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How to Start an Open Device Lab

January 30, 2013 by Mainak Biswas under Design Web Development169 views
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Device testing is an important aspect of web designing and app development. One needs to know how a website or an application looks on different gadgets. With a number of gadgets being launched with each passing day, it is difficult to ensure that you have all the gadgets possible available in your lab in order to test for inconsistencies and performance. This is when one needs the help of an Open Device Lab.

What Is an Open Device Lab?

An Open Device Lab is the same as a regular device testing lab but the difference is that anyone can access it. It is sort of like the difference between a private library and a public library. While private libraries are always great, every community of city also needs several public libraries. How much money is collected in order to rent the books or even to enter the library depends on the owner of the library. Likewise, Open Device Labs can charge a nominal or a substantial amount when other developers and web designers wish to use the labs. It is a win-win situation where smaller web designers and developers need not purchase all the gadgets in the world, and the one who runs an Open Device Lab need not worry about alternative sources of income.

Things to Consider before Starting an Open Device Lab

Now let us take a look at certain important things that you will need before starting an Open Device Lab. The first thing that you need to consider is the location of your Open Device Lab. It doesn’t have to be a large space and a medium sized garage could do too, but only there should be enough security and safety, considering the number of gadgets you will leave behind at the end of each day. It may also be a great idea to enquire with other web developers and app developers when it comes to deciding the location. Once the location is decided upon, you will also need to take care of air conditioning, heating and furniture requirements which are just as important.

Collecting Gadgets and Devices

The next step is to get all the devices that you need in the lab. This almost certainly includes various screen sizes, different operating systems and if you can afford, different models as well. One of the better ideas is to ask your family and friends if they can donate old cellphones that are in working condition. The next step is to let other web designers and developers to contribute cellphones and tablets that can be used in the lab. Those who contribute their devices can be charged less, if you are planning to monetize your Open Device Lab. However, if you intend to keep it free, you will need to ensure that you have sufficient types of devices for testing purposes.

Devices and Software Necessary for an Open Device Lab

Devices that you require are feature phones, smartphones with low level support, tablets and high end smartphones. You may also need consoles and smart TVs if you want to be really good at what you are doing. Screen sizes between 240 x 320 and 1280 x 800 pixels are required and you may also need a few screens that support high-DPi.

Viljami Salminen, a web designer and mobile web developer from Helsinki, writes that you will need these devices to begin with:

To set up the actual lab, you will only need a Wi-Fi connection, few chargers and a couple of tables. Also, a USB hub and few plastic platforms can be great additions. Viljami Salminen also writes that you will need software tools like Adobe Shadow, JS Bin, Web Inspector Remote, xip.io, Showoff.io, Localtunnel and Proxylocal. Last but not the least, it helps to have access to various mobile browsers both native and third-party browsers.

Open Device Labs Are Great for PR and Profits

Owning an Open Device Lab also works wonders for your PR initiatives. There is nothing better than getting various web designers and developers to talk about your lab, when you become the go-to-source. It is also a great way to ensure occasional media mentions which ultimately will lead to more prospects and revenue.

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