Tag Archives: progressive web apps

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Meet Backand’s New Serverless SDK

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017

Backand is proud to announce our new Serverless SDK. With the launch of this SDK, we offer super-easy access to all core functionality of our powerful backend-as-a-service. We also have compartmentalized our SDK to allow for easy integration on multiple major serverless app development platforms.

In this post, we’ll walk through the new Serverless SDK structure. We’ll outline the core functionality, take a look at the new platform-specific SDKs, and then provide a few examples of how to easily work with Backand in your application.

Serverless SDK Functionality

The Backand Serverless SDK offers quick and easy access to core Backand app functionality:

  • Authentication and Security – The SDK provides easy-to-use functions that wrap all of the functionality necessary to authenticate users with your application, whether via a custom user structure, or by leveraging social media providers for authentication.
  • Object Manipulation – The Backand Serverless SDK offers intuitive and flexible methods that you can use to interact with objects in your Backand application. These are available in the SDK under the ‘object’ property – simply provide the name of the object you wish to work with, and you’re ready to go!
  • Custom Actions and Queries – The SDK offers quick and easy ways to access the custom actions you have defined in your Back& application, again via the ‘object’ interface. We also offer a ‘query’ object, which allows you to easily leverage custom SQL queries built for your application’s specific database needs.
  • File Management for Node.JS Actions – This release makes working with custom server-side Node.JS JavaScript actions a snap. Simply access the ‘file’ property of the Backand SDK, and you can easily add or remove files from your server-side Node.JS action.
  • Quick and Easy Real-time Functionality – Through our integration with Socket.io, you can easily add real-time communication features to your application. Simply make use of the “.on” event handler to subscribe to broadcast events, and you are ready to go!

New SDK Structure

The original SDK was fully built out for each platform on which it was offered. This led to a lot of duplication in functionality. Recognizing this, we’ve chosen a new approach that lets developers more easily work with the SDK on their chosen platform. Below is a quick list of the available SDKs that comprise our Serverless SDK, and how they work together:

  • https://github.com/backand/vanilla-sdk – This is our plain vanilla JavaScript SDK. It can be used with any web application via simple includes. All other SDKs wrap this project and depend upon this project.
  • https://github.com/backand/angular1-sdk – This is our Angular 1 wrapper SDK. This wraps the Vanilla SDK, providing objects and services for Angular 1-based apps that make the SDK a snap to integrate.
  • https://github.com/backand/angular2-sdk – This is our Angular 2 wrapper SDK. Similar to the Angular 1 SDK, it wraps the Vanilla SDK’s functionality with several useful Angular 2 objects, encapsulating all of the functionality into an easy-to-use service provider object.
  • https://github.com/backand/redux-sdk – This is our Redux/ReactJS wrapper SDK. It offers tools to construct all of the Actions, Reducers, and Types necessary to work with the underlying Vanilla SDK, making it very easy to integrate Back& with your Redux application.

Improvements over the previous SDK

In addition to refactoring the code to more closely match how it is used by developers, we’ve made several changes that make working with Back& easier than ever:

  • No more $http – The original SDKs were built around web requests sent with the $http object. All of this has been encapsulated within the SDK, allowing you to replace complex and obtuse JavaScript dedicated to constructing a request with a simple, one-line function call.
  • Promises – The new SDK returns objects as promises, allowing you to more easily handle the responses from your app’s backend in an asynchronous manner. Simply define your callbacks and provide them to the SDK using the ‘.then()’ and ‘.catch()’ functions.
  • Easy Social Sign-On – The new SDK provides quick and easy integration with social media providers, handling all of the back-end complexity of user management and authentication so that you can focus on what makes your app unique.
  • Token Management – Gone are the days of having to manually construct headers – the SDK handles authentication and authorization tokens on your behalf. Simply tell the SDK when someone has signed in or signed out, or even enable anonymous authentication – all with easy-to-use function calls.

Conclusion

Our goal at Backand is to help developers and organizations more easily achieve their application development goals. With the release of our Serverless SDK, we’ve made huge strides in usability and availability of our SDK. You can read more in our documentation, take a look at our Vanilla SDK for an overview of the API, or begin working with the examples on our Github page. With Back&’s new Serverless SDK, you’ll find that creating a cross-platform and cohesive Progressive Web App experience is easier than ever.

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Are Progressive Web Apps the Future or Just a Fad?

Posted by on Jan 24, 2017

The industry has been talking about progressive web apps (PWAs) for some time now – Google introduced them in 2015, but they’ve taken some time to come mainstream. In case you’re a bit late to the game, PWAs tap into the modern capabilities of the web yet offers a native app-like experience for the user.

Native apps were previously seen by businesses as the golden child of the mobile world as they offered unique experiences that web apps just couldn’t compete with. Most importantly they worked offline and allowed for push notifications – both big selling points for brands but not necessarily deal breakers for the end user. However, as the technology of the web has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last few years, this selling points no longer hold water.

From a user perspective, why would one download an app which takes up precious space on their devices when they could get more or less the same experience on the web? Need to know what the dollar exchange rate is? The weather? Thanks for the quick answers Google! Want to browse an e-commerce site? No problem thanks to the development of responsive web design.

However, by tapping into the technological advances of the modern web which is exactly what progressive web apps do, it’s hard to see the value of developing a native app. The benefits of PWAs for both the company and users are undeniable.

The Advantages of PWAs

No Updates: For users, ensuring that apps are up to date is a pain whereas with PWAs, just like web pages, users get the most updated version every time they visit the site.

Low Friction: Users don’t need to go to app stores, search for the app, download it, wait for it to finish installing and then open it – each of these steps, although simple, will cost you 20% of your users.

High Engagement: PWAs can easily be added to a user’s home screen allowing for instant accessibility. Service Workers offer the ability to send push notifications and can handle caching and content fetching quite easily.

Reliable: Again, Service Workers handle the brunt of things, enabling PWAs to work quickly and smoothly even when the user is offline or has a low-quality network.

Shareable: A positive review from a friend is worth its weight in gold so the fact that PWAs can be shared just like websites (and unlike native apps) via a URL. Building on this, PWAs can easily be bookmarked on a device for quick access without taking up precious space on a device.

Discoverable: Search engines can easily find PWAs because they act as websites. Ever tried getting your native app into the top 50 apps on an app store?

The Disadvantages of PWAs

With all that’s good, comes some bad but is it enough to derail the sudden lunge towards PWAs?

Social Logins: Users have become so used to the simplicity of one-click social logins which aren’t possible with PWAs.

Hardware Technology: PWAs are browser based so if a browser can’t support a technology that your app needs (for example, fingerprint scans), then it’s basically useless.

Discoverability (the other side): App stores get tons of traffic, and while a website can direct traffic to the store for a download, the reverse direction doesn’t work.

The Bottom Line

The real question is, if you’re about to build an app, should you put your time and resources towards a native app or start with a PWA? Like with any decision, there are benefits and drawbacks to both options. But, with the rapid development of web technologies, it seems to us that PWAs are here to stay and they are only going to get better.