A few months ago we announced that the most important innovation for Instant Developer Foundation this year will be the new rendering engine based on Bootstrap.

Since we’ve talked about Instant Developer Cloud a lot recently, you might think we’ve forgotten about that promise, but the project is moving along quickly toward release in version 15.5, slated for late October.

For people like me who want to see things firsthand, I’ve put together a preview: the classic Northwind example, but this time, Bootstrapped.

Even though it’s just a preview, and therefore may not be 100% accurate, you can definitely see the specific advantages of the new rendering, including:

  • Responsive layout in native HTML5 mode.
  • Option for the same app to function both in the desktop and mobile browser.
  • List panels with variable-height rows.
  • Native SVG icons.
  • Graphical theme customizable according to Bootstrap rules.

There’s a very interesting corollary worth noting: when integrating an Instant Developer Foundation application into an existing Bootstrap site/app, the graphics are identical, achieving complete integration of the application that’s fully transparent to the end user.

The great thing is that to get this result we can keep using Instant Developer Foundation like we always have – there aren’t any special new rules to learn.

I’ll leave you with the preview application, and as always I’m interested in hearing what you think of it.

 

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This week’s article will bring us to the end of the interactive tour that has been teaching us how to develop apps with Instant Developer Cloud. And like the best action films, the most thrilling part has been saved for last.

People who develop apps know that you can’t count on internet connections that are always efficient and reliable. So, managing the offline state – that is, using the app even without a connection – and synchronization of its data with the cloud when it returns, are delicate subjects that are often complicated to handle.

Like Instant Developer Foundation, the Cloud edition also has a framework for offline operation: the same codebase can work both online and offline in the device. In the cloud, data access relies on a Postgres database, but when offline it uses the SQLite database in the device, and all the queries are adapted automatically.

For synching data, we were able to use the push architecture based on node.js in order to offer you an even more complete experience. In fact,

  • The synchronization process is now transparent to the application: it works in the background and exchanges data with the server independently.
  • Automatic user interface update functions are available when the data is updated, either locally or in the cloud.
  • Through a publish-subscribe pattern based on topics (interest channels) it’s possible to implement dynamic data distribution strategies.
  • The channel can be configured so that the data is sent and received in real-time, so that whatsapp-style messaging applications can be implemented as well.

The final stop on our interactive tour illustrates the main steps for setting up synchronization and lets you see real-time update functions firsthand.

I’m always interested in your opinions on this. Once you’ve tried it, let me know what you think!

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After the break last week when we saw how to configure Cloud Connectors, we’ll pick up again with our learning tour of Instant Developer Cloud, exploring how to use the native functions of smartphones and tablets and how to test the application directly on the devices.

Instant Developer Cloud, like the Foundation edition, uses a native shell that the JavaScript application runs in. So it’s a hybrid architecture that makes it possible to reuse the code on both iOS and Android devices as well as web browsers.

Differently from the Foundation edition, the shell is based on Apache Cordova. This way you can use the many native plugins that are already available for controlling the device.

But it doesn’t end there. In fact InstaLauncher, the Instant Developer Cloud shell, also provides other advantages, including:

  • it contains more than twenty preconfigured plugins, such as the NFC and Beacon interfaces, Facebook APIs, notifications, and location detection in the background. This is a great advantage, because often Cordova plugins suffer from incompatibilities and it’s not easy to keep it all together.
  • InstaLauncher connects directly to your IDE session in the cloud. Installing and testing the app on a smartphone, and even debugging it on the fly, has never been so easy. Also, while you’re testing it, you can have a remote user connected through telecollaboration use the application.
  • Plugins can be used in both an offline or online application model. So if you’ve developed an online app and you want to read the device token to be able to send notifications, you can do so and you’ll receive it directly from the server.
  • InstaLauncher is the prototype shell for all your apps developed with Instant Developer Cloud. So in addition to being able to upload individual apps to the store, you can create actual containers: apps that contain other apps, downloaded directly at runtime and completely controllable remotely.

If you’d like to see how TripTrak works directly on your smartphone, all you need to do is take this interactive tour.

Until next time!

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Many programmers have asked us recently to start developing projects with Instant Developer Cloud working from closed databases in private networks, and thus not accessible from the Cloud.

A solution to this problem exists, and it’s called Cloud Connector, a software agent that’s installed near the database to be published. It permits safe, high-performance access to the data from the Cloud, without any need to open the network to the outside.

Today I want to tell you how to install and configure this component to help you achieve results faster. First you need to get the Cloud Connector code, which is a javascript file package because it’s based on node.js.

For the sake of simplicity, we’ve made this component open source, so you can use it freely and evolve it however you need. You’ll find it on GitHub, along with the instruction files.

To install it, follow this procedure:

  1. Install version 6.2.1 of node.js (https://nodejs.org).
  2. Download the Cloud Connector from GitHub by clicking Clone or download and then Download ZIP.
  3. Unzip the contents to the Cloud Connector executable folder, which must be in a server that can access the database, the same one where you’ve installed node.js.
  4. Rename the config_example.json file as config.js and open it to start the configuration.

The Cloud Connector configuration, in the config.js file, consists of three main parts:

  1. The remoteServers list, which must specify all the production servers that can use the Cloud Connector. Each server must be specified using its URL, like this: https://myserver.instantdevelopercloud.com.
  2. The remoteUserNames list, which contains the names of the users who can see the Cloud Connector from their IDE during development. Specify only the user name (e.g., “johnsmith”) or the user name preceded by the organization (e.g., “mycompany/johnsmith”).
  3. The list of data models, which are the databases that the Cloud Connector has to publish. In the initial configuration file you’ll find an example for each type of supported database: Postgres, SQLServer, and Oracle. Delete the ones you don’t use and fill out the others with the correct information.

At this point, to run the instance of the Cloud Connector you just configured, just launch the node cloudServer.js terminal command and from your IDE session you’ll be able to select the name of the Cloud Connector to associate it with the data models for your projects.

Finally, to ensure that the Cloud Connector process continues to execute, you can use a management module called pm2, or other equivalents.

The whole procedure may seem complex, but in most cases it’s very simple. If you run into any snags, let me know by leaving a message on our forum.

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How to connect the front end to the back end

01.07.2016

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen how to create a document-based Back End with Instant Developer Cloud and how to build the Front End views. The final step is to connect them, and this is a delicate subject because it affects both the security and performance of the application. People who use Instant Developer [...]

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How were the TripTrak pages built?

23.06.2016

The success of an app depends on the type of user experience it offers. Designing attractive, responsive, and animated pages is crucial to a state-of-the-art user experience. How was all this tackled in TripTrak? The interactive tour I want to offer you today answers that very question. This is perhaps the part of Instant Developer [...]

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The TripTrak backend

16.06.2016

In today’s post we’ll continue to explore the many characteristics of the new edition of Instant Developer. After the database modeling functionalities, the interactive tour this week describes creating the TripTrak backend. The backend is the app’s engine room, where data are sourced, organized and converted. Security and performance are vital, but without sacrificing simplicity [...]

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How were the TripTrak databases modeled?

10.06.2016

Last week I told you all that Instant Developer Cloud is now available. Today, first and foremost I want to thank you for your interest: so many of you tried the system that the servers we’d planned weren’t enough to host all of you! We launched a challenge to help give you a clear understanding [...]

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Welcome to Instant Developer Cloud

31.05.2016

After a year and a half of work, I am very pleased to announce the release of the stable version of Instant Developer Cloud: the first entirely-cloud platform for developing and managing omnichannel applications with a native user experience. There are many reasons that make the new edition of Instant Developer attractive for anyone developing [...]

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Instant Developer Cloud: advantages for Foundation users

27.05.2016

In last week’s article we announced that the new editions of Instant Developer Cloud will be available on May 29th. These are next-generation tools that offer an enormous opportunity: the chance to enrich your products with B2C omnichannel apps, meaning that they have a UX at the customer facing level. That is precisely why I [...]

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