Services and APIs
The principal focus of this release of Appcelerator is its MBaaS and analytics. There are more than 25 prebuilt APIs, including most of the usual suspects such as push notifications and pair storage, and extending to users, places, photos, and social integrations. These cloud service APIs are in addition to Appcelerator’s interfaces to native device capabilities such as local storage, media services, geolocation, contacts, and accelerometer support. Furthermore, Appcelerator now includes a layer on top of Node.js, called Node.ACS, for building custom cloud services. (ACS refers to Appcelerator Cloud Services.)
Early in Appcelerator’s development, some of its Android APIs were coerced into looking like their iOS equivalents. Not surprisingly, that didn’t always work well. I’m not sure when these APIs changed, but now the Appcelerator wrappers for Android APIs seem to follow the Android model. That’s good because they actually work reliably; it’s bad because you have to include different modules for Android builds than for iOS builds. Appcelerator still supports BlackBerry, but I have lost interest in BlackBerry development over the last couple of years, as its market share has essentially disappeared.
Dashboard and analytics
Developers can see a quick overview of app installs, sessions, API calls, and crashes in the online Appcelerator dashboard overview page. Other parts of the dashboard allow for cloud management, testing, performance metrics, and analytics.
The Cloud panel shows usage, exposes data management, displays API request and push notification logs, lists custom services, and allows for cloud configuration. The testing panel uses SOASTA’s TouchTest as an integrated mobile testing solution. The performance panel allows you to monitor your apps; troubleshoot performance, crashes, and exceptions; view crash trends; integrate with bug tracking systems; and configure your monitoring.
Developers can define and view Appcelerator analytics online and optionally publish selected analytics to the Appcelerator Insights app for the iPad, typically for use by a manager. There are five categories of analytics: real time, users, sessions, events, and event funnels.