Mobile Web NY Meetup: HTML5 - Monetization, Games frameworks, ES6 and more

On Thursday, January 17, 2013, OLC attended Mobile Web New York's "HTML5 - Monetization, Games frameworks, ES6 and more" event at Dada. There were three presentations on HTML5 Mobile web app monetization strategies, creating cross-platform games with one HTML5 code base, and on ES6.

Tyler Smith, AppMobi's lead developer presented Creating Cross-Platform Games with One HTML5 Codebase. He first outlined what he was going to talk about in the presentation. "Decide what you're going to use," Smith said. "It's extremely important if you get a game engine that's not suited to what you're doing, you're wasting a lot of time." Next, "Optimize mobile performance. You can't make a great desktop game and expect it to do well on mobile." He also wanted to talk about what to look for before developers decide to develop for a platform, accelerating HTML5 to look native and packaging and deploying games.

Developers can decide what game engine to use by looking for engines that "support needed functions," like collision detection, sprite animation, multiplayer, level creator, and open source. "Make sure the engines have maintained forums and support. Make sure they are tamed, you don't want to work on an engine, run into a problem and find out that no one is working on it and that there's no community to ask for help," Smith said. "If you find a debugging code, that's just a cherry on top," he said. Another feature to be wary of is cost. HTML5 engines are at most $100, a "really low friction input." Smith also advised that developers see to it that it runs on mobile as well. "Keep in mind if engine was designed for mobile," he said. "Ask yourself if the engine allows for pre-rendering—it's huge for mobile performance. Is your game versatile? How well does it scale on different devices? Does it have built-in device detection? Does it support touch inputs—there's a lot of glitches because some engines aren't made for mobile. And how big is the game engine?" Smith asked.

On mobile performance, Smith recommended that developers look for engines that pre-render backgrounds. "Software rendering is perhaps the greatest prohibitor of mobile performance," he said. "For mobile, it doesn't have the RAM and GPU of desktop and that makes it laggy. Just by pre-rendering, performance can jump from five frames per second to over 20." To manage draw calls, what developers can do is cut out "on what you don't need to refresh." Regarding size optimization, Smith recommended that developers "pull sound out of binary and dynamically cache them on the device." Use .jpegs instead of .pngs. "They're mostly UI changes," he said.

On research-supported platforms, Smith said to consider controls—their placement on screen, how they will appear or work on desktop, if the device will be multi touch. Regarding HTML5 support, "make sure it can support what you're doing," Smith said. "Consider the canvas tag—almost every HTML5 game uses it—the audio tag, HTML5 performance, screen width and height [iPad 4:3, iPhone 3:2, Android 7:4, for horizontal and landscape], which [finding landscape screen width] is the worst thing when building for Android," he said.

The next presenter talked about HTML5 and mobile and its future influence on web apps. "Native is great," he began. "But the problem is, when developers are new to coding, it has a high learning curve. The native stores are also over-saturated and there's high competition with low margin of profit. "Eighty percent of iOS developers are not generating enough revenue to support a business," he said. "Fifty-nine percent are losing money." Native is not a cross-platform option either. The new option is HTML5, which is cross platform and universal. It was finally introduced as a standard for mobile web app development. "Over 336 million HTML5-ready phones were sold in 2011."

In regards to distribution and monetization, "HTML5 development presents new opportunities for developers to make money." There are new marketplaces to distribute applications, such as AppsFuel. AppsFuel is for HTML5 mobile apps, doing most of its work in Europe. It is projected to be introduced to the US this year. "There is no special requirement—all you need to do is just enter a URL and go live with it." Payment API is easy to implement and incorporates paid apps and premium timed access. The revenue share is 70-30 split.

AppsFuel's purchase experience is through the mobile carrier.

"2013 is the new era of marketing for mobile web apps," he said. "Distribution of apps are increasing and there are new ways to monetize."

Event Organizer/Host Fabrizio Giordano presented HTML5's ES6 language, the "future of JavaScript language." He gave a brief overview of the evolution of ECMAScript: ES1 to ES3, Try/Catch, do/while, switch, regular expressions were all incorporated into the lexicon. From ES3 to ES5, accessors, strict, mode, JSON (new way of transmitting data) and array extras were phased in. Now, for ES6, there are parameter defaults, arrow functions, classes, modules and more that have been placed into the language. "Why should you care?" Giordano asked, "Well, Firefox and Chrome have already started to implement some of these specifications into their browsers. It has a nicer syntax and semantics. You get better performances and faster websites."

All ES5 code and ES6 code have the same meaning, but there are no modes or no backwards compatibility. "There's no changes to semantics of the existing engine," Giordano said. "ES6 are completely additive. Just improvements on language." Constants and modules are new additions.

The future of JS can be monitored on Github to check computer compatibility. Some engines can be backported to certain machines, but that will add extra work to browsers.