Web & Programming

The 10 Best Websites And Resources For iPhone Development

Mobile application stores like Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market are open for business, and business is clearly booming. The demand for talented developers is going at a fast pace, as evidenced by the Online Talent Report (dollars earned in the Mobile subcategory grew 180% in just 12 months). If you're a new iPhone developer looking to get your feet wet or are a seasoned veteran looking for some online resources, we've rounded up 10 different websites, forums, blogs, and tools that can help you jumpstart your next iPhone app.

Apple Developer's Site: This is the first stop that any potential iPhone developer will need to visit when getting started. From this site, you can sign up for the developer program and download the necessary tools required to build iPhone apps. There is a developer fee of $99/annually in order to submit your newly built creations to have them appear on the app store, but you can download the tools and play around with them with a free account.

The site also features the entire reference library for the iPhone SDK, which although not as instructional as a tutorial, is still an indispensable resource for those who have already gotten comfortable with the iPhone development process. In addition to the reference material, you will find developer forums at the site which allow you to ask questions to other developers. Most developers are willing to help new coders learn the ropes, as long as you show that you've made some effort to learn on your own or to find the answer for yourself. The forums at the official Apple site have the added benefit of being frequented by Apple engineers.

iPhone Dev SDK Forums: The forums at iPhoneDevSDK.com are another great resource for all developers. The community is robust and offers advice on everything from coding to promotion techniques and even job postings. One thing to be aware of is that there are frequently posters popping in trying to capitalize on developers. Be wary of business offers, especially from people with a low number of posts. Consider bringing the potential client on to Elance so that you can not only be protected by Escrow but you can also use it to build up your feedback and job history.

iCodeBlog: iCodeBlog.com features some of the best tutorials on the web, both on beginning and more advanced development concepts. It should get the novice beginner off to a good start as well as teach the established user a few things about parts of the API that they may have not explored yet. The blog is updated on a regular basis and would make a great addition to any iPhone developer's bookmarks.

The Best Cloud Apps You Need To Know About

The “cloud” – you’ve heard the term, and chances are, you’ve probably already hit the sky and touched the clouds before. As a matter of fact, if you’ve using the Workroom on Elance to chat, post messages, upload files, and manage revisions of your work, you've been working in the cloud on a regular basis. You’re more cutting edge than you know!

While Elance offers an online platform that allows more than 100,000 active experts and businesses to store work, collaborate in real time, and get work done, there are tons of different cloud-based software applications on the web that satisfy a multitude of varying needs. Here are a few cloud-based services you should keep your eye on that may help you and your business in when in a pinch.

Office Suites
Dying batteries, broken laptops, and forgotten flash drives can make last minute changes to documents, spreadsheets, and presentations a challenge to even the most seasoned road warriors. However, there are a variety of document editors available on the web that you can access from any Internet-connected computer to not only edit but also store your work. Give each one a test drive and see which one fits your needs best.

Google Docs, one of the most popular free online document editors, allows you to create and edit documents online with the added bonus of real-time collaboration with other users and also supports a majority of popular file formats. Unlike its competitors, Google has also created a mobile-friendly version of the app, allowing for pocket-sized editing of documents on the go.

Zoho, a competitor to Google Docs, offers many of the same features, including simultaneous collaboration between users, and also features various plug-ins for Microsoft Word, Excel, and OpenOffice. Additionally, Zoho has additional applications for database management, reporting, project management, customer relationship management, wiki, chat, and more in its suite, making it one of the most robust online office suits available. (Currently free for personal use.)

A new entrant into the arena is Office Web Apps, an online and free version of Microsoft’s mega-popular productivity suite. It features web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and allows you to share documents with others. Currently, you can access Office Web Apps through Windows Live SkyDrive, a cloud storage service by Microsoft.

Storage
While having a robust office suite may sound enticing to some, others may just need a place to put small or large amounts of data in a place that can be quickly accessed by any computer connected to the web.

Analysts: Android To Pass iPhone By 2012

According to Gartner, a technology analyst firm, Google’s Android mobile phone operating system will surpass the Apple iPhone and RIM BlackBerry in market share by the year 2012 (from Practical Ecommerce).

The report states that in the third quarter of 2009, Android only represented 3.9 percent of the market share, landing it far behind Symbian, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Mobile. Analysts however are predicting a huge shift within the next three years as momentum continues to build behind the release of devices like the Google Nexus One and the Motorola Droid and the anticipation of future 4G-capable Android devices.

The data released by Gartner predicts that by 2012, Android will move into second place with 14.5 percent of the total market share, surpassing both Apple and RIM yet second only to Symbian.
 


However, a closer look at the chart shows that while the rankings will significantly change over time, Android, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry will all be hovering in very close proximity of each other in market share – between 10 and 15 percent – and is something that should be considered when deploying your first, second, or 100th app.

How To Find Keywords For Your SEO Article: A 5-Step Primer

Keywords are one of the most important components of any successful Search Engine Optimization campaign. However, before you quickly skim your website and round up a few less-than-stellar keywords, you should invest time in performing some in-depth keyword research. Salma Jafri, online content development specialist and New Way To Work finalist, shares her 5-step guide on finding the right keywords to get your search rank jumping.

Oftentimes, buyers give you a brief description of the title of an article or its main topic and let you determine the appropriate keywords to use. Whether you're doing an SEO article project for a client or wish to rank your website or blog higher, you'll need to pick and find the right keyword combination to attain that all-elusive high-ranking keyword niche. This article will provide you with a primer on getting started with keyword research.

Step 1: Think Like Your Reader


When I was writing an article about buying ergonomic chairs, I started thinking about why anyone would want to buy this item. Here's what I came up with.

People who'd want to buy ergonomic chairs: 
 

A Look Into The iPad SDK

In the second week of February, Apple, in it’s usual stealthy fashion, released the beta 2 version of the iPhone 3.2 SDK specifically designed for the upcoming Apple iPad hardware. Although public information regarding the new iPhone 3.2 SDK is scarce (beta developers are only allowed to access after agreeing to an NDA), there are a few known tidbits regarding the SDK that you should know if you’re an Apple developer, enthusiast, or hardcore fan.

1. For those of you thinking that the iPad looks like an overgrown iPod Touch, you’re not too far off the mark. According to many reputable sources around the ‘net, the iPad is confirmed to be running the iPhone OS, version 3.2 to be specific. However, in it’s current state, the iPhone 3.2 OS and software development kit (SDK) are specifically designed for use only on the upcoming iPad, so don’t expect to be using it on your iPhones or iPod Touches.

2. The new iPhone 3.2 OS appears to have quite a few iPad-specific features that might not ever make it to the little brothers. Since the device will be carrying a much larger screen at a higher resolution (1024x768), there are several user interface elements that will be specifically designed for the iPad.

The first, called split view, allows you to view both your email list and the message in your inbox while in landscape mode, similarly to most software and web-based email clients out there today. The other, called popovers, allows you to see a context menu which operates very much like your standard right-click (or option click for you Apple fans) on your desktop computer.

Additionally, according to Gizmodo, there appears to be a few new gesture-based interactions in iPhone OS 3.2, like two- and three-finger swipes and new touches and drags (tap and hold, tap and drag, etc.) And also in the UI department is the addition of rich text support, which allows for different fonts, sizes, and more.

5 Technologies Your Business Needs In 2010

With the books officially closed for 2009, businesses around the world are all now looking forward to predict what adjustments and investments they’ll need to make to stay competitive for 2010. Clueless on which technologies your business needs? Here are five big players that are shaping up to make a huge impact throughout the rest of the year.

Android Assimilation: As outlined in the December Elance Work Index, Google’s mobile operating system ended 2009 with a huge amount of momentum. Additionally, with the introduction of the Nexus One as well as an army of other Android phones, it doesn’t look like it will be letting up anytime soon.

With Android continuing to gain share in the mobile phone market and it’s more open-ended development approach, businesses will (and have already been for a while now) shifting resources to create mobile applications for the popular open-source operating system. However, don’t expect Android’s 11,000+ application market to surpass Apple’s 100,000+, but there’s no doubt that you’ll see a investments made to set up shop on Android and on other mobile platforms, like Windows Phone and Palm WebOS.

Find Your Android Experts Here

Browsing On The Go: Just because you’ve set up shop on the iPhone and Android doesn’t mean you’re done yet. Why leave out millions of other internet-equipped mobile devices? Creating a mobile website was a hot topic in 2009, with huge businesses like Target, Amazon, PayPal, Bank Of America, and Southwest Airlines creating mobile websites that can be easily (and quickly) accessed by any standard mobile browser on any network.

Ease of access for mobile users will be a huge, huge priority for businesses of all sizes in 2010, so expect to see the adoption of mobile-enabled websites trickle down from larger businesses to medium and small businesses.

Find Your Mobile Experts Here

Get Skilled With Windows Azure And Win $10,000

In January, Microsoft will be officially launching the Windows Azure platform, a "cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting, and service management environment." In a nutshell: You’ll be able to create, host, and run your online application all in the “cloud” with Azure.

To celebrate the launch of Azure, we here at Elance have partnered up with Microsoft to bring you the Windows Azure Challenge so you can get skilled, get work, and get paid. (This program is initially for U.S.-based providers, but we hope to offer a similar program for international providers soon.)

Get Skilled – Microsoft has provided great resources to help you get started using Windows Azure including training materials, a virtual lab, technical resources and support, and more.

Get Work – Throughout December, US based providers are invited to submit a $50 proposal to one of our Windows Azure Challenge job posts here on Elance. We will accept up to 500 qualified proposals during the challenge. The work simply requires that you develop and demonstrate an Azure sample application that you have created using the Windows Azure token we provide.

Get Paid – All submissions will get $50 and the benefits of having a completed project, earnings, and feedback on your profile. But it gets even better! The best 6 applications created during this challenge will receive a total of $15,000 with the top application taking home $10,000. Entries will be judged on innovation, functionality, and use of the Windows Azure platform.

After you successfully create your first sample application, you can participate again by using a new token and creating a different sample, improving your odds of winning the top prizes. You’ll also become eligible to join the Windows Azure Experts group here on Elance, a future destination for Azure work.

The winning entries will also get publicity from both Elance and Microsoft, firmly establishing you as one of the first Windows Azure experts on the web.

So take part in the Windows Azure Challenge today to get skilled with the latest cloud platform, get work by submitting a proposal, and get paid up to $10,000 for an innovative Windows Azure app. For more information, view the Windows Azure Challenge page or one of the Elance Windows Azure job posts here.

Links:

Elance - Windows Azure Challenge Elance Search - Windows Azure Challenge
Microsoft - Windows Azure

The Emergence Of Android

“Droid Does”

If you’ve had your radio, television, or computer flipped on in the past month, you’ve most likely run into the phone that is a “bare-knuckled bucket of does.”  Although the ad campaign positions the Motorola’s Droid (and other Google Android-based phones, for that matter) as a device that is everything that Apple’s iPhone is not, Android does have an uphill battle in the mobile phone arena.

Some will say that Android’s 10,000 available applications are paltry when compared with Apple’s 100,000 apps and over 1 billion downloads to date, but despite this, Google and co. are still sitting in a favorable position to make power plays in 2010 and beyond. If you’re considering taking your idea or business platform on the go with a mobile application, here are 5 reasons why deploying on the Android platform as is a worthy of serious consideration for your business. (Need help getting started? Hire an expert Android developer here.)

Strength In Numbers: The adoption of Android by mobile phone and other technology manufacturers is palpable. Since the launch of the T-Mobile G1 on October of last year, there have been 26 Android devices released across carriers all over the world. In the states, the words "carrier exclusivity" do not apply: The Android operating system has managed to hit all four major U.S. carriers in the form of many devices (Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon) with more slated to appear in due time.

Additionally, analysts from Gartner predict that by 2012, Android will become the world’s second most popular smartphone platform behind Symbian – with Apple’s iPhone in third place. Here are some other numbers to chew on: With the initial release of the Motorola Droid, analysts estimate that a quarter of a million devices were sold within the first week, and by 2013, Taiwan’s Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute predicts that there will be 126 million Android-based products shipped to the market.

Tools For Development: Although some found the initial software development kit for Android to be somewhat lacking, the SDK and its development community has matured substantially. The widely available open-source SDK contains a comprehensive set of tools, which include an emulator, tools, sample code, and core libraries, and there are large numbers of communities and user-generated help documentation floating around on the web to help you get started. The SDK is also available in multiple platforms, allowing even more flexibility for developers.

Additionally, Android-based devices operate utilizing Java combined with Google’s custom Java libraries, so those that are familiar with developing Java applications should have a relatively short learning curve when developing on Android. And if development isn’t your thing, there’s a large number of developers ready to get your app pushed to market. Skeptical? There’s more than 500 Android developers ready on Elance right now.

Road To Market: With Apple’s App store, getting an application published can be a humbling experience. Besides a subscription fee that can range from $99 to $299, there is an application approval process that every submission must meet before being released to market that has reported to sometimes take weeks at a time. Additionally, Apple requires all applications to be exclusively distributed through the iTunes network which also charges the developer 30% of all application revenue to be listed in the store.

Are You A PHP Coding Master? Prove It In Our “Code-Off” Challenge

Today, Elance is adding a new and advanced type of Skill Test to our lineup that takes the assessment of one’s computer coding skill to the next level. These new types of tests, which we call "Code Tests", require you to demonstrate your code-writing skills in leading computer programming languages. We are initially releasing Code Tests for PHP and SQL, with many more languages to follow in the coming months.

To celebrate the launch of our new Code Test platform, we’re setting out to find the best, fastest, and most efficient coders out there on the ‘net. That’s why we’re hosting the first ever Elance “Code-Off” in PHP – the longtime number one skill in demand according to the Elance Work Index. The prize? $250 in cash and one year of premium membership on Elance (valued at $120) to the top 10
performing PHP programmers.

The new Code Tests are timed tests that require the test taker to work with actual code to solve a problem. Each test is made up of 10 questions with a time limit for completing the entire test and a recommended time for each question. The test taker will not only be required to solve the problem in the allotted time, but the code is scored based on how concisely written and how efficiently it uses system resources.

The PHP “code-off” begins now and ends on Noon PST, November 30, 2009 with the winners announced here on the Elance blog on December 1, 2009. To enter, simply complete the PHP Code Test on Elance before November 30, 2009.

Ready? Set. Code!

PRIZES:

10 winners will receive $250 in cash and one year of premium membership on Elance, valued at $120.

LINKS:
Code Test: PHP
Code Test: SQL
All Skill Test Page

 

5 Signs You Need A Website Redesign Now

Back in 2005, you took your business online with the latest and most cutting edge eCommerce technologies. Now, almost half a decade later, your website is still chugging along, but that once shiny layer of digital paint is now showing signs of age.

Does this story sound familiar?

Standards, styles, and best practices on the web change at lightning speed, and although your website may still be completely functional, you may be warding off potential customers and clients unknowingly. Here are 5 questions you need to ask yourself to see if your website needs a redesign, pronto. 

Question 1: In terms of speed, how fast is your website? You’ve worked hard to get your visitors to show up at your website’s door – don’t put them to sleep with long load times. Numerous studies have been conducted and all of them have found the same result: Longer load times = less visitors = less business.

A study conducted by Akamai in 2006 found that if your website takes longer than four seconds to fully load, 33%, or one-third, of all visitors will abandon your site. Additionally, Amazon found that a 100ms increase in site load time would result in a 1% decrease in sales, while Google found that an increase of 500ms on load time would directly result in a drop in traffic and revenue by 20%.

Whatever numbers you go by, the one takeaway is that your website needs to load, fast. Try optimizing your website by compressing images for the web, aggregating and cleaning out your CSS, and removing old, unnecessary content to reduce HTTP requests. You can also try switching webhosts if loading issues persist.

Question 2: Does your website lack consistency? Although it may not seem like it, consistency in major elements on all pages of your site is a must. Elements like navigation, fonts and colors, URL format, and editorial style should show consistency throughout your website as it shows your professionalism and attention to detail when conducting business.

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