Microsoft’s Mobile DevOps process helps developers manage the app lifecycle and automate integration, testing, delivery, and monitoring. The current version of this Mobile DevOps stack consists of multiple integrated-but-discrete tools, including Azure Mobile Engagement, CodePush, Visual Studio Team Services, Xamarin Test Cloud, and HockeyApp.
We have learned a lot from offering these services in the past few years and are excited to give you a preview of our next generation product:
Mobile Center will combine the lifecycle, monitoring, and backend features of Microsoft’s existing stack into a single platform. You can use any number of these features independently, but the more you combine, the more powerful Mobile Center becomes.
It all starts with a great onboarding experience, including an API-first design, that allows you to use Mobile Center completely through its REST API. During the preview, we are launching the features outlined below.
With Build, you can take your source code from GitHub and create an installable app package automatically with every push. There’s no build server required and no need to provision a Mac in your data center—Mobile Center compiles your iOS and Android app from the source code, code signs the binary file, and distributes the app to your team members. The Distribute feature also lets you upload a build manually through web UI or API and define Distribution Groups to restrict the release to a subset of your team.
In addition to beta testing, the Test feature offers more than 400 unique configurations to validate your app’s behavior with automated tests on real devices. You can write test cases in C# (UITest), Ruby (Calabash), or Java (Appium & Espresso), and you can select a set of devices for each test run based on form factor, OS version, memory limit, or CPU.
Whether it’s distribution or testing, collecting usage data and crash reports is vital for the success of your app. By adding the Mobile Center SDK, you can enable the Crashes and Analytics features to collect symbolicated crash reports, user and session counts and histograms, as well as custom events and properties. And, of course, our SDK is open source under the MIT license, so you can review, fork, modify, and pull request the code on GitHub.
The SDK also enables two other features: Identity is the quickest way to authenticate and manage your app’s users with their Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Microsoft account, while Tables lets you create a cloud store for viewing, adding, or modifying app data, even when there is no network connection. Both features use the Azure platform to make it easy to create a backend for your app, and Mobile Center also leverages Azure to securely store all telemetry, crashes, events, and other properties to give you full control over the data your app gathers.
All of these features are now available as a limited preview for iOS and Android developers using Swift, Objective-C, Java, Xamarin, and React Native. To get started with Mobile Center, you can sign in with your existing HockeyApp account and password changes will sync between both systems. We are launching this limited preview as early as possible to gather your feedback and enable a continuous dialog with you, but Mobile Center is not yet ready for production apps. As such, in the first stage of the preview, HockeyApp apps and data will not be visible in Mobile Center. In the future, Mobile Center will show your new and existing HockeyApp apps to ensure a seamless transition for all HockeyApp customers.
We hope you share our excitement about the next generation of HockeyApp and that you’ll join us on this journey!