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A list of my favorite developer features in Kinvey. Just practical features that will help you develop better apps more quickly with links to resources.
Look, I'll be honest—Kinvey is a great product, but our homepage is geared towards "decision makers" and not developers. I am sure that "Reduced TCO by over 60%" is really important, but, as a developer myself, I have no clue what it means. Here is Ryan Reynolds reenacting my expression as I read that:
For what it's worth, TCO is apparently means "total cost of ownership"—you learn something new every day!
To remedy this, I've put together a list of my favorite developer features in Kinvey. It has no talk of TCO, "wins" or time-to-market, just practical features that will help you develop better apps more quickly and links to resources about each feature.
Let's get started!
Most companies, especially medium-to-large enterprises, have a ton of existing data. Taking that data and making it available to the web, or even more so mobile, can be difficult, to put it mildly.
First, there is the problem of building and maintaining the connection to existing data. I've worked on projects where we had a web frontend connecting to a server-side web backend connecting to a Java service that routed to another Java service that, finally, called some kind of something that was able to pull legacy data from a critical data source. That's not only tough to build and maintain, but often runs up against bottlenecks that won't work for mobile, where immediacy is expected.
Second, there is the issue that the frontend (web or mobile) developers often have to wait for the backend connectors to be built and written before they can reasonably know what they need to display on the frontend. Sure, they may know the fields in the data source to mock the data, but this typically needs to be "massaged" to be usable. The point is, there can often be a disconnect between the UI being built and the data that is eventually received that needs to be resolved.
Kinvey's RapidData feature can help to solve both these problems. First, it includes a bunch of pre-packaged connectors to things like SQL Server, SAP, Sharepoint, Salesforce and REST.
This simplifies the connection to many of your existing systems. So your app connects to the cloud and then directly to your data source. And, if your existing system isn't on the list, FlexServices (which we'll talk about in a moment) can help fix that.
It solves the second problem by making it easy to switch a Kinvey collection from the cloud data store to a RapidData data source and back again. Plus, you can easily map fields from the data source to match your cloud data store. This means that you can develop the UI with mock data and easily swap it to live data without requiring code changes.
In the GIF below, you can see me running through the process of switching from the cloud data store to a SQL Server database running on Azure with just a few clicks.
If you want to explore this feature some more, check out my full tutorial on using Kinvey’s RapidData connectors.
Almost every application includes some form of authentication—whether it is a greenfield project that can include authentication from scratch or one that must authenticate against an existing system. Both of these can be a pain to build, but the latter can lead to levels of anger and frustration that may have unforeseen consequences.
Kinvey does offer a number of built-in features that can help with building out a greenfield authentication for your app. Many of these I discussed in my tutorial on understanding users in Kinvey. These can save you time and effort when developing your app.
More importantly, however, Kinvey's Mobile Identity Connect can simplify the process of connecting to common enterprise authentication systems including Active Directory, OAuth2, SAML, LDAP and OpenID.
And, if you are building a mobile app with NativeScript, we've made adding authentication using Mobile Identity Connect even easier with NativeScript Sidekick. Using Sidekick's new enterprise authentication template, it becomes even easier to build and configure enterprise authentication in your mobile app—Sidekick will even create the necessary Mobile Identity Connect services in Kinvey for you.
If you want a detailed tutorial on using Mobile Identity Connect, check out my post Enterprise Authentication with Kinvey.
There is a scene in the cult classic sci-fi movie The Fifth Element where Zorg (i.e. the bad guy) shows off a weapon called the ZF1 that is so overpowered it is rather (intentionally) ridiculous. It has high powered ammo with auto-targeting, missiles, flame throwers, nets and a freeze option (among other things).
I sometimes like to think of FlexServices as the ZF1 of Kinvey. It's our powerful secret weapon that can do just about anything.
Here are just a few examples:
That's just a handful of examples. If you'd like a full tutorial on how to build FlexServices, check out my article Getting Started with Kinvey FlexServices that not only walks through the process, but also offers a series of example services that I built to help guide you.
You're probably familiar with the phrase "hidden in plain sight." It is something like:
This concept definitely applies to the Kinvey SDKs, which may be simultaneously the most used and also the easiest to overlook feature of Kinvey. The truth is that the SDKs include a ton of features for free, but many of them may not be entirely obvious. In fact, the SDKs play a key, but often behind the scenes, role in each of the features above.
In addition, here are some things built into the SDKs that you may not even realize:
I'm definitely understating all that the SDKs include here but, as you can see, it is already substantial.
If you're a developer who hasn't tried Kinvey, hopefully I've convinced you to give it a try (there's a generous free level where you can test out all the features). Plus, you can tell your boss you're learning about things like TCO, "wins" and time to market and you'll be on your way to becoming the next CTO!
If you've already tried Kinvey, which of these features is your favorite? Or do you have a favorite that didn't make my list? I'd love to hear from you.
Brian Rinaldi is a Developer Advocate at Progress focused on the Kinvey mBaaS. Brian has been a developer for nearly 20 years, working with frontend and backend technologies mostly focused on the web. Brian serves as the co-editor of Mobile Dev Weekly, authored a report on Static Site Generators for O'Reilly and is co-author of a book for O'Reilly, also on static site generators. You can follow Brian via @remotesynth on Twitter.
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