Convergence of Mobile and Web: How apps are the apex of it all

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There’s a great term floating around that I think will eventually become how we think about software: the appification of everything. We’re seeing a lot of trends moving towards this type of thinking because it provides more utility to much of the software we’re building. This trend is really composed of 4 foundations with the forcing function being the pressure of the consumer market with their many devices.

1) Seamless Unification of Web, Mobile, and Everything Else

The number of devices per person is averaging around 3 as of 2015. Since web was the first to gain adoption, we typically see the most robust systems here. However, this has dramatically changed with the introduction of apps for mobile devices. This is the “appification” aspect of technology. Up until recent years, if you wanted to have your product cross platform, you were required to develop differently for each. While much of that is still true today, we’ve seen a massive trend into what we call “Cards” – a type of design and functionality pattern that provides a consistent experience across all devices. Cards are like mini-apps that allow developers to retain similar designs across all devices with similar levels of functionality. The key is that they still tie back to the same backend system. This is the first step towards a seamless unification across all platforms. Once this happens, we’ll see an intersection for user profiles and analytics where we’re able to share information across platforms and devices from one central location.

2) Requirement for Different Presentation Layers yet Same Features and Functionality

With multiple platforms comes multiple ways of presenting. This has posed a challenges for businesses since they often lose brand identity as they move across platforms. They often can’t retain things like functionality, style, fonts, and more that make their brand who they are. With the “appification” of everything delivered through mechanisms such as cards, this has become a hurdle that can be conquered. Cards provide a contract to the presentation layer that basically say “We’re a card and our outer system will follow what your platform requires.”. However, the key is the second part of their conversation: “We’ll present in your format but we’re going to loop in our own functionality that will be contained within our Card.” A perfect example of this is how Google Maps works. Maps is cross platform and varies in the level of data being presented however as you interact and expand the app, it retains the same robust functionality of the full scale app. Since we’re able to retain the same functionality across platforms, we can also pass in information across platforms as well – which is great for analytics.

3) Unification of Data and User Profiles across Platforms

Since Cards can be passed through different platforms, we’re able to collect more intimate data that is unified. In the past, it’s been a nightmare to unify user profile data across platforms to build a comprehensive understanding. With Cards, we now have to worry about two things: Collection and Data schema. The collection schema is specific to the environment that the Card is living in, meaning if I’m on the web I collect “A, B, C” data whereas on mobile I collect “G, H, I” data for a user. From there, it’s a matter of the user profile server side to handle the data collection which means that the user profile schema must be able to accept this information. This is incredibly useful because server side allows you to do interesting things with cross-platform data collection – such as recommendations or content personalization based on unified profile data. The nature of Cards allows you to easily add, remove, or swap out different levels of functionality through microservices.

4) Advances in Microservice Capability for Interoperability

One of the beautiful thing about Cards and Microservices is their ability to change constantly. With this structure, you’re able to update APIs and functionality on any platform (including native ones) without having to relaunch SDKs. I’ve seen incredible use cases for this such as delivery of content, updates in core functionality, or swapping out logic/engines behind the scenes. Additionally, you can add multiple microservices to the cards to extend functionality. This plays well with interoperability across platforms since other platforms can subscribe to data updates. One key to note here is that with Cards, you can expand your functionality within the limits of the Card. Since Cards are isolated from the exterior environment, it provides a great way to insert robust apps into hostile environments while still being able to “land and expand” functionality in the future.


In the near future I believe we’ll see a large shift towards everything being app based. We’ve seen this movement with larger corporations such as Google, Pinterest, Facebook, and Apple. I’m betting in the near future that we’ll see more platforms making it easier to develop this type of technology with more advanced developer tools specifically for this, app focused delivery mechanisms, and all-in-one development solutions that allow for app creation in one area but deploy in all. As the expansion of devices increases and we become more connect, I believe we’ll see a collapse in the code bases to something like apps so that we can provide that unification that businesses and users are looking for.

Joining Let um Eat as their first Advisor

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I’m very excited today to announce that I’m joining Let um Eat as an Advisor. My primary focus will be advising the company on technology, expansion and strategy as they push the growth curve. So what exactly is Let um Eat?

Let um Eat is bringing back the connection between humans and food. In the past years, there’s been a real disconnect between where our food comes from, who the people are that prepare it, and more. The goal of Let um Eat is to promote, educate, inspire and connect the Seeders (Farmers), Feeders (Chefs & Artisan Producers) and Eaters (People who eat!) in our local and national food system by sharing stories, experiences and resources.

It’s a collective of people who care about sustainable food and praising those who grow it and prepare it. I’ve always been fond of food since I was fortunate enough to grow up in a city that boasted the highest amount of restaurants per capita for a long time. Let um Eat has showed significant growth in their community with the recent trend of consumers caring about their food. High quality local farmers, top chef’s, and sustainable conscious community members have helped accelerate the growth with their pledge to share their incredible and inspirational stories. With chains such as B-Good, Chipotle, Shake Shack and Whole Foods growing in droves due to their transparency and connection to the sources throughout the food chain, I have high confidence that their unique way of “sharing the love” will resonate with the community. Let um Eat has been bootstrapping for the past year and are starting to expand outside of Oregon into neighboring states.

It’s a great honor to help bring back the connection between the food chain and I’m excited to be part of the movement. Thanks for asking me to join the collective!

To see what it’s all about or join the collective, check out Let um Eat.

Why open source accelerates all industries

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It seems to be a trend lately for companies to give back to the community through. I, for one, absolutely love this trend. I’m a huge advocate of big companies taking the initiative to contribute back to the communities where they often times pull their software or ideas from. To me, there are 3 main benefits of open source: Community, Adoption, Innovation.

Community

Fun fact: pretty much all tech you used has some level of open source software to it. And the only way for OSS to exist is through a community. It’s incredible to see what a few people can come up with as a grassroots idea and how dense the gravity can become around them. Developers gravitate towards trying out new software and often times enjoy simplicity yet extensibility. This gives them the sandbox that many love. What you’re reading is the start of community forming where users congregate to share ideas, projects they built with the OSS code/software, use cases, their contributions back, etc. Often times these communities gain massive momentum, such as the open CMS Drupal, where you have tens of thousands of users reviewing the source code, adding unique functionality, and creating extensions of the platform. Through contributions we see huge innovation at play where users push the limits of technology into a positive direction. Once this type of momentum is generated, there comes the massive adoption phase.

Adoption

The beautiful thing I love about OSS is when the adoption hits critical mass to take off. A few years ago, Spark (an Apache based cluster computing solution, also OSS) was a small scale project where the founders wanted a more simple and fast way to compute lots of data. With the rise of the big data boom, more and more users really benefited from the scalability and speed that it provided. As adoption increased significantly over the next few years, so did the diversity and stability of the code. Fast forward to today and you’ll see that Spark is now becoming the standard for truly big data solutions. It’s gained enough traction to land a commitment from IBM of over 3,500 developers to help contribute to the code base. OSS powers the world and gives all users the ability to tailor it to their needs. Through tailoring the solution to fix their problem, we often see the biggest innovations surface.

Innovation

A common term among the OSS world is “forking”. No, this isn’t forking someones lawn for a prank. Rather, you can think of it as mutating the original code base to be different. Many of the core principles from the code may still be in tact, but there will often be fundamental differences. This is a critical junction for the world as this is where massive innovation happens. When we start to see users play with it to be more performant or scalable or whatever else their use case may be, we see competition happening. Through competition, innovation. The true benefit for OSS is its ability to allow for rapid disruption to take place. Back in the day, there was no easy way to just launch a database designed for handling massive amounts of data. Today, we’re in a much better spot with various version like Mahout, Hadoop, Spark, and many others that provide different types of solutions. This is what makes the OSS world so great: it provides healthy competition in which the end users (both businesses and developers) benefit from.

The cycle keeps continuing at this point to help push innovation. This isn’t limited to just software though. Other industries are starting to push proprietary IP open in an effort to contribute and drive adoption. Tesla Motors is a great example of this when the opened up their patents for use by all. With software roots and mentality in mind, I’m hoping that we’ll see more and more companies offer up unique parts of their business to become open sourced.