No App is an Island: Innovative Mobile App–API Connections for iOS

yow415-no-app-is-an-island-innovative-mobile-app-api-connections-for-ios.jpgWhether they create iOS mobile apps for large corporate operations or small mum and dad stores, all developers face the demand to bring more data to end users in a simple, yet sophisticated format. To meet this objective, mobile apps need to tap into an increasing number of APIs, while limiting the device resources they use to avoid instability. At the same time, developers always face the reality that new, yet unknown mobile devices, with unknown capabilities are on the horizon. 

With the evolving nature of the mobile app landscape, the following questions arise:

  • How do developers shift the workload of retrieving and processing API data from the front end of the app to the server side? 
  • How do developers adapt mobile apps for new iOS versions and functionalities, while at the same time, maintain reasonable backwards compatibility?
  • What practices enhance the stability of the app for the user, while still allowing backend changes?

No App is An Island: Lean, Agile, and Rapid iOS Mobile App Development

Stewart Gleadow, the Technical Lead and mobile app guru at REA Group in Australia, provides innovative solutions for current and future challenges iOS developers face in his fun and fast-paced YOW! 2013  presentation- No App is an Island. 

Within his presentation, he covers the importance of connections within mobile apps between the front and backend of the software itself, with multiple APIs, as well as ensuring they function with different mobile devices.  Since it is not likely the mobile devices we use today will be the same ones we use five years from now, mobile apps need to be adaptable and versatile. Gleadow proposes that Level Three REST is the most effective means of developing iOS apps that meet the needs of the end-user without monopolizing all the resources of the device. Gleadow points out that even though Rails is the hot programming language right now, it only reaches Level II in terms of REST maturity, meaning it only utilises HTTP verbs and status codes, which makes the coding bulky.

He explains Level Three of REST simplifies the coding process by the use of hypermedia controls to achieve true decoupling. This allows the developer to write the program so that it aligns with the way people use the Internet. Additionally, it provides more stability to the coding since it is less vulnerable to errors when the location of data changes within the API. 

Continuing his presentation, Gleadow discusses how to maintain stable relationships when retrieving API data by naming hypermedia links using HAL_ JSON standardisation, which provides consistency in the services. The advantage of this strategy is that simplifies programming by creating a discoverable endpoint through a single, stable entry point.

Then Gleadow addresses strategies to address evolving APIs when developing mobile apps. One example is using links as a means to toggle functions remotely, which reduces the need for versioning of the app. Since the majority of people don’t update when they are notified, this allows the app to handle the missing updated data gracefully, so the app does not crash.

He wraps up by discussing how to isolate the front end of the app from changes made in the back end by developing an intermediate mobile API. By taking the load of the front end of the app, and making the backend smarter, developers can create highly stable iOS mobile apps  that provide a rich user experience within a simple UX.

In case you missed going to YOW!2013, you can watch Gleadow’s fun and informative talk HERE

Don’t miss making another connection. Plan to attend YOW! Connected, in Melbourne, September 8-9, 2014. Since the call for presentations is open, you also have the opportunity to share your own innovations with other developers.

YOW! 2014: Make Connections with the Most Innovative Developers
Working as a software developer, you know that it is easy to get caught in a bubble that isolates you from new happenings on different platforms. When you don’t have access to this critical information or connections with other developers, chances are you’ll get stuck when you need to devise an innovative solution. YOW! conferences offer a broad range of seminars and workshops led by developers for other developers. Make the connections you need by starting your plans to attend YOW!2014

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