Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert) didn’t see the full potential of HTML5 and Senecha set out to prove it, creating its own mobile app called Fastbook to showcase all of HTML5’s bells and whistles. Facebook’s (News - Alert) complaint pointed out the speed in which Facebook was being accessed on smartphones was slow. This led Facebook to create its own native Android (News - Alert) and iOS mobile applications instead of using HTML5. In running some tests of the native Facebook app, it discovered much of the application was still in raw HTML pages, which was also responsible for slowing down the site.
The primary goal for creating Fastbook was as “a technology demo that shows what developers can do with HTML5 if they take the right approach, and use the right frameworks and tools.” Senecha is a backend-as-a-service (BAAS) provider for mobile applications with an API that allows developers to create new applications.
Based on its experience, the company knew the flaw had to be on how the website was developed and not HTML5. Mistakes in using the wrong tools and architecture for application development can result in the slow-loading, low frame-rate and choppy user experience in the News Feed exhibited by Facebook in its HTML5-version app.
It started out by testing the native application of the iPhone iOS app. “We connected an iPhone to a Web debugging proxy, and started to look at the HTTP traffic the [Facebook] application pushed over the network. Our biggest shock: much of the application was still raw HTML pages. The News Feed had moved to native as had the profile page, but many of the other application UIs were simply HTTP GET requests to m.facebook.com. Today’s ‘native’ Facebook application is a hybrid Web/native application: there is content rendered on m.facebook.com and displayed in a UIWebView and native Objective C components mixed together,” said Senecha officials.
The biggest obstacle was creating the News Feed, because an estimated one billion content creators were posting unlimited amounts of content every day. Implementing the feed in HTML5 with smooth playback while at the same time adding new features and enhancements to the Senecha Touch framework challenged the team, but it was eventually achieved.
By using the Senecha Touch Framework it kept the footprint to a minimum no matter how small or large the data in the store. A Sandbox Container was created for the News Feed, Timeline (News - Alert) and Story views, allowing it to perform as a standalone while still being part of the bigger DOM (document object model) tree. With the addition of a deeper integration to their TaskQueue and the AnimationQueue, which is responsible for animation and events, were the major components in place. The end result has been Senecha proving the legitimacy of HTML5 and only time will tell if Facebook will adopt it as its mobile platform.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey