Tractor Monkeys' Secret Developer Lessons

Earlier this week, I went to the filming for two episodes of Tractor Monkeys, a new panel show that will broadcast on the ABC next year. I had an awesome time and can't wait for the finished product, but I also got a strange reminder about the vagaries of software development.

As with any studio recording, after the main show was over host Merrick Watts went back to do "pick-ups", which are retakes of introductions and other scripted bits that didn't work the first time. As well as the expected fixes for flubbed lines, Watts also some new intros which made specific reference to the fact that viewers would be able to play along at home on their iPad or on the Tractor Monkeys web site, and rank themselves on a leader board.

Leaving aside the fact that anyone in the audience would have a clear edge in such a competition, the fact that the show recorded two versions gives rise to at least two possibilities, both of which have implications for the developers working on the interactive component:

  • The ABC isn't sure whether the iPad app and site will be ready in time, and hence is hedging its bets. This reminds us that development projects frequently miss their deadlines.
  • The ABC wants to be able to repeat the show in the future but won't be maintaining the app indefinitely. This reminds us that no matter how much work goes into them, interactive sites and apps are often ephemeral.

Either way, it's slightly weird that an iPad-specific version is being built: why not just go HTML5 and let anyone with a suitable browser participate?


    html5 version would take longer to develop and has more fragmentation issues. Its also an entirely different skill set - frontend voodoo magic verse framework centric software development - seeing that ABC has produced some rather nice iOS apps the process would be easier.

      HTML5 only has 'fragmentation issues' when you're designing it for multiple browsers/platforms whereas native iOS apps are single platform only. You're comparing apples and oranges.

        You are obviously missing the point of eliot rock's post - he's referring to Angus' statement "Either way, it’s slightly weird that an iPad-specific version is being built: why not just go HTML5 and let anyone with a suitable browser participate?" If they did go the HTML5 route, for "anyone with a suitable browser" (ie including everyone not running iOS) then they would runt into "fragmentation issues". You seem to not know your apples from oranges, stove.

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