HTML5 Mobile Never Looked So Good

by Dave Arel

Any web engineer remembers the first time they added HTML to a document, opened it in a browser, and for at least a moment felt like they could build anything they desired.

This is why we love the web.

This is also why it was so exciting the moment the browser came to mobile. We began considering the possibilities of building applications-on-the-go for any device, using the languages we were familiar with, and the tools we felt at home in. But let’s get real. At the time, and even now, it was a distant dream.

Some big name companies even bought into this idea; Facebook and LinkedIn to name a few. We all know how thatturned out. So why did a small startup with four engineers think they could build a mobile application in JavaScript? Because like any self-respecting successful startup: YOLO.

Without boring you with the typical “we’re-revolutionizing-the-landscape startup speech”, let me tell you a bit about what we do. Belly is about customer relationships. We provide a digital in-store platform (iPad) for businesses of any size all around the country to assist in building, maintaining, and enhancing successful connections with their most loyal customers. In short form: we’re replacing the traditional “Buy 10, Get 1 Free” card with a badass digital solution.

We love technology on the cutting-edge as much as the next hipster, but we’d like to think we’re quite practical. We knew native made sense, particularly because we’d only need to support one platform. Yet, it wasn’t that simple. Here’s our problem— we’ve got thousands of stores around the country running software that needs updating. Often. We’re innovators, and as our buddy Zuck once put it “Move fast and break things.” With a native built application, as we originally had it, breaking things meant hours of updating things. Things like iPad Apps… like thousands of them… like all around the country. Huge bummer.

So, we did it. We built an HTML5 hybrid app. This wasn’t just a sit in a WebView and collect dust sort of app. This was a dynamic, fully functional, highly performant, native-like mobile app. When I say dynamic, I mean the entire customer-facing portion of the application could be deployed to any or all of our iPads within minutes. All without interrupting the customer. That, my friend, was game changing.

The best part— you can’t even tell. Don’t believe me? Watch this video or visit a location near you.

Belly’s HTML5 iPad Application from Belly Engineering on Vimeo.

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