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Salt Mines' device lab allows thorough app testing

Co-op work space seeking funds to expand selection, used by developers

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The founders of the Salt Mines, a co-op work space at 2997 Indianola Ave., hope more people will take advantage of the space's device lab to test its apps and other programs developed there.

Co-founder Andy Soell said the first such device lab, located in Helsinki, Finland, has around 50 devices, such as tablet computers and cellphones. The devices are necessary for people to test apps, because the browser on a computer may render the app differently than on a device, he said.

"It's one thing to test on a browser. To test it on a device is a big deal," Soell said.

People who wish to test apps can look for a device lab at the website OpenDevice.com. Soell said the Salt Mines was the ninth group to join the ranks of places offering device labs, adding there now are more than 30 spaces with device labs worldwide.

Soell said the space also hopes to raise funds to expand the number of devices at the Salt Mines.

"We hope to raise $1,500 through crowdfunding on Indiegogo. We have some ideas if we exceed our campaign goal," he said.

The Salt Mines currently has around 25 devices on which users may test their apps. The collection of devices was the result of donations.

"We are totally supported by the community," said Soell.

Soell hopes to buy an iPad 3, Samsung Galaxy S4, Google Nexus 4, Google Nexus 7 and an HTC One with funds raised.

The device lab is open to the public and does not require a Salt Mines membership to use.

"Anyone is invited," said Soell. "However, to test a native app, a user will need to bring their own computer. If they want to test a website, they can just come in and use a device to do so.

"I'd love to get a desktop for web to go with the devices," he added.

Soell said most of the people using the device lab fall into one of two categories.

"We have those who will come in to try out their app on every device we have, or someone who comes in to try it on a specific device," he said.

Writers also try their books on an e-reader such as the Kindle to make sure it works well.

The space is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays; reservations for the device lab are required at saltmines.us. A list of devices for use at the space also is on the website.

To donate to the crowdfunding effort, visit indiegogo.com and search for "The Salt Mines."

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