Surviving Australia with Telerik AppManager

See that spider in the photo above? I caught this “little guy” in my home office. I found him underneath my desk, checking out the various power cords I have. This was just one of many spiders I’ve caught around the house. Truth be told, I’ve been fascinated by the Australian wildlife I’ve encountered since moving here from Canada. For example, did you know that the spiders here are so big that they have hair? Back in Canada, you’d be lucky to see a spider larger than a penny. But here in Australia, you can see their fur. It’s awesome! (Cue “Scared Weird Little Guys” in the background while you’re reading this.)

Like any resourceful Canadian developer living abroad, I’ve built a few apps to survive whatever this country decides to throw at me (Note: Australia is a very safe place to live – those of us living here find it funny to see how people view Australia from overseas. “ZOMG! It’s full of spiders, snakes, and sharks!”). In fairness, the purpose of these apps is really two-fold: to assist me in a “deadly encounter” and to also learn more about the Telerik Platform.

In this article, I’ll show you how to use Telerik AppManager, a new capability of the Telerik Platform that enables you to securely deploy and manage your private, mobile apps. Public availability of Telerik AppManager was announced earlier this month. You can check it out – along with a whole host of other services – by signing up for a free Telerik Platform account.

Setting Up Workspaces

With my apps built and ready for user testing, I’m now at the stage where I’m ready to put these apps into the hands of my colleagues here in Australia. To do that, I’m going to leverage AppManager, which enables you to securely deploy and manage your private, mobile apps. Let’s see how to do this.

Upon signing into the Telerik Platform, I’m shown a list of workspaces I have created:

Telerik Platform - Workspaces

Workspaces form a collection of project types that address the various aspects of your app’s development lifecycle including the its designs, builds, tests, and deployments. As you can see in the screenshot above, I have a few workspaces dedicated to living in Australia. I’ve also invited colleagues to join these workspaces and assist me in building them.

Managing Access to Private Deployments

I’m going to use AppManager to get my apps into the hands of my “beta users”. As stated previously, AppManager expands the capabilities of the Telerik Platform by enhancing your choice of deployment options to include private deployments. I can jump immediately into AppManager to manage private deployments of hybrid or native apps, meaning apps built outside the Telerik Platform. This includes apps built in environments like XCode, Eclipse, etc.

When you open AppManager, you’ll be presented with a list of apps that have been prepared for private deployments to users:

Telerik AppManager - Apps

I’ve built three apps – two of which are published. I’ve also assigned these apps to groups that I’ve created, to which I’ve assigned users.

Adding Apps

Adding a new app to AppManager is a simple process. First, you need to generate an app package. For iOS, you’ll need the IPA file; for Android, you’ll need the APK file.

Second, you’ll need to upload your app package to AppManager via the “Add New App” dialog:

Telerik AppManager - Add New App

A number of attributes will be prepopulated such as the app name, version, and ID. For the remaining attributes, you’ll need to provide values for the target platform and description. You’ll also have to assign the app to a set of distribution groups.

Granting Access

By default, no one has access to the new app deployment. However, you can create and modify these groups easily. In the case of the apps I’ve built, I’ve decided that I need to provide these apps to users living in different locations of Australia. I also need to ensure that certain apps are tested out by expats (i.e. me):

Telerik AppManager - Groups

Once I’ve established my list of groups, I can invite and assign users to them. Here, I’ve invited members of the team at Telerik Australia:

Telerik AppManager - Users

Users can be easily invited to deployments. All that’s required is an email address. (More on this later.) Once registered, users can be modified to update their group memberships and to see a list of devices they’ve registered through AppManager. For example, here’s my profile:

Telerik AppManager - Edit User

As you can see, I’m a member of various groups and I’ve registered my iPhone and iPad with AppBuilder for private deployments.

It’s worth mentioning that I can create new deployments through Telerik AppBuilder directly with its built-in publication facilities:

AppManager Deployment via Telerik AppBuilder

Pushing Updates

AppBuilder eliminates the need to install and setup build environments; we provide all that infrastructure for you. This includes managing your deployments after they’ve been published to users. AppBuilder considerably simplifies updating your internal apps and pushing the latest updates to end-users:

Telerik AppManager - Arachnogram

Here, I’ve published my latest app, Arachnogram. It’s a social networking app for sharing photos of spiders in Australia. As you can see, I can upload screenshots, provide updates, and see ratings from my internal users. I can even choose to make the app unavailable by “un-publishing” it from AppManager.

When my users are ready to use one of my apps from their device, they’ll see a screen from the AppManager app that looks like this:

Telerik AppManager - App Screen

Here, a user can download the app directly to their device. (Note: This is done without jailbreaking your device.) They can provide ratings and receive updates when new builds are deployed. The feedback I receive from them will help me plan out my next iteration, resulting in a better set of survival apps for Australia!

Conclusion

As you can see, AppManager provides a robust solution for managing the deployment of private apps to your internal users. It’s a great, new capability of the Telerik Platform and one that I trust will assist you in your future development. I encourage you to use it and provide your feedback to the team. We really appreciate it. As an alternative, you can connect with others in the community who are using AppManager in our forum.

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