All posts tagged ‘sdk’

File Under: Location

Bing Maps Gets a Developer SDK

Microsoft may be a few lengths back in the race to win the online mapping prize, but you can never count Redmond out. The company released an SDK for Bing Maps on Monday, allowing developers to create their own Map Apps for submission into Bing Map Apps gallery (Silverlight is required for that link).

When Microsoft first launched the Bing Map Apps gallery (say that three times fast) a few months ago, it featured interesting geodata mashups from partners like Foursquare, Twitter, Weather.com and TrafficLand.com. These maps provide one or more data layers over whatever map you’re currently looking at, so you can see things like restaurant reviews, geo-tagged tweets, weather camera images and temperature readings or traffic cams. My favorite is the Urban Graffiti tracker from virtualglobetrotting.com which pinpoints places where you can see some cool street art.

Now, anyone can make one of these apps. With the new SDK, developers can create their own geodata overlays using any data set they can get their hands on, then submit their creations to the Map Apps gallery. Microsoft will feature the best submissions and present them to everyone using the Bing search tool. The company says it will also allow advertising in the Map Apps and split the revenue with the creators. There’s a testing tool included in the launch.

The goal of Monday’s release appears to be two-fold: increase interest in Bing Maps, and speed adoption of Silverlight 4, the latest version of Microsoft’s rich media and streaming video platform, and it’s alternative to Adobe Flash.

Everything built with this SDK needs to be done in Silverlight 4. You’ll also need the Silverlight plug-in to view any of Bing’s mapping features — at least version 3 is required for the bing.com/maps website.

It’s a bit of a shame that Microsoft has so deeply baked Silverlight into the Bing maps experience while others — most notably, Google and OpenStreetMap — have managed to create rich, interactive maps using HTML, JavaScript and CSS. But one can’t blame Microsoft for trying to popularize Silverlight at a time when the web is starting to move away from Flash as the de facto standard for presenting rich content in the browser. Even though most of the momentum is going into HTML5, CSS 3 and other open standards, Silverlight stands a chance to win some ground.

Silverlight is currently installed on around 60-65 percent of internet-enabled PCs. Around half of Silverlight’s users are running version 3, with around seven percent running version 4, according to riastats.com.

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File Under: Mobile, Software & Tools

iPhone Coders Muzzled, Miffed by Apple’s NDA

BrokeniPhone by JefferySimpson via FlickrThe iPhone development community is growing rapidly, but Apple’s treatment of some of its biggest supporters is drawing more ire than kudos.

Because of the company’s restrictive non-disclosure agreement (NDA), iPhone developers are legally banned from sharing programming tips, discussing code or asking questions of one another in forums or over e-mail.

They feel as if they’re coding with their hands tied, and the frustration is enough to make iPhone programmers want to curse loudly in the direction of Cupertino.

“FUCKING NDA” has become a mantra on Twitter. Every time a developer posts about his or her latest run-in with the metaphorical brick wall that is Apple’s NDA, the capitalized expletive is sounded off. “FUCKING NDA” has become such a phenomenon, a website has sprung up at FuckingNDA.com to track the twisted tweets.

A sampling of FuckingNDA.com’s vitriolic nuggets:

“I can’t get a feature of this iPhone app work. The result is I’m going to settle on an inferior approach. App won’t be as good. FUCKING NDA.” – Marcel Molina

“The FUCKING NDA is here to stay. It has certainly crushed my enthusiasm for the platform. Big time.” – Jonathan Eunice

“Re: the FUCKING NDA: It’s pretty clear that this is being done for competitive reasons. At the cost of A LOT of developer productivity.” – Craig Hockenberry

Apple’s software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone is the primary set of tools for building apps for the iPhone, especially if the creations are to be included for sale in the device’s App Store. The NDA, which must be agreed to before the SDK can be downloaded, prevents programmers from discussing the finer points of their code.

Justin Williams, a developer for Second Gear created FuckingNDA.com as a way to showcase his fellow developers’ frustration with Apple.

“It started out as a joke on Twitter with the iPhone community,” Williams says of the site’s launch in late July. “I figured I would get about 10,000 visitors a day and it would go away in about a week. The site has been linked to and commented on Twitter ever since.”

NDAs are commonplace in software development, but many see Apple’s restrictions as excessive, and even as a roadblock in iPhone application advancement.

“There is no legal way for developers to talk about they are developing,” Williams laments. “No way to post tutorials. No way to give code away. It’s hard to interact with other developers and to write code without reinventing the wheel. Normally, you could post [a coding question] on Twitter and get an answer within minutes.”

Why the secrecy?

“[It has] something to do with keeping competitors from looking into it and finding out what [Apple] did,” Williams says. “Or something else over my head.”

Brian Dear of Eventful praised Apples’ tools and developer evangelist team, but felt there was more he could do with his company’s event-listing iPhone application had it not been for the NDA.

“With the NDA, we’re unable to talk with one another,” Dear says. “We want the developer community to be a lot like the open source developing community where you can help and talk to one another about the best way to do these things.”

In an e-mail, Dear says his team had to abandon a certain user interface enhancement simply because they couldn’t figure out how to implement it.

“[We] weren’t able to get anywhere with Apple, and had nowhere else to turn,” he says. “We couldn’t talk to other developers to see if anyone else knew of a way to do it.”

The open source community is an example where open communication has been proven to foster problem-solving and collaboration. Bugs, issues and coding methods for open source applications are discussed regularly on IRC, over e-mail or in forums.

“I would urge Apple to transition from its current position to one of supporting and encouraging a thriving, open, developer ecosystem for the iPhone,” Dear says.

Before the iPhone 3G was released, when the SDK was in beta, the NDA made sense — it contained some sneak peaks into the hardware and software functionalities of the not-yet released product. But now that the new iPhone and its software have shipped, Apple’s motivation is in question. Still, there is nothing keeping anyone from downloading the SDK and its NDA. All that’s required is an Apple login and a download from its developer site.

“I don’t know the reasons why Apple chose to go the NDA route, but there must be reasons,” Dear says. “I hope that in time those reasons will become less important or even moot, and we can get to an open environment.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment on this article.

Photo: Jeffery Simpson via Flickr

File Under: Mobile

Android Developers Vent Over Google Delays

Android robotWhen Google announced Android there were high hopes about an open mobile platform. The momentum Android may have had has largely disappeared as developers have waited months for an updated software developer kit (SDK).

One discouraged developer started a petition for an SDK update. His fellow developers have joined the discussion, many expressing displeasure and optimism in the same sentence.

“I am holding out hope for Android but my development efforts are currently focused elsewhere and will be until Google makes some significant positive moves.” – Hong

Among the frustrations with Google is that the company has released an updated SDK to finalists in its Android Developer Challenge. That means there is a newer SDK, but most developers are not given access to it. How open is that?

A member of the Android team joined the discussion to say they are focusing on delivering Android-capable mobile phones. Indeed, hardware is another complaint of Android developers, who have gone eight months without being able to develop against more than an emulator.

“i lost patience long ago. will keep coding/waiting untill the end of

july. then ill eigther switch to the iphone (if sells are good) or

windows mobile. i see absolutely no use in working with a barely finished SDK on an emulator without a piece of hardware in my hand. MOBILE phone development is no fun if you cant test it MOBILE.” – just-some-guy

Indeed, iPhone is a common comparison with the Android developers, who see a closed system with millions of potential customers as better than an open system without a single user. I can certainly relate. Android is still just a bunch of potential to do cool things, while the iPhone can do cool stuff now.

via The Register

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