FirefoxOS App Day Switzerland was great!

31 May 2013
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Reading time: 4 minutes

Last saturday the first FirefoxOS App Day Switzerland took place at the Zühlke offices here in Schlieren. Thanks to our visitors and participants it was a great success. For me it was a pleasure to see the Swiss Mozilla community talking and learning about and hacking for FirefoxOS. As Henrik Mitsch, Mozilla Representative, said: “The biggest Mozilla event in Switzerland ever!”.

The day started with technical talks. Michael Kohler and Henrik Mitsch gave an introduction about what Mozilla aims to do with the FirefoxOS project – nothing less than changing the game in mobile computing. Mozilla wants to provide for mobile computing what Beetle was for mobility. A solid, affordable vehicle which you can fix by yourself.

After the introduction it continued with my talk about tools and libraries supporting building FirefoxOS applications. For me it was a special pleasure to see participants using these tools in the afternoon and help them out for a jump start. It’s great to see that what we do matters.

Gion-Andri Cantieni’s contribution about localisation of the Firefox browser for the language Rumantsch Grischun has drawn attention to an important topic in software engineering: meet the user. A first important step towards apps people really like is decent localisation. Mozillas webl10n library is a good choice for doing localization in modern web applications.

Gion-Andri’s engagement is an excellent example of how you can fix your Beetle yourself if you need to. He contributed to get their rumantsch Firefox browser – now he reaches out to grasp a rumantsch phone.

The morning peaked with two talks about WebAPIs. Julian Viereck gave an introduction into WebAPIs and their importance not only for FirefoxOS but the web in general. Colin Frei teased the audience about what web applications can do by the means of WebAPIs – the future is bright. Geolocation is given today and things like Vibration API will be in the future. Expect not only Web notifications, but interaction with other apps by Web activities or in-app payment for commercial use cases.

After lunch about 35 devs started hacking! Clearly my personal highlight of the day. It was great to see people engaging with each other and tech. It was both joyful and instructive to hack with this innovative and inspiring crowd.

Here it was again – the spirit I often observe and feel at Mozilla events. It’s when a top-notch pdf.js hacker explains a novice how to check the source code of a web site. It’s when people meet for the first time and build an app together in a couple of hours. And it’s when people cheer the same, no matter if it’s about replacing the FirefoxOS phone dialer app or about having placed your very first button on a web page in your life. It’s when people meet the web.

Demo time at the end of the day! Participants reported what they learned and built. A nice collection of apps and ideas have been presented. Creative, talented folks! See the etherpad on which participants submitted their creations. It was a lot! A game, a chronological contact manager, a public transport delay detector or an application to support people keep away of mobile antennas were among the submissions. Developers reported about their ideas, what went wrong and about the fact that the FirefoxOS documentation is currently rather sparse in some areas. My personal highlight came at the end. A participant stood up and told the audience he built his very first web application at the app day and gave thanks to the Mozilla community to help him out to make it happen.

So.do.I. A big thanks to Zühlke for hosting this great event. My special personal thanks to Philippe Arm and Thomas Memmel for supporting me in a way of personal engagement far beyond what could be expected. And yes, the Mozilla community Switzerland started to grow – that’s you, reading this blog or participating at the App Days.

Stay – you’re a game changer!

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