“1 app, 5 screens” doesn’t impress

Let me start by just saying how delighted I was when I first saw the tweets yesterday, highlighting Apple’s revised 3.3.1 statement. I’m glad they opened up the App Store to other building platforms as well. I’m sure some cool stuff will come by pretty soon.

This also means that the iPhone Packager (which comes with Flash CS5) new gets a second life and lots of Flash developers will get started (again) with iOS app dev.

However, my Twitter stream was displaying some tweets today refering to ‘1 app, 5 screens‘.
I think that experiment was a bad attempt to prove something we already knew.

Okay, I get it: You can now use the same tools as before and publish to 5 different types of devices. However, the app used in this example is of a simple kind that just doesn’t do justice to the bold statement. As I said before: You could have used a basic ‘Hello World’ example for that matter.

1 app, 5 screens” seems to try to give the impression that you can now build once and deploy to 5 different devices, just like *snap* that. That’s just not true.
You can in fact use 1 tool and 1 skill (which you already have) to deploy to different devices/platforms. However if you’re talking about the Real Deal, you’ll still end up building different applications for different devices.

iPhone/iPod touch/Android will probably be the same for most of the matter. But tablets (iPad for now) and desktop will need a different approach. An application built to run on 480×320 just doesn’t remain the same when you just scale it to 1024×768 (Just look at most iPad/iPhone apps… 2 apps, 1 bundle). You’ll need to optimize for the different screensizes. Seen as I don’t have touch support on my desktop, I won’t need the same touch-optimized UI which is required for mobile devices. And then there’s filesystem access… As far as I’m aware, mobile apps for these devices run using some version of Adobe AIR. Browser apps for the desktop don’t.

You catch my drift.

Yes, you can now reuse a lot of code to create all of these applications, but there’s still a lot of work involved to make it happen. (I know since I ported an existing browser app to the iPad, just last week.)

Yes, you can create applications for different devices using only 1 tool/skill. But you still have to optimize for all of those screens. And don’t be mistaken: Taking full advantage of every screen requires far more work then you might want to confess.
You will end up building multiple applications.

The only thing statements like these (coming from Adobe for everybody to see) do is making ignorant people believe it doesn’t take any more time to deploy to all these devices. And I hate explaining to my clients that my job is actually not that simple


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Ronny is a freelance frontend developer with a wild passion for creativity and a relentless hate against flat design. Ronny spent years as a Flash developer before moving to HTML5 and rediscovering fun and happiness.

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