An interview with the guru behind the Flemil Java Library
A couple weeks back Solomon Kariri, a JKUAT alumni, released Flemil. Flemil is a Java Mobile Programming User Interface Library that makes it easy for Java Mobile App makers to create apps that are easy on the eye. We caught up with him this week to talk more about this new project.
Discover JKUAT: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Solomon: My name is Solomon Kariri. I graduated from JKUAT in the year 2009 with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science.
Discover JKUAT: When did you develop an interest in Java? Where did the passion come from?
Solomon: I started an interest in Java when I was second year student in JKUAT. The main motivation came from my Java lecturer Mr. George Okeyo who I would say has transformed the lives of many young Kenyans in the Information Technology world. I also like exploring new and interesting fields in technology and Java was most definitely one of them. Also the encouragement I received from my classmates gave me strength to move on and believe in myself and my abilities.
Discover JKUAT: Tell us a bit about your experience in the software development industry in Kenya?
Solomon: There are good software developers in Kenya but the main challenge they face is lack of exposure which to some extent can be termed as self induced. I think developers should always strive to be the best not in Kenya or Africa but in the whole world. With the fibre optic here and with reducing internet costs with higher speeds, I believe we can transform Kenya into the next icon in the world in software development and outsourcing. This will help a great deal in job creation. The government should also involve local software development firms in the provision of software solutions to government offices. I believe that we have all the skills necessary to achieve this locally.
Discover JKUAT: What is Flemil?
Solomon: Flemil is a Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) library for creation of user interfaces that are appealing to the user. Many users are familiar with applications such as E-Buddy, Trutap, Mig33, Nimbuzz and many more which have good looking user interfaces. To develop an application that is likable by a user, you need to make it appealing to the user and easy to use. Flemil achieves this while making sure that it uses minimal resources on your device. This makes it usable in all ranges of Java enabled devices. Java enabled phones are on the increase everywhere in the world and are quite affordable.
Discover JKUAT: What features does it support?
Solomon: Flemil supports many features such as the ability for a user to create themes online. This means that by having an account with our website a user can create a theme that will control the look of any application they install on their devices provided the application uses Flemil UI Library. Users can also share their themes with their friends so that their friends can share the same application appearance experience. Flemil also supports all its application to run in fullscreen mode which increases the space available to the users interaction on the device screen. It also supports the creation of menus that have sub-menus which can in turn have sub-menus and so on. Flemil also allows users to change the orientation of their applications to a view that pleases them most.
Discover JKUAT: Is it an Open source or Proprietary Library?
Solomon: My initial wish was that I should make Flemil open source. But due to financial constraints I had to resolve to making it a commercial library but making it very cheap so that people will not find it hard to purchase and use it in their applications. I hope that with time, somebody will come up and provide support for it so that we can make it open source. Many open source project rely on funding and its really hard to get funding in Africa to develop software, not to mention the limited support from the government on the same. I’m a supporter of Open Source Software and actually all the extensions and components that we will be building around the Flemil core will all be released as Open Source.
Discover JKUAT: Anything else in the pipeline we should know about?
Solomon: We are planning to develop applications that will revolutionalize the use of mobile phones in Africa and the world as a whole. We will be releasing application which will all be freely available for download at no cost that will help people make great use of their mobile phones. We are planning to develop an application that will allow people to take photos, shoot videos and share them with their friends all over the world free of charge. In this IT age, it should be easy and cheap to communicate and share valuable information and moments with people all over the world. We are also planning to make an application that will allow firms in Kenya to market themselves and help people find the best place to acquire anything they want wherever they are in Kenya or East Africa. There will be more and more things coming and with growth we are expecting to hire local mobile developers to be actively involved in the software development activities with us.
Discover JKUAT: Any parting thoughts? What advice to aspiring developers out there?
Solomon: I would like to encourage developers in Kenya to always strive towards providing world class applications and broaden their view of software development beyond the boundaries and they will discover that opportunities are just unlimited provided you have the necessary skills and will to work hard and above all a well defined goal and objective to guide you through all these. I believe that with contribution from every developer in this country, we will be an icon in software development outsourcing in the whole world. You can be the best, all you need to do is believe.