As you might know, we’ve been in the beta phase for farmOS Field Kit for quite some time, while we try to nail down the core functionality and reach a level of relative stability. As we do so, we encourage users to test it out and provide feedback, and because we’re using a “Hybrid App” approach, we’re able to do so across 3 separate platforms: native Android (via the Play Store), native iOS (via Apple’s TestFlight), and on the web as a Progressive Web App (PWA) at https://farmos.app.
I suspect most users are least familiar with the PWA, but its the one I’m actually most excited about. It’s the fastest way of getting someone up and running on Field Kit; it’s the fastest and easiest way to push updates to; and it’s supported across a huge range of devices, from iOS/Android/Windows phones to desktop browsers, regardless of the operating system. Basically, if your device has a modern browser, it can run the PWA. It’s a dream as a developer, too, because it requires no separate code, configuration or release cycle in order to target all those platforms.
It’s worth noting that, as of now, the PWA supports all the same functionality as the native apps. It works offline, it can access the camera and GPS, and you can even add the icon to your home screen. However, the one drawback might be if, in the future, we wanted to support some piece of functionality that could only be provided on native, such as Bluetooth connections or NFC tags. Unfortunately, for the time being, that can’t be done with a PWA.
The trouble arises with the native app platforms. They require difficult and separate processes to build the release packages and upload them to the stores; there’s a significant waiting time to see if the submission was approved; and then there are issues of support, which from time to time, break our features, such as the recent debacle on iOS that broke our the login process.
These issues require time to address, and we don’t always have funding to cover that time. And what’s more, that time diverted to platform issues is time taken away from feature development and other bug fixes.
So recently we’ve been wondering if it might be best to suspend support for the native Android and iOS until we’ve reach a level of stability with our feature set and core functionality. This would mean current users would have to make the switch to the PWA for the time being, but it would also mean we could focus more on the issues that matter most to them.
We won’t do this unless we have overwhelming support from the community, so please weigh in and let us know in the comments what you think. I’m also including a survey below so we can try to quantify folks opinions and current usage.
As always, thanks to everyone for their incredible support and feedback!
If you’re a Field Kit user, which version of the app do you primarily use?
- Android native app (from the Play Store)
- iOS native app (from Apple TestFlight)
- https://farmos.app (the PWA)
Have you tried the PWA?
How willing are you to use the PWA?
- I already use it!
- Sure, I’d be willing to try it.
- No thanks, it sounds like too much trouble.