June, 2018 | Backend as a Service Platform

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June, 2018

With the introduction of the real-time database, Backendless is a great platform for developing games, especially multi-user ones. In this series of posts, I will be showing to you how to build a game for iOS with Swift using Backendless. For a quick overview of the game in action, please watch the video below:

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Posted in Examples, iOS

Backendless 5 is now released (hooray!) and it offers a bunch of new powerful capabilities. One of them is support for development of custom Amazon Alexa Skills. In this post I am going to demonstrate how easy it is to create a custom skill using JavaScript. You will learn how to control the dialogue flow between the user and Alexa using Backendless and custom Cloud Code.

An example we will build a trip planner skill, albeit a trivialized version of it, which will gather from the user the departure date, the departure and arrival cities. The collected information can be used to search available fares, hotels and make any other necessary arrangements.

What You Will Need

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We did it! There is a new SDK in the Backendless family of libraries, please welcome the SDK for Amazon Alexa! Let’s get a few basic questions out of the way first:

Q: Can I build a custom Amazon Alexa skill without Amazon Lambda?
A: Yes, you can definitely do it by running your custom skill implementation in Backendless.

Q: Can I build a custom Amazon Alexa skill with JavaScript, Java or without any programming language?
A: Yes, with Backendless you can implement a custom Alexa skill using Java, JavaScript or Codeless, which is a visual programming environment.

Q: What is the simplest way to build a custom Alexa skill?
A: Great question! Read the announcement below:

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Posted in Alexa, Server Code

Backendless SDK for iOS has received several improvements which increased the portability of our code. As a result, the same library you use for the iOS apps can also be used in tvOS and watchOS apps. All the functionality available in our SDK is available in these two environment, this includes real-time database and real-time messaging. The Backendless APIs are the same as for iOS when using them in tvOS and watchOS apps.  Below is a video with a demo of a tvOS app which shows the real-time database in action. The source code of the application demonstrated in the video is available at:

https://github.com/Backendless/AppleTvDemo

This is a very exciting improvement for the SDK as it opens up new opportunities for the developers who look to expand their reach to different types of Apple devices.

Posted in Examples, iOS, tvOS, Video

Today we will talk about how to monitor client’s Real-Time Connections in your Angular application. This tutorial continues the guide on how to build Angular apps with Backendless. It is recommended to check out the previous article in this series before you continue for the reason that we will use the application from the previous post as the starting point for this tutorial. Alternatively, if you just want to start working with the it right away, just download the source code from this GitHub commit.

In many cases we want to see how many application users are online or offline, for example, it might be useful in a chat application. For the demo purposes,  in our application we will add a simple counter for count all connected clients. As we explore adding that functionality,  you will meet with Backendless Business Logic, Backendless Counters, Codeless and keep discovering Real-Time features:

image11 - How to monitor Real-Time Connections in an Angular app

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Since Backendless does not have native APIs to download files, today we’ll talk about how to implement this function in your Android application. In order to do that, we’ll need to combine Backendless file listing API and android.app.DownloadManager. There are several alternatives to this approach, but the selected one requires less code to write and has a well-thought structure.

Once a developer uploads files to the Backendless Files system, each file gets a public URL which can either be obtained using the Backendless Console or calculated using the following URL scheme:


publicURL 1024x472 - How to download a file stored in Backendless with your Android appThis public URI is the full path to the file in your Backendless file system. Directory listing API returns a list of the  FileInfo objects representing the files located in the directory, where each element in the collection contains the following properties:
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Great news, guys! Backendless 5 is now released and it’s time to show you some new features we’ve been working on.  In this article we will talk about how to integrate the Backendless Real-Time Database into your Angular application. Meanwhile, you can check out the previous version of our Angular app in this post. In case you haven’t read the post and don’t have that app  yet, please review the previous article, because we will use that application as a starting point for this tutorial. Or, if you just want to start working with the it right away, just download the source code from this GitHub commit.

ezgif 5 83e7494ea4 - How to use the Backendless Real-Time database in your Angular App

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Images displayed in your app often may be responsible for the bandwidth consumed by the device, which has a direct impact on the performance, battery level and the amount of memory which the app allocates. As a result, optimizing images can often bring noticeable performance improvements for your app: the fewer bytes it needs to download, the smaller impact is on the client’s bandwidth and the faster app will download and render content on the screen.

Let’s imagine you have an app where you store pictures to show them to your app’s users. But what happens if the resolution of these images is high and they are taking a lot of space? Download of these files is time-consuming and, as a result, it slows down your app making the user experience substandard.

A recommended approach is to create image thumbnails with lower resolutions relative to the original one. These thumbnails can be used to preview the image in the application.

The thumbnails can be generated using Backendless API Services (the Business Logic section). If you are not familiar with how to create your own API Service, please check the How to generate a QR code with Backendless API Service post, which describes the process of API service creation in greater detail.

In this article, we will focus on the task of generating thumbnail images with different resolutions.

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With the release of version 5 of Backendless and introduction of the real-time capabilities the dynamics of the client-server integration will be changing. The real-time functionality should result in a significant reduction of the API calls an application makes. To further reflect the value associated with each pricing plan in Backendless Cloud, we introduced several changes:

  1. All plans now have a limit for real-time connections:
    Free and Developer plans: 100 connections
    Cloud 9: 100,000 connections
    Cloud99: 500,000 connections
  2. The API call/minute limit has changed to API call/month. The limit is reset monthly when the billing cycle renews. Keep in mind that “monthly” does not mean “from the first day of a month till the first day of the next month”. Instead, every app has its own billing cycle, which renews every month on the date when the app switched to the current billing plan.
  3. The API/month limit cannot be increased for the Free and Developer plans, however, for the Cloud9 and Cloud99 plans any overages for the API calls above the limit are automatically processed for the rate of  $1.00/100,000 API calls for the Cloud9 plan and $0.80/100,000 API calls for the Cloud99 plan.
  4. The price of the Developer plan has been increased to $15.00/month. For all customers who were on the Developer plan prior to Backendless 5 release, the change will apply in 2 months.

I am happy to report that Backendless version 5.0 has been released. The Backendless Cloud installation has been updated, all apps run on the new version now. The new release is a major milestone for Backendless as it significantly strengthens our position as a leader in the mobile application development space. The new release delivers the following functionality:

  • Real-Time Database – changes in the database are pushed to the connected clients whenever new objects are created, updated or deleted. Multiple instances of the client application can stay up-to-date with the latest data with minimal client-server API traffic.
    Real-Time Database API Documentation: Android  iOS  JS
  • Real-Time Messaging – the publish/subscribe system has been redesigned so that published messages are delivered to the subscribers in real-time. Previously the system used the polling approach. With the new implementation not only the messages are delivered significantly faster, the number of API calls to receive messages is reduced to zero.
    Real-Time Messaging Documentation: Android  iOS  JS
  • Management of Counters and Cache – Atomic Counters and the data in Backendless Cache can now be managed in Backendless Console. You can now see a list of cache entries and counters, create new ones, modify or delete the data:
  • API Documentation Generation – Backendless Console can now generate API docs in a variety of well-known formats for all Data Service API operations. Supported formats include:
    • OpenAPI/Swagger 2.0 (JSON and YAML)
    • Open API 3.0 (JSON and YAML)
    • RAML 1.0
    • WADL
    • API Blueprint 1A
    • Postman Collection

    To generate an API document:

    1. login to Backendless Console and switch to the Data screen.
    2. Select a data table and click the REST CONSOLE tab.
    3. Click the Generate API Docs link
    4. Select a format from the drop-down list and click the GENERATE button.
    5. Backendless generates the document and provides a download link:
      generate api docs - Backendless 5 is released!

Our roadmap for version 5 consists of some very exciting features. We are looking forward to bringing all this great functionality to you so you can continue building powerful apps while enjoying Backendless more than ever.

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