Table of Content
- Mobile Development Strategies
- Agile Development and Delivery
- App Architecture
- Mobile App Development Approaches
- Integrated Development Environment
- Front End App Development
- Back-End App Development
- Project Planning Tools
- Conclusion: Mobile Developer Collaborative Approach
Mobile applications are an essential technology for digital innovation. Innovation is achieved by putting knowledge to work in creating the best apps to solve problems for customers.
In general, software has a short life cycle, usually a few months, leaving a small window of time to innovate with new products. It is imperative to become efficient by shortening development cycles and processes to launch new products faster.
On the other hand, as the pace of innovation accelerates, businesses keep differentiating from competitors by building larger portfolios of applications, constantly introducing better features and variations that lead to higher market share and better positioning.
Mobile apps have improved significantly over the years, becoming an extremely useful and dominant technology (industry standard), with a high adoption rate. It is estimated that mobile apps will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.40% until 2026.
App development provides a dominant and stable architecture on which to focus efforts to make incremental changes and serve users’ mobility purposes.
Mobile Development Strategies
Mobile app projects start by generating an idea to solve a problem for users or to create a process innovation.
Once the creative process for generating ideas reaches stakeholders’ consent, they choose the projects that can be supported by the organization’s agility, resources, competences, and objectives.
Successful applications result from the correct implementation of well-designed development and management processes, from initial product concept to market introduction.
User experience (UX) researchers and UX designers validate the app idea, making sure it fits the needs of its users before writing any code. UX design teams constantly measure and learn, following lean principles and a hypothesis-driven approach throughout the app life cycle.
Applying lean-agile principles and practices throughout the organization keeps the focus on value delivery and continuous improvement, with a customer-centric approach that helps deliver innovative, high-quality mobile solutions.
Project managers first create a project plan that meets the business objectives and then present a baseline with estimates describing the scope, duration, costs, and quality of the project.
In today’s business environment, it’s almost impossible to have an estimate with closed dollar figures during the initial stages of the project, as requirements and specifications may change throughout the development cycle.
A statement of work (SOW) is a starting point to establish high-level estimates with the time and cost to perform all the activities. It is a document with the descriptions of the requirements, deliverables, and timelines.
In the agile methodology, it is acknowledged that the scope is flexible and can change after each iteration, improving the outcome and refining estimates.
Agile Development and Delivery
Agile teams with a DevOps mindset and culture are the key to developing a continuous delivery pipeline. Teams are supported by activities and events on a regular basis to create value.
An economic framework is set with the project’s guidelines, establishing a decision-making process and aligning team members with the economics and complexity of the system.
Teams adopt agile development frameworks and best practices of one or more methods depending on the project scope and requirements.
Agile Methods in App Development
Scrum. Scrum is a framework that addresses unpredictability and complex problems through iterative development in small increments and feedback. Small teams (five to nine people) work with Scrum to define, build, test, and deploy functionality in sprints (iterative development). In Scrum, a product owner orders work into the product backlog.
Scaled Agile (SAFe). SAFe is an agile framework with a set of principles and practices that blend Lean, Agile, and DevOps for software development at scale, providing quick iterations as well as continuous learning and minimization of waste.
Kanban. Kanban is a methodology of continuous improvement and scale in agile implementation. The Kanban method establishes limits in work in progress (WIP), facilitates the visualization of workflows, and measures the flow of work. Teams analyze and define workflow states and cycle times, working iteratively to adjust WIP limits and optimize flow. The Kanban method is usually chosen by teams that have demand-based work.
Extreme Programming (XP). Extreme programming is an agile methodology that promotes short development cycles and frequent releases. Extreme programming best practices take development elements to extreme levels.
Depending on the context, developers adopt many XP practices in agile development projects. Some quality practices derived from XP are:
- Pair programming. Pair programming is a technique in which programmers switch roles while writing and reviewing code to reduce defective outcomes. Programmers working together have more knowledge and diverse skills that help solve problems faster.
- Unit testing. As its name implies, unit testing is the testing of a small unit of code early on (such as testing stories to verify their accuracy) to help determine if the code is behaving correctly.
- Refactoring is the improvement of a code or component that modifies the system without changing its behavior or functionality.
- Test-driven development (TDD). Test-driven development is an agile testing practice that builds and executes tests before implementing a code or component to meet requirements.
Agile Teams in Mobile App Development
Agile teams are cross-functional groups of five to twelve individuals dedicated to a project, taking responsibility for defining, building, testing, and delivering solutions in short iterations with specific goals.
- Product owner = backlog manager
- Scrum master = team coach
- Developers = code writers
- Other team enablers = system architecture, system teams, infrastructure and compliance
Agile Practices Workflow
Agile practices help manage a decentralized program execution throughout an app’s lifecycle.
Product Management. Product managers define and support building solutions to satisfy customer needs.
Product Owner (PO). The PO is responsible for maximizing value, defining stories, providing business logic, and managing the backlog. The PO influences developers by helping them understand decisions about product backlog items. The product owner represents the stakeholders in the product backlog.
Product Backlog. The backlog is the planning of deliverables, user stories, features, and attributes to be implemented (product goals). It is refined and broken into smaller items to gain an understanding of the work to be done. The product backlog is used to identify upcoming work in subsequent iterations that will fulfill the product goal.
Sprint Backlog. The sprint backlog contains the product backlog items that will be implemented in the next sprint, showing how they will be delivered and committed to a goal.
Iteration Planning. Iteration planning, also called sprint planning, is a timeboxed event that takes a few hours to review, refine, and estimate the stories as well as set tasks to include in the upcoming iteration. The team discusses the product backlog and how it matches their goals.
Iterations (Sprints). An iteration is a timeboxed event of about two to four weeks in which teams define, build, and test stories, working to deliver incremental value toward achieving the product goal. Iterations follow a cycle of planning, execution, review, and retrospective. The product backlog is refined during the sprint, and stories are improved for the next iterations. Iterations secure the system increments and integration points.
System Demo. A demo evaluates the system’s behavior, verifying usability and effectiveness, gathering feedback, measuring progress, and guiding adjustments.
Program Increment (PI) Releases. Program increments are a set of iterations in which teams deliver incremental value to the working software. A PI release is comprised of several development iterations followed by an innovation and planning iteration.
Program Increment (PI) Planning. Program increment planning is an event in which agile teams establish communication in order to share their visions and perspectives as well as develop their objectives for the next PI. Program planning sessions provide the opportunity to discuss the solution’s intended purpose, context, capacity allocation, and architectural and technical options.
Daily Stand-Up (DSU). The daily stand-up is an event that takes about 15 minutes. The purpose is to check the status of the iteration progress, monitor how the team is advancing, and help to clear any obstacles.
Roadmaps. Roadmaps are planning events used to communicate anticipated deliverables as well as review team commitments and participation, milestones, and forecasts over a time horizon. Roadmaps can have different purposes, especially in SAFe agile, such as a PI roadmap, solution roadmap, or portfolio roadmap.
Agile Mobile App Delivery
Mobile app development success is highly dependent on user satisfaction and app quality. Keeping the customer at the center of the process and managing the development process iteratively ensures an environment of continuous flow and frequent releases. Design teams continually apply a design thinking approach to explore user needs and propose features to feed the backlog. Designers are integrated with developers to make sure the app is refined according to user feedback.
Enterprises must establish technology strategies that support adaptive architectures and business capabilities.
A well-designed architecture must serve the needs of the business and its users with a supporting infrastructure, features, and capabilities as well as an optimized system performance and scalability.
The Microservices Approach
The microservices architectural approach to mobile application development is the basis of cloud-native applications and supporting agile development methods. Development teams can build and deploy app components and services (functions) independently that communicate through APIs. Teams can use their preferred tools and share resources while working simultaneously in the app and releasing independent elements, which shortens development cycles.
Microservices are optimized for DevOps teams’ practices, constant iterations, continuous deployment, and frequent releases.
Applying DevOps to Your Organization
DevOps is a culture of collaboration and technical practices that streamlines development and operations. DevOps aims to integrate the teams that build, support, and maintain a solution from end to end, creating a value stream that ensures faster development cycles.
DevOps Strategies and Practices. Teams are aligned to perform and iterate with the same cadence, synchronizing their work to keep a continuous delivery pipeline.
DevSecOps. DevSecOps practices integrate built-in security measures in mobile app development and operations throughout the app lifecycle, adding automated security controls to the application and infrastructure environments, version control, container registries, APIs, CI/CD pipeline, container applications, etc.
Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery/Continuous Deployment. The CI/CD pipeline is a DevOps and agile methodology best practice for making code changes frequently and integrating new code which is automated and monitored throughout the app lifecycle. Pipelines are unique and vary with project requirements to automate the whole app lifecycle.
- Continuous Integration (CI)—Automation. Continuous integration is an automated process to build and make changes to code, validating it with a version control repository (shared repository), testing it automatically, and creating builds.
- Version Control Systems (VCS). A VCS is a source code management system that keeps the source code in a repository (main branch). The source code is used by developers working simultaneously to make changes, perform automated testing, and update the rebuilding of working copies until they are synchronized with the mainline code in order to commit final changes and update the repository. Code is committed to repositories as often as possible to avoid errors. The process repeats by building on top of the latest version. Version control systems (VCS) allow the management of source codes, files, libraries, schema, scripts, etc. The tools allow for having branches and automated build tests.
- Continuous Delivery (CD). Continuous delivery is the automated release process to push code changes frequently to staging, production, development, and testing environments. Continuous delivery provides higher visibility to the development lifecycle, deployment-ready code, continuous testing, instant feedback reaction, shorter dev cycles, and manual triggering of the deployment pipeline. Code platform solutions such as GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket are used for hosting version control programs.
- Continuous Deployment (CD). Continuous deployment is similar to continuous delivery but with a higher level of automation. In continuous deployment, changes pushed to the repository are automatically deployed to production. Teams can keep working on development while releasing, adding automation to every repository, executing for every change, and improving the cadence of releases. Tools can handle independent continuous integration jobs or complete deployment. Some of the most recommended are:
- Jenkins. Jenkins is an open-source self-contained Java-based automation server that can be used as a CI server or a CD hub, working to automate tasks and create builds, tests, and deployments across multiple platforms. Jenkins offers hundreds of plugins and integrates with most tools in the CI/CD pipeline.
- BitRise. BitRise provides a mobile CI/CD cloud-based infrastructure with automated building and testing on every commit to the branch. It uses virtual machines, automated workflows, and triggers without the need to maintain a CI environment.
- BitBucket. BitBucket is a source code repository hosting service that can manage SVN and Git code as well as build, test, and deploy a CI/CD pipeline. BitBucket has excellent integration results with version control systems, frameworks, and tooling.
Mobile App Development Approaches
- Native mobile apps
- Cross-platform mobile apps
- Hybrid mobile apps
- Progressive web apps
Integrated Development Environment
Integrated development environment, also known as IDE, is an application for writing code in a standardized environment that facilitates editing, building executables, and debugging. Developer tools and workflows are configured and represented in a graphical user interface (GUI), allowing developers to perform actions offering control and customization.
IDEs provide benefits for developers, offering features such as syntax highlighting, code completion, automated code generation, class exploring, and identifying bugs in real-time, among others. Mobile app developer teams have preconfigured features that fit specific use cases, making it easier to onboard developers to start working immediately on projects.
IDEs are differentiated by supported languages, operating systems, automation features, integration with CI/CD tools, plugins, impact on processing capacity, extensions, and other needs and preferences.
Mobile app developers usually choose an IDE that works cross-platform, while also considering programming language capabilities, version control systems, debugging tools, refactoring code, and compiling capabilities.
Visual Studio Code (VS Code).
Xcode is an integrated development environment for building apps in macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Xcode provides a unified SDK to run natively on Intel-based CPUs and Apple Silicone with compilers, frameworks, and debugging tools. Xcode manages the entire workflow and integrates source-code with Git version controls.
Android Studio is the official IDE for building apps for Android devices in Java or Kotlin. It is a robust and flexible unified environment that provides testing tools, frameworks, and integration with version control tools, including built-in tools for Google Cloud Platforms and connection with Firebase.
VS is a feature-rich integrated development environment (IDE) created by Microsoft. Optimized for cross-platform mobile app development, VS has many productivity features. Some popular features include compilers, refactoring, Intellisense (code completion tool) tracking, and sharing code with others using Git. Visual Studio supports many built-in programming languages directly and through plug-ins and many other functionalities as a service in VSPackages.
IntelliJ IDEA is an IDE for Java, offering a great out-of-the-box experience with instant code completion, code analysis, automatic refactoring tools, integrated version control systems, and great support for languages and frameworks. Other features valued by developers using IntelliJ are duplicate code detection, data flow analysis, and search everywhere features.
Front End App Development
Front-end development or client-side is a core component of mobile app development that resides on the device. The front-end application is the visual and interactive part that deals with user experience (UX).
Design and development involve developers, creative designers, user experience designers, and user interface designers, who work together to build the app logic that will connect it with the back-end and related services.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) are used to access back-end services. Architectural decisions, development framework, skillset, programming language, platform, key mobile app services, and many other decisions are considered when planning an app development project. Some of the most common front-end development frameworks are:
- Flutter. Flutter is a high-performance open-source framework created by Google. It is a portable UI toolkit, single codebased especially for mobile app development, that integrates into Android and iOS apps using extensive libraries with many add-ins for Visual Studio Code and Android Studio as well as a supporting ecosystem. Flutter development uses Dart programming language.
- Xamarin. Xamarin is an open-source mobile UI framework created by Microsoft for building native Android, iOS, Windows, and cross-platform apps using a single codebase built with .NET that can be shared across platforms. Xamarin provides seamless integration with back-end services, native APIs, and hundreds of mobile SDKs for open-source component libraries.
Back-End App Development
Back-end or server-side services connect the application sources of data with the front-end. Developers create and manage reliable back-end services and run the back-end infrastructure, building services to run their back-end or leveraging third-party services if they can be easily adapted to the app requirements.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are designed with logic and coded using programming languages to connect the app with back-end services, databases, libraries, and other programs.
Back-end infrastructure can be provided by cloud services such as Firebase, a Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) app development platform.
Application Programming Interface Models:
Resource access control connector for delivering secure and dynamic content to clients.
- Apache Tomcat. Apache Tomcat is a reliable open-source Java-based application server supporting core specs, servlet containers, Java Server Pages (JSP), and WebSocket APIs, with flexible configuration and interoperability for running Java web applications. Tomcat is configured and recognized by IDEs as a server environment, fully integrating into the mobile app development cycle.
- Spring/Spring Boot. Spring provides a programming and configuration model to build a Java application or system service in which Tomcat is installed (embed Tomcat) to manage multiple applications as a service within the same process.
- Payara. Payara is a complete open-source Java-based application server for production (server runtimes) and containerized deployment, designed for custom applications with microservices features built in. Payara is ideal for running apps in the cloud and integrating with public cloud platform infrastructure as a service (IaaS), containers, microservices, and Kubernetes.
Project Planning Tools
Project planning tools are used to organize and execute product plans, track issues and progress, monitor productivity, map client requirements into features, and coordinate tasks.
- Redmine. Redmine is an open-source project management application for tracking multiple projects. It features an issue tracking system and visual representation of projects, and it supports multiple languages and databases and integrates with version control systems.
- Jira is a software tool (written in Java) for managing agile projects. Main features are bug and issue tracking, Scrum support, Kanban agile frameworks, maps team workflows, and many other add-ons.
Conclusion: Mobile Developer Collaborative Approach
Complex endeavors in technology have a heavy emphasis on process power—or “know-how”—acquired from hundreds of small improvements made in mobile software development processes accumulated throughout the years. Knowledge is embedded in the organization and not easy to replicate.
A collaborative engagement with an experienced software development contractor provides customer teams the opportunity to learn and adapt to a new culture as well as have immediate access to techniques and organizational knowledge that assist in developing an efficient learning curve.
The learning process or rate of learning in “process advantages” is a dimension that accelerates the conversion of partners/customers into more innovative enterprises, obtaining cost advantages and gaining competitive advantages.
Collaboration with an experienced mobile app developer can help any enterprise, from initial assessments to a successful product launch.
Clients continually analyze their core competencies, evaluating whether a project fits their resources and objectives and if their teams are a good match to pursue project development. Many other questions arise, often leading toward a collaborative partnership.
Are your apps falling behind? Are you looking to embed AI into your app? Integrate Chatbots? Need your app to run on Google Glass?
Need an app for IoT? AR integration? Help in choosing an IoT platform?
Want to learn how to choose a development partner, or how to monitor and coordinate development activities?