Recent Talks and Reading Between the Lines

I’ve absolutely neglected this blog for the last two years. In the meantime I’ve been quite busy professionally. Some of my favorite activities in the meantime have been public speaking. I wanted to share two talks and the subtext behind them:

All About Push

Parse Developer Day 2013

Ostensibly this talk is about how to use the constellation of push notification features Parse provides. Sadly, I didn’t use Android examples because I didn’t want to show code examples which were about to be deprecated with the Android Push V2 API–something we didn’t get to release until about 17 months later.

For me, the introduction to this talk was one of the most important bits. We are in the post-desktop era, but the evolution isn’t yet complete. We first moved from big screen to small screen; applications changed because the phone is both more connected and more personal than its predecessor. But people haven’t thrown away their computers yet. Many developers focus on an Android and iOS version of their application, but I push them to think of an Android and iOS window into their application. This subtle shift in thinking better prepares developers for multi-faceted experiences. Web/desktop and native mobile applications don’t always compete; they have the potential to augment each other in a more sophisticated multi-screen experience.

Two years have passed since this talk and I think the lesson still holds true. We’re seeing some strong movements towards a multi-screen era: Apple calls this Handoff, where you can seamlessly handoff work between your iOS and OS X devices. Spotify has a great multi-screen experience–if one device is playing music, the other acts as its remote. I think this is the start of a new era where the app is much bigger than the device. I’m excited to see where this next phase in our industry’s evolution takes us.

Don’t be a Drag to Refresh

Parse Developer Meetup, Nov & Dec 2013

This was a quick 10m talk about responsiveness. I invited the audience to remember the early days of cgi_bin websites. We had chatrooms but only saw new messages after posting our own or manually refreshing the website. How is this any different than a mobile app which asks you to drag to refresh? Eventually we’re going to get tired of the cute refresh animation and realize we’ve taken several steps backwards. CRUD is great because it helps us rationalize our data and applications, but we need to do better than polling for updates. Realtime updates were once a cool feature; thanks to products like Firebase, it’s quickly becoming a commodity.