The Salesforce Mobile SDK 3.1

I’ve been using the Salesforce Mobile SDK for a few years now. Every version has been a big improvement. However, the latest release — version 3.1 has a couple of noteworthy additions. So noteworthy that I want to specifically address them. While there are some technical features included — it’s now a cocoapod! — there are two non-tehcnical features I want to highlight.

Unified Application Architecture in the Mobile SDK

In their own words, Salesforce has:

unified the app architecture so that apps built with the latest SDK – hybrid or native – now have access to the same core set of functionality regardless of their target platform. All the libraries, all the APIs, and all the major mobile building blocks have consistent implementations, while at the same time, provide full access to the host operating system.

To break that down, what they’re saying in their understated way is that you can now write apps for Android, and iOS using your choice of:

  • Objective-C or Swift (with a bit more work) on iOS.
  • Java or C (with a bit more work) on Android.
  • Html5, Css andUnified Architecture FTW Javascript for both iOS and Android.

Theoretically, if you’re willing to put in some extra work, you could place the JS within an Windows 8.x phone container. Enabling hybrid Salesforce connected apps on Windows 8.x. What’s most impressive about this platform feature parity, is that all the building blocks of a connected Salesforce mobile application have consistent implementations. This allows for an unprecedented level of flexibility for developers. Developers who can now make platform choices based on business needs (I need to support iOS and Win phone 8.1) rather than what features are available (I need Smartstore, so I have to use the JS/Hybrid platform).

Docs and Examples from the Mobile SDK

The second feature of the new SDK version that I want to highlight is actually near and dear to my heart. For me, there are two equally fistsimportant forces that drive my understanding and adoption, of a new API, SDK or technology: Documentation and Example code.

Docs are a coders best friend, providing all the nitty-gritty details of how every individual function works. The Mobile SDK has a brilliant set of documentation (iOS docs are here). Without these, using the SDK would be a black-box nightmare.

On the other hand(or fist), Example code is a Noobies best friend. When you’re starting out with a new API or SDK, you need to see what is happening. Indeed, you need to see what to do more than how to do. ‘Do I login first thing? or show a settings dialog?’ Example code leads to the Eureka of ‘Oh, I see — I present the login view first.’ Moreover, example code exposes new users to what methods and functions are available! Included in version 3.1 of the SDK we find iOS and Android example applications. More importantly, we also find a hybrid (html, css, js) example. Additionally, the SDK has related examples using Polymer. Perhaps most interestingly, the developer evangelism team has example code using Angular / Ionic!

While each release of the SDK has brought new and exciting features version 3.1 brings not only features but a level platform development field and examples to bring new developers up to speed quickly. Now if only they’d support Rubymotion.

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