goals on their web site, but the short version is that they’ve published a spec for a modest mobile application and are soliciting developers to implement the spec using as many frameworks as possible. This is an invaluable resource for those trying make sense out of the options.
Source code for all implementations is available on Github as is the specification for the PropertyCross example application.
In February 2013, I downloaded all of the Android implementations published on the PropertyCross site and sideloaded them onto my Verizon Galaxy Nexus. I then used every feature of each app in an effort to get a feel of the differences between the cross-platform mobile application frameworks.
The PropertyCross implementations reviewed (in no particular order) were:
- Android Native (Java)
- jQuery Mobile (PhoneGap)
- JQTouch (PhoneGap)
- Sencha Touch 2 (PhoneGap)
- Adobe Air
Although our headquarters is near Pittsburgh, our developers all work from home. We’ve been doing the virtual dev team thing since the dawn of the company when two of the founders lived in Chicago and the third lived in Pittsburgh. In 2004, when we decided to hire our first new developer, we hired someone we knew from the Chicago area, and he worked from home too. Still does.
Keeping the developer role a work-from-home position has allowed us to recruit great developers from all over the U.S. It’s worked out well for us.
While there are great benefits to working from home, every now and then it’s nice to engage your fellow teammates in meat-space, or IRL, as the cool kids say.
Hence, TrackAbout DevCon was born.
You may be familiar with Google’s policy that each employee is granted 20% free time to pursue their own interests. Some projects become real Google products like GMail, Google News, Google Talk, and AdSense.
Google has nearly infinite resources, and with thousands of talented developers trying so many things, once in a while one of them is going to be a winner and create a major new revenue stream.
Obviously, TrackAbout does not have infinite resources. But we admire the spirit of Google’s free time policy and would like to emulate it to the degree we can.