Discover MLS

Archive for April, 2011

Developing Rich Web Apps: The Tough Stuff — Part I

Building apps in Flex (or any RIA tool, really) is wonderful for lots of reasons.  Many things you only wished you could do with ajax are now possible…and reliable.  Event-driven code with animations, multi-tasking, and rich, interactive, immersive controls.  Don’t get me started unless you have some time.

But are there downsides to building an app in this brave new world?  Tough stuff you have to overcome?  Well, sure.  As you spend more & more time around anything new, you inevitably find some bad with the good.  New paradigms aren’t much different than new people, you see.

To shed some light on this dark side of development, I’ll take a moment here & there to comment on the things that challenge us most here at Discover.  It’s important to ponder these special gifts, since for us developers, the moments with the most pain & suffering are usually the ones when we learn the most.

One great example goes way back to our early days.  If you search via any avenue in the software and find a listing that’s yours (i.e.; you’re the listing agent), you can click a button to ‘Revise’ the it.  Nothing groundbreaking, just a time-saver so you don’t have to go to a separate module or something to modify one of your own listings.  But in our implementation, the workflow (because of the capabilities of Flash, compared to a more traditional html/ajax app) was significantly different, and that presented a BIG challenge.

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HTML5 vs Flash — An Entrepeneur’s Guide

By the end of April, all Discover MLS users will have access to a Mobile-friendly version of the software. This is really just a new front-end (or user interface) to the Discover MLS system — designed for the smaller (and touch-capable) screens of smartphones and pads, and built in HTML5.

Wait…did he say…HTML5??

Yes, that’s right.  The company that brought you the first (and STILL the only) MLS system built in Adobe Flash will soon be the first & only MLS software company delivering an HTML5-based user interface, as well.

This obviously implies that we think Apple isn’t going to relent, and Flash will likely not be supported on iPhone or iPad this year.  I’m still the first to say “it’s only a matter of time” before mounting pressure from Google (i.e.; Android) will force the issue…but we can’t afford to sit around and wait for Steve Jobs to ponder the potential reduction of App Store revenue any longer :)

Footnote: It’s interesting to see that Android’s marketshare is still climbing, even with the iPhone available on a worthy cell network at last!

This also puts Discover in a uniquely-qualified position to discuss the relative pro’s and con’s of developing software in HTML5 and Flash, which is the subject I really want to cover.

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What other choices does the Real Estate Professional have?

With the looming increase for the NAR membership fee — up by 50% — what other choices does the Real Estate Professional have? It seems to me that NAR membership is virtually required to participate in the real estate industry in America today.

Most MLS’s in the country requires NAR membership. All AOR’s/BOR’s require membership. So, in order to access all of the ‘real’ information regarding properties and participate in the compensation, you really have to be a member of this large ‘labor union.’ (See this article: http://realblogging.com/matt-jones/the-emperor-has-no-clothes/).

Is it just a labor union? Is the value equation really there? These are valuable questions and need to be addressed in the face of today’s technology, the way the consumer now demands information and service, social media and the housing crisis. Why does it seem like no one is really asking these questions? And when they do, those who ask and even think about making changes are labeled heretics?

I am not a Realtor, but have been a part of this industry since 1986. I love most of the people in this industry and it has afforded me a living for a long time. For the most part, I think things are working great. I am not qualified to answer some of the questions that I am posing here. However, that being said, I have always wondered what the REAL value of NAR membership is?

I get the advertising. I understand the branding. I completely understand and can see value in the legislative and lobbying area. Continuing education is sketchy to me, having seen so many Realtors that I would never allow to sell my home or represent me in the buying process. You can’t educate someone who is just incompetent.

So, where is the value?  I would love to hear from all of the great professionals in this business.  I know the answers are out there……