As we come to the end of our Azure blog series, I’ll be taking a look at the Microsoft Visual Studio App Center which has been designed to enable you to automate and manage the lifecycle of your iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS apps. It amalgamates many services that are typically required within the mobile app development lifecycle into a single, integrated solution.
As well as integrating Visual Studio App Center capabilities into native apps such as iOS, Android and macOS, the SDK can be integrated with apps that have been architected using Xamarin, Cordova and React Native.
Let’s take a look at the service in more detail to find out what you can expect.
Builds - building can be automated to produce an installable app package by integrating with repositories such as GitHub and Azure DevOps (formerly Visual Studio Team Services) without the need for any additional build hardware.
Automated UI tests - these can be run across many unique device configurations with multiple testing frameworks supported. Real devices are used to provide the most realistic end-user environments. Screenshots are automatically captured as well as device logs being generated to assist with troubleshooting issues.
Diagnostics and crash reporting - can be viewed to prioritise issues based on the number of devices experiencing the problem. Full stack traces are available to assist in resolving issues.
Key analytics – you can gain visibility of a range of key analytics including the number of daily, weekly and monthly users, session durations, most popular devices and geographical location and language information. This information can then be used to allow you to make informed decisions, such as removing support for an old OS version or adding additional language support to your app. Furthermore, you can implement custom events to capture specific scenarios within your app.
Mobile push notifications – push notifications can also be implemented within Visual Studio App Center.
App distribution - can be utilised to distribute pre-production versions to beta testers.
Visual Studio App Center is an extremely flexible solution where you have the option to utilise all of the capabilities or a subset of features that are suitable to your requirements. The ability to automate UI tests on physical devices is a massive help within the mobile app development lifecycle and this might be an example of where you would choose to utilise only one capability.
Speaking from personal experience with ANS’ service management portal, GLASS, UI testing, crash reporting and analytics has proven to be invaluable in terms of ensuring that a reliable app is distributed, issues are effectively managed and informed decisions being made based on app usage.
To discover more, or to get started for free with the Visual Studio App Center, click here.
Posted by Tom Barrand