Developing for tablet computers

The growth of tablets means that developers require an enhanced skill set; skills to help you stand out.

The tablet’s touchscreen functionality has become so culturally ingrained that I regularly see my two year old cousin, Adrian, touching every screen he sees - even televisions.

The Apple iPhone, was relesaed just five years ago, but ever since then there has been an explosive, technological trend, which seems to be reinforcing little Adrian’s inclinations.

The International Data Corporation has repeatedly increased their projection of global tablet shipments this year, estimating that a total of 122.3 million units will be shipped from Apple, Android, and Windows, and predicting a 131% increase in shipments by 2016.

Many businesses are already utilizing the tablet in innovative waysLast month, Starbucks announced an initiative to allow customers to prepay for beverages by having barcodes scanned from personal tablets and smartphones at the cash register.

At United Airlines, pilots have been using ipads preloaded with digital flight manuals for over a year.

And at Waste Management, trial samples of garbage trucks were outfitted with tablets that would provide drivers with information on routes and pick up details.

What does this mean for developers?Companies like these are finding themselves with a need to design native applications for tablets and smartphones that receive data from an existing web app.

Developers will likely find themselves refactoring an existing application to work with various mobile devices. To support this, these businesses will be seeking to hire developers who understand the importance of writing reusable, extendable code.

What do you need to know?Most of these companies are already using frameworks that help support mobile development.

Spring and Struts are two of the most popular frameworks currently being used in large companies. Hibernate is a persistence framework that is widely used, which connects object-oriented applications to relational databases, such as media databases.

When used with Spring and Struts, Hibernate works in a very complementary manner. Being able to talk about your familiarity with these frameworks through personal projects can be a good way to build a potential employer’s confidence in you during an interview.

ConclusionBy the time my little cousin is in high school, tablet sales and usage will likely overtake the PC. For developers in this environment, this means that the skills they will need to maintain in order to stay competitive are two-fold.

  • First, they should have a solid understanding of how to write reusable code that follows object-oriented principles.
  • Secondly, they should enhance their skill set with an additional focus on new technologies that can be used with or complement mobile development.

Developers who are able to stay at the forefront of this technology shift will be desirable to employers.

Written by Tania Nasser, FDM Java Development Trainee