UXcamp Europe in Berlin is among the top events worldwide in this segment, and I am super-stoked to attend together with my man Demian! We’ll be providing sessions and, more importantly, workshops, for those that are totally amazeballed about Adobe XD (former “Project Comet”), but simply did not have the time to check it out in production yet. And to capture feedback and requests! Well and since UXcamp is happening over the European Championships, let’s take brazilian Demian over to some public viewing and make him forget – or remember? :D – the 7:1 when Germany wrecked the Brazilian Team in 2014… :D
Over the last couple of days I’ve hunted the Adobe calendar and stolen some time from my teammates in the XD team. Check out what they have to say!
When you’re running a device lab to test across a variety of internet connected (mobile) devices, a wireless local area network will be your primary way to hook up your gear to the ‘tubes. When you’re taking that device lab rather seriously and you’re testing across, let’s say, more than 30 devices, you will quickly run into a problem: your WiFi.
Don’t believe the tech spec hype
Some manufacturers publish tech specs stating the maximum connections their access points are capable to support. Yes, most don’t even do that (or talk about the “number of people that can share the same internet connection”), and there is a reason for that. These numbers might be true in some ideal scenario (like: all connected devices using the same chipset, behaving in mixed conditions (some idle, some active), all in vital shape), but having tested a number of these SoHo-style devices we all tend to use at home and in small and medium businesses, I can tell these numbers are very optimistic. At least for the use case we’re after, and that, to be fair, might not be the scenario the manufacturers meant when they published their numbers:
The use case is a tough one
Synchronized browsing, used in web development to easily preview and debug code in production across a farm of devices, implicates X devices calling the same URL at more or less the same time, sometimes several times a minute (code, preview, debug, refresh). There are a lot of variables to take into account and a lot basically “depends” as a rule of thumb around this topic ;). For illustration purpose imagine the traffic produced by 50 devices calling a webpage with 30 requests and a 0.5-1 MB pageload, refreshed continuosly – do the math. That is most likely not what the makers of that WiFi-gear had in mind when they were talking about the number of clients.
I cannot find gear that is suitable for the above scenario and affordable for individuals or small and medium businesses, that run (non-for-profit open) device labs. The available product documentation is not comparable (enough). I know there is superexpensive gear used for permanent installations or at events, but this is not even close to the budget range of what I am looking for. I am not a wireless networks expert, and most of the people would agree this to be a black box to most of the typical web or app developers. And the experts I asked also only know the superexpensive gear (and actually don’t know talk too precisely about limitations with the above use case).
There seems to be a huge gap between 30-300 Euro-ish SoHo-style devices and 6000+ Euro-ish gear. Is there an affordable solution, somewhere inbetween?
Call to action
I know that a ton of people is looking for a solution, so this blog post is to find out. Please help, point people that could know more than us to this post, and share knowledge via a comment. If you run a device lab and found gear that does the job, please post your experience and suggestions. If you combined a set of APs to a working solution, please post the details here (I’d prefer a single device for a number of reasons, but, anything is better than nothing).
Update (May 29, 2013 – looong overdue looking at the number of feedback I have received via Twitter and E-Mail in the meantime, my apologies!):
Thanks for all your support and feedback on my recent post on the need for a proper multidevice stand for mobile web development. Awesome people sent in their solutions or suggestions for such, and I want to thank each one of you in helping all of us to make improve the mobile web by improving the necessary tools.
This post is to gather them in one place (with images and links enabled), numbered, to have you guys discuss them – comments wanted!
#1 “The Plank”
Glynn Phillips sent a picture of “The Plank Mark I” along with these comments:
“So maybe not quite as advanced and technical as the above mentioned but one day by boss turned up with what is now own as ‘The Plank’. Power supply is attached to the back which also acts as a stand to keep the devices at a nice level to use and see. The devices are held on via velcro. I present to you The Plank Mark 1. Yes some improvements are required around its flexibility.”
I would say it’s a bit unflexible in terms of device orientation. But this is just my 2 cents.
#2 “Developer Station”
Sven sent a picture of his “Developer Station” which looks like a wooden frame with a carpet platform, holding several devices with plastic clamps and standard proprietary stands.
It also holds the charging cables and keeps them in place through holes cut into the bottom tray.
From my eyes this again is suboptimal when it comes to orientation changes, and I wonder if charging actually works with the devices upright?
It is a good starting point to actually keep all the stuff together in one place, and move it from desk to desk without a bigger hassle.
But is it also flexible enough for project-specific changes in the device test farm? I’d say: no.
#3 “Device Lab”
Switzerland based Vanamco has put on a website announcing a commercial solution named “Device Lab” over the past days (this edit is from September 18, 2012). They had some more details on the page, e.g. stating details like maximum 10 devices, small footprint on desk, 10-port USB-charger included, etc. – but took off these details when I last checked the site.
Would be interested if these guys got inspired by my original tweet or post. ;)=