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How to Design An Intuitive Conversational Interface Experience: 6 Useful Tips
It's no longer a matter of “Why?”, but a matter of “How?”. The conversational interface trend isn't going anywhere but... UP. So, if you want to keep up with the break-neck pace at which your competitors will be launching their own chat-based apps this year, you first need to: put an end to your “to go or to go conversational?” dilemma. You only have one option... Then, to start focusing on more pressing issues:   what are the user experience challenges to expect when designing conversational user interfaces (CUIs)?   what are the best practices to adopt for creating state of art conversational experiences?   how do you design a... conversation, after all? One that's natural, seamless, quick and ideally convenient for the user?   And once you've pondered on these 3 questions, go ahead and turn the following “enlightening” answers into your trump cards for designing your own rival to Siri, Alexa and or OK Google.   1. Put Together An Exhaustive List of Hypothetical Use Cases  In other words: leave no dead ends in your chat-based app's script. No weak links that could impact your conversation's fluidity. And how do you get “unpredictability” down to zero? By getting knee-deep in user research work.  Invest plenty of time and teamwork in identifying all the possible use cases that your chatbot's scrip should cover... impeccably! How will users react to hypothetical scenario A? And what queries is he/she likely to input in scenario B? What “tricky” request will he/she make? Once you have THE list at hand, filling in your script with copy will sure feel just like putting the puzzle pieces together.    2. The Onboarding Experience: Be Sure to Give It Special Attention  The more straightforward your chatbot's onboarding message is, the more chances there are for the user to interact with your conversational interface. In other words: take no chances, don't try to play smart, resist the temptation to turn your app into a “guessing game”! Let the user know which are your bot's functionality and key features and how precisely it may serve him/her via:   a speech bubble an intro message a suggestive animation   … from the very beginning.   3. Focus on User Convenience When Designing Your Conversational Interface And convenience in conversational UX translates into minimal user input! Now here are 2 best practices to consider for achieving the proper level of user convenience:   keep your copy crystal-clear and straight to the point: avoid ambiguity at all costs, like giving more than one answer to the same question or answers completely out-of-the-conversational-context, irrelevant to the user's intent   keep the user's input to a minimum: the less your customer will need to type in/interact with your chatbot, the better; aim for “yes/no “questions and avoid overburdening them with too many choices to scan through and to select from   Extra tip: make your content ideally easy to squeeze through; keep your sentences conveniently short, thus anticipating that the user might head straight to the call to action. Why should you discourage him/her with an almost impenetrable block of text to keep on scrolling through?   4. Set Up Visual Cues-Based Replies to Your Users' Queries How would you improve readability in “conventional”/non-conversational design? You'd instantly reach out to your not-so-secret trump card — the whitespace — right?  Well, in case of a conversational design, your trump cards are the visual cues. Here are 2 examples of how/when you can use them for boosting readability and turning your conversational interface into a truly intuitive AI experience:   Use them to assist your customers when in need; for conveying bite-sized information and addressing your users' queries in a highly intuitive way. Maps, charts, infographics images, GIFs will be far easier to “digest” than chunks of text and far more efficient for relaying the message   Use them to convey... emotions: whenever words are not enough to convey the feelings you need to convey (e.g. giving them a warm welcome into the app), go with... visual cues; and emoji make the handiest of them all   5. Empathy Is Key to Designing a Human-Like Chatbot A natural conversational interface experience is a human-like one. And a “humanized” AI app is one that easily passes the empathy test.  Now here are 2 suggestions on how to “inject” empathy into your chatbot:   Read the script out loud: how does it sound? Would you say those lines to someone close to you? Do they sound natural enough? Or rather robot-like? Is the conversation fluid enough?   Pay attention to context and adapt your script accordingly. Now you wouldn't want your app to give a robotic-like, impersonal reply such as “I hate to hear that” to a user writing: “I feel a bit dizzy”. It goes without saying that you should anticipate all use cases and user queries and have all the context-suitable replies ready (popping up a map showing the nearby hospitals in this case, for instance)   6. Embrace the “Less Typing on the User's Side” Principle For the less they'll need to type, the more fluid the whole conversational UX is going to be. And, in this case, by far the most popular example to inspire you is Linkedin messager's automated replies. See how it provides users with plenty of choices, right at hand (multiple buttons, “attach a file” option, automated replies etc.)?  In other words: whenever suitable, automate... everything and aim for user convenience at its best!   These are the “tips and tricks” that you may want to consider if you're determined to create a highly intuitive conversational interface experience for your chatbot's users. Ponder on them and see how you can adapt them to your own app's and use cases' scenario.   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 16'2018
Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps: Which Type of App Best Serves Your Needs? Part 2
Native Apps: They're Not Going Anywhere... Not Anytime Soon In other words, in the "progressive web apps vs native apps" competition PWAs make an alternative, not a replacement for native apps. For native apps are here to stay and still offer plenty of advantages themselves, too, (while progressive web apps do have their own limitations to consider, as well) for companies and developers not to give them up anytime soon. And here are just some of the key reasons why they continue to steal the spotlight. Reasons that might help you find your own answer to the “PWA or native app?” question:   big brands, already having their own native apps running on their preferred platforms, don't feel the same pressure as low-budgeted companies to switch to PWAs; it's some sort of “inertia-driven stubbornness”   app developers with a wide experience with IOS or Android don't feel like replacing their familiar work routines with a PWA-specific one, even if the latter is less complex   let's admit it: the web-based app development does come with its own limitations that still need to be addressed    Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps: 6 Reasons to Go With a Native App As PWAs exploit some of the native apps' drawbacks, so do the latter turn some of their “rivals'” limitations into their own strong points. For instance:   PWAS might be widely adopted thanks to their universal compatibility, hassle-free user experience and short development time, yet they're not capable to interact with the devices that they run on   native apps can do that; moreover, they're perfectly adapted to leverage a mobile device's smart functionalities   also, PWAs run in web browsers, which, might turn into a disadvantage: it could slow them down    … whereas native apps, being installed on the given devices, first things first, will inevitably load a lot faster; there's no longer a browser intermediating the process    Now, let's dig out other strong reasons for... going native:   1. No Ifs and Buts: They're Faster As previously mentioned: with the web browser acting as an intermediary, progressive web apps can't compete with their native “rivals” in terms of performance. As opposed to PWAs, native apps are installed on the devices that they run on. Therefore, not only that their code practically “lives” there, but it's platform-bound. Written with the requirements of that specific mobile operating system in mind.   2. They Come With Built-In NFC Support  The “Near Field Communication” support is vital for certain businesses. So, do consider this native apps' advantage (or this PWAS' shortcoming, depending on how you want to put it) before you give a final answer to your “progressive web apps vs native apps” dilemma. If it's of critical importance for you that your customers should be able to pay for your services with their phones, then you need to go native. There's no way around this! PWAS can't yet interact with the NFC chip enabling this type of payment.   3. They Provide a Quality Control Guarantee  All the app stores' “bureaucracy” might be discouraging enough, yet there are good intentions — resulting in a quality guarantee —  behind all those steps to take: filling out forms, reading specific forums, following strict app development guidelines, waiting for your app's review process to be carried out etc., etc. Instead of seeing them strictly as... highly restrictive, take them as multiple filters that clear your app of any malicious code. As for PWAS, just think about it: The easier it is for anyone to access your app by just visiting the web page hosting it, the easier it is for a hacker, as well, to exploit the vulnerabilities of that connection.   4. GEO-fencing: A Superpower Placed in Your Hands And this is no exaggeration, especially if it's a retail app that you're planning to develop. Just give it a moment of thought: GEO-fencing will enable you (your marketing team) to define virtual “boundaries” in the real world; once a customer's mobile device enters or exits that defined area, a push notification gets triggered. A powerful functionality to ponder on when you're facing a “progressive web apps vs native apps” decision-making challenge. A smart functionality that native apps can easily exploit, while PWAs can't.   5. They Can Leverage a Device's “Smart” Capabilities And this is one of the major advantages of native apps over progressive web apps! They interact with the mobile devices that they're installed on, meaning that they use their smart features to their full potential. Features such as:   proximity sensor wave lock: you don't want your users' phone screens to go black right in the middle of a video you've inserted in your app, now do you? ambient light   6. They Easily Interact With Other Apps Take for instance this highly frequent scenario: A user tries to set up his/her account within your app and he's given the option to enter his Facebook login details It's the perfect example of native apps interacting with one another. And this is but just one example of inter-app communication that helps users save valuable time.   So, What Kind of App Should You Develop After All? “ The one that best serves your needs.” So, get them clearly defined first things first:   Do you need to develop a basic customer service/retail app? And, moreover, you're both budget and time-limited, as well? Then a progressive web app might just be the perfect fit for your project's needs.    Is it a mobile app exploiting smartphones' advanced functionalities to the fullest that you need to build? Then you should consider opting for a native app: it's fast —  which will definitely impact the overall user experience — it integrates with multiple payment gateways and it harnesses the power of “smart” features (Geo-fencing, NFS, wave lock etc.)   Also, when trying to pick your winner in the “progressive web apps vs native apps” contest, consider the expected future advancements, as well:   mobile devices will get injected with more and more advanced technologies, tilting the balance in native apps' favor    progressive web apps will continue to be constantly supercharged with new and new functionalities, that go beyond a web browser's standard ones (integration with Bluetooth, with NFC, with smart devices' hardware features)   That being said: the choice is yours to make! I've only pointed out the main criteria and the key benefits/limitations for you to weigh and to compare, so you can make a fully informed decision. ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jan 12'2018
Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps: Which Type of App Best Serves Your Needs? Part 1
The paradox of choice, right? Didn't it use to be so much easier back in the old days, when you had just one option at hand? "You wanted to go mobile, you just knew this meant “pumping” money into a native app." Clear as a day! But what do you now, when you're facing a "progressive web apps vs native apps" situation? Which app development approach is the perfect fit for you? For the nature of your business and for your app project's specific needs? PWAS seem to be “stealing the show” these days: first they intrigue, next they “seduce” with the hard-to-resist-to promise that they deliver: Empowering small businesses to compete against the "giants" in the mobile app development arena! And still: native apps won't be going anywhere anytime soon! Moreover, they'll get even more robust and faster, as the devices that they run on get more and more advanced. And as they'll continue to leverage their great advantage over progressive web apps:  Leveraging mobile devices' smart features and capabilities and thus delivering an enriched user experience. Now, to put an end to your “turmoil”, I've come up with a sort of “inventory” listing the set of benefits that you can reap from choosing one type of app over the other. Here it goes:   But First: What's a PWA? And How Is It Different from a Native App? “An app running inside the user's web browser, that he/she doesn't need to download and install beforehand. And which, moreover, is injected with native app-like functionalities and wrapped in a seamless user interface.” This should be a clarifying enough answer to your “What's a PWA?” question. Bottom line, the key difference between PWAs and native apps is: The first ones run inside web browsers, while the latter run on the mobile devices that they're installed on. The concept behind this revolutionary approach to app development is both daring and ambitious: Cutting down the overhead and the discouraging complexities usually associated with a native app's development process. And thus:   reducing time and costs eliminating the step where your users download it from an app store    Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps: Top 7 Benefits From Choosing a PWA For it all comes down to benefits, right? What's in it for you if you choose one app development approach over the other? The level popularity that one type of app has gained falls shortly behind the very set of benefits that you get. Now here are the most valuable ones to consider when you're having a “PWA vs native app” dilemma:   1. You'll Reach Out to A Significantly Wider Audience, With Fewer Resources As compared to developing an Android-focused or an IOS-focused native app, a PWA will practically grant you access to all platforms. It's a “develop once, run everywhere”, type of situation: A PWA is a “platform-agnostic” type of app. Needless to add that your progressive web app's extreme versatility will help you reach the widest audience way quicker and with minimal costs.   2. You'll Reduce The App Development Cycle Times  And this is, undoubtedly, that heavy-weighting advantage tilting the “progressive web apps vs native apps” balance in PWAs' favor. The very reason why progressive web apps gained so much attention in the first place. With native apps' development process “famous” for:   all the headaches it causes all the complexities specific to any platform-bound solution all the time-consuming steps to take: crafting some eye-catching screenshots, writing down the description, identifying the right keywords and strategically sprinkle them across the description...   ... PWAs emerged in a highly favorable context and they “exploited” precisely the overhead associated with a native app development cycle. So, they managed to “lure” developers unsurprisingly easily by:   eliminating most of those complexities from the app development process eliminating the need to build multiple platform-bound versions of the same app   Also, it goes without saying that reduced development times translate into reduced costs.   3. It's a Unified User Experience That Your App Will Deliver  The advantage of being platform-agnostic bubbles up to the user experience itself. Having a unique version of your PWA running on all platforms, accessible to all customers, it'll be easier for you to deliver the same user experience to your entire user-base.   4. A Hassle-Free User Experience Requiring the Minimum of Effort Compare the 2 following scenarios: a. a hypothetical user visits a certain app store, chooses an app, waits for it to download and then goes through all the steps required for installing it on his/her mobile device b. a hypothetical user lands on a website and gets to use the app right there, almost instantly, with no prior installation; moreover, if he/she wishes, he can save the link as an icon on his device's home screen Isn't it obvious why, in a "progressive web apps vs native apps" competition, the advantage of easy access will always outweigh most of the native apps' benefits? In a few words:    you, as the app owner, get to deliver the content you wish to deliver with utmost ease while your users access it using the fewest numbers of steps … and high accessibility translates into a higher level of user engagement   A win-win situation!   5. Users No Longer Need to Install The Latest Updates Themselves A major convenience both for you and for your apps' users:   you'll get to easily keep them up to date with all the changes that you might apply to your services with no updates to run and no need to re-download the app, users always get the latest version of your app, upgraded with the most recent functionality features that you will have added to   6. Extended Compatibility: All It Takes Is a Modern Web Browser That's right since PWAs run on HTML 5 — the standard for web content — a modern web browser on his/her mobile device is all that a hypothetical user needs for accessing your app. Talking about maximizing your app's reach, right?   7. You'll Cut Down Costs For Building and Marketing Your App You can get a progressive web app up and running (and marketed) in no time! With considerably fewer resources of time and money to invest. So, if:   you're facing a limited budget you're in the retail or hospitality business   … the benefit of bringing your customer service app to your customers quickly and in a cost-effective way is just... priceless.   The END! Well, not the end on my post on the progressive web apps vs native apps “competition”, but the end of the list of reasons why you should consider going with a PWA instead of a native app. Stay tuned, for in the second part of this post I'll be:   putting the spotlight on mobile native apps revealing to you all the benefits that you can enjoy from choosing this type of app development approach ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jan 12'2018
5 Drupal 8 Initiatives and The Pressing Issues They Address
Drupal user “complaints” turned into strategic battle-plans, resulting in groundbreaking improvements pushing Drupal forward. This is how Drupal 8 initiatives grow into stand-alone Drupal core features. They signal the “sore points” for the Drupal community of developers to focus on.  And from all the “user complaints” turned into new Drupal 8 features and functionalities so far we can't but mention:   Views, now part of Drupal core the plethora of multilingual capabilities   configuration management   OK, so these ones already developed into widely-leveraged Drupal functionalities. But which are the currently work-in-progress ones? What's going on in the backstage? What “surprises” to expect from the Drupal core maintainers? What best practices should you get a grip on so you can use capitalize on them during your next Drupal projects? Since we kind of anticipated your “curiosities”, we've selected 5 of the Drupal 8 initiatives that you should be particularity interested in. As they're aimed at easing your life both as a Drupal developer and as a Drupal site/app owner. Let's dive right in:   1. The Out-of-the-Box Experience Initiative  A much-needed “promise”, I could call this initiative. The promise of an initiation for all newcomers to Drupal who, at the moment, don't get a very warm welcoming.  They're left pretty much all alone on their discovery “adventure”, where they unveil Drupal's capabilities. Therefore, the goal that this initiative serves is that of showing off Drupal 8's true potential, all its powerful functionalities and tempting features. And all this nicely wrapped in a visually appealing theme and enriched with example content, as well. In short, this out-of-the-box experience is geared at welcoming new users into the Drupal 8 world! Take this scenario for instance: You're facing the challenge of briefly showcasing some of Drupal's functionalities (which are perfectly suited to their project's needs, needless to add) to a potential customer. With the out-of-the-box experience initiative turned into a powerful Drupal 8 core functionality at hand, you'll be able to get a demo site up and running in no time and to... “enlighten” your audience.    2. The Drupal Media Initiative: One of The Drupal 8 Initiatives Getting Loads of Attention The Drupal 8 media initiative started as a reaction to all the content editors' complaints about:   the cumbersome procedure of tracking down specific items from the media library the poorly intuitive media loading process taking place in Drupal's back-end   Moreover, this dissatisfaction risked turning into a reason for some to opt for WordPress, instead, better equipped to answer content authors' needs. And being able to reuse file content is still one of their most pressing ones.   3. The Workflow Initiative  And this is arguably the most ambitious of all the Drupal 8 initiatives in our selection here. That is because it targets a whole lot of content management goals: a whole lot of content creation shortcomings that editors have been signaling for some time now. To name a few:   the content previewing experience: in case of a content-heavy Drupal website, the preview of the site won't give you an accurate preview of how content is going to look (just an interpretation of how it would look); and with new and new devices emerging, this inconvenience might risk turning into a serious drawback for Drupal 8's adoption      multiple publishing states (instead of just the basic published/unpublished duo): specific content creation scenarios call for specific publishing states ( e.g. “draft”, “archived”) and providing content writers with such kind of granular control is one of the goals that this Drupal initiative serves   simultaneous workflow moderation/publishing of content items of the same group (nodes, menus, blocks): and this is when the concept of “workspaces” stepped into the spotlight   granting different levels of role permissions when it comes to changing a content's publishing state (from draft to published or from archived to published etc.); the content creator would be granted his/her own level of permission, the editor and the content managers their own and so on    customizable workflows: so that content managers should be able to set up and juggle with multiple workflows per content types   Summing up:   the Workflow initiative in Drupal 8 means sustained effort and a huge amount of work invested in granting editors (even) more control over the content creation process   … in enriching the editorial experience with new, much-needed content sharing, reviewing and collaboration tools   … in improving the content workflow   … in getting Drupal 8 equipped with content editing, stagging and deployment capabilities   … in making it possible for content editors to stag content in a non-production environment and have it automatically moved to a production environment and get it published   4. The Migrate Initiative  Imagine a world where:   you would no longer need to be constantly on alert, posted on all the critical patches and upgrades to quickly “grab and install” migrations from other platforms to Drupal would run smoothly, requiring much less of your time and of your other resources   … "time" that you could then invest in customization tasks, in creating and tailoring unique features for the site/app that you're working on. Well, it looks like this world is no longer just a product of your imagination, but a soon to become a real one!  The Migrate initiative is geared precisely at streamlining both the migration and the upgrading processes in Drupal 8.   5. The API-First Initiative  And this initiative comes to boost, even more, Drupal's already robust capabilities to integrate with other platforms and modules. Now since these integrations are intermediated third-party services APIs, enabling data to be transferred both ways, the need for Drupal to provide its own APIs emerged. Then, Drupal 8 would be able to make its own content easily accessible to other devices, services, and apps, as well.   End of list! I'm particularly curious now: Which of these 5 Drupal 8 initiatives do you think that will have the biggest impact on your work as a developer or on your Drupal user experience once it grows into a stand-alone core feature? ... Read more
Serge Karpyuk / Jan 11'2018
CES 2018 Is Here! What Next-Generation Gadgets and Tech Steal the Spotlight?
The world's tiniest laptop, the rollable TV, the world's largest wall TV... all the disruptive “superlatives” in the tech industry are being currently showcased at CES 2018 — Consumer Electronics Show —  in Las Vegas (Jan 9-12). And if you haven't managed to attend the huge tech show and you're in the consumer technologies sector or just an innovative gadgets & technologies passionate, stay assured: we'll be keeping you in the loop!  Here are the: event's highlights “steamy fresh” info on precisely those gadgets stealing the spotlight as we speak news on the most-talked-about innovative consumer technologies at the show   CES 2018: There's Something for Everyone's Taste That's right, take this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as a “theme park” overwhelming its visitors with its load of attractions. Its “visitors” being all those with a keen eye for sleek, next-generation gadgets and a guilty addiction for breakthrough innovations in the tech industry: There is a high tech “ride” for everyone's taste From wireless headphones to 8k OLED TVs, from electric cars to monster-sized TVs, robots for commercial use, wearables, high-tech hi-fi, to fingerprint scanning-incorporated mobile phones... And the list can definitely go on: there sure is something to turn anyone's high tech fantasies into reality at CES 2018! Everyone had been expecting (since it's a 50 years old tech show after all) both the Las Vegas Convention Center's show floor and the Halls of the Venetian to be “piled up” with... jaw-dropping tech innovations! With tech manufacturing giants — Samsung, LG, Sony, Acer, Panasonic and Big G itself — as "stars" of the show, this gathering can't turn out to be but... overwhelming, for any show attendee.   Gadgets and Tech Stealing the Show, The Largest Consumer Tech Show I bet you'd die to take a sneak peek inside. And even if it's going to be just an imaginary tour of the exhibits, your time is limited, isn't it? So you want to know which are those gadgets and consumer technologies “basking in a rockstar fame”. Well, get ready for they're about to step into the spotlight, here below. It's a selection of the consumer electronics products gathering the largest crowds these days in Vegas, at CES 2018: The headphones equipped with translation capabilities   Samsung's monster-sized Wall TV: its 165 inches are getting loads of attention at the tech show, not to mention that the giant consumer tech brand has also unveiled its battle plan of conquering OLED this year   Acer's Swift 7, the world's tiniest laptop (so far): it comes with out-of-the-box 4G LTE connectivity to boot   LG's latest robots designed to assist customers at hotels and shopping centres LG's 65-inch OLED rollable Ultra HD TV prototype: the future of technology has the shape of a highly convenient TV that you can easily... roll up, just like a newspaper Blyton's electric car: which has easily managed to stand out from the crowd of SCI-fi-like TVs, mobile phones, and other next-generation gadgets; CES 2018 is sure to make a fantastic “stage” for the Chinese startup to show off its innovative potential to the world Intel's CPU's with AMD Vega graphics Asus's MC mini-like Chromebox 3: since “small” is definitely the new big, Asus, too, unveiled its own small-sized product, equipped with built-in support for Gigabit LAN and dual-band 802.11 ac WI-FI (meaning, of course, that it will stream 4k videos... superbly) End of... tour! Of course, the lights on the global stage of innovation — CES 2018 — are still on. And they'll be on till Friday, the 12th of January. New “superstars” in terms of gadgets will be rising, so take my selection here as a rough guide only! ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 10'2018
Vue Vs React: Which One Should I Use for My Front-End Project?
Ready to set up your web app? One which, needless to add, should deliver your users a feature-rich front-end experience? Great! Now comes the truly challenging part: deciding which JavaScript UI component library — Vue vs React — is right for your web project! For its specific needs and requirements:   is it a small or a large scale one? is it one overloaded with dynamic elements? do you plan to go mobile, too? do you want it built fast or do you want it capable to scale up in order to accommodate all future functionalities and features?   And the debate is nothing but: convenient simplicity and lightness vs superpower backed up by a thriving community  But let's not move away from your initial “dilemma”: “In a Vue vs React competition, where I get to choose the most appropriate front-end framework that should power my future app, which one's the winner?” Let's bring in the 2 contestants on the “stage” now, shall we?   But First: 2 Crucial Questions That You Should Be Asking Yourself Beforehand   1. Will it be a web or a native app? And this is a critical question to be asking yourself way before you start your “investigations” on the 2 competing JavaScript UI component libraries. Here's why:   React has got you covered whether it's a web application (ReactJS), a native mobile app (React Native) or... even a virtual reality front-end app that you're planning to develop. And this is, no doubt, one of the most heavy-weighing answers to the question: “Why React over Vue?”   Vue2.0 has made a big step forward, towards a native approach (and here I'm referring to Weex, of course); and even if it still can't get anywhere close to React Native's built-in support for building native mobile apps, it's still a “promise” for the future to come.   2. How Much Time Do You Have Till You Need to Actually Start Building It? In other words: is it an “ASAP” type of app developing situation or you do have the “luxury” to invest as much time as needed in learning a new JS framework? And this question is more than relevant (and helpful for narrowing your 2 choices down to 1 from the start) since:   ReactJS can be discouraging for some, due to its quite steep learning curve; from its terminology to its heavy documentation, everything looks less familiar, less intuitive, more frustratingly complex   Vue.js, on the other hand, has “seduced” lots of its current advocates precisely with its low learning curve: it “spoils" them with familiar CSS, HTML, ES6 and where do you add that it doesn't call for a Webpack either.   Basically, you get to explore and capitalize upon Vue.js's potential right away, in pretty much any code sharing environment.   Go With Vue.JS If...   1. It's simplicity in syntax that you value most in a web framework  In a “Why moving from React to Vue?” debate, the argument of “extreme simplicity” would have to be the strongest one. That's right, this JavaScript UI framework's simplicity is built deep into its design. Moreover, the familiarity of the concepts that it uses (or better said “copies” from its main 2 “rivals: React's virtual DOM and Angular's two-way data binding) could be enough to help you find the answer to your “Vue js vs React” personal debate. You just run your Vue.js project right from your web browser! And its simple syntax bubbles up to the easiness of altering the state data (not to mention that this also makes it significantly easier to pick it up).    2. It's a small scale, ideally fast web app that you're planning to build Since page size is a game-changer (isn't it?) when it comes to building an app, Vue.js comes to tempt you with its surprisingly low weight (approx. 25.6KB once minified). Now you do the math how this will impact the rendering system and, overall, how it will tilt the balance in any “Vue js vs React speed” comparison.   3. You're more into a “templatey” way of building apps And how could you “resist” a default template structure after all (and even so more if you're not new to AngularJS)? One that uses old-style HTML templates. Basically, you get to drop your markup into an HTML file and thus:   use already familiar (aren't they) HTML attributes for injecting the needed functionality into your default template  use pre-processors clearly separate layout from functionality    … as compared to building your app using ReactJS, which uses a whole different approach: it requires you to put together your own DOM using a JSX syntax. Note: yet, some might argue though that templating comes at a cost, that of learning the extended HTML syntax, as compared to the rendering functions. And, moreover, that React's JSX syntax puts superpowers in the hands of the developer, once he/she gets familiar with it. Since it enables him/her to use JavaScript in his template. And yet: stay assured, Vue.js 2 now provides you with both render functions and a templating option for setting up your web app!   Go With ReactJS If...   1. You Want to Easily Build an App That Should Work on Both Web and Mobile Convenience at its best! This is how we might call Facebook's “protegee's” two-faceted nature:   ReactJS for building your high-power, interactive web app's interface with React Native for building your next best thing in terms of native apps   No need for you to knee deep in learning the nitty-gritty of a whole new JavaScript UI component-based library. Instead, you'll be using the already familiar React for carrying out both your plans (to build a web and a native app), “juggling” with web components and respectively with native components.   2. It's a Complex, Large Scale App Project That You Have in Mind If that's the case, then the following argument might just be a decisive one in your Vue vs React “dilemma”. For React is built with the specific needs of large-scale apps in mind! Which means that it's perfectly equipped for injecting them with high performance! And it's precisely when you're dealing with an overly complex app project that you realize that:   transparency and testability are crucial for you a template system is way too restrictive, far less configurable (although it would help you to create a React app and get it up and running in no time)   In this respect, React's JavaScript-made templates grant you the freedom you need for:   reusing easily testing restructuring   … your conveniently decomposed code. And this is the “superpower” that React lays in your hands: it allows you to “split” its JavaScript structure into multiple components, that you can easily test and reuse! It “spoils” you with an ideally configurable rendering system.   3. It's a Huge Ecosystem and a Thriving Comunity that you value most  React's indisputable “fame” — not to mention Facebook's backing — does come with its benefits. Advantages that you can capitalize upon:   more resources out there for you to delve yourself in and to leverage in your app (tutorials, articles, Stack Overflow answers, etc.) a wide range of add-ons and tools for you to select from and boost your project with the guarantee that you'll benefit from continued maintenance (given by Facebook's patronage and, therefore, by the whole “army” of React developers that commit themselves to keep it closely  monitored)   And The Winner of This "Vue vs React" Dabate Is... Have I made you even more confused? Is it even harder to state which front-end JavaScript framework would win the Vue vs React debate? One's “seducing” you with a simple syntax and set up, the other one with its scaling capabilities. One “boasts” with faster rendering if it's a small app that it's powering, while the other one empowers you to build both web and native mobile apps. And where do you add that the two UI frameworks share a considerably large set of features, as well:   they're both conveniently lightweight they're both open source they both use virtual DOM and reactive components they both rely on server-side rendering … and are both component-based libraries providing you with a “backbone” in terms of functionality.   So you'll need to rely on third-party frameworks for handling any extra functionality (state management, routing, etc.) that you're planning to equip your future app with. Decisions, decisions... Now here are a few conclusions deriving from my little presentation here that might help you decide a bit easier:   opt for Vue.js if it's a new JavaScript framework that you'd like to drop into an already existing codebase choose the React library if you're planning to leverage web technologies to develop a native mobile app go with React if it's a SPA or a really complex, large-sized app that you're planning to build   So, is it any easier for you now to solve your Vue vs React dilemma? ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jan 08'2018
Serverless Computing Takes Off in 2018: How It Will Impact The Way Software Is Built
To go or not to go serverless... This is one of 2018's most asked questions in the IT industry. And it's true that serverless computing has grown from a niche solution, with a somewhat misleading name, into a tech trend guaranteed by all the industry experts. Yet, you're still a bit hesitant when it comes to replacing your heavy, yet familiar infrastructure with a serverless framework, right? You feel like “dipping a toe into the water” first. And who could blame you? It's a more than legitimately prudent approach considering the implications of such a switch.  You shouldn't make a move, not until you have some unbeatable arguments at hand. Until you gain a deep understanding of all the benefits that derive from adopting a cloud-native approach. Well, this is precisely what this blog post is all about: pointing out all the strongest benefits that you will reap from taking the infrastructure management weight off your shoulders and going... serverless.   But First: What Is Serverless Architecture More Exactly? First of all, let's get one thing straight: “serverless computing” doesn't mean, by all means, that there isn't a server, out there somewhere, doing its data workload processing work! It's just that the user (yes, you!):   is no longer burdened with all the server (or fleet of servers) management and monitoring ongoing tasks doesn't know (or care) where in the world his server is located   You'd be practically running your code right in the cloud, taking out of the picture the need of provisioning servers on your enterprise's end.  "But how does the data processing work on cloud?" A valid question indeed. Basically, you're enabled to set up your individual API endpoints which will fire code and perform certain actions once triggered. As simple as that. And if I am to exemplify, probably the best-known example would be the serverless computing AWS: Amazon's AWS Lambda. It has already managed to “seduce” plenty of IT managers in the industry and its popularity is sure to... explode in 2018. Why? Because it's a serverless computing architecture which:   scales automatically, granting enterprises the flexibility they need and helping them cut down costs it executes code only when/if certain events occur, when specific endpoints get triggered   And it's not a serverless framework without “rivals”. Competition is about to get fierce when other frameworks such as Webtask, Microsoft Azure Functions, Google Cloud Functions, IBM OpenWhisk and Iron.io will start to... take off.   It's Horizontally Scalable: Relax and Let It Handle Massive Waves of Traffic for You In other words: you get to worry less about balancing the heavy load, about the waves of traffic that your site/app might face once certain of your endpoints get exposed. And about rushing in to put together the properly robust infrastructure. The underlying system will handle it for you!   You're Free to Set Up Each Endpoint in the Language of Your Choice Or simply put: your API endpoints will be language-agnostic! You (or your lucky team of developers) get to write each endpoint in a different language runtime. So, you're free to use the one that you're most familiar with or the one that best fits our work scenario.  And this is already a major pro for adopting a serverless computing approach in 2018!   You Only Pay for What You Use: A Strong Benefit of Serverless Computing Here's another “irresistible” benefit that you can reap from going serverless: you only pay for what you use! So, there's no need (not anymore) to pile up on T2 small instances and auto-scaling groups... just in case. The “case” here being: “if I ever hit a surge of traffic”. When you're using a serverless architecture all this comes without a price tag on!   Worry Less About Managing The Underlying Infrastructure: It's Being Taken Cared Of! Your serverless cloud provider will be managing the entire fleet of servers for you. And this “management” includes applying security patches as soon as they get released, as well! So, take all these monitoring and security-related concerns off your back and... focus more on turning great ideas into great digital products! And this is — all these resources of time and effort that you'll get to invest elsewhere — the main advantage that you'll leverage from switching to serverless computing!   Turn That Great Idea of Yours Into The Next Big Thing Quicker Than Ever!  Just think about it: going from having a great idea to actually turning it into the next big... app (let's say) will take you a whole less time (and effort). Serverless computing will smooth the path for you and shorten the process, meaning that:   you'll be having your idea production ready a lot quicker you'll gain more confidence to try on newer technologies, as well   Summing Up... Plus a Forecast for 2018 “Serverless IT will move from the niche corners of the cloud estate into the spotlight as it addresses the three key areas that keep IT admins up at night: speed, cost and risk.” (Jason McDonald, President U.S., Contino) Yet (for there is a “yet”), serverless computing isn't a “one size fits all” type of solution. It won't scale to all app architectures and needs (like the need to closely monitor and to control how things get configured). Nevertheless, if we:   go beyond its somehow misleading name see its strong benefits consider it only for those use cases that it's best fitted for   ... serverless architecture is here to stay and change the way we build software from the ground up! ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Jan 04'2018
Best Augmented Reality Tools in 2018: Which Is The Right One for Your AR App?
“Build the next big thing in terms of AR apps!” Is this goal on top of your New Year's resolutions list? Well, then right now you must be wondering: “With so many tempting augmented reality tools out there to choose from, which one's best for my own AR solution?" A frustratingly ambiguous answer could be: "The one that best serves your AR app development needs." Meaning that whatever AR platform you'll be choosing, it should: meet your project's requirements serve the goals that you will have set up for it And yet, this “matching” of the AR libraries at your disposal with your project's specific development needs is your “mission” and yours only. Nevertheless, we can still help you streamline your selection process. How? By shortlisting 6 of the most popular augmented reality development tools in 2017 with a great potential to grow even more influential in 2018.  Here they come: 1. Kudan AR An augmented reality SDK that “pioneered” the network intelligent vision (bringing together AI and IoT). And which sets itself apart from the other augmented reality tools in our shortlist here due to its robust single-camera SLAM. In other words: Kudan AR supports mapping tracking and simultaneous localization. Built for both iOS and Android-based apps, Kudan AR supports markerless tracking (meaning that it uses features such as edges, corners, and textures) and, moreover, it's designed to recognize an unlimited number of images. Where do you add that it doesn't get “greedy” using too much of your app's memory to store its files and (big advantage!) it's significantly faster than other AR SDKs. Summing up its key features and functionalities now: 2D/3D Recognition in the same application supports markerless tracking supports Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) tracking technology 2. Vuforia, By Far One of the Most Popular Augmented Reality Tools Call it a "complete tool" for developing AR apps! It practically “empowers” you to create any kind of AR solution for any type of device, any platform! A visually arresting augmented reality app or game “packed” with cutting-edge functionality.  Yet, it does have its own shortcomings, too, the most “discouraging” one being that its free version comes with Vuforia watermarks and limited functionality.  Even so, the balance between great features and innovative capabilities and shortcomings is titled so that it favours the first ones. Let us detail: it's supercharged with smart terrain functionality for reconstructing a terrain and therefore a whole 3D map of the environment in real-time    the same, above-mentioned functionality, will empower you (or your app development team) to create some fully interactive user experiences where the app's elements interact with the physical world   it's extended tracking feature enables your future AR app to deliver a 100% realistic visual experience even when the target elements are out of view (in other words users will be able to simultaneously engage themselves in the gameplay and still visualize the vehicles for instance)   And now summing up Vuforia's most notable features:   it comes with virtual buttons, which allow you to switch between various surfaces, which play the roles of your true-to-life, natural-looking touch screens   mixed reality and eyewear support (that's right, Microsoft HoloLens here included)   cloud recognition (and on-device, as well), meaning that it's capable to use either a local or a cloud database during the image recognition process    Vuforia Object Scanner   it comes with Vumarks (Vuforia barcodes), which act both as data encoders and as markers   it's built to recognize both 2D and 3D objects   text recognition: Vuforia's designed to recognize over 100.000 words (and, moreover, you're enabled to use your own custom vocabulary, as well)   3. Wikitude The third augmented reality development kit on our list is actually an “all-in-one” platform in fact. One which brings together: Instant tracking + 3D markerless technology + Geo-location + Object/Image recognition and tracking And all these top-notch AR features bundled up in one single AR app development kit can only mean 2 things:   you get to build both marker AR mobile apps ... and location-based ones   Available for iOS, Android, and Glassware, Wikitude is one of those commercial augmented reality tools. It does come in a trial version, as well, but do expect it to “surprise” you with a series of limitations, such as its logo showing up in the cam view. And now, let's go through its attention-worthy features and functionalities:   it provides you with Wikitude Studio, which makes AR app development a breeze, literally, since it requires no programming skills whatsoever: just drag the elements onto the studio screen and... put together your app    Wikitude SDK is currently available for Android, iOS and the Glassware platform   on-device and cloud recognition    instant (3D) tracking (it will display virtual objects and map out environments without using markers)   extended tracking    geolocation support: your AR mobile app can get enhanced with location-based services, as well    4. ARToolKit ARToolKit is, in fact, a group of augmented reality tools that you can use for building your app. And its heavy-weighing pro, that helped it make it to our list here, is that it's... an open-source code! That's right, you gain free access to its library, so you'll be able to tailor its source code to your AR app's specific development needs. Nevertheless, this comes with a drawback: limited documentation! So, do keep this in mind when you're on a lookout for the most appropriate AR platform for your app project. And now, let's list its other “seductive” features besides its open-source nature:   simultaneous tracking: basically you get to “empower” your AR apps to track multiple objects at the same time both single and dual camera support  integration with GPS (a vital feature if it's a location-based AR app that you're developing) it supports various platforms, ranging from iOS and Android to Windows, macOS, Linux...   5. Apple ARkit, One of The Revolutionary AR Frameworks And it was pretty much around the time when iOS 11 introduced ARKit in the digital arena that app developers' “mad race” to build their own next big thing started. Did you start planning your own AR solution around the same time? Running on Apple 9, Apple 10, and A11 processors, Apple ARkit empowers you to create and deliver augmented reality experiences to your users both on iPhone and iPad (obviously!). Now let us highlight the top-notch functionalities that will empower your app development team to put together not “just” AR experiences, but some truly realistic, immersive ones:   VIO (Visual Inertial Odometry) combines core motion data with camera sensor data, enabling your future AR app to accurately track the environment    it's capable to detect horizontal surfaces (e.g. floors and tables) and objects on smaller feature points    it's equipped for plane, scale, and ambient lighting estimation   fast motion tracking   it can be used with third-party tools such as Unreal Engine and Unity, with SceneKit and Metal   6. EasyAR  Here's another SDK “overloaded” with cutting-edge functionalities on our augmented reality tools list here! And even if you go with the free version of the EasyAR kit (which won't provide you with certain of its functionalities, such as SLAM, 3D tracking, and screen recording), you still get an impressive load of features:   cloud recognition 1000 on-device targets storage unlimited recognition queries   And where do you add that getting it up and running is just a matter of registering your account and generating your Bundle ID's plugin key. Its list of top features would have to include:   cloud recognition app cloud packaging 3D object recognition environment tracking   The END! These are the 6 augmented reality tools that you should consider selecting from if you're decided to go ahead and build your first AR solution this year. Good luck checking them off your New Year's resolutions list! ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 03'2018
Why Would You Go With a Drupal eCommerce Website? 10 Strongest Reasons
Robust, conveniently scalable, fully (and easily) customizable... What else? Oh, yes, it should definitely be a 2-in-1: CMS & e-commerce platform. This is pretty much how your “wishlist” looks now when you're choosing the best eCommerce solution for your website, right? Would you be able to check off all the “wishes” listed there if you want to build a Drupal eCommerce website? That is the question! What makes Drupal not just a good choice, nor just the best one, but the most SUITABLE one for your own e-commerce site? One that would meet all its needs (quick and easy integration with third-party systems, a flexible content editing process, easy to control SEO etc.)? Well, here's OPTASY team's top 10 good reasons why you should “bet on” Drupal:   1. It Shortens Your E-Commerce Site's Development Time And it's pretty much... self-evident: Compared to a standalone eCommerce platform (e.g. Prestashop or Magento), with Drupal you get Drupal Commerce built right on top of it! Built, from the ground up, to seamlessly integrate with your CMS.  In short: with Drupal (&Drupal Commerce) you get one tightly integrated platform system simultaneously serving as a content management system and as an e-commerce platform. Save the time you'd otherwise invest in:   custom-integrating a CMS with your standalone eCommerce platform making them “play well” with one other  “joggling” with 2 platforms (or a 2-platform system, if you prefer) instead of one and investing twice as much time and effort in their ongoing management and maintenance   2. It "Plays Nicely" With Third-Party Systems And this is not even an advantage, but a vital functionality drawing a line between effective and ineffective e-commerce solutions. As a (current or future) e-commerce website owner, your “jam-packed” list of specific needs does include integrating systems and apps such as:   Paypal Verisign Authorize.net   … and so on and extending your site's functionality all while enriching user experience, right? Luckily, Drupal, and implicitly Drupal Commerce, integrates seamlessly with third-party getaways via RESTful API!   3. It's Both Free and Open Source One of the many valid answers to your “Why Drupal for ecommerce use?” could be:   “Because it's free to use!”   Moreover, by being open source, the no-fee feature doesn't translate into poorly supported modules! With Drupal, you don't have the “premium plugins” concept otherwise specific to WordPress or Magento, yet you still get to explore a plethora of free modules. Modules which, moreover, are backed up by a worldwide Drupal community. In a few words: you get default “premium” modules without the price tag on!   4. A Drupal Commerce-Powered Site Is Conveniently Easy to Handle And this “convenience” derives from 2 major “requirements” that your future Drupal ecommerce website easily meets:   that it should empower you and your team to operate with one set of tools only that this “toolkit” put at your disposal — which you'll be using for carrying out specific admin tasks —  should include flexible and fully configurable tools only   Checked, checked!   5. You Get a 2-in-1: CMS & Ecommerce Platform And this might just be one of the strongest arguments to build a Drupal eCommerce website! Not only that Drupal Commerce   is built on Drupal, from the ground up, deeply “rooted“ in it which enables it to explore and exploit the CMS's power to the fullest ... but it's actually the ONLY commerce platform built on a CMS! And this translates into:   a unified, rich and seamless user experience  less development and maintenance time resources for you to invest   6. You Get to Leverage Its Granular User (and Role) Management System And this is, indeed, a superpower that Drupal puts in your hands! Basically, you're given full control over who's accessing what, over which functionalities and features (from your CMS and your online shop) your:   team members (who are granted different user roles and levels of permission) and your site visitors   … gain access to.   7. It Streamlines Your SEO Efforts It's quite obvious that a tightly integrated platform grants you easier control over your entire SEO strategy. As compared to a 2-platform system. It streamlines your efforts to constantly improve the customer journey on your online store.   8. Why build a Drupal eCommerce Website? 'Cause It's Flexible Needless to stress out this feature even more: Drupal's already way “too” famous for its modular nature empowering users to configure and to “custom-tune” their websites to meet their needs to the slightest detail! Add on new modules, mix and match them to your liking and use Drupal's modular power to the fullest!   9. It's Conveniently Extensible: It Seamlessly Accommodates Sites of All Sizes Another strong reason for building a Drupal eCommerce website: it seamlessly adapts to all sizes and levels of complexity. Hence, whether it's:   a small ecommerce site handling basic transactions or a content-heavy, high trafficked ecommerce website   ... that you're building, Drupal's got you covered! It's built to effortlessly power all sites, large or small!   10. It's a Content-Driven Ecommerce Solution  Since Drupal is, primarily, a content management system!  And content is the driving force of any successful e-commerce site or, better put: all e-commerce efforts are centred on content! With Drupal and the ecommerce software deeply integrated within — Drupal Commerce  — you're empowered to:   deliver a rich and unified user experience on your site … by easily linking your products/services to corresponding content (descriptions, banners, icons...) that tells the story behind and creates added value    And it's content that engages your customers, that ultimately drives sales and builds brand loyalty! That builds communities.     END of the list! These are, in our opinion, the 10 reasons strong enough to tip the balance in favour of choosing Drupal for your ecommerce website! ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Dec 21'2017