I’ve been developing websites for years. Until I came to Switzerland, most of them were static HTML, although Blogger gave me my first taste of automatic publishing back at the end of the late 1990s. I started programming for content management systems in 2001 and now have loads of experience with WordPress and TYPO3.
Smartphones began changing the web browsing landscape in 2008 and since then, the tendency for consuming web content has shifted heavily towards smaller screens and consumption via mobile connections. I made my own website work with responsive design in 2010 to impress a future (now current) employer, and have produced nothing but responsive websites since then.
With the move to a much more interactive web, the need to learn how to programme applications (or “apps”) became very important. I made steps in 2011 to start thinking of how to improve interaction with a website, building on the knowledge I gained in Brienz when I worked on an online newspaper system. Stuff that any Facebook user will be familiar with: automatic previews, clicking on a button to hide a piece of information, or clicking on a button to display a hidden menu.
That all happened on the desktop and came particularly to the fore last year, when I learned more about what was possible when dynamically loading content during WordCamp in Zurich. That sowed the seed in my mind for learning more about building apps for smartphones and tablets, and increased my desire to make my own app.
And now I have. It’s not publicly available but is a simple web app which loads content via an internet connection and then stores it for offline reading. In this case, my latest blog posts via the new WordPress REST API, which is coming to Core in v4.7.
Once the content has loaded, it’s available offline; whenever the phone has an internet connection, it checks with the server every two hours to see whether there’s any new content. If there is, then it asks you if you want to load it.
I now have a hobby app to work on, and a basis for future apps which we at work can build on for fun and occasionally for our clients. We’ll never be a true competitor to other, vastly more talented app designers, but it’s fantastic (on a personal level) to have a new skill.