05 Nov

Big Tees Sleepout

bigteessleepout

I’m doing this next Friday, please support if you can;

On Friday 13th November, dotUK, through it’s founder and director Andy Flisher, will be sleeping out on the streets of Middlesbrough in aid of an excellent local charity, the Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.

The charity has an aim to bring Middlesbrough and Teesside businesses and companies together to help make Teesside a better place to live and work.  The Big Tees Sleepout specificially is an annual event aimed at highlighting and tackling the homelessness situation that is right on our doorsteps, a situation which we all agree should not exist in this day and age.

You can support Andy by donating online or by signing up and raising your own sponsorship at the Big Tees Sleepout site itself.  If you are unable to support financially, as of course we can’t all do, then please support the event, the charity and our efforts by liking, sharing, and in anyway making the region aware of the event, and the problem.

Thank You.

Originally posted at http://www.dotuk.net/news/home-page-news/supporting-local-charity-through-the-big-tees-sleepout/

04 May

Xamarin Cross Platform Application Development – Book Review

Xamarin Cross Platform Application Development – Book Review

Andy Flisher is a Software Developer based in the North East of England specialising in cross platform development. Mobile Development experience includes Windows Phone, Android, and iPhone Apps. Desktop Software Development includes bespoke Windows, Linux, and Mac Applications. Web Development Skills include PHP, Perl, Python, Xamarin, C#, ASP (Classic and .NET). Andy also has some Industrial / PLC Programming experience – Andy Flisher on Google+

This is a review of the recently published book “Xamarin Cross Platform Application Development” by Jonathan Peppers.

This book is openly marketed at existing, experienced C# developers so it’s certainly not for beginners, and whilst I don’t fall into this category the nature of projects I work in require mostly ‘linear’ development (Web, PHP, Perl, Python, VB etc over the years) so concepts like MVC, MVVM and in particular IOC (Inversion of Control) are newer and less clear. Thankfully this book has resolved that through it’s excellent practical examples.

One area this book doesn’t touch on hugely is the level of planning required for MVC applications, you can’t just ‘jump in and code’, but that’s potentially a book in itself, but what the book does very well for me, is explain the View, ViewModel, Model and Controller concepts in terms of the classes and data layers required. The book also introduces Interfaces (something I always saw as an unnecessary layer of complexity) which I now ‘get’ in terms of flexibility, and in particular to give the developer options in a cross platform environment.

The icing on the cake is ‘Inversion of Control’, whilst the book doesn’t particularly explain this convention in huge detail, I think it is actually to it’s credit, any more and the reader will be bogged down in unnecessary detail and complexity. It basically gives us the service layer that ‘glues’ the application together, allowing use to create and register our ViewModels as Services and thus make them available to use throughout the app with a single line of code. I’m sure that my description is not hugely more constructive than the words in the book themselves, but the working example of the XamChat application completes it.

Which is my main point, am sure many people work differently, but for me working examples of code are what makes it stick in my mind, it helps it all make sense. Throughout this book you will be building bit buy bit a working chat application, firstly in Xamarin.iOS (but using the all important cross platform and code sharing concepts learnt at the beginning of the book), and then re-implementing the same application logic in Xamarin.Android. The nice touch, which some may see as lazy, was that with the Android example you are taken to a certain point and then left to finish off using the examples you already have. A real, and practical exercise which I think will do the reader good. It wouldn’t be a huge leap further to recreate in Windows Phone, for the ultimate practical extension.

The Xamchat application is then extended through the Windows Azure platform to use their backend for data storage (a good example of how the same Interface can be re-used to store on different platforms), and to implement cross platform push notifications.

Lastly there are chapters on using Xamarin Components (including Xamarin.Mobile for Contacts, Camera and Location functionality), and actual App Store submission and their different processes, processes that even the most experienced developer can struggle with (Apple Certificates and Profile expiry anyone!).

In summary, this is an excellent book for any would be cross platform mobile application developer, yes you need a good understanding of C#, MVC and similar concepts, and the individual mobile platforms and general development processes themselves, and those things don’t come over night, but this book binds it all together with real world examples, working code (a novelty for some books) and actual code and methods you can take away and use in the real world.

Buy it, read it, and take as much as you can from it – “Xamarin Cross Platform Application Development” by Jonathan Peppers

10 Apr

Baby Biography Mobile App – Project

Baby Biography Mobile App – Projects

Andy Flisher is a Software Developer based in the North East of England specialising in cross platform development. Mobile Development experience includes Windows Phone, Android, and iPhone Apps. Desktop Software Development includes bespoke Windows, Linux, and Mac Applications. Web Development Skills include PHP, Perl, Python, Xamarin, C#, ASP (Classic and .NET) – Andy Flisher on Google+

The mobile app will be developed using dotUK’s cross platform, and multi platform mobile app development skills. This skill set is a niche, and dotUK are one of the few development companies, certainly amongst North East Mobile App Developer’s to offer true, native mobile apps that can be developed simultaneously across the core mobile application platforms, in parallel.

Baby Bio Mobile App

The Baby Biography mobile app will be offered initially as an iPhone app, and also as and Android App, in addition to creating Baby Biographies within the app, other features include;

  • Creation of Multiple Books
  • Sharing of Baby Moments and Photos ‘In App’ to Social Media
  • Free Cloud based storage of all your books and moments
  • Collaboration with other parents
  • Conception and Pregnancy calculators
  • In App Support

Cloud storage and collaboration will be offered through dotUK’s in house cloud storage framework which allows the app to seamlessly synchronise the baby biographies into the cloud in the background when connected to a suitable internet connection, but doesn’t in any way impeded or restrict any app functionality when working offline.

Originally posted at http://www.dotuk.net/news/home-page-news/baby-biography-android-iphone-mobile-app-project/

19 Feb

You get what you pay for – Mobile App Security

Mobile App Security

You get what you pay for – App Security

Andy Flisher is a Software Developer based in the North East of England specialising in cross platform development. Mobile Development experience includes Windows Phone, Android, and iPhone Apps. Desktop Software Development includes bespoke Windows, Linux, and Mac Applications. Web Development Skills include PHP, Perl, Python, Xamarin, C#, ASP (Classic and .NET) – Andy Flisher on Google+

In the course of work this week I had a cause to audit an iOS App that a prospect had had developed by a local competitor here in the North East, the reasoning for this was that the prospective client was looking at moving the hosted back end (ASP .Net, SQL Server – standard stuff) and wanted a price.

Mobile App Security
The purpose of the audit was to check what network connections the app was making, and correlating with what I knew about the backend hosting, just to make sure there were no surprises, we didn’t have the source code for either end yet, it was just a pricing exercise at this point (As it happens the App is written using PhoneGap so we *did* have the source code, but my route was quicker).

So, I installed the app, redirected my iPhone through a proxy server, and fired up the app – and proceeded to stare in horror. The app instantly, on first run fired up an un-encrypted, un-authenticated connection to the backend host and promptly downloaded the usernames, password, emails, and more for *every* user in the system. It then keeps a copy of these locally, and uses those details to authenticate later.

Why is this bad, in laymans terms, because anyone, on the internet, who knew the url the app uses could download the same list. Would people be interested in logging in to this system? Probably not, do people use the same username and password for Amazon, Tesco, Online Banking – absolutely, and there’s the problem.

Solutions, well it’s about paranoia, but key areas;

  • Authentication – Implement simple basic authentication so that the app logs in to the webservice it pulls the data from.
  • Https – Implement and SSL connection, then at least all traffic too and fro is encrypted (important as Basic Authentication is over plain text, so without https it’s still sniffable)
  • Change the login mechanism to completely remove the need to download all user info at all.

What’s really frustrating though, and actually makes the ‘You get what you pay for’ title of this post a misnomer, is this wasn’t a cheap solution.  The client paid a very reasonable amount for this app and solution.  This is the sort of thing we see, and sadly expect, when a ‘cheap’ solution is offered as a counter to ours.  We’re not expensive, but not cheap, we do do things correctly though.  It’s a classic case of the customer not knowing what they’re not getting, they trust, and assume that a professional job is being done, without really asking too many questions about why it’s cheap.

In this case no excuses though, I’ll not name anyone, and we’ve raised the issue with the client – We certainly won’t be taking on the hosting until it’s resolved!

Andy works for dotUK (www.dotuk.net) a North East Based Web and Software Development firm he helped found.

04 Mar

H Jarvis – Support Software Case Study – dotUK

Originally From H Jarvis – Support Software Case Study – dotUK

Andy Flisher is a Software Developer based in the North East of England specialising in cross platform development. Mobile Development experience includes Windows Phone, Android, and iPhone Apps. Desktop Software Development includes bespoke Windows, Linux, and Mac Applications. Web Development Skills include PHP, Perl, Python, ASP (Classic and .NET) – Andy Flisher on Google+

H Jarvis, a North East and Marske based Quality Windows and Doors manufacturer head a need to improve upon existing quality control and customer support processes, increase efficiencies in service engineer response, and to allow end users to self service their own support cases

  • Client H Jarvis – North East based window fabricator
  • Platforms Web, Web Services, Outlook Calendar Sync
  • Technologies PHP, CSS, JQuery, Javascript, MySQL, REST API, iCal / Webcal, JSON

H Jarvis are a multi site company with bases of operation in Marske (North East England) and Blantyre (Scotland), and had an existing interconnected IT infrastructure linking the two sites. With that in mind it made sense to build a Web Based Software Solution, in this case utilising dotUK’s own bespoke web services framework.
his framework, built for purpose, is built upon a PHP, MySQL REST based API framework that allows seamless, consistent, and secure data exchange from the hosted API hub and the end client’s browser. Again utilising PHP and JQuery in the web client we were able to offer an improved experience to the end user, without the traditional stop, start, or click and wait frustrations of traditional web software.

H Jarvis – Support Software Case Study - dotUK

Functionality wise have built a central support system for all sites which registers and manages all currently active customer support cases, with SLA support and comprehensive management reporting. In addition to case reporting the system also offers manufacturing build orders for remedial work and iCal calendar synchronisation with Outlook.
Fitter appointments are booked by the agents on an informed intelligence basis to minimise unwanted travel time by allocating cases to geographic zones and forward looking appointments to ensure that fitters are booked in when next in the appropriate locale. This appointment picking process also includes real time estimates of travel time so the most informed appointment booking decision can be made.

End use wise the system also includes a web based portal for key clients to view and manage their support cases, including any updates, notes or case changes. This allows end users real time access to updates when they need it, yet at the same time freeing Agent staff from fielding update enquires directly .
The solution is built upon dotUK’s managed web services platform hosted in the North East which allows for scalable database clustering, high availability, and includes 24/7 monitoring and management, and full data backups to an offsite datacentre

© Andy Flisher (Where Permissible)