Guide to developing mobile apps – Allowing for rapid development

Over the course of the months that we spent preparing Jumble-tron 2 – Electric Boogaloo for it’s release, we made some mistakes.  Well, honestly, we made a lot of mistakes.  The things that we know as app developers can sometimes slip our minds as we get caught up in working on a project.  We all know that we should test, test, test as we go and we should make our functions small and generic, but sometimes, when we just want to get some new features in the app quickly, we take shortcuts.

We are going to be doing a series of posts that point out and remind us all about some of the important do’s and don’ts of mobile app development so that hopefully next time, we don’t make the same mistakes again.

Allow for rapid development

It’s important at the early stages of a project to make conscience decisions that will allow you to develop rapidly.  We all know that in this day and age with software, the best method is to move quickly and get to a releasable product ASAP.  Then, use user feedback to go back and fill in the gaps to make the app “perfect”.  No app developer has ever coded an entire app from start to finish and not run into some issue along the way that required going back towards the beginning and making some major changes.  Whether it be an overall design change, a performance issue or some major bug; there will always be something, and usually many things that require you to go backwards and update your code.  For these reasons, you need to keep in mind with every line of code you write, that you will almost certainly have to revisit it very soon to either change it or try to remember why you did exactly what you did.  I have 3 key items that I try to keep in mind as I am developing to allow for rapid development.

  1. Write small functions for every little thing that you are doing in your app. It’s much easier to go back and understand/debug/re-write a small simple function than it is to wrap your head around some function that is several hundred lines long and has 10 parameters passed in to it.
  2. Write plenty of comments.  I always make a note in the code anytime I have to do anything slightly unusual or when I recognize that a function has become pretty complex.  If the function seems complex as you are writing it, it will be impossible to understand next week when the entire app is broken because of that function.
  3. Use libraries and frameworks that you are familiar with.  I will go into detail for this one a little more in a later post related to when I like to try out the latest and greatest tech for an app, but it is important in rapid development to really understand the tools that you are using.  Once you get to a functioning product, you can start evaluating if there are new libraries that you should consider using.

Stay tuned for several more posts in this series including my keys for testing and my don’ts for optimization.

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