Computer Science

The World Needs More Web App Developers

The World Needs More Web App Developers

Despite the huge global reach of the web, web technologies are rarely considered as an alternative to native apps. Traditionally web apps are slow, feel non-native, don’t work offline, and yield poor re-engagement. Developers assume that native apps and games are required to serve mobile users. They create apps that are large to download, when only a fraction of that data is needed to delight the user. So they develop for iOS and Android and the “walled gardens” of the app stores take 30% of their revenue, and slow down the Software Development LifeCycle. 1000s of new apps are released every day, making it hard to stand-out. Additionally users rarely keep new apps so reach is very low. Technology Background Back in 2015, Googler Alex Russell and his partner Frances Berriman coined the term “Progressive Web Apps” or PWAs. Since then Google have been driving the required technologies forward. In March 2018 Apple added “service workers” to Safari on iOS, meaning that all modern mobile devices can benefit from fast and offline-capable web apps. This was a pivotal moment in the future of web apps, what’s more they are coming to desktop in 2018. A PWA is simply a website […]

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The Unity Prefab Waterfall

The Unity Prefab Waterfall

A place for everything, everything in its place. Benjamin Franklin That’s why we care about this technique, because otherwise without it we duplicate things in Unity – a lot. Then… We lose track of our project. Bugs appear everywhere. Builds swell to device-breaking sizes. We go a little crazy. … and then die! OK, I may be exaggerating just a little here, but in my experience creating some of the world’s biggest and best online courses on Unity I get to see what my 100s of thousands of students do right – and wrong. The Premise NOT premises, like a  building. And when a cloud provider offers you an “on-premise” solution then they’re dumb, they mean “on premises”. Man, who can use a dictionary these days! Anyway, I digress. When you sit at a computer typing, or using your mouse, think about how much value it’s even possible to create. If you type continually at am ambitious 80 words per minute, then you’re only creating about half a kilobyte per minute! You may create real value a little faster with the mouse, but I doubt it! So if you’re not recording video or audio, your project file shouldn’t be growing faster […]

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Why A-Star Pathfinding Sucks

Why A-Star Pathfinding Sucks

Looking to get a game character from A to B? Want it to work-out its own route around obstacles? This is called pathfinding, and everyone keep harping on about A* (said A star). This is an awesome technique, but it can also suck for beginners! Why? Because it’s much more complex and, in many simple cases, unnecessary. The table below shows how it stacks up against other pathfinding algorithms… As you can see, A* doesn’t win on all counts. Do you need movement cost – the ability to have areas where the character moves faster or slower like roads or swamps? Do you need blistering speed, or would 50% slower than A* be just fine? If the answer to these questions is no, and you’re just starting-out, why would you put yourself through the pain of learning A*? Apart from the added complexity of understanding and programming A*, there are some other ways in which it sucks. If you want to find a path from a start point to multiple possible end points, or from multiple start points to one end point (thing Defence Grid 2 or other RealTime Strategies), then A* sucks as it’s designed for point-to-point pathfinding. The […]

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