Posts tagged Telerik

Moving from Kendo to the Ionic Framework

Over the last few months I’ve been taking a very hard and long look at AngularJS and trying to utilize it for my JavaScript code. I was first introduced to Angular by my partner Jason Jarrett who is always on the cutting edge. At first it was extremely daunting, almost impenetrable, and I blew it off, but the seed was planted. As I worked more and more in JavaScript it realized what power a framework like Angular brings, in organization, tooling and composition.

ionic-html5-native-framework1At Resgrid our apps are built utilizing AppBuilder and Kendo Core from Telerik. Kendo does support Angular, but from reading about it and looking at the code I feel that Angular support was just bolted on to check a box and Kendo was not rewritten to be a first class citizen in the Angular universe. So after some research we decided that Ionic was our way to go.

Why use Ionic?

  1. First class Angular support. Ionic was designed from the ground up to utilize Angular and that makes the experience consistent.
  2. Speed. While Kendo is no slouch, from initial tests Ionic performs better on older Android versions. Transitions are less janky and scrolling if feels more fluid.
  3. Consistent look and feel. Ionic does some platform specific things (how transitions are utilized, alignment, etc) but they leave the rest open to you by utilizing SASS. So you can customize your look and feel per platform utilizing platform specific SCSS if you want.

Why use Kendo?

  1. Native platform look and feel. Kendo does a great job at changing the UI to look like a native app for iOS6, iOS7+, Android, WP8 and Blackberry. If you need that native look and feel Kendo can’t be beat.
  2. Advanced/complex controls and interactions models.
  3. Great support from Telerik.

So why not Xamarin?

Xamarin seems to be the buzzword de’jure in the mobile space lately, especially if you’re a .Net developer. At this point we’ve scratched Xamarin for a number of reasons:

  1. Standard Xamarin is not cross platform all the way down the stack, you still have to write native UI’s but your backend logic is all C#. Xamarin Forms is the solution to this but it’s still very nascent, doesn’t support all the platforms yet and constantly has breaking changes.
  2. No re-use. Our current app is hybrid utilizing JS/CSS/HTML. Not all the code we have is ‘bad’ and can be migrated.
  3. No good theming/styling story. Xamarin Forms still doesn’t have a good global Theming or styling story yet, unlike Ionic where we can utilize SASS.

At the same time we are versioning our back end services (v3) to match with new integration models. More on this in another post. So how are we proceeding:

  1. We are utilizing Telerik’s AppBuilder CLI, Sublime Text 3, Angular 1.2 and Ionic beta 13
  2. We will port our app over to Ionic and make it feature complete with the current version
  3. Then we will migrate to TypeScript, beta 14 of Ionic (or nightly/edge builds) and Angular 1.3
  4. We will layer in automation with grunt (auto generating TypeScript defs for API objects, unit testing, etc)

So why not go straight to TS, Angular 1.3, Ionic nightly, automation, etc? Well in creating a whole new app it’s silly to try and shoot for perfection straight out of the gate, especially when it’s with a new technology or implementations. We want to quickly get a good app into the hands of our customers and not worry about or waste time with technical minutiae that they don’t care about. At the same time we want to learn, grow and experiment.

Resgrid is a SaaS product deployed on Microsoft Azure, providing logistics and management tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire, career fire, EMS, search and rescue, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in late 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).

Sencha Complete Massive Price Increase

In February 2014 I blogged about a price increase for Telerik AppBuilder (at the time named Icenium) in the range of 350% for a single developer. In the post and subsequent follows ups I mentioned that how a developer oriented company, like Telerik and Sencha, should treat their single/small developers with reverence. It’s these single and small developers that get hooked on the product and eventually find jobs at larger companies where they then bring that love and pitch the new component, tool or product.

SenchaTouch_Preview

In my February blog post I mentioned that an alternative to Telerik AppBuilder & Kendo UI would be Sencha touch. Although they don’t have cloud build or a mobile development IDE you can utilize any editor, PhoneGap build and Sencha to replace AppBuilder and Kendo. My reasoning for this is that Sencha always seemed focused on the development community and supporting the small, single and open source developers. Boy what can change in 9 months.

A reader stumbled upon my old blog post and emailed me with a link to Sencha’s forums where users and outraged about the almost thousand fold price increase for a single developer! At this time it’s up to 43 pages of pissed off developers. The original OP mentioned that they could get Sencha Complete for around $695 bucks for a single developer (around $300 apparently with a ‘no support’ option).

Checking on Sencha Complete’s store I get this:

2014-11-23_11-53-18

That’s right people, if you’re a single developer, or a team of less then 5 you gotta pay almost $5,000! That’s a 600% increase for a single developer from the original $695. If you break it up, your paying $965 per developer in that which is already an increase of 140%.

My mind cannot even fathom what they are thinking. With this single move they are killing grass roots developer use of their product. They do have open source options, but a quick glance shows they have really ripped the guts from those OSS offerings, unlike Telerik that almost completely Open Sourced Kendo UI (now Kendo UI Core).

Having Open Source versions of your tools, components or controls is great. But it’s not the end-all-be-all that companies like to think it is. You also need to couple that with paid options that are attractive to single developers and small shops. Personally, I would NEVER spend $5,000 for control suite for a single developer or even a few developers. Usually your yearly maintenance is based on that initial invoice, so you’ll also be paying $500 to $1,000 a year a in maintenance.

The developer uproar should get the decision makers at Sencha to realize they made a mistake. If they reverse course that’s great, but the fact is in the short term this will make them more money. But in the long term, as less and less new developers make it into large companies they will start loosing that business. The developer eco-system is a long play, don’t sacrifice long term survival in the name of short term gains.

The only thing I can say is that if your looking at Sencha Touch for mobile development stop right now and look at the Ionic Framework or Kendo UI instead. Don’t let the ‘amount’ of controls affect your decision, it’s not quantity is quality, you can easily build anything you want with either solution.

Personally I’ll be blogging a lot more about the Ionic Framework in the near future, *hint* *hint*.

Small is Beautiful; How you treat the small counts

Most of us have probably heard the adage “You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners” from Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He is not the only one to share that line of thinking; “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members” from Mahatma Ghandi or “you measure the degree of civilization of a society by how it treats its weakest members” from Winston Churchill.

small-businessThere is a pattern here, how you treat the smallest, weakest or least privileged members reflects on you as a collective. I’ve been thinking a lot about my interactions with Microsoft, Telerik and Xamarin lately as a small time developer in the ecosystem and a from the perspective of Resgrid as a bootstrapped SaaS startup and I’ve come to the conclusion that how technology companies treat their smallest customers/developers reflects on them as an organization.

There are a lot of companies out there in the technology space that just don’t want to have anything to do with you if you’re not going to throw four plus figures at them, minimum, a year. Then there are those that would rather try and pressure you to pay a lot of a product when you’ve told them time and time again you can’t pay for it. Finally, there are those out there that will give you a steep discount and actually make you feel important.

I’ve dealt a lot with Telerik over the last year and I have to say, rarely has a company made me feel more like my opinion matters. I may have issues with their products, pricing, feature sets, priorities and implementations from time to time, but never have I ever felt slighted when I email, call or send in a support request. They know I’m a bootstrapped startup, but they still give me an amazing level of feedback, interaction and communication. Special shout outs to Rob Lauer and Stefan Rahnev from Telerik. Telerik not only makes me feel like a VIP, but they also work with me on price. I can tell them my budget and more often then not they will work to keep me.

On the other extreme is Xamarin, who was co-founded started by Miguel de Icaza, of GNOE and Mono fame. With his Alt.net roots, background in open source and community you would think Xamarin would be all over helping the little guys and building an robust eco-system. First and foremost Xamarin Free product is a complete joke. You try to build anything that takes a reference, even against the .Net Framework, and BAM no more development for you. I recently signed up to try it out, hit the brick wall of “no development for you” with their free product and then asked a sales rep what discount pricing was $650 for WP, iOS and Android annually. When I made the sales rep aware of my situation and line of thinking, never heard back from him.

Finally there is Microsoft who is kind of in the middle. I’ve had downright amazing interactions with them and the BizSpark program in general. I recommend it to anyone who is starting a company, even if your not a MS/.Net developer. 3 years of $150 Azure credit a month, boy you got a deal there. On the other hand interactions with developer/platform/channel evangelists who are supposed to help bring a developer/small business up in the ecosystem seem to fail, if I don’t have a hundred thousand bucks or are building a Windows 8 Store app or Windows Phone 8 app they want nothing to do with me. “Hey I already have this app, can you get me in a program or help out” Nope sorry and they run away, mission accomplished. When talking with them it’s what can you do for me, not what can Microsoft or I help you with. I have no confidence that when I do develop that Windows 8 Store app that they will be around to help get me deals, get my business into programs or help with support.

It’s all part of their own endgame’s really. Microsoft wants Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8 Store apps at all costs, Xamarin’s sales rep’s apparently want a big commission or a large logo they can slap on their “look who’s using us!” page and Telerik, well they just seem to want developers using their products. The sooner companies realize it’s people like me and small business are the start of something big the sooner they may get that big sale and people recommending their product or service.

Service counts, and how you measure the greatness a company is by seeing how it treats is smallest customers.

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