October 7-10, 2012, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Session Details

Mobile App Development with HTML5

#PST20 Poster Sessions Track

First floor foyer, Frontier Airlines Center


The College of Letters and Science Information Technology Office (LSITO) at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee is providing services for mobile devices by developing HTML5 applications. This poster presentation will focus on some of the technological and design aspects of this project. Mobile devices have a significant and growing presence on college campuses. The mobile computing environment at our campus is typical of most institutions. Students are bringing their own devices to campus and there is diversity in terms of mobile operating systems that need to be accommodated. Many mobile application development solutions are device specific, and require learning a different programming language for each operating system. In order to implement these solutions, many person-hours are needed to focus on each mobile operating system, or solutions need to be outsourced to third-party vendors. For campuses with limited resources, these are not viable solutions. It is possible to provide mobile computing solutions that leverage existing web development expertise with relatively simple modifications to adapt to mobile devices. The performance gap between web and native apps is narrowing, and HTML5 apps provide a development path that is primarily device independent. The initial mobile service we are developing is a web app for the College of Letters and Science. For our starting point, we are using the standard iPhone user interface elements of navigation lists and detail pages with additional style elements introduced with CSS. We are able to use our existing experience with PHP and MySQL to dynamically generate these pages and tap into existing data sources as well as utilize API’s from providers such as Google Maps and Twitter. On iOS (Apple) devices, HTML5 apps stay self-contained, that is, it does not launch an external web browser window. HTML5 apps have an icon and a “splash page” that provide the look and feel of launching an app from the home screen of a device. On Android devices, HTML5 apps launch in a browser. The app icon can be loaded onto the device home screen, but it behaves like a browser bookmark. In order to achieve native app behavior on Android devices, we have developed a relatively simple Android app that uses a Web View to encapsulate an HTML5 app. These Android Hybrid apps can then be published in Google Play, which provides an additional avenue for deployment.


Danny Harvey
Web Application Developer, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Danny Harvey writes custom scripts and programs to support instructional, research and administrative activities and designs Web and Mobile applications. He has his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Materials Engineering from Virginia Tech and a Master of Science in Technology from Eastern Illinois University. He has been working as a Web applications developer for over 12 years and currently works in the Letters and Science Information Technology Office Web Development team at UWM.

Robert Beck
Director of the L&S IT Office, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Robert J. Beck is Director of the L&S IT Office. He also serves as the Chief Information Officer of the College and Associate Professor of Political Science. From 1998-2000, Dr. Beck served as Director of Tufts University's Center for Teaching Excellence. Before Tufts, he spent nine years in full-time teaching and research at the University of Virginia (Government & Foreign Affairs, 1989-90, 91-98) and the University of Minnesota (Political Science, 1990-91).

Homer Hruby
Senior Web Developer, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Thomas Homer Hruby has a background in archaeology and anthropology, receiving a Ph.D. from the Center for Ancient Studies at the University of Minnesota in 1987. Hruby started working for the College of Letters and Science in 1998 redesigning the College’s website and provided faculty web development workshops. Over the past 15 years the web department has grown to four professional staff and is responsible for over 80 academic program websites and 10 applications.

Jeremy Streich
Web Application Developer, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Jeremy Streich has been a Web Application Developer in the LSITO Web Development team since 2007, when he earned a BS in Computer Science from UW-Milwaukee. Prior to this, Streich worked as a LSITO technician specializing in technical support and development for two years before beginning to develop web applications for UWM’s Center for International Education.