Engagement/Developer Engagement/DevPulse/Sept2014

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Welcome to the 7th edition of DevPulse: a monthly glance at stuff happening among and for developers, sourced by many. Our goal is to create greater transparency and collaboration around the various efforts at Mozilla to support mobile, web & app developers.

Developer world news

BrazilJS. Mozilla participated in BrazilJS last month. Some highlights:

  • 56 people attended the Mozilla meetup (we anticipated 20-30), and everyone was actively engaged, using post-it notes to provide FxOS and dev tools feedback.
  • Nearly 120 people showed up for Game Night! Attendees engaged in games that facilitated learning about dev tools, Mozilla culture, and Firefox OS.
  • Lots of love for our speakers Nick Desaulniers, Chris Mills, Miller Medeiros and contributor Leo Balter who spoke to what looked like a near-full auditorium.
  • We had almost 380,000 social media impressions! Conversation ranged from fun photo sharing at the event to the spreading of messages about Firefox OS, innovative Web technology, and promise.
  • Finally, "Níveis dos Mananciais de SP" was one of 10 apps submitted at the event, showing the level of the water reservoirs of São Paulo, which is undergoing a drought. It's a great highlight of both local content and citizen empowerment.

Cross-Broswer to-do list. App developers may be interested in this Smashing Magazine piece, Building a Simple Cross-Browser To-Do List with IndexedDB and WebSQL. Note that WebSQL is needed only for iOS, and a polyfill is available so you don't have to think about it.

Standards sausagemaking. Ever wondered how standards are made? Ever wished you could influence the future of the web? You can. Here's the story of some developers who did.

App & Web Developer Perspectives

Cross-Platform Tools Report. Mozilla recently sponsored a survey asking 2,188 app developers to rate and assess tools for cross-platform development. Some key findings (hat tip to Sakina Groth for the summary):

  • Most developers use multiple tools: 41% have used more than 3, but also claim time needed to familiarize with a new tool as a barrier
  • The top apps developed with cross-platform tools ("CPT") are games (37%), enterprise apps (25%) & business apps (23%)
  • The top 5 platforms supported by these tools are iOS, Android, WP8, Blackberry 10, HTML5, with WP8 as the platform which tops the wish list of cross-platform tool users
  • Developers have realized a 50+% time savings with CPT, and are mainly used for shorter app projects (usually under 3 months)
  • 81% of developers claim that the quality of the apps developed with cross-platform tools is as good as or even better than apps developed with a native IDE
  • The major market barrier for CPT vendors is low awareness of their tools: Only 16 cross-platform tools are known to 20% of the global app developer community. The remaining 150+ tools is hardly known or unknown.
  • Before implementing APIs for Firefox OS into their tools, the majority of cross-platform tool vendors want a clear signal that handsets have reached mass market shipments

If you build it they probably won't come. Research has shown that most do not consider marketing as part of their app development journey - but there is a clear correlation between those that do and the success of their app. The "Developer Marketing Series" on the Marketplace Apps blog are short posts intended to provide app developers with marketing best practices, tips and tricks. The latest post addresses social media marketing.

Open Web Apps feedback channel launches. We have just launched the feedback channel for Open Web Apps! Instead of endless discussions with developers about web vs. native, "web apps don't have what I need for my app," developers can give specific input and ideas on how to make it better.

For the period of Aug 4 - Sept 2, the new channel received 1,102 unique visitors and generated 44 new ideas, to which all are being responded. Big kudos to the WebAPI team (Andrew Overholt & more), Partner Engineering (Harald Kirschner & [http://mzl.la/NickD Nick Desaulniers) and Evangelism (Robert Nyman) for moderating this important channel.

Of course, the DevTools channel launched earlier this year. Last month this channel got 1,121 Unique visitors (up from 712 over the previous period). This is another highly-engaged group of visitors, introducing 54 new ideas (up from 20 raised in the previous period).

New on MDN. A pragmatic guide for app developers: Installable apps for FirefoxOS h/t to @chrisdavidmills.

Project & Event Highlights

App tools aka Rec Room.Rec Room is a Node.js utility that suggests which tools to use to build client side Web apps. Read the Hacks post to see how a Mozilla engineer (aka Tofumatt) used Rec Room to build and deploy a simple world clock web app.

Onoarding your Flame phone. Do you want to use a phone that has adjustable RAM to simulate different performances across devices? Learn how to set up a Flame reference device for app development, flash new builds, and change its RAM configurations in these videos.

Recent keynotes. Christian Heilmann gave the closing keynote at Copenhagen's Coldfront conference. In the talk, Christian addresses the need to simplify development approaches to help improve browsers.

Christian aka Chris also gave the opening keynote and a session on Firefox OS at the MobileTechCon, drawing from Comscore research to remind the audience that native platforms face the same issues as the web (fragmentation, declining app download numbers), butt the web can deliver to all platforms instead of one.

"Geekery" Highlights

MDN Milestone. For the first time ever, MDN got over 2.5M unique visitors in August. To put that in perspective, last August we had 1.48M, so that's a 69% increase year-over-year! The month-over-month numbers from August:

  • Unique visitors: 2,590,310 up 21.80%
  • Total number of visits: 4,878,129, down 1.02%
  • Page views: 8,762,620 down 1.59%

On Monday, August 18 we had an especially sharp spike of 25% more sessions compared to the previous week.

Mo' Milestones. Remember that July was the first month that Developer Relations reached its 2014 goal of 1,000 active contributors (1,087 to be exact). We maintained the pace in August with another 18% increase in MDN editors (838 total), bringing us up to 1,105 active contributors last month! If you want to go crazy, you can see these and more up-to-date numbers in our DevRel Metrics spreadsheet.

Engaging with Developers Together

  • The Web Runtime project builds the runtimes for Android and the desktop and ships them with every copy of Firefox. And they are hiring engineers!
  • Share and participate in the Open Web Apps forum!
  • Help Tofumatt make his "High Fidelity" app perform better on Firefox OS (e.g. suggest things like fixes for memory/CPU usage to UX-related input. Why? "I want to take these fixes and push them back into rec room so developers with more complex needs can write apps for Firefox OS that perform well." Sounds like a good reason to us!
  • Contribute to Firefox Marketplace, whether via quick "one and done" tasks or larger 'guided' projects requiring ongoing mentorship. Learn more on the wiki, or join the next 'open chat' session in the #marketplace IRC room.