Location Based Services Without the Cocoa

11:22 am in workshops by ben-butchart

I’m (Ben Butchart) putting together material for the workshop on Location Based Services Without the Cocoa and would like your help in deciding how to structure the content. The main aim of the this workshop is to share the experience we have gained during the JISC alternative access project that looked into the potential for delivering Edina Digimap services to mobile.

A part of the technical evaluation strand of the project we ran a series of experiments using different technologies to help us understand the tradeoffs and merits of different technical approaches, code libraries and frameworks available to mobile application developers. The three main technical approaches we investigated were Mobile Web, Native and Hybrid development. In the Mobile Web paradigm, where applications are delivered through the mobile web browser (Safari, Opera , IE etc.) we focused on how mapping frameworks such as OpenLayers can integrate with emerging web standards such as the W3C Geolocation API, HTML5 Canvas and Local Storage. To develop our skills in building native applications, where programming languages and tools are unique to a particular device or operating system, we worked on an iPhone mapping client written in ObejctiveC and Cocoa Touch. We also investigated some augmented reality frameworks and built a demonstration 3D Layar app for iPhone and Android. Finally to evaluate the hybrid approach (where a lightweight web browser is integrated into a skeleton native app), we dipped into the PhoneGap framework and also built our own hybrid agent for the iPhone

We feel that we were fortunate to have a chance to try out these technologies for ourselves and discover the tradeoffs and advantages of each and we thought it would be a good to share this experience with a wider audience. The learning objectives I originally had in mind for the workshop were:

  1. Understand different approaches to building applications for mobile devices, e.g. browser based apps, native apps ( Symbian, iPhone Cocoa, Android etc), hybrid apps, Mobile Web Touch.
  2. Understand tradeoffs between browser based mobile applications and native applications.
  3. Learn how to use W3C Geolocation API to obtain location of user.
  4. Learn how to create a browser based (mapping) rich internet application for touch devices, including techniques for converting mouse events to touch gestures.
  5. Learn how to use HTML5 Canvas 2d graphics for mobile browsers and understand problems and advantages.
  6. Learn how use HTML5 Local Storage and Application Cache to cache points of interest to enable offline access to data.
  7. Learn how to use augmented reality browsers such as Layar for displaying points of interest to camera views.

For those of you that have signed up to the workshop or are thinking of doing so, it would be good to know what you are hoping to get from it. To what extent would you like some hands on experience using these technologies?

I think I could set up some simple examples and ask participants to make some minor changes to HTML/ JavaScript to demonstrate some of the technologies. Although the examples would be really simple, I’m worried the sight of HTML and JavaScript might frighten some people off and it is the lessons learnt rather than full understanding of the technology itself we want to convey.

For managers deciding on a strategic direction organizational needs, sustainability and resource management are just as important as the technical pros and cons. We could do some interesting exercises around these topics too. Also from talking to many people and research groups in HE during the scoping study we learnt a lot about future direction for Location Based Services in teaching and learning with exciting developments in the area of virtual worlds, augmented reality and 3D visualization. Would an overview of this topic be useful too?

I’m more than happy to adapt the material we have to the audience so use the comments to let me know who you are, what your interest is in LBS is and what areas you would like me to focus on. With your help we will be able to create a great interactive session which will bring together participants experience, share knowledge and build an expert group of LBS practitioners.