Elance Blog

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Battle Royale: iPhone, Pre, Android, BlackBerry, And Windows Mobile

With Palm’s latest move into the mobile phone and application arena, the smartphone plot involving the big five thickens. Although each of these players have their respective Software Development Kits, there are clear pros and cons of each that can effect the application development process for you as both a skilled provider or enterprising employer.

If you’re sitting on a golden idea for a mobile application yet are completely clueless on all of your accessible choices, don’t just jump into fray without preparing yourself. This guide will provide you with a quick and dirty overview of each of the five main mobile platforms available for you develop on today.

Apple iPhone: Today, Apple has pretty much become synonymous with “mobile apps”. With the release of the Apple iPhone SDK in March 2008 combined with the iPhone’s unprecedented popularity, the tech giant has been riding a wave of success to the top of the mobile applications hill. The benefits to developing on the iPhone are obvious: There are literally millions upon millions of phones already out there in the wild, the developer community is already very strong (with over 50,000 applications already in existence with 1 billion apps served), the platform has matured and already proven itself, and with patented multitouch technology and a built in accelerometer, the iPhone impressive iPhone hardware can power very high quality games and applications.

However, there are some tradeoffs to developing for iPhone. First, although the Software Development Kit is free, in order to release applications, you must join the iPhone Developer Program, which costs $99-$299 a year. Additionally, there is only one possible way to release software, and that is through Apple’s iTunes distribution channel. Although solid, iTunes will only publish software that passes Apple’s somewhat-controversial approval process, and they’ll take a 30% commission fee on top of that as well. One other key consideration: Apple is still struggling to compete in the business-centric market, which is currently dominated by BlackBerry.

Palm Mojo Software Development Kit:
The excitement surrounding the Pre’s recent launch has both the hardware and software world buzzing, and with good reason. (Check out our recent blog post about Palm’s Pre-release.) In what looks to be a direct attempt to embrace the mobile application development world, Palm has specifically designed the Pre to be an extremely flexible platform with a quick learning curve by utilizing existing web technologies (HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS). Here’s what is important: The Linux-based, multitouch smartphone has a few aces up its sleeve when competing directly head-to-head with the Apple iPhone. It offers simultaneous running of multiple apps, access to calendar and contact information for third-party applications (which the iPhone does not), and the ability to install applications over the air through the app store or through a USB cable, sans controversial approval process (supposedly).

Essential Tools And Sites For Every Web Developer

As a web-developer hobbyist, I can say without hesitation that one of the most gratifying experiences known to mankind is finishing up your code, publishing your website, and seeing your work live on the Internet for everyone to peruse.

However, the journey to a completed, fully-functioning, aesthetically-pleasing website is a long and arduous one, even for the most experienced developers. Oftentimes, the process of putting a web destination together can be riddled with researching, inefficiencies, testing, and more.

Net Tuts+, a great source for web development tricks and tutorials that I frequent, recently published a fantastic article that showcases “20 tools to make the life of a web developer easier”. This isn’t just some list of “neat” programs – this list has a number of robust, efficient, time-saving applications and extensions that will definitely save you a boatload of your valuable time. Web heads, take note!

The list features a few heavy hitters that many web developers like yourself have probably already heard of, like Firebug, which allows you to make live edits to CSS, HTML, and JavaScript code in real time, and Web Developer Toolbar, which adds an extra menu item and toolbar chock full of web development tools . There are, however, a few really awesome tools on this list that I haven’t run into before and are ones that I believe are truly essential.

The Palm Pre Shakes Up More Than Just The Cell Phone World

In an era with a countless number of iPhone-toting twenty-somethings and BlackBerry-obsessed businessmen, no company, corporation, or single human has ever come close to denting Apple and RIM's stranglehold on the smartphone market.

However, June 6, 2009 may go down as the day where the cell phone world changed.

Palm, struggling to reclaim its throne as the go-to device for the connected citizen, is releasing a new device to the masses dubbed "Pre" and will attempt to do what no other smartphone has ever done before — shove the iPhone and the BlackBerry to the side and claim the top spot rightfully as its own.

The Pre touts an impressive number of hardware and software features that make it a definite contender in the arena. The hardware is powered with a 3.1-inch LCD screen, 3-megapixel camera with LED flash, Stereo Bluetooth, Multi-touch, 8GB of storage, GPS, accelerometer, and a proximity sensor. However, the software side of the Pre looks to be the most intriguing.

WebOS, Palm’s completely new operating system based on Linux, is what the manufacturer is betting will take the company back to superstardom. The sleek, gesture-based user interface features a unique, universal search, a contact information compiler aptly named “Synergy”, and the ability to multi-task with background-apps running. All of this is built on top of an open platform that uses a number of existing web technologies, such as HTML 5, JavaScript, and CSS. This development platform, dubbed “The Palm Mojo Application Framework” provides the huge pool of existing developers an easy way to transition to the platform without having to learn an entirely new programming language.

And this is where it gets really interesting: Developers can build applications that have full access to the Pre’s gesture system, calendar, GPS, and contacts list, allowing for an impressive level of third-party application integration.

June Elance Online Work Index: Experts Crack The Code

The trends marked in this month’s Elance Online Work Index state it plain and simple: Right now, businesses are in need of people who can code, people who can design, and people who can write.

The June edition of the Elance Online Work Index marks a new shift in which skills are the critical components when it comes to maintaining success in today’s business world. Here’s what the tens of thousands of skilled experts are doing when working online:

A WordPress Development Framework Makes Themes Easy

WordPress isn’t one of the most popular skills on Elance for no reason—the Content Management System (CMS) offers an amazingly healthy set of features, five-minute installation, open-source customization, themes, and more all for no cost. Awesome, right?

However, reaching the maximum potential that WordPress has to offer is often times one of those things that is easier said than done, and creating a theme or layout from scratch that takes advantage of everything it has to offer can be a nightmare to even begin to think about.

Instead of building from scratch, why not find one you like and give it a little bit of a tweak? Or even a heavy makeover if necessary? This is where a WordPress development framework comes in handy. Paul Andrew over at Smashing Magazine wrote up a great post outlining these frameworks and why they should always be considered, especially if you’re a WordPress theme developer.

From Smashing Magazine:

Fifteen Fresh Skill Tests In The House

Keeping our database fresh with the most current and up-to-date Skill Tests is one of the laws of the land here at Elance, and today, we’re introducing fifteen fresh tests for you to feast on. This episode’s cast includes:

New Skill Tests:
Adobe InDesign CS4
Apache Server (2.0 Family)
Google AdWords
Google Analytics
ooVoo Web API
ooVoo Client API
PBworks – Pages and Files
Report Writing
Sarbanes Oxley Act
Spanish Sentence Structure
U.S. English Punctuation
View All

AdWords is the bread and butter of Google’s healthy revenue stream — $16.4 billion in 2007, to be exact. It’s a pay-per-click (PPC) mechanism that offers site-targeted advertising for both text-based and banner-based advertisements. AdWords is one of the biggest components in a vigorous Search Engine Marketing campaign, so having an expert in this field is worth its weight in gold.

Adobe InDesign CS4 joins the roster, following Dreamweaver CS4, Photoshop CS4, and Illustrator CS4. In a nutshell, InDesign is to paper as Photoshop is to photos. You can use the software to manipulate typography, create flyers and brochures, lay out newspaper and magazine designs, and tons more. Features new to the CS4 version are spread rotation tools, smart guides, smart dimensions, smart spacing, tables in the story editor, new styles dialog box, live preflight mode, and more.

If the term “Apache Server” doesn’t ring a bell, then know this—Apache has pretty much made the Internet work since its creation back in April 1996. According to their website, Apache is and has been the most popular web server since its creation. Another neat fact: The name Apache originated from this quote: “The result after combining [the NCSA httpd patches] was a patchy server.” Get it?

Lots of good stuff to go around here in the world of Skill Tests. Remember, they're totally free, so, what do you say? Give us your best shot.

Two Approaches To Getting Online Work Done

Developing a strategy when engaging in online work reminds me of an old axiom that I live and die by: "Look before you leap.” Regardless of whether you're the Provider or Employer, creating and standing by an overall approach before diving in head first is an important step that warrants a good amount of thought. 

What is the best strategy for working with others online? Do you give your team of providers unlimited free range to ideas, work styles, and most importantly, resources? Or do you create a clear-cut set of blueprints for your provider to follow step-by-step, down to every single last letter? Or is it a hodge-podge combination of the two ideas above? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer in my book—it all boils down to what works best for you and those you work with online.

I stumbled across Seth Godin’s blog (yes, that Seth Godin, the marketing guru) and saw his interesting take on the above question. Seth sees it go one of two ways:

"There are two ways to work with talent.The first is to give someone as clean a sheet of paper as possible. "We have these assets, we have this opportunity, here is our budget, go!" That's a great way to build a house if you have a ton of money and brilliant architects.

The second is to give someone as strategic and defined a mission as possible. "Here are three logos from companies in other industries, together with the statement we want to make, the size it needs to be, the formats we need to use it and our budget, go!" If you do this, you're almost certain to get something you can use, and almost certain not to be blown away with surprise. Which is the entire point. "

Elance Is A Webware 100 Winner

The results have just been announced, and Elance has been named a winner in this year’s Webware 100 Awards in the Commerce category, recognized alongside PayPal, Etsy, Amazon, Craiglist, and others.

It’s humbling and gratifying to receive this award and the customer endorsement that it represents, as this award is based on online voting from people just like you. This award is truly the rightful property of the Elance community, as it recognizes our immensely talented people in our professional network and the savvy businesses who tap into elancers as a cost-effective and flexible way to get work done.

Forgive us for our excitement, and know that we will not rest until we’ve revolutionized the way work is done online by bringing talented people together and providing them with the tools that inspire and drive great results.

Say Hello To The New Elance Help

Recently, we’ve taken a long, hard look at the Help destination on Elance and realized it was time for an upgrade. We’ve completely revamped our entire Help section by tidying up the content a bit and placing it on a fresh new platform that brings two big improvements (not to mention a slew of smaller ones) to the table.

The first is something you’ll probably notice right off the bat – the layout. Our new Help system sports a much cleaner, easier-to-use interface that makes navigating to proper and relevant help topics a cinch. You’ll also be able to see additional relevant information, like when the page was last updated, comments (on pages that support comments), and number of times the page has been viewed.

Secondly is a big one: New and improved search. Our new Help search engine blows the old version out of the water. The engine surfaces the most relevant topics to your keywords in an uber-digestible format – headlines and several introductory sentences to give you the most context before you click into the topic.

You’ll Get Great Proposals: Guaranteed

With over 84,000 active professionals, each with their own unique expertise, Elance is literally a treasure-trove of talent, always available whenever you need it.

And with increasingly strict entrance requirements (did you know our providers have to pass tests to join the Elance professional network?) and on-going performance monitoring (we dismiss poor-performers), the pool of professionals on Elance has never been stronger.

So much stronger that we’ve decided to put our money where our mouth is and guarantee your money back if you're unimpressed with the proposals that you receive.

Money back, what? Yes, it’s true that you can post a job on Elance at no charge with a standard job post. But did you know that you could pay a mere $15 to make your job a “Featured Post” and get more attention on the site, inclusion on our job distribution feeds, including Twitter @Elance_Jobs, and most importantly higher quality proposals from the most experienced providers? That’s what I’m talking about. Unsatisfied for any reason with the proposals you get on your featured job post? Drop us a note and we’ll refund your $15 bucks.

Elancers have talent, and we’re here to make sure you find it.

*Our legal team has implored me to be clear about this, so pay attention. My money-back offer is limited to your featured post fees, and not for the work itself. Getting great work results is what our market-leading “Online Work System” is all about - helping guide you though the entire work engagement, enabling you to release payment using Elance Escrow only when you’re satisfied with the results you receive.