Preparations for using the mobile client

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Overview

The Appcenter Installer application is used to install apps on mobile devices. You can generate this application by using either the provided Cordova, Visual Studio, MobileFirst Studio projects, or use a pre-built version of the MobileFirst Studio project for Android, iOS, or Windows 8 Universal, directly.

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Prerequisites

Prerequisites specific to the Android operating system

The Native Android version of the mobile client is included in the software delivery in the form of an Android application package (.apk) file. The IBMApplicationCenter.apk file is in the directory ApplicationCenter/installer. Push notifications are disabled. If you want to enable push notifications, you must rebuild the .apk file. See Push notifications of application updates for more information about push notifications in the Application Center.

To build the Android version, you must have the latest version of the Android development tools.

Prerequisites specific to Apple iOS operating system

The Native iOS version for iPad and iPhone is not delivered as a compiled application. The application must be created from the IBM Mobile Foundation project named IBMAppCenter. This project is also delivered as part of the distribution in the ApplicationCenter/installer directory.

To build the iOS version, you must have the appropriate IBM Mobile Foundation and Apple software. The version of MobileFirst Studio must be the same as the version of MobileFirst Server on which this documentation is based. The Apple Xcode version is V6.1.

Prerequisites specific to Microsoft Windows Phone operating system

The Windows Phone version of the mobile client is included as an unsigned Windows Phone application package (.xap) file in the software delivery. The IBMApplicationCenterUnsigned.xap file is in the ApplicationCenter/installer directory.

Important: The unsigned .xap file cannot be used directly. You must sign it with your company certificate obtained from Symantec/Microsoft before you can install it on a device.

Optional: If necessary, you can also build the Windows Phone version from sources. For this purpose, you must have the latest version of Microsoft Visual Studio.

Prerequisites specific to Microsoft Windows 8 operating system

The Windows 8 version of the mobile client is included as a .zip archive file. The IBMApplicationCenterWindowsStore.zip file contains an executable file (.exe) and its dependent Dynamic-Link Library (.dll) files. To use the content of this archive, you download the archive to a location on you local drive and run the executable file.

Optional: If necessary, you can also build the Windows 8 version from sources. For this purpose, you must have the latest version of Microsoft Visual Studio.

Cordova based IBM AppCenter client

The Cordova based AppCenter client project is located in the install directory at: install_dir/ApplicationCenter/installer/CordovaAppCenterClient.

This project is based solely on the Cordova framework and thus has no dependency on the Mobile Foundation client/server APIs.
Since this a standard Cordova app, there is also no dependency on MobileFirst Studio. This app uses Dojo for the UI.

Follow the steps below to get started:

  1. Install Cordova.
npm install -g cordova@latest
  1. Install Android SDK and set the ANDROID_HOME.
  2. Build and run this project.

Build all platforms:

cordova build

Build only Android:

cordova build android

Build only iOS:

cordova build ios

Customizing AppCenter Installer application

You can further customize the application, such as updating its user interface for your specific company or needs.

Note: While you can freely customize the application UI and behavior, such changes are not under the support agreement by IBM.

Android

  • Open the Android Studio.
  • Select Import project (Eclipse ADT, Gradle, etc.)
  • Select the android folder from install_dir/ApplicationCenter/installer/CordovaAppCenterClient/platforms/android.

This might take some time. Once this is done you are ready to customize.

Note: Select to skip the update option on the popup window, for upgrading the gradle version. Refer to grade-wrapper.properties for the version.

iOS

  • Go to install_dir/ApplicationCenter/installer/CordovaAppCenterClient/platforms.
  • Click to open the IBMAppCenterClient.xcodeproj file, the project is opened in Xcode and you are ready to customize.

MobileFirst Studio based IBM AppCenter client

Instead of using the Cordova project for iOS and Android, you may also choose to use the previous release of the App Center client application, which is based on MobileFirst Studio 7.1 and supports iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Importing and building the project (Android, iOS, Windows Phone)

You must import the IBMAppCenter project into MobileFirst Studio and then build the project.

Note: For V8.0.0, use MobileFirst Studio 7.1. You can download MobileFirst Studio from the Downloads page. For installation instructions, see Installing MobileFirst Studio in the IBM Knowledge Center for 7.1.

  1. Select File → Import.
  2. Select General → Existing Project into Workspace.
  3. On the next page, select Select root directory and locate the root of the IBMAppCenter project.
  4. Select IBMAppCenter project.
  5. Select Copy projects into workspace. This selection creates a copy of the project in your workspace. On UNIX systems, the IBMAppCenter project is read only at the original location. so copying projects into workspace avoids problems with file permissions.
  6. Click Finish to import the IBMAppCenter project into MobileFirst Studio.

Build the IBMAppCenter project. The MobileFirst project contains a single application named AppCenter. Right-click the application and select Run as → Build All Environments.

Importing and building the project in Android

MobileFirst Studio generates a native Android project in IBMAppCenter/apps/AppCenter/android/native. A native Android development tools (ADT) project is in the android/native folder. You can compile and sign this project by using the ADT tools. This project requires Android SDK level 16 to be installed, so that the resulting APK is compatible with all Android versions 2.3 and later. If you choose a higher level of the Android SDK when you build the project, the resulting APK will not be compatible with Android version 2.3.

See the Android site for developers for more specific Android information that affects the mobile client application.

If you want to enable push notifications for application updates, you must first configure the Application Center client properties. See Configuring push notifications for application updates for more information.

Importing and building the project in iOS

MobileFirst Studio generates a native iOS project in IBMAppCenter/apps/AppCenter/iphone/native. The IBMAppCenterAppCenterIphone.xcodeproj file is in the iphone/native folder. This file is the Xcode project that you must compile and sign by using Xcode.

See The Apple developer site to learn more about how to sign the iOS mobile client application. To sign an iOS application, you must change the Bundle Identifier of the application to a bundle identifier that can be used with the provisioning profile that you use. The value is defined in the Xcode project settings as com.your_internet_domain_name.appcenter, where your_internet_domain_name is the name of your internet domain.

If you want to enable push notifications for application updates, you must first configure the Application Center client properties. See Configuring push notifications for application updates for more information.

Windows Phone 8

MobileFirst Studio generates a native Windows Phone 8 project in IBMAppCenter/apps/AppCenter/windowsphone8/native. The AppCenter.csproj file is in the windowsphone8/native folder. This file is the Visual Studio project that you must compile by using Visual Studio and the Windows Phone 8.0 SDK.

The application is built with the Windows Phone 8.0 SDK so that it can run on Windows Phone 8.0 and 8.1 devices. It is not built with the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK, because the result would not run on earlier Windows Phone 8.0 devices.

The installation of Visual Studio 2013 enables you to select the installation of the Windows Phone 8.0 SDK in addition to the 8.1 SDK. The Windows Phone 8.0 SDK is also available from Windows Phone SDK Archives.

See Windows Phone Dev Center to learn more about how to build and sign the Windows Phone mobile client application.

Microsoft Windows 8: Building the project

The Windows 8 Universal project is provided as a Visual Studio project located at IBMApplicationCenterWindowsStore\AppCenterClientWindowsStore.csproj.
You must build the client project in Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 before you can distribute it.

Building the project is a prerequisite to distributing it to your users, but the Windows 8 application is not intended to be deployed on Application Center for later distribution.

To build the Windows 8 project:

  1. Open the Visual Studio project file called IBMApplicationCenterWindowsStore\AppCenterClientWindowsStore.csproj in Microsoft Visual Studio 2013.
  2. Perform a full build of the application.

To distribute the mobile client to your Application Center users, you can later generate an installer that will install the generated executable (.exe) file and its dependent Dynamic-Link Library (.dll) files. Alternatively, you can provide these files without including them in an installer.

Microsoft Windows 10 Universal (Native) IBM AppCenter client

The native Window 10 Universal IBM AppCenter client can be used to install Windows 10 Universal apps on Windows 10 phones. Use the IBMApplicationCenterWindowsStore for installing Windows 10 apps on Windows Desktop.

Microsoft Windows 10 Universal: Building the project

The Windows 10 Universal project is provided as a Visual Studio project located at IBMAppCenterUWP\IBMAppCenterUWP.csproj.
You must build the client project in Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 before you can distribute it.

Building the project is a prerequisite before you distribute it to your users

To build the Windows 10 Universal project follow these steps:

  1. Open the Visual Studio project file called IBMAppCenterUWP\IBMAppCenterUWP.csproj, in Microsoft Visual Studio 2015.
    • Perform a full build of the application.
    • Generate the .appx file using the following step:
      • Right click on the project and select Store → Create App Packages.

Customizing features (for experts): Android, iOS, Windows Phone)

You can customize features by editing a central property file and manipulating some other resources.

This is only supported in Android, iOS, Windows 8 (Windows Store packages only), or Windows Phone 8.

To customize features: several features are controlled by a central property file called config.json in the directory IBMAppCenter/apps/AppCenter/common/js/appcenter/ or ApplicationCenter/installer/CordovaAppCenterClient/www/js/appcenter. If you want to change the default application behavior, you can adapt this property file before you build the project.

This file contains the properties shown in the following table.

Property Description
url The hardcoded address of the Application Center server. If this property is set, the address fields of the Login view are not displayed.
defaultPort If the url property is null, this property prefills the port field of the Login view on a phone. This is a default value; the field can be edited by the user.
defaultContext If the url property is null, this property prefills the context field of the Login view on a phone. This is a default value; the field can be edited by the user.
ssl The default value of the SSL switch of the Login view.
allowDowngrade This property indicates whether installation of older versions is authorized or not; an older version can be installed only if the operating system and version permit downgrade.
showPreviousVersions This property indicates whether the device user can show the details of all the versions of applications or only details of the latest version.
showInternalVersion This property indicates whether the internal version is shown or not. If the value is false, the internal version is shown only if no commercial version is set.
listItemRenderer This property can have one of these values:
- full: the default value; the application lists show application name, rating, and latest version.
- simple: the application lists show the application name only.
listAverageRating This property can have one of these values:
- latestVersion: the application lists show the average rating of the latest version of the application.
- allVersions: the application lists show the average rating of all versions of the application.
requestTimeout This property indicates the timeout in milliseconds for requests to the Application Center server.
gcmProjectId The Google API project ID (project name = com.ibm.appcenter), which is required for Android push notifications; for example, 123456789012.
allowAppLinkReview This property indicates whether local reviews of applications from external application stores can be registered and browsed in the Application Center. These local reviews are not visible in the external application store. These reviews are stored in the Application Center server.

Other resources

Other resources that are available are application icons, application name, splash screen images, icons, and translatable resources of the application.

Application icons

  • Android: The file named icon.png in the Android Studio project’s /res/drawabledensity directories; one directory exists for each density.
  • iOS: Files named iconsize.png in the Xcode project’s Resources directory.
  • Windows Phone: Files named ApplicationIcon.png, IconicTileSmallIcon.png, and IconicTileMediumIcon.png in the native directory of the MobileFirst Studio environment folder for Windows Phone.
  • Windows 10 Universal: Files named Square*Logo*.png, StoreLogo.png, and Wide*Logo*.png in the IBMAppCenterUWP/Assets directory in Visual Studio.

Application name

  • Android: Edit the app_name property in the Android Studio project’s res/values/strings.xml file.
  • iOS: Edit the CFBundleDisplayName key in the Xcode project’s IBMAppCenterAppCenterIphone-Info.plist file.
  • Windows Phone: Edit the Title attribute of the App entry in the Visual Studio’s Properties/WMAppManifest.xml file.
  • Windows 10 Universal: Edit the Title attribute of the App entry in the Visual Studio’s IBMAppCenterUWP/Package.appxmanifest file.

Splash screen images

  • Android: Edit the file named splashimage.9.png in the Android Studio project’s res/drawable/density directories; one directory exists for each density. This file is a patch 9 image.
  • iOS: Files named Default-size.png in the Xcode project’s Resources directory.
  • Cordova/MobileFirst Studio based projects’ splash screen during auto login: js/idx/mobile/themes/common/idx/Launch.css
  • Windows Phone: Edit the file named SplashScreenImage.png in the native directory of the MobileFirst Studio environment folder for Windows Phone.
  • Windows 10 Universal: Edit the files named SplashScreen*.png in the IBMAppCenterUWP/Assets directory in Visual Studio.

Icons (buttons, stars, and similar objects) of the application

IBMAppCenter/apps/AppCenter/common/css/images.

Translatable resources of the application

IBMAppCenter/apps/AppCenter/common/js/appcenter/nls/common.js.

Deploying the mobile client in Application Center

Deploy the different versions of the client application to Application Center.

The Windows 8 mobile client is not intended to be deployed in Application Center for later distribution. You can choose to distribute the Windows 8 mobile client either by providing users with the client .exe executable file and dynamic link library .dll files directly packaged in an archive, or by creating an executable installer for the Windows 8 mobile client.

The Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows 10 Universal (Phone) versions of the mobile client must be deployed to the Application Center. To do so, you must upload the Android application package (.apk) files, iOS application (.ipa) files, Windows Phone application (.xap) files, Windows 10 universal (.appx) files, or Web directory archive (.zip) files to the Application Center.

Follow the steps described in Adding a mobile application to add the mobile client application for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows 10 Universal. Make sure that you select the Installer application property to indicate that the application is an installer. Selecting this property enables mobile device users to install the mobile client application easily over the air. To install the mobile client, see the related task that corresponds to the version of the mobile client app determined by the operating system.

Last modified on July 26, 2017