Category Archives: iphone

Here Comes Grails APNs Plugin

That’s it. I’ve released my first Grails plugin ever. Woooo! Champagne!

If you follow my Twitter feed, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been playing a lot with Apple Push Notification service lately (APNs for friends). Indeed, ConferenceGuide still requires a data connection, which can be problematic on a lot of events because they’re usually abroad (and roaming fees are waaaaaay too expensive), and even when you do have a data connection, it’s usually pretty slow… at best. That’s probably why one of the most requested features for ConferenceGuide is Offline Mode.

But getting all the data directly from the server does have at least one advantage: you’re always up-to-date. And experience has shown that sh** happens: sometimes sessions are cancelled at the last minute, or a global sound mixer reboots out of nowhere, thus shifting all sessions by 15 minutes. Those of you who were at Devoxx last November know what I’m talking about. So I needed a way to combine the best of both worlds: being able to browse schedule and speaker information without a data connection, and still get updates whenever something changes and I can find a wifi hotspot or something.

The first part of the solution is the local database. The second part involves sending push notifications. The problem with the latter is that the API provided by Apple is pretty low-level and the documentation is rather scarce. And it’s understandable because they expose a service that should be usable by any server technology, whether it is Java, .Net, PHP, Rails, etc. Fortunately, Java has a huge community and a great Open Source spirit, so it wasn’t long before a few projects were created to build an abstraction layer on top of APNs API. The simplest and most documented one I found is java-apns by Mahmood Ali. But ConferenceGuide server is not plain Java. It’s Grails 1.1 (I haven’t taken the risk to migrate to 1.2 yet). So I wanted to ease the integration of java-apns into any Grails application. And voilà! Grails APNs Plugin.

Special thanks to Burt Beckwith for helping me get started, and Mahmood Ali for developing java-apns!

Conference Guide Available

Conference Guide Icon

Woohooo! Exciting times! It’s confirmed, I will be at Devoxx the whole week, and my Conference Guide iPhone application has just been approved. For your information, it only covers Devoxx 2009 for now, but it’s meant to be generic and I will add more information for other conferences soon: TEDxBrussels, JFokus, etc. The application is free for a limited period of time, so go ahead and install it!

More features for the iPhone application are coming, maybe not for Devoxx (the Apple review process makes things really slow), as well as other mobile clients. An Android client is already in the pipe, and if you are a Palm Pre or Symbian developer, feel free to contact me. I can give you access to the same public API I’m using for the iPhone version.

Finally, if you are a conference organizer and you want your event information to be available on mobile platforms without having to develop your own applications, feel free to contact me as well.

And by the way, if you are a company, and you are thinking about developing your own iPhone application, whether it is for marketing purposes, to sell content or to improve the productivity of your salesforce, I’m your guy. And I can do much more than just iPhone development ;o)

Digital Marketing First… Oh my!

I was at Digital Marketing First today. I was invited by Alexandre Colleau from Belgium-iPhone to participate in a panel discussion about iPhone application development. But the presentation was only at 2PM so I decided to walk around the booths before. And I was very disappointed. After hearing someone from eMakina claiming that you can take your blood pressure just by touching the screen of your iPhone, and seen many email marketing vendors claim that email marketing is the future… well, I was disappointed. And then there was the panel.

The discussion itself was pretty interesting in itself. 9 iPhone developers, from hobbyists to professional, from App Store applications to pure B2B stuff, from highly-successful to eternally rejected VOIP apps… very interesting. But what was really astounding for me was after the presentation: people from the audience litterally jumped on us, asking for business cards, asking questions, talking to us about their projects. Luckily for me, I had prepared a bunch of cards, because I secretly hoped that this participation would lead me to a few project opportunities. But I sincerely didn’t expect the demand for iPhone developers to be so high.

So yes guys: I do iPhone development too! In fact I love it, even better than anything else. It’s fun, innovative, and solves real problems. And even better than that, since I do java development too, I can help you design your whole infrastructure. Ain’t that awesome? And even more: if you need a desktop client that is cross-platform and allows you to reproduce some of the functionalities of your iPhone application, I can do that too.

Anyways. I had the opportunity to talk with very interesting people about very interesting projects and it should lead to a few very interesting freelance missions. What a productive day! And a big thank you to Alexandre Colleau!