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Yahoo's Project To Disrupt Mobile Publishing 120

Posted by timothy
from the giving-you-the-once-over dept.
waderoush writes "Right now, content publishers who want to reach readers through dedicated mobile apps have to hire a separate engineering team to build each app — one for iOS (based on Objective-C), another for Android (Java), a third for Windows Phone (C#), etc. Yahoo's Platform Technology Group is working on an alternative: a set of JavaScript and HTML-based tools that would handle core UI and data-management tasks inside mobile apps for any operating system, moving developers closer to the nirvana of 'write once, run everywhere.' The tools are gradually being open-sourced — starting with Mojito, a framework for running hybrid server/browser module-widgets ('mojits') — and Yahoo is showing off what they can do in the form of Livestand, the news reader app it released for the iPad in November. In his first extensive public interview about Mojito and the larger 'Cocktails' project, Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz, chief architect at Yahoo's Platform Technology Group, explains how the tools work and why the company is sharing them."
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Yahoo's Project To Disrupt Mobile Publishing

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  • ALREADY DONE (Score:5, Informative)

    by Roachgod (589171) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @03:02PM (#38832595)
    Take a look at Appcelerator Titanium, or Corona. Or even PhoneGap. Kinda late to the party Yahoo... again.
    • Re:ALREADY DONE (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26, 2012 @03:09PM (#38832693)

      Add MoSync to that list: http://www.mosync.com/

    • by slackergod (37906)

      A developer enters a market and wonders aloud "There are 12 conflict libraries, which one should I target?"

      His friend replies: "You know, we should write a single library to abstract away all those differences, so everyone can just target 1 library!"

      "That's a great idea!" the developer exclaims.

      Now there are 13 conflicting libraries.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Yeah but is this BAD thing, I think not. Having more tools and choices is a good thing IMHO as competition makes for better tools all around. Maybe their setup will produce cleaner code, maybe it will be more noob friendly, maybe they'll make it butt simple to share your content with the ever growing Yahoo portal, who knows but i think it'll be nice to try once its done. After all the worse that will happen is it'll bomb then as you pointed out we still have more choices.

      And now OT but since we are talking

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "...a third for Windows Phone (C#)..."

    BlackBerry market share still dwarfs Windows Phone. What is with the tech world's hate of BlackBerry?

    • It might have something to do with their lackluster efforts to keep pace as Apple and Google speed off into the future. Microsoft's effort to catch up makes BlackBerry look old-and-busted.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Doesn't it support JME making this a non-issue?

    • Re:"Ahem" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pieroxy (222434) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @04:01PM (#38833307) Homepage

      If the thing is based on JS, CSS and HTML, I think the answer is pretty obvious: BB browser sucks ass so terribly they'd have to write one from scratch (or to port Webkit)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Blackberry, aka "My Crackberry" has garnered negative associations as a device that takes parents away from their families...much like the pager of old. Blackberry has, despite attempts to the contrary, been branded as a "Business phone". It's not fun, it's not hip, it is a phone for business-people. RIMM's Canadian teams do not have a firm grasp on product identification, branding, and marketing to tech people (or anyone really). There are steps RIMM could make, but much like Border's Books, their effo

    • a) Blackberry only begrudgingly gives away development tools, and doesn't invest much in community support. (Android reason)

      b) Blackberry doesn't give me access to a userbase flush with cash and with little or no inhibitions about spending it. It's mostly business' and they're tight wads (iPhone Reason).
  • I don't get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday January 26, 2012 @03:04PM (#38832615) Homepage Journal

    Right now, content publishers who want to reach readers through dedicated mobile apps have to hire a separate engineering team to build each app

    Why a dedicated mobile app? What's wrong with HTML? We are talking about books, right? Not Quake or Angry Birds or even a radio station; plain old text. WTF?

    • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anrego (830717) * on Thursday January 26, 2012 @03:06PM (#38832649)

      Hard to sell a subscription to a site.

      Easy to sell an app.

      This is one of my big gripes with the whole "app" thing. A lot of stuff could just as easily be a website, but is being done as an app for the purpose of generating revenue.

      (That's not to say that a lot of apps out there make sense and use features which would be impractical or clumsy as a web page)

      • by Anonymous Coward
        From the developer side, the 'app' seems like a good way to finance mobile-friendly websites, which otherwise effectively require a complete site redesign.
      • The move to apps is, I think, a much larger issue. It's forcing us back into walled gardens where Apple, Google, MS etc are the gatekeepers and control (and get a cut out of) everything.

        Meanwhile most everything can be done in a browser nowadays, we should just continue on with what we were doing, building web apps.

        Ugh, I feel like we are regressing back to the Prodigy/Compuserve/AOL days.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Talk about lock-in, I was on Compuserve in 1982 or 3. Getting off the damned thing was nerly impossible. Emailed them and snail mailed them telling them to close the account and they just kept sending the bills. Of course, after I told them to cancel I never paid, but they kept sending them. Even turned me over to a credit agency! I hope whoever was in charge of them is in prison.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Why a dedicated mobile app? What's wrong with HTML?

      Damn, you couldn't even make it past the first sentence of the summary? That's impressive even for Slashdot.

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        In his defense, it is a painfully long and drawn out sentence ..

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        <HTML>
        <body>
        Anybody who can't write HTML and javascript has no right to be attempting to write applications. I read the summary, the question still stands; you need no application for <b> TEXT.</b> We're talking about TEXT here. TEXT. Why an app, framework, or any other such nonsense?
        </body></html>

        • by PCM2 (4486)

          We're talking about TEXT here. TEXT.

          Where does the summary say that?

          For that matter, where does it talk about books?

          In the case of mobile phones, "content publishing" means a variety of things, and it typically must include a UI.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            "We're talking about TEXT here. TEXT."
            Where does the summary say that?
            For that matter, where does it talk about books?

            In the very first sentence. "Right now, content publishers who want to reach readers through dedicated mobile apps..." you don't read movies, games, or radios. If you're reading, it's text.

    • by Anomalyst (742352)
      I don't have web access on my phone. I "pay as you go" on boost for about $7/month for talk & text assuming I don't burn thru a $20/90day minutes card in the period. Next month I plan to pop $450 to move to the Galaxy Nexus on T-mobile for $100/125min/year, still no internet. Yes, between work/home I am WiFi accessible 90% time, but off-net when mobile. Which makes me prefer a standalone app instead of a website for utilities.
      • by tepples (727027)

        Which makes me prefer a standalone app instead of a website for utilities.

        Ideally a web application SHOULD work offline using the Application Cache [whatwg.org] and Web Storage [w3.org] components of the HTML5 stack. But some publishers are under the impression that offline access is a premium feature.

        • by Anomalyst (742352)
          Interesting point, I will have to make sure I accommodate that on any Android app I develop.
          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            I don't know much about the Android's internals except that it's based on Linux, but I've never seen a PC web browser that you couldn't work offline with.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Next month I plan to pop $450 to move to the Galaxy Nexus on T-mobile for $100/125min/year, still no internet.

        If you're comfortable with no Internet, then why not just carry a Galaxy Player or Archos 43 (Android PDA) and a separate pay-as-you-go dumbphone? That way your use of apps on the PDA won't drain the battery and leave the phone unable to make an urgent call.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I don't have web access on my phone. I "pay as you go" on boost for about $7/month for talk & text assuming I don't burn thru a $20/90day minutes card in the period.

        You're paying for minutes? I'm on boost pay as you go and pay a flat $45 for unlimited text, talk, long distance, email, sms, internet, roaming, and probably a few other things. It was $50 to start, there's a program a kind fellow at slashdot clued me in to that after you sign up, every six times you pay on time it goes down five bucks.

        I pai

        • by Anomalyst (742352)

          They have an Android phone, but you can't use it with pay as you go.

          Actually I have a Moto I1 (Android v1.6, Motos most recent ver for it) on my PAYG. There is a world of difference between $7.month ($20/90 days) and $45.. While the T-Mo is a tad more expensive ($8.50/month = 1250min/$100/12 months) its a far cry from your $45. As noted I am in WiFi Access Point reach most of the day for internet and do not see a need to pay exorbitant amounts to any carrier for internet access that I already have. Internet while I am out and about is not that valuable.

    • by billcopc (196330)

      HTML isn't trendy enough with the non-techies. No, seriously, people are too dumb to bookmark a page, but they'll happily install a browser-based app that basically accomplishes the same as a handful of bookmarks.

      As a guy who writes apps for hire, a lot of the stuff I do is essentially packaged HTML, occasionally with small native features added, but nothing groundbreaking. Once in a while, I'll take a bunch of complex pages and recreate them with native UI widgets, as mobile browsers tend to be a bit lag

    • A web site is just a bookmark quickly forgotten. An app is an icon on the front page of their phone.
  • Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreyLurk (35139) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @03:06PM (#38832645) Homepage Journal
    If only there weren't a half dozen other companies like Xamarin, Appcelerator and PhoneGap already doing the same thing, this might be impressive.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's all irrelevant anyways. In 2 or 3 years, most "apps" will be written in HTML5. There are very few apps that actually need to run on client hardware, especially considering that most client hardware is low capability.

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        It's all irrelevant anyways. In 2 or 3 years, most "apps" will be written in HTML5. There are very few apps that actually need to run on client hardware, especially considering that most client hardware is low capability.

        Depends what you mean. If you're talking about content publishing, then voila -- TFA is describing some new HTML5-based tools for content publishing. I agree that we'll see a lot more HTML-based apps in future (even if we don't realize that's what we're looking at), but the idea here is that Yahoo wants to be one of the companies that makes that happen.

        Content publishing doesn't represent the full breadth of mobile apps, however. How do you use HTML5 to access the phone's camera, webcam, GPS, accelerometer

    • Re:Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Roceh (855826) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @03:27PM (#38832945)
      The problem with all of these cross platform frameworks, they work great if your writing a game or a very simple app that consists of a single screen. However as soon as you go multiple screen you find that the UI metaphors each OS has fight each other, namely Android use of a hardware back button and it use of a hidden menu, these just don't gel with iOS way of doing things. You end up having to write two apps within one app anyway, and in javascript...
      • Re:Again? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @04:43PM (#38833769) Homepage

        You end up having to write two apps within one app anyway, and in javascript...

        Then again, isn't this kind of like the browser compatibility problems that jQuery aims to solve? Sure, the user has to download some code that won't be used, but the upshot is that the same code will display and function in a useful way on browsers all the way back to IE6.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          It's a bit harder still on the phones as it's not only basic navigation and themes that are different. It's the entire way of working. iOS prefers drill down / icons, Android prefers tabs, Windows phone has .... dunno.

          But even if you have a cross platform app you still won't have an app that meets the design guidelines of the respective platform.

      • So far as I know, what Xamarin provides doesn't even attempt to tackle this problem - they simply give you native APIs for UI wrapped for consuption from C#, and it's up to you to implement UI separately on different platforms (but in the same language, and working on top of the same data model), or make a universal UI layer on top of that.

  • How many of these 'apps' really need dedicated apps when some good old fashond HTML 5 would work. Wasn't google voice originaly HTML 5 before Apple approved a native app? Didn't it work fairly well?

    I guess I'm sick of all these websites that want an app installed, to use the website. Just write the HTML so it detects the device and adjusts the page as needed.

    That said. I admit a write once run anywhere, for apps that really do need and app, would be cool. Wait, isn't that Java????

  • by scottbomb (1290580) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @03:17PM (#38832819) Journal

    Having to write for multiple platforms... the humanity!

    Back in the 80s, they wrote for Commodore, Atari, Apple, Tandy, IBM, CP/M, a handful of others.

    Maybe they got spoiled by the 90s, where MS Windows pretty much ruled all computing platforms.

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @03:26PM (#38832925) Homepage Journal
      Yea... for a billion-dollar software conglomerate, writing different code for different platforms is no big deal, since they have the resources to do so.

      For the indie guys like me, who write apps now and again to supplement the pittance we receive from our corporate day jobs (and are lucky to know even one programming language, let alone three), it's a real pain in the ass.

      But then, I guess that's the definition of YMMV.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        If you only know one programming language, it should be no surprise, that you are earning only a pittance as a programmer. Comfortable familiarity with three (an interpreter and a compiling among them) is a bare-bones minimum...

        • It's not that I know only one programming language. I am fairly proficient in at least C, Python, PHP, JavaScript, and even 6502 assembly language. It's just that translating a program from one language to another by hand introduces mistakes and has to be redone by hand every time the "master" version of the program changes.
        • Not everyone on /. is a coder by trade, you know. Some of us are self-taught hobbyists who work in other fields, but enjoy writing apps, building robotic overlords, et. al. in our spare time.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The average program of today does more before you even start actually using it than most of those programs did all day, when we were talking with machines with 64kB of RAM.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @03:57PM (#38833269)

    "Right now, content publishers who want to reach readers through dedicated mobile apps have to hire a separate engineering team to build each app — one for iOS (based on Objective-C), another for Android (Java), a third for Windows Phone (C#), etc. Yahoo's Platform Technology Group is working on an alternative: a set of JavaScript and HTML-based tools that would handle core UI and data-management tasks inside mobile apps for any operating system, moving developers closer to the nirvana of 'write once, run everywhere.'

    Like, you know, the webpage they already have?

  • by Mike_K (138858) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @04:12PM (#38833429)

    Yahoo's Platform Technology Group is working on an alternative: a set of JavaScript and HTML-based tools that would handle core UI and data-management tasks inside mobile apps for any operating system (...) Yahoo is showing off what they can do in the form of Livestand, the news reader app it released for the iPad in November.

    Seriously? This is about a cross platform framework that so far has produced a single application that runs on only one platform?

    A little premature, don't you think?

    Michal

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just write one App for iOS and don't bother writing for the anything else. Problem solved.

    • by tepples (727027)
      Good luck selling a $200 app now that you have to bundle an iPod touch with each copy that you sell to users of phones that run Android, BlackBerry, Java ME, Symbian, Windows Phone 7, or something else.
  • Enyo was just released as open source, and is practically the same framework. It will even run on desktop browsers!

    http://enyojs.com/ [enyojs.com]

  • Ok, first off, I don't want to hear about disruption or curating, or whatever fucking words the pack-minded journalists have a hard-on over.

    Second ... If you've used google's sites on your iPhone or Android, you know that they have very nice mobile websites. I tried using yahoo finance on my iPhone a couple days ago and they didn't bother giving custom layout for mobile devices. If I was head nigger in charge at yahoo, the first step would be optimizing all the web sites to work great on mobile device

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Ok, first off, I don't want to hear about disruption or curating, or whatever fucking words the pack-minded journalists have a hard-on over.

      The rest of your comment aside, this is what I came here to say. When I read "disrupt" I thought Yahoo! had gone rouge and was planning a DDoS. I'm not homophobic or anything but I mean it in the junior high school sense when I say gay it down a little*, Slashdot.

      * I want the rainbow back as well as the word gay, thanks.

  • It violates the developer agreement.

    The developer agreement allows interpreters that don't download content from the web (5 BASIC interpreters in the App store, but you have to type in the programs yourself to use them). It also allows interpreted downloaded content in JavaScript -- in a UIWebview: meaning in Safari,

    From my reading of things, they are implementing their own JavaScript interpreter ("chromeless") which is not a UIWebview, and therefore in violation of the developers agreement.

    Not that I agre

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