Developers + Designers

One of the newest trends within the developer community in Japan is various ways of collaboration among the developers and designers. As the apps and websites' quality increases, demand for better UI and better design would be expected.

Example1: Simeji

A developer called @Adamrocker (Masahiko Adachi) created a Japanese IME for Android called Simeji as his side project while working for a tech company full time. It became one of the most popular Japanese IMEs, but his friend and a designer Rin Yano felt that there should be improvements in the UI as well as the logo. She started to help the project as the designer, and greatly improved the service. Last year, Baidu - the largest search engine in China bought Simeji, and the two of them joined Baidu.

Example2: Hackathons with developers and designers

Some of the hackathons keep the developer vs designer ratio to be 50:50, or don't have a target ratio but invites designers to join. This is awesome, since it increases the quality of UI which is always better for the users, the gender ratio of the participants gets more balanced (developer only hackathons ends up with a very high male ratio), and developers and designers get a chance to meet (usually they don't go to same events) which leads to future collaboration in other projects, not just the hackathon itself.

At one of those hackathons I organized that invited designers and developers, designers would start designing characters and logos for games that developers were making, start making mocks and wireframes while developers were coding, design beautiful background images while developers tackled new APIs. They can reach a different level just in one day hackathon.

EXP Hackathon

EXP Hackathon

EXP Hackathon

EXP Hackathon

Example3: html5j

html5j, the largest HTML5 community in Japan started as "HTML5 developers JP" community. Last year, they felt the need to open the doors to the designers and collaborate with them. They changed the community name to "HTML5 developers and designers JP" which is too long so shortened it to "html5j", they organized a conference called "Chrome+HTML5 Conference" which had a developer track as well as designer track, and secured seats for designers (there were 1000+ registration for 200 seats, so this was important).

Example4: Designers to learn xml

Chihiro Akiba, Asami Yamamoto and Adamrocker started a series of events for Android app designers to learn xml  so that they can increase what they can do with their app design, and to ensure that what they designed will not be wasted when it is implemented by the developers. "In the past, the role of developers and designers were separated, and designers were frustrated because their proposals for better design would not be implemented by the lack of understanding about the importance of design on the developers' side- and the developers were frustrated because designers would propose designs that were pretty but wasn't functional as the developers expect." says Chihiro. "If Android app designers learn xml, designers will be able to realize what they wanted the design to be, and the developers will be happy since you are decreasing their burden." In fact, some developers who joined the event told me they learned a lot from her lecture too. "I actually didn't know we can do such design work with xml."

Her first lecture was about 9-patch.

At her second lecture she further explained what designers can do using xml.

The third lecture will be about Custom UI.

Example5: Design Terrorism

"How can developers and designers better collaborate?" is a common question nowadays. Designer Teppei Machida proposed something called "Design Terrorism".

"Use of Github is very common among developers- they can create, publish, share, add to other people's code, and collaborate. It's awesome. Designers should be allowed to join too! But you need to be able to use that scary green screen..."

"So I made a service called Kuroigamen(black screen) to enable designers to post their designs to github without using terminal. Developers will be surprised if they received a design on Github."

@machida saw this website

 ...and sent this design.

Saw this website
 and sent this design.

The reason why it's a "terrorism" is because developers aren't expecting those designs to arrive, but I think it is the best terrorism in the world... ever ;)

BTW, the terminal being black might have been the scarecrow for designers. In Chihiro's lectures, she mentions "don't be afraid of the black screen"

 "Make it white and it's not scary any more."
"You even can make it brown. Don't be scared!"

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer. -Fumi Yamazaki


Android developer communities in Japan

I wrote a blog post that there are so many tech events in Japan, thought it might be good to write another post about Android developer communities.

Japan Android Group

There are various Android communities in Japan, the largest one is "Japan Android Group[ja]" with 21,501 members in Google Groups[ja], 70% of which are developers. There are 78 members in the organizing committee[ja], led by Makoto Anjo.

They have 36 regional groups all around Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Hokkaido 2008/11/29-     Tohoku 2009/10/29-     Aomori 2012/03/23-
Akita 2011/10/28-     Aizu 2011/03/04-     Ibaragi 2011/07/10-
Gunma 2010/07/10-     Saitama 2010/08/28-     Chiba 2011/04/29-
Tama 2010/06/29-     Machida 2010/09/18-     Akihabara 2012/02/10-
Yokohama 2010/07/04-     Yokohama Business 2011/04/20-
Yokosuka 2012/02/21-     Niigata 2010/07/15-     Kanazawa 2009/04/25-
Fukui 2010/03/07-     Yamanashi 2011/04/22-     Tokai 2009/10/24-
Hamamatsu 2011/03/12-     Kanasai 2009/02/21-     Kyoto 2010/12/19-
Sakai 2011/06/10-     Kobe 2010/07/31-     Chugoku 2009/05/16-
Oakayama 2009/07/18-     Shikoku 2009/06/26-     Fukuoka 2009/09/26-
Saga 2010/02/20-     Nagasaki 2010/07/12-     Kumamoto 2010/06/28-
Oita 2010/02/06-     Miyazaki 2010/08/01-     Kagoshima 2010/02/10-
Okinawa 2009/10/17-

They have a bunch of working groups:

HandsOn sessions working group, Android-SDK working group
Mashup working group, Contents working group
Embedded working group, PF working group
DalvikVM working group, Market Place working group
Business working group

They organize various events[ja], once a month in Tokyo with 300 participants, and more all around Japan. Total number of the events hosted by Japan Android Group counts nearly 500 events.

This is a screenshot of the recent ones:

They also organize the largest Android conference in Japan called "Android Bazaar and Conference [ja]", twice a year. Some of this conference counted more than 3,000 attendees, and the planning and execution is done 100% by the community members and volunteer staffs. The recent one was held in March 2012, with 11 simultaneous tracks. Time table, slides and videos can be seen from here [ja].

Translations of the session:

- Changing Web - Impact of Cloud and Cloud Devices by Fujio Maruyama (Japan Android User Group)
- Cloud 2.0 - Building Information Platform by Yasuhiko Taniwaki (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)

Developer Sessions 
-Docomo Developers Program & Building Contents for Docomo Devices (NTT Docomo)
-Human-centric technology on Fujitsu's Smartphone (Fujitsu)
-Introducing technologies included in "2011 Autumn Spring Model"including battery power conserving technology, and proposals for developers (Sharp)
-Full Picture of Android / Intel R Architecture (Intel)
-Sensing new World: KDDI's AR brand "SATCH" (KDDI Research Engineer) & (Toyama University Lecturer)
-Introducing the "Cotton Candy" cStick (FXI Technologies)
-Long Journey to End User Computing (Sharp Business Computer Software)

Design Sessions
-Proposal of Android front-end designs/ beautiful UI designs from a Designer's Perspective
-How to use "Android Design" for Designers (UX Designer)
-How Android Developers & Designers Can Efficiently Work Together (Tonchi Dot) & (Redo)
-A popular Android Game- "Nameko (Mushroom detective growing)" (Bee Works)  (Baidu)
-Extreme Fragment UI Programming (uPhyCa)

-Developing Android Applications with Better Java (Gree)
-Strategy to Maximize Smartphone contents of Bandai Namco Games (Bandai Namco Games)
-Square Enix Market ~Proprietary Market Strategy ~ (Square Enix Mobile)

Web Sessions
-Graphics Software used to Design Logos and Designs
-Human Friendly Game Design
-Microsoft's Mobile Web Strategy through Windows Phone (Microsoft)
-Building Smartphone sites, Android Tips & techniques (H2O Space)
-Latest Trend on Native Application with HTML5 & JavaScript (Lexus)

Middleware Sessions 
-Next Generation Mobile Game Development Workflow using Unity (Unity Technology Japan)
- Scaling Titanium Mobile (qnyp)
-Developing Smartphone Applications with Object Oriented Script Programming language Ruby using "Rhodes" (KoubouM)
-Introducing "Arctic.js"- Game Development Framework for Smartphone Browser Games  (DeNA)
-Designing Android Application UX with PhoneGap & jQueryMobile (GMO Internet)

Business Sessions 
-New Strategy for Smartphone Ads (Google Online Partnership Group)
-Get Rich Quickly with Android. Global Cloud Service by Dentsu (Dentsu)
-Advertising through SSP, Case Study (ngi Group, Media Platform)
-Monetizing with Affiliate Marketing Based Content Distribution Platform (Cayto)
-Android Monetization In-App Billing & Reward Advertising (Contents One)

Users Session 
-Analyzing User Application Usage Patterns from User Statistics Data (Voyage Group)
-Introducing Parcoroid (Parco)
-Android Security: Using Android safely (Tao Software)

Media Sessions
-Android Writers Summit
-Analyzing Popular Android Articles (Nikkei BP)  / Analyzing Android Trend from access analysis of Ascii PLUS (Ascii Media Works)
-Differences between Free Online Media & Paper Media. Profitability & Ads, Can we trust online Media while they are dependent solely on ads? (ITMedia Alternative blog)

Extended Sessions 
-Confirmation of User Permission When Smartphone Apps Access Personal Data (The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology)
-Android Girls Problem as seen from the eyes of Media & Services  / Attractive Android Application
-Talk Session among Engineers of Social Services (GREE / DeNA / mixi)
-Programmer Robocon- Making developers stars and change programming to contents

Specialist Sessions 
-Live Coding: Building Your Own Twitter Log Service in 40 Minutes (Techbooster)
-ABC 2012 Spring Robot Summit
-"BumpRadar" - Application to Detect the Land Level Differences (SmartDrive Meter)
-Smartphone for Social Welfare and Medical Care (Android Social Care Group)
-Tips for Developing Android Application for Android 2.x/3.x/4.x
-Android User Acceptance Test Guideline (Android Test & Evolution Club)
-Live Coding: Corona SDK - Code Less Play More (Japan Corona Group)
-Using OpenNI on Android: NUI application "TreasureHunter" (SIProp Project) 
-mbed & Android 
-Android related Development with Linaro by (Linaro.org) 
-Android UI Story and Techniques
-Designing local Android
-Android Debug Bridge (adb) (Kyoto Micro Computer)
-Verifying Android with SEAndroid (Android Security Group)
-Authoring tools to create Home Application (YSCI International)
-Possibility of Open Source Hardware with ADK (Tori Ningen)
-Androbook Sales Negotiations and One more thing (Crazy Works)
-Supporting Android x86 Architecture- Present and Future
-App Inventor is Not the End (Japan App Inventor User Group) 
-Let's Become Cupids of Android (Android Female Club) 
-Applications to Support the Communications of Handicapped People (TechFirm)
-Introducing Tokyo System House's Efforts on Security & Encryption API (Tokyo System House)

They also had Bazaar portion with 65 demo booths [ja].

They had support from Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Gold Sponsors were the 2 major mobile carriers in Japan, and many silver and media sponsors.

OH and they were wearing costumes ;)


Their next ABC conference is planned to be held on October 20th, 2012 in Sendai, and will be called "ICT ERA + ABC 2012" ICT meaning Information Communication Technology, ERA meaning Earthquake Reconstruction Aid, and will be discussing how IT can contribute to reconstruction after the disaster from 311. If you are interested, the website is here[ja]:

Android DEvelopers' cluB (deb)

Deb is a group focused on developers who seriously wants to build high quality Android apps, whereas Japan Android Group welcomes anyone who is interested in Android. They require members to have built and published at least one Android app on Android Market, or have knowledge on devices, or UI design.

Deb currently has around 130 members[ja], and organizes monthly meeting to do programming or sessions. Leaders are Takashi Egawa and Masahiko Adachi, both of whom are developers.


Android Female Club

Android Female Club[ja]or Andronjo is literally a women only Android community, with 635 members, and led by Rin Yano, who is a designer. Some of them are developers, some are designer, some are users. They host various women only events on Android.

There are many more including Android Security Club[ja] (which was founded by a 17 year old developer who was concerned about Android's security),  NFC Lab[ja], and a whole bunch of other communities.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer. -Fumi Yamazaki


IT study events in Japan = massive

It's actually amazing how Japanese developers hosts so many study groups and study meetups and conferences. This is a screenshot of IT Study group calendar.

If you look closely at the number of meetups during the weekends, there are 36 events on 2/4, 41 on 2/11, 56 on 2/18, 60 on 2/25....

This is the schedule for today- 9/29. There's just so many options, so many events, and this is tech/IT event only. There's actually 50 in just one day.


It's just so hard to see what's happening just looking at this summary since there's way too many tech events in just one day, so I opened it up as follows. Among the 50 events in just one day today, of which half is Tokyo/Kanto area. I won't translate the whole thing, but translated parts of it so that you know what technology it is about (like Android, Perl, Ruby event etc).

Saturday, September 29
 [Tokyo] YAPC (Yet Another Perl Conference)::Asia Tokyo 2012 
 [Kobe]Entertainment Computing 2012「Enjoy&Entertain!」
 [Osaka]iOS Dev hackathon #iosdevthon_kansai
 [Ibaragi]IbarakiDC プログラマのための勉強会
 [Tokyo]Reading Program Android 
 [Tokyo]【UEC】Android hackathon【Android】 #AndroidTao
 [Tokyo] Let's make something with PHP
 [Kyoto]Google Maps Hackathon
 [Fukui]Hokuriku.NET vol.10 
 [Sapporo]SaCSS + 10th WordPress handson
 [Tokyo]Hack the AndroidJUnit4 on Zusaar
 [Tokyo] server development handson in Tokyo #002
 [Tokyo]Android study group#43
 [Tokyo]NFC lab 
 [Tokyo]Windows Phone Hackathon in Tokyo#4 : ATND
 [Tokyo]ブラウザ彼女 開発会
 [Saitama]さいたま開発勉強会 vol5
 [Sapporo]iPhone Dev Sap
 [Osaka]Elements of Programming book reading 
 [Hiroshima]Open CAE study group
 [Nagoya]MMD study group
 [Kumamoto]Android development for beginners
 [Fukuoka]北九州 Information security 勉強会 第4回smartphone app development 勉強会
 [Saitama]横浜 Android Platform Club 第24回勉強会 さいたま編
 [Nagoya]合同Smalltalk勉強会@名古屋 #2
 [Toyama]Open CAE勉強会@富山(第4回)
 [Fukuoka]#MA8 福岡MashupCaravan & Meetup
 [Tokyo]GHC source code reading #readghc
 [Tokyo]MySQL study group
 [Osaka]social game study group
 [Nagoya]WordBench Nagoya study group
 [Aomori] concrete5 study group
 [Tokyo][online]JPUG 第24回しくみ分科会+アプリケーション勉強会
 [Nagano]長野ソフトウェア技術者グループ(NSEG) 第31回勉強会
 [Tokyo] hardware engineer cafe
 [Tokyo]CLTT読書会 第28回
 [Yokohama] speeding up websites
 [Nagoya] Netduino
 [Tokyo]Agile Samurai bookreading
 [Ustunomiya]toRuby分科会 in 宇都宮
 [Tokyo]wit preasents, Web directors meeting vol.1
 [Okayama] okayama-js

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer. -Fumi Yamazaki


Japan's strength comes from the "users"

I joined Atomico Open Office in Tokyo recently where Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype, and CEO and founding partner of Atomico joined as speaker. When asked what he likes about Japan, his answer was love for technology and innovation, seeks for high quality. "Japan was the leading the world on broadband, and I knew the world will be following Japan. I saw that in mobile too." He continued though, that "making a good product is much more important than the technology itself." Make good products, make good UIs that are easy for the users to use.

At The New Context Conference, Joichi Ito, director of MIT Media Lab spoke about how China is strong at hardware manufacturing, US is strong in software development, and Japan has strong  users. Which sort of resembles what Niklas mentioned- the Japanese users loves interesting and innovative stuff, cool stuff, demands high quality, and Japanese developers and makers are all exposed to this strong demand and desire for quality which pushed Japanese production to high quality.

At Google For Entrepreneurs Week in Tokyo, Kentaro Tokusei,  product management lead at Google Japan says "If you are able to satisfy Japanese users, you have a chance to be successful globally"and pushed the audience (entrepreneurs) forward by telling them "If you wish to do so, you can change the world."

Go go > Japanese developers!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer. -Fumi Yamazaki


HTML5 Conference 2012 #html5j

On 9/8, I went to join the Festival of Web developers in Japan- HTML5 Conference 2012 [ja].

Back in August 2011, html5j community and Google Japan co-hosted Chrome+HTML5 Conference[ja] at Google Japan office, but despite there were more than 1,000 registrants our office was only able to host 200- we needed to do a lottery and reject 800 registrants from participating...sad. @komasshu (Kensaku Komatsu) - the conference leader this year was very eager to fix that, and this year the conference was hosted by the html5j community, held in Keio University Hiyoshi Campus, with the capacity of 1,000- and decided to do it first-come first server rather than doing a lottery. What happened was that there was over 1,000 registration in less than 30 hours, and we needed to close the registration quickly...

Expectation towards HTML5 technology in Japan is huge, and we were able to learn that directly from those situation as well as from the excited crowd at the conference venue :D

HTML5 developer/designer community "html5j[ja]" is also growing rapidly -Google Groups[ja] surpassed 5,000 members and growing.


Keynote by @takoratta (Takuya Oikawa) and @shumpei (Shunpei Shiraishi)- talking about the past, present and future of HTML5. Slides[ja] and video [ja]


Time table and all of the session slides and videos can be seen here[ja]- although all of them are in Japanese.

If you are interested in what Japanese developers are interested in now, the top 3 was WebIntents, WebGL/Three.js, and WebRTC.

"The next generation web led by WebIntents" by @komasshu

"WebGL and Three.js" by @yomotsu. Twitter was abuzz (including those who weren't at the venue) with his demo controling MikuMikuDance using Three.js. He introduced many other cool stuff-  including JSARToolKit - note that Japanese developers loves AR (augmented reality).

"Let's learn about WebRTC" by @technohippy and his slides

Sidenote: WebRTC was used in "Movi.Kanti.Revo" - Chrome Experiment by Circue du Soleil. If there is anyone who has not seen it, you should turn on your camera on your computer and give it a try from here > http://www.movikantirevo.com/ 
If you are interested in how this was created, check out the articles in HTML5 Rocks:Getting Started With WebRTCMovi Kanti Revo - Part 1: Building The 3D World  
and watch this video "Chrome Office Hours: Movi Kanti Revo—Behind the Divs"


The programs in the hall started with the keynote, continued by a session by @myakura entitled "HTML, CSS and APIs" - slides and video, then there was the session "Web design in the HTML5 era".

Then, some panel discussions continued including "The viewpoint of the experts in the state of the art Web",  and 2 hour long panel covering "The game developers who tackle the next generation Web technologies" first half and second half, followed by the special sessions and Lightning Talks.

[Developer Track]

Some of the sessions from developer track includes "The forefront of tough mobile development using HTML5" by @tkihiraVideo here- quote "the forefront of mobile HTML5 is how to use Canvas / CSS3 and make the speed faster". Mobile web is super important in Japan, so this session seemed to be very popular. Others included "What's new in Chrome Apps / Extensions?" by @agektmr (slides and video),  "Customizing jQuery Mobile" by @yoshikawa_t (slides and video), "HTML5 and IE10 and Windows8" by @ykasugai"How to make lightweight web applications" by @os0x (slides and video).

[Designer Track]

When you look at the source of various famous websites, you start seeing odd stuff that you as developer would rather learn not to do... @futomi did a session called "Collection of  weird HTML5 markups"- video and slides.

Other sessions from designer track included "Sass", "Evolution of CSS and new web tool", "User Interface Design Pattern With CSS3" and "Technical artists in gree that supports the smartphone games geared toward the world".

[Advanced Track]

Apart from the WebIntents, WebGL and Three.js, WebRTC sessions mentioned above, this track included "How to create parallax and responsive website using jQueryMobile" by @shumpei (slides and video), and "HTML Web Platform" session.


Last year's conference was co-hosted by html5j community and Google Japan- this year, in the spirit of the community "Connect, learn, and get excited", the community reached out to a broader web world. Platinum sponsors includes Google Japan, NTT Communications, Microsoft, Adobe, CA Mobile, gree and DeNA, and many more gold/silver/special/media sponsors. Thanks to all the sponsors for making the event happen!

The fun

I don't know why... but the Japanese developers loves to wear costumes ;)

HTML5 paper tattoo and github stocking.

HTML5 Conference 2012

HTML5 quiz!

HTML5 Conference 2012

HTML5 cake and  CSS3 cake.

HTML5 Conference 2012HTML5 Conference 2012

Lunch in school cafeteria- not something you can experience everyday!

Groups photo

With all the staffs, volunteers, speakers and sponsors:


Press article list and summary of tweets.

tweets with #html5j allhttp://togetter.com/li/369827
tweets with #html5j_adesigner trackhttp://togetter.com/li/369834
tweets with #html5j_bdeveloper trackhttp://togetter.com/li/369836
tweets with #html5j_cadvanced trackhttp://togetter.com/li/369837

This blog post is full of illustrations and cute! HTML5 Conference 2012.report

It was great to see the HTML5 community in Japan to expand, and the Conference to be supported by so many developers, companies and participants - the developer ecosystem. Thanks again to all the staffs, volunteers, speakers, sponsors and participants for making such a wonderful and successful conference!!

"html5j" is the community that organized this conference- in addition to that, they have been hosting monthly study groups solely on HTML5 with average 100 participants per session. Every. Single. Month. Amazing.

Topics covered includes:
0 Webkit/HTML5 study group
1 Webkit/HTML5 study group
2 Webkit & Opera/HTML5 study group
3 Webkit/HTML5 study group
4 HTML5 study group (Chrome extensions, Web Sockets)
5 HTML5 study group (Web Platform, HTML5 & API & IE9, HTML5 visual API)
6 HTML5 study group (HTML5 from video site, Lunascape6 and HTML5)
HTML5 study group techtalk special (W3C widget, physicSketch, xhr2 streaming, closure library etc)
7 HTML5 study group (Google I/O 2010 update, Audio Data API, WebSocket, etc)
8 HTML5 study group (IE9, Epub/CSS and Japanese layout and ebooks, DaVinciPad, WebSocket)
9 HTML5 study group (WebSocket, SVG, Geolocation, WebSRT, etc)
10 HTML5 study group (smartphone dev framework- jQTouch, jQuery Mobile, Phone Gap, Sencha Touch)
11 HTML5 study group (HTML5 and smartphone browser- HTML5& Android/iPhone, mobile browser)
12 HTML5 study group (Web Directions East guesttalk- state of HTML5, jQuery Mobile, etc)
13 HTML5 study group (NicoNicoDouga and HTML5, ShareCast, FileAPI, WebSocketRemote for iOS)
14 HTML5 study group (Titanium Mobile, Google Chrome OS/WebStore)
15 HTML5 study group (HTML5 for non-developers- jQuery Mobile, HTML5+OpenSocial+Raptor, etc)
16 HTML5 study group (What should we consider when developing web services that anyone can use?)
17 HTML5 study group (editors and authoring tool in HTML5 era- Dreamweaver CS5.5, Visual Web Developer Express, Vim)
18 HTML5 study group (Google I/O 2011 report, Closure Library)
19 HTML5 study group (Best practices- PJAX, Box2DJS, responsive web design, develop for TV)
20 = Chrome+HTML5 Conference
21 HTML5 study group (Game application development for smartphones by mobage, gree, ameba)
22 HTML5 study group (Graphics related APIs- processing.js, SVG, WebGL )
23 HTML5 study group (Device APIs- Stream API, GeoHex&GeoLocation API)
24 HTML5 study group (Omnibus)
25 HTML5 study group (Web and consumer electronics)
26 HTML5 study group (Web and e-publishing)
27 HTML5 study group (Designing rich clients)
28 HTML5 study group (HTML5 Businesses)
29 HTML5 study group (JavaScript Mobile frameworks)
30 HTML5 study group (Mobile UI frameworks)
31 HTML5 study group (JavaScript MVC frameworks)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer. -Fumi Yamazaki