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Facebook Paper Has Forever Changed the Way We Build Mobile Apps

Facebook Paper Has Forever Changed the Way We Build Mobile Apps Wired Enterprise Wired com


It was the birth of the “tilt-to-explore” photo viewer now offered by Facebook Paper, the new iPhone news reading app that is, in many ways, redefining the art of mobile software. “Everyone’s jaws just dropped,” remembers Michael Reckhow, who was sitting beside Matas that afternoon. “Everyone started exchanging these glances that were like: ‘What did he just do?’

What’s more remarkable is that Mike Matas is not a software engineer. He doesn’t know Objective-C, the programming language used to build iPhone apps, or any other programming language. And yet, in a matter of hours, he could build a prototype that explored photos in a way that surprised even the seasoned engineers who gathered in Chris Cox’s office that afternoon. The trick lies with a new design tool called Origami — a tool that lets Matas rapidly prototype mobile apps without writing a single line of computer code. Together with other Facebookers, Matas created Origami by repurposing and reshaping a computer graphics program that originated at Apple. Many tools let you prototype app designs, but when you build prototypes with Origami, they work much like a real app works, and they run on real phones — though the phones must be plugged into a high-powered PC (thus the long, black cord that Matas ran to his laptop). This is how Facebook built much of Paper. Matas and other designers used Origami to create unusually complete prototypes, and then a group of software engineers reproduced and refined these prototypes, building software they could ship to a world of phones.

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So Facebook has a system for rolling out mobile apps and now we can expect many mobile apps from Facebook?

Not sure more apps is a good plan. Better apps is a better plan.

This seems to be the important part.  I think the same revolution is waiting for data. (big data). One of these tools is Origami. Based on an Apple graphics tool called Quartz composer, Origami is really just a way of building images. It lets Matas and other designers fashion prototypes by piecing together hundreds of tiny graphical widgets and animations. But these images can behave like complete applications. They can even tap into live data generated by smartphones, drawing on, say, the gyroscope that tracks how a phone is moving.

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