Of MobileCamp Boston 4 and blending Drupal and Mobile

This past Saturday, at MIT, was MobileCamp Boston 4. This annual un-conference event sold out at 700 registered attendees and was a full day jam-packed with lots of informative sessions.

Sessions at the camp covered a variety of topics including development best practices, project management strategy, marketing and design.

Brian McMurray, Software Architect
#Drupal | Posted

This past Saturday, at MIT, was MobileCamp Boston 4. This annual un-conference event sold out at 700 registered attendees and was a full day jam-packed with lots of informative sessions.

Sessions at the camp covered a variety of topics including development best practices, project management strategy, marketing and design.

One of my favorite sessions of the day was a panel discussion on the current state of HTML5* on mobile by Matt Gross, a founder of MobileMondays Boston, Imram Malek from Mocospace, Al MacDonald, co-founder of Bocoup, and Pascal Rettig, owner of Cykod.

I'll admit I missed the first twenty minutes or so of the panel (the hallway chats were just so good!) but what I did catch of the panel was great. When I arrived, some of the current quirks of the HTML5 and CSS3 implementations in modern smartphone browsers were being discussed.

For instance, you can't overlay other content over a <span class="sy0"><</span>video<span class="sy0">></span> tag in Mobile Safari -- the video will always appear on top and on Android, CSS3 animations don't perform very well.

The panelists clearly were big fans of creating mobile web apps whenever feasible instead of native web applications, but also acknowledged that there are some situations where a mobile web application isn't going to meet all of your needs.

3D graphics support in the web browser is still fledgling at best, and while initiatives like WebGL are promising, performance is not going to be as good as what can be achieved by writing native code.

Another area where the panelists suggested it might be best (for now) to write a native application are games. The Akihabara JavaScript library could work for simple mobile-browser based games, but it would currently be hard to create a game like Angry Birds in the browser and have it perform as well.

If your application calls for direct access to some of the phone's hardware features, like the camera or audio recording, you're also currently out of luck in the browser.

During the question and answer part of the panel, another audience member asked whether HTML5 can be used with content management systems like Drupal on mobile devices. The panelists replied that there is a lot of opportunity in this area for CMSes to create great mobile experiences using libraries like Sencha Touch and jQuery Mobile.

Here at Treehouse, we couldn't agree more. In fact, we agree so much that in just a couple weeks Tim Cosgrove and I will be giving a chat at Drupalcon Chicago 2011 about our experiments into using the jQuery Mobile framework with Drupal 7 to do just this. If you're interested to know if Drupal and Mobile can blend, you should definitely check it out!

* There is a lot of confusion out there about HTML5 and what exactly that means. Here we are talking about not just the HTML 5 specification but also CSS3 and the continued rise of JavaScript as a way to create highly engaging experiences in the web browser.

Brian McMurray

Software Architect