2021 is finally here, and it brings with it many new updates for those who have chosen Instant Developer Cloud to develop omnichannel software systems. 

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

One of the most important new entries to the fleet of our application development and cloud distribution platform was designed specifically to significantly boost omnichannel potential for developers. 

In fact, beginning with the 21.0 main release, you can configure applications offline until they can be installed as Progressive Web Apps. The fact that you can allow users to avoid downloading an application from the app store while simultaneously perceiving it as a native app (thanks, for example, to its speed, the automatic installation of its specific icon on the screen, and the ability to manage push notifications) paves the way to success for this type of application. In fact, the statistics that I found googling around were striking: users like PWAs. A lot. For example, they have much lower bounce rates and many more page views with respect to site visits, even mobile sites. 

Having a tool for developing Progressive Web Apps means having an additional weapon in your arsenal for satisfying the needs of your customers, especially when developing for e-commerce, where it's crucial to maintain user interest and avoid abandonment. The only limit is your own imagination. 

We must keep in mind that PWAs are more limited than applications that are downloaded from Apple and Google stores, so we need to understand their limits and when they're useful. 

Current implementation is still basic, but we're already working on reproducing many of the operations only possible with native plugins in a PWA environment. We want to make PWAs available with extended support in an intermediate 21.1 version, slated for mid-to-late March. 

As soon as this version is ready, we want to present full PWA support with a webinar to give you the information you need to develop state-of-the-art web applications offline. We'll explain in detail how a PWA works, and how to configure offline web applications so they'll be seen as such on the devices where they're run.

I know you already want to test the new release: like any developer, I'd be the same way. But just stay with me another minute, because there's a lot of news to deliver.

Defining the parameters of the Node.js server

Once such parameters are defined as name-value pairs in the Instant Developer Cloud console, they are made available to all applications installed on the server and are automatically used by the corresponding libraries in the Instant Developer Cloud framework. This way, you can define parameters at a server level that otherwise would be defined within the code of the applications, like passwords, activation keys for third-party services, DB connection strings, etc. Once the parameters have been defined, they can be read through the console inside the applications using the app.getParameter method. The framework automatically reads and uses some parameters (sendGridKey, stripeKey, gmapKey, apnKey, apnCertificate and gcmKey) if they are defined.

Import components faster

During export, the system reduces the number of objects to be exported by "compressing" the body of the methods. By doing so, when importing, the number of objects inserted in the project is lower and the import procedure runs much more quickly. In order to use the functionality, you need to export the component using the new version. At that point, when the component is next imported, the operation will be faster.

Simultaneous opening of multiple code forms

Beginning in version 21.0, multiple instances of the Code Editor are opened in a "tabbed view" display and this allows you to open multiple forms for the code (methods and events) at the same time. This way, you can navigate the code more quickly, especially in the case of complex algorithms. To restore the previous behavior, you can close all the pages, or just a few. 

State-of-the-art dashboards

We have integrated the canvas-gauge graphic element that makes it easier to design dashboards. Have a look here to see how beautiful and functional they are.

Direct print

The new print option in the app.open method lets you send the requested files directly to print. The printing runs displaying a preview window in which the user can confirm or cancel the print.

Opening DataMap groups from code

Now you can control the expansion of groups in DataMaps using the expanded property, and define the automatic expansion mode for all groups up to a certain level with the new expandedGroupLevels property.

Obviously I won't go into detail about the more than 180 improvements and fixes introduced in this version, which you'll find listed in the documentation.

Okay, now I'll let you go so you can try it all out. You can also try it in our free test version: just register on this page.

Enjoy!  

Photo by NASA on Unsplash