After listening to customers and the market, countless development hours, sleepless nights, and an obscene amount of caffeine, we are absolutely thrilled to announce general availability of OutSystems Platform 9. With this release, we have realized the vision (and more) that we shared with our customers at NextStep in Lisbon this year. We’ve made huge and significant strides in making the creation, deployment and management of modern apps easier than ever before.
“So, uses-too-many-adjectives-guy, what’s really new?”
I’m glad you asked… First, we’ve merged the best and tossed the worst of mobile web and native mobile app development with the introduction of OutSystems Now.
It is our new native mobile app that can be downloaded from the Apple and Google app stores. Show it where your Platform environment is, give it your credentials, and it will present to you all apps that you have access to – an effortless enterprise app store. That’s a pretty neat trick, given how hard it is keeping up with all the apps that are being created for different users in your environment. No more passing URLs around, creating brittle portals, folders on-device, users simply not being able to find their apps, etc. And since logging in to each of them individually would just be a drag, we handle that as well – log in once, go wherever you like. Ah, the freedom.
OutSystems Now does much more than this though, it is your gateway to native device function! Wait, what does that even mean? Well, it means that you don’t need to be an expert in ObjectiveC, Swift, Java, or C# to make some really kick-ass mobile apps for your employees, customers and partners. Simply use our new widgets for things like camera, geolocation, barcode scanner, and on-device app integration by dragging them into the visual model for your app. When your app is used from inside OutSystems Now, those sensors and device apps are seamlessly accessed and interacted with. Need to create an app that lets you take a picture of the fender bender you were just in, add geolocation data to it, request a tow, file a claim, then get a push notification when that tow truck is enroute? Not a problem…piece of cake, really.
Actually, for that example all you have to do is install one of the new app templates we’ve created and listed on the Forge and you’re nearly finished…which is the perfect segue to talk about another area of ongoing effort that is debuting with Platform 9: open-source app templates and connectors. The aforementioned auto accident app is a perfect example. Go take a quick peek at the first set of templates we’ve created (field service, mobile order management, and more)! Along these same lines, we’ve released the first set in a series of connectors (Box, Dropbox, Zendesk, Twilio, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook), to make integration a breeze. Stay tuned, as we are just getting warmed up here. These apps and connectors join community-driven projects that already number close to 500 in the OutSystems Forge. Speaking of Forge, we’ve woven that experience directly into our development environment. Working on a project thinking that someone HAS to have done this before? You’re probably right, do a search, find the component/library/app/connector you’re looking for, one-click to install and poof…yet another shot of adrenaline injected into your app dev process, with the security that comes from global dependency checking and understanding when an install will work…and more importantly, when it won’t!
What’s the point behind all of that? Simply put: to push the amount of time it takes to go from inspiration to amazing app as close to zero as imaginable…and then maybe more. But wait a minute, what if someone actually HASN’T done what I need before, am I out of luck? Heck no!
Platform 9 introduces two more massive time-savers: visual RESTful API consumption and a new data manipulation construct called an Aggregate.
Let’s start with REST, because it’s easy – right? As with everything, the devil is in the details. REST is great because it is lightweight, but that shouldn’t be confused with easy! SOAP was a bit heavier to deal with, but it did let you know exactly what to send to it and what to expect back. REST? Not so much. Let’s scroll through the Google API documentation…hmm, OK, here’s a sample URL call and a big ole blob of JSON for me to dissect. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something that would take that weak documentation and do the work of determining the calling and return structure, along with the parsing code to put it nice and neatly in a little ball I can use in my app? We agree. You’re welcome.
Hopefully my excitement doesn’t come off as boasting, we are just so very proud of this release and can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on it. We hope you have as much success with it as we envision. And as always, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you run into speed bumps – annihilating those is our mission in life!