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Advantages of Using App Center on React Native Apps

Written by 
Jose Arce
,
Senior Software Engineer
Advantages of Using App Center on React Native Apps
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Visual Studio App Center is a service that provides several tools to improve our products, such as continuous integration, continuous delivery, analytics, crash analytics, and over-the-air (OTA) updates. In this post, I’ll explain how implementing each tool can help you and your team in developing new apps using React Native.

Table of contents

Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration (CI) is an automatic process to merge all tasks completed by developers. It then compiles, tests, checks linter, reports the build status, and deploys the state of a new code change. This process provides several benefits to developers: 

  1. Stabilizes build and updates
  2. Saves several developer hours a day
  3. Catches bugs in early stage

Continuous Deployment

Continuous Delivery (CD) automatically delivers updates such as new features, bug fixes, or brand new applications to teams, clients, and users. Some benefits of having CD:

  1. Helps to publish builds more frequently
  2. Saves several developer hours a week
  3. Helps your QA team to test more frequently with the latest changes 

Analytics 

Analytics will help you to understand your users and their behaviors, including which actions they use more, which screens they visit, where they’re located, which version of your app they’re using, and so on. Analytics will give you a better outlook of your users and a data-driven basis to make decisions.

Crash Analytics 

Crash Analytics is used to catch errors on the user side. It catches internal errors along with data like phone state, the user who was affected by the crash, and the actions needed to reproduce it. 

Using crash analytics is the best way to detect errors that were not caught during the development process and also errors that are happening on a specific device or user.

Over The Air Updates (OTA)

OTA or Code Push service (as it is called on App Center) allows pushing new changes without publishing new builds on Apple or Google stores. Normally, publishing a new release takes a few hours on Google store, and days on the Apple store. In some cases, such as when making sure users don’t have access to the latest version, that’s not a problem. But in others, we want to have most of the users using the latest build version. This is where OTA Updates can help.

This is how it works:

  1. A new feature is required.
  2. The developer implements the new feature.
  3. QA tests the new feature and the team wants to push that change.
  4. The developer pushes the change through Code Push.
  5. When the user uses the app, OTA checks if there is an update available. If so, the app updates itself.

One important thing to mention about OTA updates is that they do not work with native changes. In this case, the team is going to need to publish the build on the Apple and Google stores.

Wrap up

App Center is a mobile DevOps service that bundles different tools to help us develop our products better and faster. In the market, other independent platforms --- like CircleCI, Jenkins, Fastlane, and Firebase --- help us solve one or two of the problems mentioned above. But App Center provides a single solution to address all of them. 

Here at Fullstack Labs, we use App Center on several mobile projects, and our clients love it! If you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.

Jose Arce
Written by
Jose Arce
Jose Arce

I like the idea of creating new things and making life easier, and my work as a Mobile Engineer lets me create applications to help people and businesses alike. I've had the opportunity to create mobile apps from scratch for high-profile clients like Aetna and Al Jazeera. I'm curious, passionate, and disciplied, and I enjoy working in VSCode, Git, Java, JavaScript, and React Native. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, listening to music, and exercising.

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