Questions

What do you look for when selecting technical/solution architect for a cross-platform mobile app?

I am building a mobile cross-platform app for education that integrates many technologies (eg Google Drive, Microsoft, and web browser). What skills should I look for? What software programs should they be familiar with? What's the best way to find a good technical architect with preferable experience in the education development industry?

3answers

Cross-platform frameworks are just now becoming robust and stable enough to be a real concern. The most popular frameworks include React Native, Xamarin, and Ionic. The trade-offs are typically speed of development vs. flexibility and complexity. If you use a lot of platform-specific integrations like HealthKit or Google Fit, your best bet is React Native, as it spits out real native Java or Objective-C that you can further tweak or integrate. Xamarin or Ionic basically put wrappers around C# or HTML5, so your deep integrations are limited.

As far as the architect is involved, you're looking for someone who has experience in both Objective-C and Java, as well as the cross-platform language, whether it be Javascript or C#. This is because once you've built your cross-platform app, you still may have to write native libraries to integrate to the platform-specific features like HealthKit.

I can't speak for the education industry itself. You can post listings on Angelist or StackOverflow, but also scour LinkedIn to attempt to poach people. You have to assume a good architect is already well employed and isn't looking for work, so you're going to have to go out and find them.

I've ran into this problem before, in that good architects are really hard to find. It may be easier to hire a good mid-level developer, and train them in architecture. That basically means carving out 40-50% of their time to spend on architecture and research. They will then grow into that role in 6-12 months.

Hope this helps.


Answered 3 years ago

I founded one of the first independent app development studios just as App Store went live in 2008. In addition to building this successful indie studio, I've helped dozens of companies launch successful apps on App Store and Play Store.

Given your requirement, you will need to look for an architect who is familiar with the technologies you've listed in the question, AND a development environment that will support those technologies.

There are several frameworks, languages and stacks you can use to code and deploy and deploy mobile apps. If you intend to deploy to both App Store and Play Store, the idea of developing once and deploying to both is appealing and there are many options to do that. Frameworks like Appcelerator, React Native and Xamarin are used by major brands for their iOS and Android app development.

On the other hand, many well known brands have tried that approach only to backtrack and re-code in the native language and development environments (Android Studio and Java for Android, xCode and Swift/Objective C for iOS).

The frameworks will never be as robust and open as the native environments provided by Android and Apple but they will allow you to develop less expensively since you can code once and deploy to both.

It seems that you initially need for someone that has a broad knowledge of environments to help you make the best development decisions up front that will support your technical requirements. I see a danger in selecting someone who is committed to a specific development framework rather than considering the best one for your requirement.

I hope this give you some idea of what you're looking for. Please give me a call if you want to talk this through.


Answered 3 years ago

Please also consider if the solutions architect have good knowledge of best security practices (or at least some working knowledge and he's able to find what's needed). The least thing you want is to have security gaps that might kill your startup with a security breach. Cross-platform apps might be tricky and interacting with external third-parties might leave you exposed to unwanted threats. Correctly managed these potential security breaches might be greatly reduced.


Answered 3 years ago

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