You know that feeling you get when you haven’t worked-out in a while and you’re about to start exercising again? That dread to discover just how bad you’ve let yourself go. That’s about how I feel as I sit to pen this blog post, breaking a long blog silence and making an overdue return to the world of Telerik’s blogs.
What could get me off the proverbial blogging couch and back on my feet? The most exciting release ever shipped in my time at Telerik (and it’s been a while...7 years next week).
For several years, Telerik has been hard at work building and assembling the pieces needed for this release, and during 2013 more than 1700 man-months (do the math) were poured in to what we officially revealed this week: the Telerik Platform!
Lots will be said about the Telerik Platform over the weeks and months ahead, but today I want to give you a quick overview so you can jump-in and start developing amazing experiences without delay.
In short, the Telerik Platform is everything you need to solve the pain of developing apps for a world of many screens. It’s UI and Cloud Services, seamlessly integrated, designed to work across any platform and any form factor. It’s end-to-end, helping you go from idea to app, but also modular, so you can easily enhance your existing development workflow, not replace it.
But unlike other solutions you’ve seen before, the Telerik Platform is the first that puts focus back on the “WHAT” of your application before the “HOW.”
Let me explain with a little context...
Somewhere along the way, in the panic of trying to deal with an explosion of mobile devices, developers started frantically searching for “HOW” to build mobile apps. Do I need a native app? Do I need a hybrid app? Is the web still a thing? Oh, Olmec, great oracle of mobile, please just tell me how to build an app?!
That was 2008. This is 2014.
We now know there are three primary ways to build apps: Web, Hybrid, and Native. Each has its pros and cons (in fact, you can read all about them in this paper I wrote), and depending your app’s requirements, one of these approaches is likely to best optimize the cost, time to market, reach, and richness your app demands.
More importantly, developers increasingly recognize there are no silver bullets. Apps are software, and every software project is unique. It’s well understood when building for the familiar PC that some apps should be web apps, some native (aka, “desktop” apps), and still others something in between (like Silverlight or Flash or, now, Chrome Packaged Apps). The same holds true for mobile devices.
With the mobile panic subsiding, and rational thought prevailing, the focus returns to talking about “WHAT” an app needs to do first, and then letting that drive “HOW” an app should be built (web, hybrid, or native).
In fact, we think the era of “mobile apps” is dead. The days of thinking about an app as a piece of software that runs on one screen are over. Instead, developers must now focus on developing experiences that follow users across screens, reinforcing the need for a multi-approach development strategy. (You can read more about this shift and Telerik’s evolution in our latest CEO blog post, too.)
But if you are going to remain productive building apps using these different approaches, you need a platform that is also built around this rational thinking and not around a single, proprietary development approach.
The Telerik Platform is the first solution to eschew “one-size-fits-all” thinking and embrace web, hybrid, and native development for any screen. It takes all of Telerik’s amazing “supermodel” products, adds a few new ones (with more to come!), and brings them together so that they become even better together.
Specifically, the Telerik Platform is…
UI for any approach
Web, Hybrid, Native
Cloud Services for every app
Mobile, Desktop, Web and across the entire development lifecycle
Complete, but Modular
Use a little or use a lot, it’s up to you
Let’s look at each of these pillars in more detail.
Now that we have re-established the need to let requirments drive app development approach, you will need industry leading UI in your toolbox for web, hybrid, and native development. Telerik has long been a leader in application UI, and that strength gives us a unique ability to provide great UI for each approach.
WEB: Kendo UI (with helpers for PHP, Java JSP, and ASP.NET MVC) and Telerik UI for ASP.NET WebForms
HYBRID: Kendo UI Mobile, which is super optimized for high-performance hybrid mobile apps (video proof) and is the best way to build native-like apps using Apache Cordova (aka PhoneGap).
NATIVE: If you’re doing mobile: Telerik UI for Windows Phone, Windows 8, and now the new Telerik UI for iOS and Telerik UI for Android! If you’re doing “desktop”: Telerik UI for WPF, WinForms
You can easily access and download Telerik UI libraries directly from the Telerik Platform. Our web and mobile UI tools are there today, but eventually you’ll be able to find all Telerik UI libraries in this one, convenient spot.
The scope and depth of Telerik’s UI tools is unmatched, especially now that we have added native UI tools for iOS and Android to the mix. But it doesn’t stop there…
Here’s where a lot of the magic happens. By leveraging the “cloud” (a simple way of saying, we’ll take care of the servers, storage, configuration, upgrades, scalability and backups so you can focus on your app), we have created a platform that helps you simultaneously extend the capabilities of your app and improve the productivity of your development team. As we start 2014, there are four key services that make up the Telerik Platform cloud:
In order to put hybrid development on par with web and native, we built Telerik AppBuilder. It helps you design, develop, debug, and deploy your hybrid mobile apps from a completely web-based IDE, a native Windows IDE, a Visual Studio plug-in, or (very soon) via a command line API. You can access the AppBuilder browser client from anywhere and immediately start building and deploying apps for iOS, Android, and (again, very soon) Windows Phone. That’s right, you can even build and deploy iOS apps from Windows using nothing but your browser!
We not only want to make it easy to build your app UI, but also your app backend services. With Telerik Backend Services we’ve made it super simple to define and query a NoSQL data store (MongoDB for those that are interested), store files, send Push Notifications across platforms, send emails to users, create and manage users, and even integrate with a variety of identity providers for application security (Facebook/Google+/LiveID for the hipsters, Active Directory (ADFS) for the khakis).
Telerik Backend Services work with any app, too! Mobile and desktop clients built using any approach (web/hybrid/native) can all leverage the same Backend Services projects.
One of the new pieces being introduced with the Telerik Platform is Telerik Mobile Testing. For years now, Telerik has been providing automated testing tools for desktop and web applications with Telerik Test Studio, a premier tool for QAs at places like HP, PWC, Intel, ESPN, Dell, and many others around the globe. With the new Telerik Mobile Testing, we’re shifting our focus to the developer and introducing a brand new automation framework that makes it easy to create automated functional tests for any web, hybrid, or native iOS or Android app (Windows Phone is coming).
Quick: Which feature in your application do users access most often? Don’t know the answer? You should. Whether it’s a web, mobile, or desktop application, Telerik Analytics gives you deep insights into how your users are using your app. It’s application analytics, not “marketing analytics.” Let the marketers have their PageViews and AdWord campaigns. You want to know if the cool new feature you built is being used, and if so, when, where, and by how many people. Telerik Analytics gives you those insights.
And really, there’s no excuse not to try Telerik Analytics in all of your applications (new and existing). With one-click integration in Telerik AppBuilder and SDK libraries for virtually EVERY platform you can think of (even including COM and C++), it’s the fastest way to start enhancing your relationship with your users and improving the information that will drive the next version of your app.
So let’s recap:
UI for Any Approach: Web/Hybrid/Native (mobile and desktop)
Cloud Services for Every App: Build/Connect/Test/Measure
And this is just the beginning. We are already hard at work on additional modules that will be joining the Telerik Platform in early 2014, including tools to help you prototype your apps (because that’s where the conversation begins when you focus on “WHAT” before “HOW”) and tools to help deploy and manage your apps (because you need QA and beta testers before you unleash your app on the world...or your co-workers).
When we designed the Telerik Platform, we took extra care to design it from your point of view (our customer). We wanted to make it naturally fit the way you work, so rather than focusing on grouping related Platform projects around specific Telerik services, we instead group projects based on something we call “Workspaces.”
A workspace can contain any number of projects from Telerik Platform services, but the idea is that you can create Workspaces to group related projects. For example, if you’re working in an enterprise, you might have an “Accounting App” workspace and a “Sales Team App” workspace. If you’re a consultant, you might have a “Client A” workspace and a “Client B” workspace. Within these containers would live all of the Telerik Backend Service, Analytics, Mobile Testing, and AppBuilder projects related to that effort. It helps you organize and, as you’ll see next, it helps you manage team access to your projects.
(NOTE: If you had some existing Telerik AppBuilder, Backend Service, or Analytics projects, they’ve all been put in the “My Workspace” by default. Feel free to reorganize them!)
The Telerik Platform exemplifies what you can do when you bring together all of the things development teams need under one roof. When you can eliminate the glue code, the integration headaches, and just focus on building apps with a vast array of high-quality tools and services at your disposal. To that end, the Telerik Platform is also heavily focused on collaboration. We want to make it effortless to work with other people as you build your apps.
When you first start using the Telerik Platform, you’ll personally enjoy all of the cool UI and Cloud Services it has to offer. But once you start working with a team in the Platform, you discover some other cool benefits:
Let’s say you’ve started a Workspace, and now you want to invite the rest of your team to collaborate. The Telerik Platform makes this one-click easy. You can enter the email addresses of your collaborators, specify the Workspaces they should be allowed to access (with specific permissions), and then let the Platform handle the inviting. Done.
Have you ever joined a project that already has some history? If so, you know that one of the first challenges is just figuring-out what the heck is going on in the team and in the project’s history. To help facilitate faster on-boarding of new team members, the Telerik Platform features a fun “Timeline” view that shows the heartbeat of a Workspace over time. As new team members join (which, logically, will also be captured on the timeline), they can quickly scan this record and ramp-up to be fully contributing team members in record time.
I think I really could spend 10,000 words just introducing you to all of the cool and powerful things the Telerik Platform can do. I could also talk about the new Telerik Platform subscriptions (with the cool new FREE offering for everybody). Or I could talk about the new Data Plans that scale with your app (instead of forcing you to buy more data before you need it). Or I could even talk about the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and OnPremise deployment options that will be coming a little later this year.
But nothing is better than trying the Telerik Platform for yourself, and that’s the most important thing to do today. I am honored and humbled to work with such an amazing group of people, now more than 840, around the globe to bring you this huge update today. This marks the beginning of what we think will be an amazing journey into the future of how development teams build and deliver software across all screens, and we hope you join us.
For now, GO HAVE FUN WITH THE TELERIK PLATFORM!
(Oh! And don’t forget to join us on February 12 for a big, live online keynote where we’ll be going into even more depth, doing some demos, and answering your burning questions. Register now to save your seat. We will be giving out more than 1000 prizes, including Telerik Platform subscriptions, phones, tablets, and more!)