December 5, 2011

Building mobile applications for social good

kiwanjaIf you were thinking of designing or building a website, you’d be in luck. If you were thinking of writing a suite of financial management tools, you’d be in luck. If you were even thinking of creating the next big video game, you’d be in luck. Visit any good bookstore and the selection of self-help books and “how-to” guides leave you spoiled for choice.

Unlike the plethora of self-help guides on the more established topics, if you were looking to do something with mobile phones, you’d likely have mixed results. There are plenty of books available extolling the virtues of Java, Python, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, C++, Symbian, Android and just about any other development environment or platform out there. Combine that with the growing field of mobile UI (user interface) design and you’d think that pretty much everything was covered. But there is one thing missing, although you’d probably only notice if you’re one of a growing number of developers turning their attention to the developing world.

I’m talking about a guide on “Building Mobile Applications for Social Good.” Although just a start, this article – written for The Testing Planet – in part aims to fill that gap. At conferences and seminars I often talk about our experiences developing FrontlineSMS, and the thinking and field work behind it, but until now much of this wasn’t particularly well captured in written form in a single place. Continue reading