Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Supersonic / Steroids / Appgyver heads up

I've been using Supersonic, also known as Steroids and Appgyver, in my agile software development class. It's almost perfect for my purposes:
  • It installs relatively easily on both MacOS and Windows. Good Windows support is rare.
  • Students work in HTML, CSS and JavaScript, specifically Angular, which I prefer over Objective-C, Swift, or Java.
  • The Supersonic QR-code deployment tool makes deployment and redeployment for testing about as fast and easy as updating a web page.
  • One codebase can run on Android and iOS.
But there's a couple of flies in the ointment to be aware of.

First, at Northwestern, students can get a free educational iOS developer license. It lasts for an academic year. It puts them in a Northwestern team. The intent is that students develop apps using a single wildcard provisioning profile. This works great except with Supersonic. Their cloud building tool does not support team wildcard provisioning.

That means that we need to create specific app profiles for every student app that needs an ad hoc debug deploy. As you can imagine, that set can become a bit unwieldy, and needs to be groomed periodically.

Second, test automation has been a challenge. I had hoped to use Appium to communicate with the apps via the Selenium Web Driver API. A few students got something to work using Java to drive the tests, but so far no luck using tests written in JavaScript. The pieces are there but things just don't connect.

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