Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Congressional Committee iPhone App Sighted by CNN

CNN's Eric Kuhn reports on GovWatch, created by Darrell Issa, (R-California), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (He may have had a teensy bit of help from a staffer.) The article is says the app is available tomorrow, but in fact, it's available today and it's free.
The Republicans have had a reputation of being behind in their use of social media. It's shaping up as a bidding war: "I'll see your Facebook Page and raise you an iPhone app." What joy for developers, app fans, and political junkies (my hand is raised here, but my excuse is I was born in DC and you never get it out of your blood). And, of course, good news for Apple. How many emergency requisitions for iPhones signed by political reporters have been received today by publishers?
Note to MH: how about a follow-on to Get Rich with Apps! We could call it Get Elected with Apps!
The app is a terrific demonstration of how you can put together RSS feeds into a useful app without too much effort. Figures 2.3 and 2.4 in the book show how you can use the Dashcode template to put together an iPhone web app based on an RSS feed. For something like GovWatch, you would use the iPhone OS and the built-in RSS template. Wrap it up in the navigation structure (shown in Dashcode in Figure 2.7, throw in some buttons at the bottom and you're all set).
The interface elements for iPhone apps are the same whether you're using Dashcode or iPhone OS--there's a trade-off between development speed and complexity. But whichever route you go, it's fast.
From a technological point of view, the GovWatch is great. Congrats to Rep. Issa (and whoever may have helped him). This is the wave of the future!
And when you read the book, you can see how it's done and probably get a good idea of how you could do something just like this. How long will it take to reach 50 House Subcommittee apps? How about the Senate? Who will reach 50 first?
We're asking people to help us keep track of them as they emerge (fast and furiously I'm sure).
Check out the list and add new spottings on my blog.
And raise a beer this evening to the staffers who are canceling plans in order to work on the suddenly-urgent app for their member.

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