As this decade is completely driven by the online landscape, everyone knows the importance of a website. No matter what business you run, your website is the voice of your company and it should be appealing for the customers to visit. 

But how much does it cost to build a website? Does it cost too much?

Written by: Shibu Kumar

Android became a worldwide phenomenon not only because it is Google’s operating system but also because it is an open source OS. Among various things that make open source technologies intriguing, one major trait is that they often come with surprisingly innovative features that are normally seen on commercially sold software and apps with noticeably bigger price tags possess.

However, Android still has a few proprietary components that make up its functionality and user experience aspects. But the open source Linux is still its base kernel establishing the OS as an open source contribution.

The stock Android ROM served as a foundation for a number of third-party custom ROMs including MIUI, Paranoid Android etc. Apart from the ROM, many apps designed to run on Android are actually open source complementing the nature of the OS itself. As a leading open source development services provider in the Middle East, we too often deal with client demands for an open source mobile app for Android.

That said, as we are ushering in 2019, here is a list of a few open source mobile apps that ended up making a lot of Android users happy this year.
 

Orbot

 
Orbot, a product from The Tor Project released in 2008, is the Android version alternative to the Tor browser. Similar to Tor, Orbot serves as an effective anonymity cover for Android devices.

Once the Tor proxy has been enabled using Orbot, the app will suggest using an open source web browser called Orfox which in turn shares source code similarities with the Tor browser. To unlock Orbot’s full potential, the device it’s running on will have to be rooted.
 

VLC for Android

 
VLC is one of the most popular video players for the Windows operating system. It’s free and open source, and has a dedicated community working on improving it. VLC for Android didn’t dominate the Play Store however as MX Player already took the top spot. Nevertheless, VLC Android is still loved by millions of Android users, and features better audio support than MX player as well.
 

Amaze File Manager

 
What Android users expect from a great file manager include simplicity, material design, appealing looks, and a bunch of other useful file management features. Amaze File Manager has all these and more. Amaze File Manager is an open source file manager that gained good momentum this year in terms of downloads and feedback. It can also use other apps to open various media files.
 

AdBlock Browser

 
Intrusive advertisements are too frequent and too annoying now. With the AdBlock browser for Android, unwanted or intrusive advertisements while browsing can be blocked. The customizable open source browser is recommended by Stanford University and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as it also effectively minimizes the risks of ‘malicious advertising’ infections.
 

ProtonMail

 
ProtonMail was founded by CERN scientists in 2013, and was backed by a $550,000 donation campaign. The open source app is proudly presented as the world’s largest encrypted email service. The app comes with an impressive, modern UI with a number of great features including customizable swipe gestures, set self-destruct timers for messages etc. Users can also password-protected encrypted emails to non-ProtonMail addresses.
 

Conclusion

 
Evidently, 2018 gave a lot of momentum to a number of open source Android apps despite heavy competition. Open source tools and technologies have been around for a long time, and never have they actually disappointed people who simply aren’t willing to spend a lot on apps. Most open source apps including the ones in this list are products of passion.

As open source gains more traction across popular industries including but not limited to software development, mobile app development, IoT applications etc., we can expect the arrival of even more open source digital solutions packing awesome features with surprisingly smaller price tags or none at all.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

A few years ago, the concept of the Internet of Things was seen as some weird concept from a sci-fi flick. But things changed. Though IoT is still in its infancy, it garnered a lot of attention lately and is now seen as a revolutionary technology that will transform and disrupt various industries. There’s great interest in building IoT devices and IoT software development today.

As a matter of fact, many organizations are competing to make various components available in the market in order to promote the already trending development of IoT solutions. However, some of those platforms ran out of steam.

Among those platforms that came complemented IoT is .NET – one of the most popular microsoft technologies. Corporate behemoths like Amazon, Accenture, Dell etc. has been leveraging .NET for years due to its versatility and impressive performance. Coincidentally, these two traits are what IoT app development demands today.

That said, let’s explore the merits of using .NET for IoT projects.
 

Windows 10 IoT Core compatibility

 
Windows 10 IoT Core is a free, optimized version of the popular Windows 10 OS from Microsoft, designed to work with low-power devices such as Dragonboard 410c, Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 etc. The OS features an impressive toolkit and a plethora of integration options.

But the icing on the cake is that .NET is fully compatible with Windows 10 IoT Core. Combining both these contributions from Microsoft enables developers to build great IoT apps with a decent UX.
 

The rich toolset of ASP.NET Core

 
A popular, widely-used open-source web framework, ASP.NET Core allows developers to create visually appealing web applications including IoT apps. Combined with the Windows 10 IoT Core, one can also use ASP.NET Core to build services that can run on the background of IoT devices.

The highlight however is ASP.NET Core’s toolset. The framework supports a number of popular programming languages like Visual Basic, C# etc. and facilitates faster deployment, excellent performance, and easier cloud integration. With ASP.NET Core, the devs are also free to choose the cloud platform for their applications – be it AWS, Google Cloud IoT, or Microsoft Azure. It’s no wonder why the ASP.NET development services industry is still one of the fastest growing tech industries in the world.
 

Ready-made solutions

 
.NET encourages developers to use its ready-made solutions to save time. But this also has another advantage. When using .NET’s ready-made solutions, the developers are less likely to encounter a coding issue that hasn’t been rectified or resolved by the community.

If the devs use ready-made .NET solutions for IoT and comes across some obstacle, chances are someone already encountered and resolved it and was generous enough to publish the code on GitHub. The reusable code generated by the .NET community can speed up IoT app development considerably.
 

Supportive community

 
The best thing developers can have is a supportive community backing a technology they are extensively working with. .NET has such a community. Thousands of experienced developers in the community can help thousands of amateur developers trying to figure out IoT development. They normally hang out on GitHub and StackOverflow publishing unique pre-written code pieces and relieving amateur developers of their coding headaches.
 

Conclusion

 
.NET has been around for a while and consistently retains its position in the market countering advancements from potential replacements. In fact, it’s only become more popular with its rich toolset, open source persona, and strong community support. All of these traits combined makes IoT app development a fun activity with .NET.

Written by: Ratheesh V S

For an organization to become successful by selling their products or services, they’d need to ensure that their products/services are of great quality. Enterprises are keen on observing trends that help them improve the quality and speed of their products/services. This is why they need great QA and software testing strategies.

However, for these strategies to grant benefits to an organization, they should be aligned with the organization’s business goals which is easier said than done.

The first step is to develop an actionable QA strategy itself.
 

Developing the strategy

 
The concept is similar to what the marketing and finance department does in an organization. They always find a way to devise appropriate strategies that tie to the organization’s larger business goals. A QA strategy can be developed the same way. However, the software development team should be involved as well to understand the actionable potential of the strategy better.
 

Why align QA strategy with business goals

 
Many organizations do not take QA strategies into account when planning to determine an optimal approach to achieving the business goals. The QA process itself might not be given the priority it deserves. To improve the product quality, simply facilitating QA and testing aren’t enough. The team involved with the product should be able to understand the tangible value in investing the organization’s resources in QA. This would help the team define QA goals that correlate with the business goals.
 

Figuring out the right goals

 
Not all organizations have established or at least transparent business goals. If the QA team is to align their goals with the business goals, they will need to get input from the various stakeholders across the organization. This also helps the QA team understand how product quality impacts the success of the business. The key is to understand the high-level goals. The QA team can then work backwards to devise a strategy that aligns with the high level goals.
 

Challenges to know about

 
Tying QA strategy to business goals isn’t going to be easy. Even the nature of the people involved can give the QA team a hard time. Another major challenge for the team is to ensure that the QA goals are quantifiable. The company should decide which metrics are linked to their business’ success, and the QA goals are created based on these chosen success metrics.
 

Conclusion

 
The software development company should be willing to invest time and resources into creating a QA plan that would contribute to the success of the company by improving product/service quality. This is the only effective way to benefit from QA. If the company is simply not willing to invest in a good QA plan, they will start running out of steam in the long run.

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Written by: Kiran

It’s blatantly obvious that slow loading times and awkward interactions in a web application deter users forcing them to seek a better alternative. For years, developers relied on powerful microsoft technologies to develop high performance, interactive web applications. But not all developers always manage to build websites and web apps with the best performance.

That said, this blog will serve as a guide to many web development beginners on improving the performance of a website.

Before attempting to improve the performance of a website, it’s wise to collect a baseline of the web application’s performance. This is to see how the changes to the site are impacting its performance. Sometimes, the changes may do more harm than good reducing the performance. But performance tuning is still recommended as a holistic exercise that will impart deep insights on developers.

The following tips are recommended by our team with years of experience in delivering top-notch ASP.NET development services. The effectiveness of some tips may vary from website to website, and also depends on the nature and scale of the website. So, do take this with a grain of salt.
 

Reduce HTTP requests

 
Did you know that a browser pays a tax to open connection to a server?

It does. And the tax is what you call a TCP/IP connection overhead. When there is high latency, it takes quite a long time for the browser to establish new connections. In addition, browsers may also come with a limit on the number of requests they will make to one server at a time. The significance of these connection requests makes it evident that reducing the number of HTTP requests is a great performance optimization tactic.
 

CSS content should be loaded first

 
It’s better to load the CSS content of the website first. To understand why, it’s important to understand the nature of browsers – what it is that gives them great speed when downloading web pages.

When downloading pages, browsers attempt to render the application as soon as it has content. This is pretty much a wild guess by the browser as it won’t know what content on the page would go against the guesses it made while downloading the page. If the browser discovers that it has made a wrong guess on the rendering of  the page, it will start over again discarding all the work it has done till then. A stylesheet can trigger such a scenario which is why it’d better to avoid having styles that modifies elements that have already been rendered by the browser. This is why loading CSS files first is important.
 

Image compression

 
A website without images would be bland and without substance. Experienced web developers often use inline-SVG or CSS tricks to make vector images for web pages. This is because such images tend to be smaller than raster images. Not all developers can make this happen. They can compress the image instead or in their words ‘shrink the image’. Developers can make use of a number of services or plugins for JavaScript build tool to perform image shrinking.
 

Conclusion

 
Unlike software development, developing web applications require developers to take a lot of other factors into account including web browsers. Tuning the performance of web apps is much diverse than that of software. The end goal, however, is to satisfy users. Web performance optimization promises a better experience for end-users and better opportunities for the brand itself owing to the impressed app users.

Written by: Ratheesh V S
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