Feeds

Google's Inventor gets short shrift

Creating mobile apps isn't Lego, you know

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Veteran tech watcher David Pogue has taken a look at Google's new building-block based development environment for Android, and he's not impressed.

The Android App Inventor follows a long line of breakthrough environments that promise to simplify application development to a series of mouse clicks. Unfortunately it seems that the App Inventor is no better than its predecessors at allowing those without any programming skills to write programs, and entirely failed to turn David Pogue into a mobile app developer.

"It’s extremely unlikely that a nonprogrammer could actually invent anything with App Inventor without the assistance of a teacher or an experienced friend, or hours poring through the App Inventor message boards" said Pogue in his review of the beta published by the NY Times. That was one of his more restrained assaults on App Inventor, which is a shame as it looks very pretty:

App Inventor is on closed beta at the moment: we've asked for an invitation and will give you a better look when we get a chance. The environment should be familiar to anyone who's used a "fourth generation" programming language that tries to use clicks for everything, but ultimately leaves you editing code to make things work.

In App Inventor those lumps of code are colour-coded to fit together - but ultimately deciding which block to use, and where to put it, is no more difficult than typing stuff.

We've used a fair range of such graphical tools, and only been really impressed by the Lego Mindstorms environment - which has the same genesis as App Inventor (both were born out of MIT projects). But while Mindstorms benefits from a very limited range of capabilities (turn motor on, turn motor off, listen to sensor, wait), App Inventor has to allow for dozens of different hardware platforms and thousands of capabilities.

Pogue spent a day failing entirely to create a single working application, or even complete the tutorials. He admits that many of his problems were down to the beta nature of the platform, but others can only be attributed to the complexity of programming itself - something that can't be hidden behind colour-coded blocks. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
LIVE TODAY: Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms
Is goTenna tech a goer? Time to grill CEO, CTO
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.