Ask Fronted Anything

If you have a burning question for the fronted team ask it here👇and feel free to tag us.

Jamie: CEO @J-C
Simon: CTO @Simon
Anthony: CPO @anthony
Tiff: Community manager @tiffany
Jon: The Engineer @jkimbo

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I have one for @jkimbo .As an engineer what is it like to work somewhere from Day 0 in which you I assume get to help shape and define the engineering process, tech stack and methodologies you use from a core level.

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I find it really exciting to be involved from such an early stage. You definitely have the most impact as an early member of the team and it’s really rewarding to see things grow day by day. I’ve pretty much always been working in startups so I’m used to not having defined processes in place or even a solid idea of what you’re building. The trick is to not try and perfect anything early because you’re almost certainly going to have to throw it away. Just do the minimum work necessary to get things working so that it can be tested with real people. Oh and as a nerd it’s always fun to play with new technologies :grin:

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Awesome! Cheers for the insight.

Are you planning on having a customer facing platform on web or just app?

If so, what sort of technologies/stack are you looking at for building/running the front end?

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We’ll have web and app, but after the first trial period we’ll be biasing towards using the app for everything.

We’re built on Google Cloud, and using their new Cloudrun (kubernetes under the covers) running Django (python 3!). I’m a big fan of choosing boring technology unless there’s a good reason not to, so the only thing we’re using that’s “new” is Cloudrun/Kubernetes and i’ve had plenty of experience of that at Monzo so am confident it’s going to save us a bunch of time managing compute instances.

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Thanks for the detailed response, assuming that the apps will be native?

Just out of interest, what’s the argument for going native over a well built PWA? I can see a few pros and cons, just wondering from someone else’s point of view and what drives those sorts or decisions?

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Correct me if I am wrong as a consumer my issue with PWA’s is Apple and iOS. Until Apple allows non web kit browsers on iOS and starts pushing for these standards on mobile PWA’s are a tough value proposition.

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Yes, correct. Apple are singlehandedly holding the web back unfortunately. Alongside the issue with non webkit browsers, you still cannot publish them to the app store on iOS either unless wrapped using something like PhoneGap.

I was just wondering if there was anything else apart from those issues(admittedly pretty serious issues)

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As it stands another glaring issue would be lack of biometrics meaning lack of things like FaceID and Touch ID for authorization, this is in the pipeline but not here yet

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@Addzy I think web standards are fascinating and it is a shame Apple are so stubborn with the our way is the best way approach. I would be all over pushing for PWA exploration at work if compatibility was better.

It’s a shame as some of the work they are doing is great. I am a big fan of their icloud keychain stuff and the tracking prevention work. If you ever get time this talk is worth a watch it is by an engineer on the keychain team. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0dwX2kf6Oc

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Yh they are incredibly fascinating, and I find the line between native and web is becoming more and more blurred. I’d love more exploration from companies with PWA’s. The stats behind Twitter Lite were pretty cool if you can find the article. Massive improvement is speeds and load times etc

I know, they’re cutting off their nose to spite their face(Is that the saying? I think that’s the saying)
I guess it falls down to their desire to have their enclosed ecosystem.

I’ll check that video out over the weekend, added to the watch list so I don’t forget.

I’d love to do more PWA web stuff myself but most of what we do nowadays tends to be boring B2B stuff with very little need for anything more than a glorified website.

Been starting to think it’s time to start looking at some things a bit more fun, I push the boundaries where I can and within reason but sometimes you’re just too restricted

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Thanks @Addzy and @Tom - Love this discussion. There are a couple of things we’ve been thinking about on this,

PWA’s are great, but there are a few reasons we won’t likely go all-in on a PWA only approach (the web version may still be a PWA though)

On iOS there’s still no push notification support (ironic considering that mobile web was the original iPhone app SDK!) - E-mail, or even WhatsApp just isn’t quite as joined up an experience. The right information at the right time might mean people don’t need to even open the app to be better informed, so this is a big one.

Common Interaction patterns for web apps are still a bit different from those of mobile platforms - In a PWA it’s hard to tread a balance between iOS, Android and web UI and have that feel at home on someone’s device. Users have slightly different interaction expectations of all these platforms, and tonnes of muscle memory and learning. This can make them feel a bit different to most people’s expectations of how things should work based on what they’re used to.

I’m sure this will all change over time as the ui consensus merges ever closer and users become used to the concepts, but for now it makes sense to fit more naturally into each of these places.

We may use some react native views inside the mobile apps so we can share some of the more generic views, we’ll have a tonne to share on this later I’m sure!

App Store placement as you mentioned is also a good point

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[/quote]

This is a super intresting topic on what people expect as the “norm”. I think people as a whole expect a native look and feel to the OS they are on and the mobile web just dosen’t provide that fully yet.

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Can we get dark mode on the forum? :innocent:

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Working on it - will set up when I’m at a computer :ping_pong:

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You can now use dark mode. I use dark mode to pretend I am Batman when I’m at home.

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@anthony Thank you so much for the detailed response and reasonings behind your decisions, it’s always great to see the rationale behind things such as design & technologies etc.

I actually didn’t realise they still weren’t here yet on iOS, that’s ridiculous, we built a web app about 4 years ago that needed them and at the time it was supposed to be something that was coming :soon:, we haven’t needed them since(thank god) so hadn’t checked on the progress since.

I understand this point fully, however, in most cases I disagree with the sentiment, not because of your reasoning behind it, but the concept in general.

In my experience you tend to find that this means that you get left with a tonne of apps that all look/feel relatively the same, and all work the same way, by doing this, you tend to lose the little things that differentiate one another and it’s this point that I don’t like. Let’s say you stick to Google’s material design guidelines for Android, suddenly every app has an action button near the bottom right, all inputs look and feel the same etc, the apps own brand and message can become lost.

Here’s a bad example from the web: Years ago Zurb launched the Foundation Grid framework and Twitter launched the Bootstrap framework. When they launched it was a monumental step forward for the responsive web, however, they were a giant hype train that a lot of FEDs jumped on(me included). I quickly stopped using Foundation for every project because it got to the point where you could tell a Foundation or Bootstrap site a mile off, to a point you still can, however, the frameworks are nowhere near as widely used anymore thanks to the advancement of CSS. My point here is that if you built a site using foundation, any FED that had seen Foundation could have called it out without so much as looking at the code. Companies started having sites vaguely similar just with the content and colours being different. In my honest opinion this is starting to happen within the world of native apps. Innovation stops, or slows down and everybody falls in line with what everyone’s use too and what everyone expects.

Another issue I have is that if you crossover platforms, you’d like to think everything would be in the same place and work the same way but in reality a lot of apps fail here. In an ideal world you should be able to open an app on any platform it’s on and know instantly where everything is if you’ve used it before elsewhere.

My last issue and for me the big one, feature parity. As an app grows out and expands it becomes incredibly hard over time to keep up feature parity(something Monzo is struggling with), this is a real bugbear of mine.

That is just my opinion(although probably misguided).

TLDR: I do understand the need to make an app feel at home on the platform it’s on as long as it’s not at the expense of the brands visual identity & message.

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Hi guys, I’ve really enjoyed hearing more about your app over the past few weeks.
I had a question inspired by a chat with a friend, who is doing a PhD in design accessibility. How are you planning to ensure your app is accessible? e.g. for visually impaired people, people with motor issues, or people with dyslexia?
This seems particularly relevant since disabled people are less likely to own their own homes than non-disabled people (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/disability/bulletins/disabilityandhousinguk/2019#housing-situation-by-disability)
Thanks!

Can we have a categories for ‘General Chat’ & ‘Feedback & Ideas’?

I have a thread I wanted to start but may cause some discusuiion(hopefully), don’t want to spam this one thread out with it.