iPS 210: Build Special 3 – Visual Studio Mobile Center Deeper Dive with Ela Malani & Piyush Joshi

This is a special episode of iPhreaks from Microsoft Build with panelists Jaim Uber and Andrew Madsen. There are joined by two special guests, Piyush Joshi and Ela Malani, to discuss Visual Studio Mobile Center. Tune in to learn more about this product!


[00:00:20] Introduction to Piyush

Piyush is a program manager on the Visual Studio Mobile Center team. He has been at Microsoft for nine years. He’s recently been working on the Mobile Setup Services that are provided by Microsoft.


[00:00:44] Introduction to Ela

Ela is a program manager in the Mobile Center and has been working for Microsoft for three years. She owns the SDKs and CLIs for Visual Center.


[00:01:34] What SDKs does Visual Center have?

Mobile Center supports a variety of platforms (iOS, React Native, etc). A great feature is that the SDKs are all Open Source on GitHub. Users can just use the SDKs they want, which provides the ability to keep app sizes small.


[00:02:44] Do you accept contributions?

Definitely. They are always actively looking for the developer community to contribute to the Open Source SDKs.  

[00:03:00] If I want to check out the project how do I find it?

There are four projects on GitHub. They are Mobile Center SDK’s iOS, Mobile Center SDK Android, one for dotnet and one for React Native.


[00:03:25] What installation methods do you support?

Developers for iOS can download two ways. They can download manually or via CocoaPods to get started. There is no Carthage support yet, but it is coming.


[00:04:30] When you download this, are you getting a library?

Users are downloading a library. The biggest reason to have it on GitHub is to gain developers’ trust. Developers want to know what you are shipping because of privacy reasons – is it secure, is it safe? SDK’s are collecting user data and developers need to be confident in the privacy abilities. Open Source SDK’s makes the product more attractive. The app developer gets full control of what info gets sent to the backend. Data does not get transmitted if users do not want it to be.


[00:07:30] What does your Command Line Interface (CLI) do? Why do you provide one and how can your users utilize it?

Mobile Center has an open CLI in order for users to have a lot of control. Everything can be done via CLI – using the test services, distributing to users, getting crash reports, uploading files, etc. Developers don’t have to go through the portal. Just open the CLI and perform the same actions.


[00:08:50] Do you know what your users are using the CLI’s for?

Test services is one service that is being heavily used. Mobile Center can provide one line of command that shows what need to trigger in the CLI to set up test services on every device.


[00:10:00] Can you use your own CLI service with Mobile Center?

Yes. Mobile Center provides all setup services but users are free to choose which services they want to take utilize. They don’t have to download a huge file with everything included; they can just download the one thing they want. Each of the services can be used individually or integration with various test distribution. It is up to developers how they want to customize their app.


[00:11:46] How do I set up test services?

Create an account and app            within Build. Then access the test service in this case. Use any of the frameworks and start a new test run. Then, upload your package and test scripts. After that, send the tests to the backend, which will run them for you. You can select which devices you wish to run tests on and then can see the results.


[00:15:40] Fast Lane Support

There is no fast lane support in Build right now but they are investigating how that can happen soon.


[00:16:35] Does Microsoft have any Ruby applications?

Not right now but it should not be a problem.


[00:17:10] What platforms are supported with the CLI?

There are two platforms that are supported right now, which are Windows and Mac.           


[00:18:00] What led you to support React Native?

A full focus for Mobile Center is React Native. There are not a lot of products out that currently support React Native. A goal is to provide first class support for React Native. Build service also provides support with React Native Apps. They are thinking of how to support CodePush as well.


[00:20:50] HockeyApp

Mobile Center SDKs are developed on top of the HockeyApp SDKs. For people that use HockeyApp, Ela and Piyush recommends trying Mobile Center. The difference is that they are attempting to make Mobile Center the “one stop shop for all developer needs.” 


Settlers of Catan

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall