DevNation is off to a great start and if you missed Cian Clarke’s overview of Red Hat Mobile Application Platform, I feel bad for you, son. And if you like live demos and real-world examples from your presenters, I feel extra bad. Cian broke his talk down to 3 slides and 40+ minutes of demos. We’ll get to that later, but let’s get some general info out of the way first.
What’s a mobile application platform?
For those that haven’t spent much time with mobile app platforms, Cian made it easy to see the power of being able to iterate fast, push updates, and track the progress of your mobile apps. Red Hat Mobile Application Platform gives you all of that and more.
Why a do I need a platform?
A mobile app platform is important if you’re dealing with multiple apps, multiple mobile form factors (tablets, phones, watches, etc), multiple back-end systems, developers, versions, etc. Basically, if you’re an enterprise working in mobile at all, a platform can help you manage everything–across multiple teams–from a central tool.
Cian went through a few demos to show the power of the platform. The first was a business solution for a hypothetical company that sells birdhouses. In this scenario, the company has multiple field workers using mobile devices to capture customer information and ship the product. In the past this would be done with paper, but with the ubiquity of mobile devices, why not make an app?
Within Red Hat Mobile Application Platform, we were able to see that this particular solution was done in 3 steps: a mobile app, cloud microservices, and MBaaS services. The employee uses the app to send data to, in this case, a custom database, Salesforce, and SharePoint.
The app was written in HTML5, but Cian stressed that you can use whatever technology you prefer–the platform is agnostic in this sense and you don’t need to conform to something that Red Hat wants. You do you. Cian also walked through several features of the product, including analytics, custom configurations depending on build target (android, iOS, etc.), and the build process. With Red Hat Mobile Application Platform, you can also export the app source code. There’s no vendor lock-in here and nothing special gets added to the code–you can develop, build, and test locally if you prefer.
The microservice that connects everything uses the REST API and was written in Node.js to talk to the MBaaS services. Those services connected to Salesforce, to capture the customer information, and Sharepoint, to keep track of inventory.
Cian’s second demo focused on drag-and-drop apps with the mobile forms builder. In this case, he built an app quickly to show the power of replacing a paper-based system with an app that requires no coding knowledge. And, to further prove its improvement on paper, he also added in some rich features like barcode capture, photos, and GPS location. Take that, paper!
“I’ve found this really great tool for finding APIs. It uses plain language to find them. It’s called Google.”
Cian’s last demo focused on using a simple “hello world” app and tweaking it slightly to ask the user for a location and then deliver that location’s weather information. This was accomplished using a publicly available weather API. He then barraged the app with Apache bench (ab)–running on OpenShift by Red Hat–showed the spike in traffic, and spun up more pods on OpenShift to handle the traffic. All of this was done right in Red Hat Mobile Application Platform.
Really, really cool stuff. Rock on, Cian.