The m.unc.edu site that we run has been sitting on the old MIT code for some time now. I’ve been working in my spare time (misnomer if there ever was one) to update the site to the new Kurogo framework. The folks that developed the MIT code have now gone and started their own company called ModoLabs and have released Kurogo as the latest version of the framework. It’s quite the difference from the MIT code, but it’s still open source. So, kudos to ModoLabs for keeping the code out there.
The new framework is much nicer, has actual documentation and is a pleasure to work with. I’ve got a variety of RSS and iCal data sources hooked in, been able to consume YouTube videos, even subclassed a couple of modules to make my own variations (and I’m not a PHP programmer by any stretch of the imagination). It’s nice stuff.
I’m close to being able to release the new version, which will include a tablet UI as well. That’s something I’ve wanted for some time as giving a tablet user the iPhone UI experience just isn’t the right thing to do. People have expectations of how content is going to look on a particular device and when we fail to meet those expectations, no matter how good the back-end technology, the user experience ultimately dictates how it is perceived.
m.unc.edu is the web app part of the mobile experience. Native apps are also available from the Kurogo project and we’ll be looking at those sometime soon. It’s a whole different ball game to do native app work and we’re not currently staffed to handle that. Maybe in the Fall we can find a student who wants to delve into that world and using that as a starting point would be an excellent way to speed up someone’s learning.
I want native apps that do things the web can’t. If we’re going to invest time and energy in a native app, it can’t just be something that recreates the web experience. People can already get the web experience on their phone and we handle that quite gracefully with the web app side. Native apps need to be taking advantage of the hardware. The cool thing is because Kurogo is a framework, we’ll be able to leverage the work we’ve already done for the web app side of the project and allow native apps to access the same data the web apps can without having to rewrite everything.