01 May 2010

The Philippine Mobile Development Group

Back in 2004 when mobile application development was still in its raw and content-poor era. We started a small community called the Philippine Mobile Development Group or ph-mobiledev as it's in the Yahoo Groups mailing list. During those times most developers were concentrating in building messaging-specific services which most of the codes were in the server-side digesting SMS/MMS messages for different purposes, that is because for the lack of feature-rich frontend toolkits that was available that time. Most frontend tools were just an attempt to really put something to the market that is way pre-mature like Wireless Application Protocol or WAP that uses WML or Wireless Markup Language, Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), SuperWaba and many more from that ancient bandwagon. Some of these tools still survives, some are struggling to survive and others are just plain dead, I'm not sure if anyone is still coding in WAP today.

But back then Java was the main language of choice in the backend then C/C++, we also brushed up with a few Haskell and Prolog here and there, even a vague attempt with Object-C was made. But way back before 2004, the real value of mobile development is growing in the backend, the gateways and service interfaces where the developers has to be familiar with a lot of technical jargons and specifications like the SMPP, Kannel, Jabber or XMPP protocol, Middleware Messaging Services etc. that was where the profits are swelling. But the user experience is still ASCII. It was really difficult to know the way around, much less, risky. And this why the community, Philippine Mobile Develop Group was made up, it was started by individuals who were in different aspects of mobile development but most commonly on the backend side. The objective was, of course, to share information and opportunities around the local mobile development industry and beyond. Because there was so much constraints and limitations in developing handset-specific applications, it was deemed too boring, cumbersome and difficult to test. Until then the backend mobile development has eventually matured, the survivors moved on, the preys were picked by other behemoths and the mobile ecosystem in the backend has somehow stabilized.



Six years have passed, after so many opportunities has been exploited, new breed of frameworks and tools came into play. Handsets became more powerful than before armed with massive storage capacities and powerful graphic hardware interface. New battle lines were drawn, developers are now back again in an old challenge with a new face; developing for multiple handset makers while maintaining consistent look-and-feel, developing a single set of code that can be deployed or ported to different devices, these are risks that has to be calculated carefully. There are new and attractive toys luring every mobile developer to join their camps, such as Android that is using the all familiar Java, Apple that has finally found something useful from Objective-C with its iPhone OS and of course the old leaders Nokia with Symbian/Qt/Meego/Maemo in its arsenal, Sony-Ericsson with also its Symbian/Qt/UIQ at its disposal. It's really is easy to get confused and distracted. That is why the Philippine Mobile Develop Group is at its feet again to do what it has done for the mobile developers of 2004, to stay focus and continue to exploit greater opportunities from the mobile application market.