HTML5 Mobile App Spotlight: Tap and Learn English

6 min read

Originally published April 02, 2015

Welcome to the second post of the new HTML5 App Spotlight series. This series will bring attention to the the cool mobile applications developers are building with HTML5 technology. If you think your mobile application would be a good fit for this spotlight series, please contact me and tell me about your app.

Learning to build a mobile application is a tough gig, and actually getting it onto the app stores is just as hard. It's a massive accomplishment to get your first application up and ready for download. László Vári, who is a reader of this blog, got in touch with me to tell me about his new app.

This series isn't all about demonstrating the best of the best HTML5 apps, it's about showing what HTML5 mobile app developers at all levels are doing, whether they are beginners or experts, app store newbies or seasoned veterans. So I felt that it was fitting to put László Vári's first application in the spotlight this week. I've asked him a few questions related to the applications development below.

Summary

  <td>
    <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.VariLaszloartdecom.TapandLearnEn">Tap and Learn English</a>
  </td>
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  <td>
    <strong>Category</strong>
  </td>
  
  <td>
    Education
  </td>
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  <td>
    <strong>Price</strong>
  </td>
  
  <td>
    $0.99
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  <td>
    <strong>Platforms</strong>
  </td>
  
  <td>
    Android, iOS, Windows Phone
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  <td>
    <strong>Technology</strong>
  </td>
  
  <td>
    Sencha Touch, Phonegap
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  <td>
    <strong>Author</strong>
  </td>
  
  <td>
    László Vári
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Title

Q: Can you give us an overview of the application?

A: Well this is basically a vocabulary improving tool. The idea behind it is only about releasing something which on one hand can be useful, on the other hand contains a lot of small pieces of development, like calculation, game thinking etc. which can be further developed and used in my next projects.

According to my original profession I would like to focus on "serious" games which are games, but using real data and modelling real processes, and aiming real aims, like increasing the extent of drinkable water in a society.

Q: How did you find using Sencha Touch and Sencha Architect for this project?

A: When I started one year ago getting involved into the world of Sencha right at the beginning, (after learning something about MVC and Sencha Touch in general), I started using Architect.

Previously (and now as well) I worked with Adobe products, like Flash, or Edge, so for me a visual interface was a big advantage. Personally I like the interface of Architect, because it is very logically arranged, and easy to handle. Nevertheless it took some time before I could use it fluently.

Q: What were the technical challenges of this application?

A: For these apps (It will be released this week in 5 languages) I used JSON files which contain the words and the roots to the pictures, and for the scoring I used local storage.

This app contains two navigation views for the quiz and result. They contain sorted and grouped lists, a container with buttons, and a phantom picture. The values of these buttons and the picture, is determined by filtering the JSON files upon clicking a list item, or pressing on of these buttons. So this is pretty simple, but it took two months to put together.

I've built it with PhoneGap, but as far as I experienced it was a little bit different with [Sencha] Architect. With Architect I could create a build, but then I had to zip it together, and manually uploaded to the PhoneGap Build website (instead of using PhoneGap through the CLI).

I was afraid whether it would build correctly but without any error message it made the .apk and other files.

Q: Why did you create this mobile application?

A: They are my first productions. The idea to develop these language apps came from an old project. It seemed logical to implement these works into mobile apps independently from the fact that there are many similar apps in stores.

Q: Who is the app for and why should they download it?

A: Actually for anybody who is learning a language and wants to improve their vocabulary in their free time, or during traveling – to ask for a price of a hamburger for example.

Q: What were the most difficult parts of creating the application?

Personally for me the greatest difficulty is that I develop alone, and when I'm stuck (it can happen quite often), it's difficult to get help. There are many resources on the net, but if I have to face a "special" problem I had to figure it out alone how to solve that, taking small pieces from different sources.

Anyway this situation has an advantage and a disadvantage as well. The advantages are that during these processes I can learn and experience a lot, and at the end there is the sense of achievement. The disadvantages are that it takes a lot of time, and I can never be so sure that my solution is the best one, or if it contains bugs, which I just did not realize.

Q: Can you talk a bit about how you got into HTML5 / PhoneGap and how you went about learning it?

A: Honestly I'm still learning PhoneGap, and I think I'm quite at the beginning. It is because I should have to use it at less time, only for building the production ready application. Now for me is the most exciting part is the plugins. As far as I could experience it holds a lot of advantages and it can give a very special taste to the application involving the opportunities of the devices into the logic of my products.

Go check out Tap and Learn English and if you have any feedback for László please leave it below. Constructive criticism only please, remember we're here to help each other!