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Developing location aware apps

 
Ari King
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I'm certainly curious about location aware applications, and I'd appreciate clarification on the following:

1. In order to create location-aware apps, does one need to know any particular language(s)?
2. Can I leverage my knowledge of java and/or ruby?
3. What are the biggest obstacles to creating a location-aware app?
4. As a novice on the subject, how would you recommend I learn more? Initially at least, I'd like to put together a toy app for myself; what steps do I need to take in order to be able to do that?

Thanks.
 
Tim Holloway
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Obviously, since you're in the J2ME forum, we recommend you know Java

However, location services aren't the exclusive domain of any one programming language. They depend more on the hardware and OS of the device that the app runs on. The better you know the language you intend to use, the better the results will be, of course, but that's just programming, not something that's specific to location services or location aware apps.

As far as obstacles go, I think most people will say that trying to test a location-aware app on a (non-mobile) simulator is their biggest problem. Or second-biggest. A lot of times, they have trrouble because their initial choice of target device doesn't support GPS to begin with.

As with any endeavour, the best way to least is to practice. My first location-aware app was one that took pictures, logged the location of where the pictures were taken, and send the data down to a web server for storage and cataloging in a database. However, if you already have some mobile apps in your portfolio, think of ways that they'd benefit by being location-aware and try to add those features. That way you save a lot of the trouble involved in just getting an app going to begin with.

 
Ari King
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Tim Holloway wrote:Obviously, since you're in the J2ME forum, we recommend you know Java

However, location services aren't the exclusive domain of any one programming language. They depend more on the hardware and OS of the device that the app runs on. The better you know the language you intend to use, the better the results will be, of course, but that's just programming, not something that's specific to location services or location aware apps.


Thanks for the insight; I appreciate it.

As a follow-up question, do you know of any significant differences between implementing a location aware app as a 'mobile web' app as opposed to a 'native' app? Also, since I have experience in Java EE/Web development, I was hoping to leverage those skills via something like 'PhoneGap'; have you tried 'PhoneGap' or a similar framework? If yes, what are your thoughts on it? Lastly, as a slight digression, have you created apps in other languages such as objective-c or using the android sdk? If yes, in your opinion how does it compare to using J2ME?
 
Tim Holloway
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I have an Android phone right now - the HTC Hero (a/k/a the phone that they promised would upgrade to Android 2 when you bought it and then never delivered), and I have developed a location-aware app on it that I use all the time.

I've worked in a lot of languages, from mainframe assembler to Ada, to COBOL, C/C++ to FORTH, to Lisp, Python and on through the alphabet, and I don't know any of them that couldn't support a decent location API if it wanted to. But my actual experience with any such APIs has been nil. These days I stick to Java.

However, the J2ME location JSR and the Android Sensor-based location service are both easy to use and offer more or less the same functions.

The closest I've done to non-native apps is in conjunction with Google Maps.
 
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