Monday, October 8, 2012

Lessons Learned from Titanium SDK

It's been fun hacking together projects that integrate with Facebook's Graph API. In a matter of a few minutes, I was able to get login working, fetching friends, relationships, and profile information. Titanium team has been doing an amazing job at providing examples and documentation.

Don't trust the comments in Q&A section


Sifting through pages and pages of questions and answers that seem somewhat relevant to your issue will take an exhausting amount of time. Adding to that, some answers are 3 years old! I don't even know why they keep that sort of information around -- it is incredibly misleading. I really wish they would move to StackExchange.

Dig into the Objective C libraries


When I couldn't understand why I wasn't able to set http headers using the out-of-the-box HTTP Client in JavaScript, I figured out that there are only specific times you can set HTTP headers. Thankfully, I built a Service Locator and Service class that poly-filled everything for me. It is used internally within the HTTP Client 

Use the right source of documentation


When you google, "Titanium ui view", you'll most likely land here: http://developer.appcelerator.com/apidoc/mobile/1.7.2/Titanium.UI.View-object. This page is actually part of version 1.7.2 -- Some of the methods may still exist in 2.1.3 (latest), but you're sure going to hit a wall soon if you're working with "soon to be" deprecated methods. The right source is here: http://docs.appcelerator.com/titanium/2.1/index.html.

Use an MVC framework 


The examples in the Titanium documentation write UI components in a way that is reminscent of Java Swing. This is fine but really, developers should be encouraged to use the right pattern for UI development. This would be Model View Controller. Here is the frmaework that is suggested: https://github.com/appcelerator/alloy.

Use keybinds to increase productivity


I'm a gamer -- I used to play World of Warcraft where I had every single ability bound to a key even if it was something as useless as targeting a specific mob. Anything you can do to shave off seconds will help you enjoy development more. Below are screenshots of my Eclipse keybinds.



Capture metrics and behaviours


Titanium has an API for tracking navigation events and feature events. If you come from Google Analytics or Omniture, we can easily describe these events as page views and custom events. Adding analytics will give you the insights you need to optimize certain views to increase XYZ action. For example, if you're creating an application with shareable data, you basically want to increase sharing throughout the network. Adding metrics around determining if users are seeing the Share button can be done to optimize this feature's value.

Loving it


I've really enjoyed working with Titanium. I definitely will be using it other hacks. At first, it seems daunting but that's only because the documentation and SEO can lead you down a dark path. Look for the real sources and you'll find yourself being productive! 

Cheers,
Jaime



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