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What is Shift Left Approach in DevOps?

There have been different software development methodologies in practice ever since developers started formalizing software development lifecycle to improve quality, efficiency and delivery time.

In a typical waterfall pipeline (the traditional software development model), the development lifecycle span across 6 stages.

  • Requirement analysis
  • Feasibility study
  • Product design
  • Software development/coding
  • Testing
  • Deployment

Even though the model added much-needed “professionalism” into the software development lifecycle, it was far from perfect due to a lack of agility and delay in deployment.

Since testing is performed during the final stages of the development lifecycle, any findings of errors, compatibility issues, vulnerability etc., resulted in a delay in delivery time as the code had to be sent back to the developers for correction.

Another drawback of the traditional model was that it caused wastage of resources. For example, consider that there is a flaw in the product architecture. Product architecture is decided in the early stages of the software development lifecycle. If the fault is identified in the earlier stage itself, the resources and time spent on designing and coding a product that is faulty from the beginning can be avoided.

Due to such flows in the waterfall model, the project heads were forced to find alternative strategies.

What is a shift left approach?

The shift-left approach aims to overcome the drawbacks of the waterfall model.

It advocates that testing should not be assigned to the last stages of the software development lifecycle; instead, it must be moved to the initial stages.

In other words, the shift left approach is nothing but a software development methodology in which testing is performed earlier in the lifecycle. The term “shift left” is used because testing is moved from the right side of the project timeline to the left side (Please refer to the image of the waterfall model).

Why shift left?

The Shift left approach tries to overcome the drawbacks of late testing.

  • It aims to identify faults in the requirement analysis, program architecture, design, and coding in the earlier stages itself so that wastages of resources and time can be avoided.
  • The model recognizes and promotes the significance of timely testing.
  • The model gives importance to the effective allocation of resources.
  • It advocates that enough resources should be allocated for testing.
  • The complexity involved in debugging is reduced. (Since quality and performance are checked in every stage of the development lifecycle, testing becomes a linear process rather than a one-time, resource-intensive task. Since every major change and integration are thoroughly scrutinized, it is easier to identify the elements that have an impact on quality, performance and compatibility).
  • Reduced code coverage and better encapsulation.
  • Projects are executed and products are released in a timely manner as there are fewer chances for any major reworks.
  • The quality of the product is increased due to the implementation of better approaches rather than easy solutions.
  • Due to the efficient use of time and resources, the overall cost of the project is reduced. Also, there are fewer chances for additional costs caused by reworks and late changes in resource allocation.
  • Since the product is released within the expected time, there are fewer chances for “missed opportunities”.
  • Since chances for a delay in the product release is very less, business lifecycle (Product planning, product development, product marketing and sales) and business strategies are not affected.

Shift left strategy

DevOps aims at adding velocity to the software development lifecycle without compromising on quality. In a way, both DevOps and Shift left approach aim for the same objectives. So, incorporating both into your product development strategy is a wise choice.

DevOps is a compound of development (Dev) and operation (Ops). Normally you can incorporate testing into the late (Shift right approach) or earlier stages (Shift left) of the development process.

While shift left strategy offer benefits such as better design, fast development time and delivery, better quality etc., better automation opportunities, wider and real-world testing, and better customer experience are the advantages offered by shift right strategy. To improve the effectiveness of both strategies, developers can adopt a common philosophy of “test early, test often and test in silos and production”. This will help the team to find flaws as early as possible, implement continuous testing and have a holistic approach.

Here are a few tips on how to plan and implement the shift left strategy.

How to plan shift left strategy?

When adopting a shift left approach, there are certain things that must be taken into consideration. We can categorize these factors into three categories mainly.

1. Budget

In a traditional model, the budget was not allocated evenly. A major chunk of the budget was spent on design and development alone. This led to apparent negligence of testing and quality assurance.

The shift left approach gives equal importance to each stage of the product development lifecycle. The budget is allocated more evenly, and testing is well taken care of. Here the terms budget and budgeting have a wider meaning. It involves a well-planned allocation of money and time so that every stage of the development lifecycle is strictly implemented.

2. Resource planning

Testing is a broad term. It involves different techniques and methods aimed at achieving different objectives. Examples of different testing techniques include manual testing and automated testing. Both techniques can be further divided based on their objectives such as load testing, unit testing, integration testing, functional testing, smoke testing, performance testing etc. While adopting the shift left approach, you must make sure that resources are allocated for every testing method and maximum testing techniques are implemented.

3. Test strategies

The test strategy should be well planned and documented. There should be a clear understanding of what testing techniques are going to be implemented at each stage of the lifecycle and which team will be responsible for the implementation. It is critical that the strategy is universally applied so that there is no wide swing in the quality of the product between each stage of the development lifecycle.

How to implement the shift left approach?

Plan it from the beginning

Once the requirement analysis is completed, the team should start planning on how to make the whole process shift left friendly. The plan should focus on incorporating testing as early as possible and implement it in a way that is incremental. The code coverage should be minimum, and encapsulation should be implemented while coding to make testing easier to execute. Also, resources should be allocated evenly across the development lifecycle.

Developers’ participation

Developers should test their own codes before pushing them to the main branch or QA team. Version control should be strictly implemented and any merging of codes should not affect the quality and performance of the main module. Since it is easier to test individual code modules, participation from developers ensures that the main branch is cleaner and error-free.

Testers’ participation

Following the same principle, testers should be introduced to common coding standards. They should be familiar with the functionality of the unit they are going to test. That way if they find any small mistakes in the code they are testing, they can correct the code themselves instead of sending it back to the developers. This will help to reduce development time and in fact, this is one of the main principles of DevOps. DevOps encourages developers to take participation in testing and testers to take participation in designing and development. They don’t have to be an expert in everything. However, expertise in one’s own field and a basic understanding of the whole development lifecycle are very much appreciated.

The QA team should also participate in any planning discussions. This will help them to understand the objectives of the projects better as well as the product design. This knowledge will help them to see whether it is the actual design that is being implemented into a final product. The presence of the QA teams in discussions will also help the other teams as testers can give a clear image of challenges that are most likely to emerge.

Early testing

The left shift strategy focuses on implementing testing from earlier stages of the development lifecycle. Instead of pushing testing to the final stages, it should be implemented from the unit level itself. This will help with avoiding common bugs and debugging complexities by keeping testing coverage to a minimum level. Also, since DevOps can heavily rely on automation, early testing is critical for proper implementation.

Readability and testability

DevOps emphasises team collaboration and multilevel participation. This is very much aligned with the principle of shift left approach that encourages testers to participate from the early stages of the development lifecycle. However, for the successful implementation of DevOps and shift left strategies, the dev team should follow certain principles such as code readability and testability. When codes are developed with a concern for their readability as well as suitability for testing, DevOps and shift left approaches become easier to implement. The developers can make use of element IDs, inline comments and notes, and incorporate aesthetics into their code to improve readability. Adopting the principles of encapsulation and lose coupling is one way to improve testability.

Best practices for shift left testing in DevOps

Planning and documentation

The whole development lifecycle should be well planned and documented. There should be participation from every team in the planning and discussions and the documentation should cover requirements analysis, project documentation, supporting documentation (Unit/feature level documentation with test cases) as well as inline documentation.

Universal quality standards

Since testing is pushed to the early stages and there are quality checks across the entire development lifecycle, the need for adopting universal quality standards is very crucial in the left shift approach. However, not every team and team member will be familiar with different quality standards. The QA team should help the other teams by first educating them on common quality standards. They can also create a document to outline various principles and parameters of quality assurance and provide a guideline on how to avoid common mistakes. The document should also help other team members to understand their share of responsibility in terms of testing and quality assurance.

Use Static Analysis

Static analysis or static code analysis is a method of debugging that is performed by examining the code without executing it. The basic code structure is examined thoroughly to ensure that it follows the best coding standards and practices. Static code analysis aims to find programming errors, syntax anomalies, substandard practices, and security issues in the code. Since the process can be tedious, it is better to automate static analysis before pushing it to the QA team. Since automation is involved, chances for false positives are high. So, the QA team should have a basic understanding of the code they are reviewing and should be familiar with various parameters of static code analysis. Proper inline documentation plays a vital role in static analysis.

Continuous testing and feedback

As stated earlier, both DevOps and shift left strategy encourage team collaboration and participation at multiple levels of the product development lifecycle. Program architects, designers, developers, testers and the operation team should continuously participate in the process and give feedback whenever necessary. The benefit of continuous testing and feedback is that the code modules will be cleaner and error-free when it reaches the next team involved in the lifecycle. As a result, the need for easy fixes and code reworks will be less to nil. Also here, the emphasis is put on shared responsibility.

Conclusion

Ever since the software industry embraced agile and DevOps principles, there was an overwhelming demand for ensuring quality in every stage of the software development lifecycle. The introduction of strategies such as MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and microservices etc. further illustrated the importance of executing testing at earlier stages of the development. The shift left approach is a result of various evolution and improvisation that happened in the software development industry.


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DevOps vs DevSecOps: What to Choose?

When it comes to application development, there are different approaches you can take up to achieve your goal. However, in recent years, a few approaches like DevOps became mainstream.

The value of the global DevOps market was USD 4,311.95 million in 2020. It is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.95%. The forecasted market value of DevOps by 2026 is USD 12,215.54 million.

The growth of DevOps is the result of organisations across the globe realizing its advantages. According to studies, DevOps is helping organisations with improving the quality of their software deployments, releasing more software in less time, improving cooperation and collaboration across teams and also improving the quality of code production.

However, DevOps is not a fault-free approach. Even though it integrates software development and IT operations efficiently, it never gave enough importance to application security. As a result, the industry is developing and adopting better versions of DevOps to have a comprehensive approach in terms of the software development life cycle. One such approach is DevSecOps.

DevOps and DevSecOps: What are they?

DevOps

Amazon define DevOps as

“DevOps is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity: evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. This speed enables organizations to better serve their customers and compete more effectively in the market.”

According to Microsoft Azure, DevOps is

“A compound of development (Dev) and operations (Ops), DevOps is the union of people, process, and technology to continually provide value to customers.”

In simple terms, DevOps is the integration of software development and IT operations by following a set of practices.

Under DevOps, Development and operation teams work in tandem. Both the teams will be part of the entire software lifecycle that includes development, testing, deployment and operations. Through automation, the teams eliminate a lot of manual and repetitive tasks and improve the overall efficiency. The use of technology stacks and tools, together with the knowledge of the complete software lifecycle helps team members complete tasks independently without affecting code compatibility.

DevSecOps

Seamless integration of security testing and protection with DevOps practices is called DevSecOps. Here quality assurance and security teams are also part of the entire product lifecycle. In DevSecOps, the “Sec” part denotes the importance it gives to application “security”.

Traditionally, the security of an application was tested only once the product is completed. It was tested by independent teams that have limited knowledge of development, deployment and operations. A separate security testing increased the overall duration of product development, and it also affected the philosophy of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). Not only that, there was no universal understanding of application security across the teams.

DevSecOps not only solved these weaknesses but also enabled security testing to run seamlessly and automatically. The real-time security testing brought down the production time significantly and organizations started to release more software in a short span of time.

What are the similarities between DevOps and DevSecOps?

Collaborative culture

A collaborative culture is the backbone of both DevOps and DevSecOps. It helps with rapid iteration, continuous testing and faster product delivery apart from reducing the overall duration of the software development lifecycle. A better understanding of the complete application lifecycle is encouraged across teams and as a result, the efficiency and code quality are also improved.

Active monitoring

Both DevOps and DevSecOps encourage active monitoring of data to encourage learning and easy adaptation. Continuous analysis of application data helps teams to improvise the products and adapt the best practices to create better software in the future. Real-time monitoring of data helps the team fix vulnerabilities faster, improvise existing security practices and optimize application performance.

Automation

Automation is vital in DevOps and DevSecOps practices. Automation helps teams eliminate manual and repetitive tasks and improve efficiency. With the use of stacks and tools, DevOps practitioners can reduce the time needed for each iteration and ensure the quality of the production. DevSecOps teams can use automation to run continuous and real-time security checks and avoid the most common vulnerabilities. Usage of Artificial Intelligence techniques like anomaly detection can also help both and such practices are advised when engaging in a complex release environment like distributed or multi-cloud infrastructure.

Encourage learning

Since both DevOps and DevSecOps practices require a collaborative environment, teams are encouraged to learn about the complete lifecycle of an application. Each member is advised to understand the basic practices concerning each stage of the development lifecycle to limit the probability of code conflicts. For example, developers are encouraged to understand common and potential security vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses of the deployment environment and how not to burden the operation teams. They are also encouraged to achieve tasks individually with the help of software stacks, automation and tools.

Rapid iteration and faster release

Both the practices encourage collaboration between teams. Traditionally, teams were working in “silos’ and they had to wait for “their turn” to start working on their tasks. However, DevOps and DevSecOps promote the philosophy of shared responsibility. Every team will be working in tandem. As a result, more tasks can be completed in a short time. This helped organisations run more iterations, improve the quality of the applications and also release more products in a short time.

Differences between DevOps and DevSecOps

The main difference between DevOps and DevSecOps is that the former has limited security practices.

A common DevOps software development life cycle is as follows,

  • Developers write codes and use version control to track changes.
  • New codes are integrated at the build phase.
  • Feedback is gathered from all code branches before compilation.
  • Software is pushed for deployment.
  • If the application meets all the standards, it is released to production.
  • If any vulnerabilities are found, the code is sent to developers for fixing and the above process is reiterated.
  • The delivery of the application is a shared responsibility of every member.

The common practices we can derive from the above process are,

  • Continuous Integration (CI): Code changes are merged and only the recent version is available to developers.
  • Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment (CD): Efficiency is increased by automating product releases.
  • Microservices: Creating a set of smaller applications that work together as single software.
  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Codes are used for designing, implementing and managing application infrastructure.

However, DevSecOps include a few more practices compared to DevOps. They are,

  • Threat modelling: Security tests are implemented during the development phase to save time and cost.
  • Common Weaknesses Enumeration (CWE): Increase the level of quality and security during CI and CD phases.
  • Automated security testing: Automation is used for continuous and real-time testing for finding vulnerabilities.
  • Incident response management: A standard framework is created for responding to vulnerabilities.

From the above description, it is evident that the organisations have a good reason, security, to prefer DevSecOps over DevOps. After all, application security is paramount in today’s world. Any compromise on security can spoil the success of the application and stain the image of its creators.

How to integrate security practices into DevOps?

The transition from DevOps to DevSecOps may seem complex. However, it is not enough a reason to justify not adopting the best security practices. Fortunately transiting to DevSecOps is not that complicated. You can start by adopting the following practices.

Shift left

Test early and often. The shift left philosophy encourages adopting security measures in the early stages of the software development lifecycle. Traditionally “security” came at the end of the development lifecycle. As a result, a lot of vulnerabilities that otherwise could be avoided plagued the application products. It is important that every team member who is a part of the development and releases lifecycle should have a decent knowledge of common security issues and how to avoid them.

Establish standards

A lot of security issues can be avoided with the help of strict coding standards. All the parties should follow the best practices in the industry. Also, they should keep themselves updated on this topic regularly. There should be a universal standard for code quality, and it should be possible to implement code changes seamlessly.

Implement the right set of testing methods

There is an overwhelming number of security tests you can adopt and incorporate into your product development lifecycle. However, choosing the right ones would be the best choice. Here are a few examples best testing methods.

  • Static Application Security Testing (SAST): Helps you identify vulnerabilities by examining the code.
  • Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): Helps administrators identify vulnerabilities by granting them an attacker’s perspective.
  • Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST): A combination of SAST and DAST. Application performance can be monitored using software instrumentation.
  • Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP): Detect and resolve threats as they occur using real-time application data independently of an administrator.

Have a comprehensive security approach

Rather than relying completely on security firewalls, implement security measures within the application to eliminate threats and increase security posture. A shared infrastructure with a common perimeter is an easy target for attackers. By securing the application also from the inside, you are adding more layers of protection and discouraging the attackers. Also, this approach augments the philosophy of “shared responsibility”.

DevSecOps vs SecDevOps vs DevOpsSec: Is there a difference?

You might have come across these names while researching something related to secure DevOps. And, you might have wondered why use different names for the same approach? Or are they different from one another? Let’s find answers to these questions.

Are DevSecOps, SecDevOps, and DevOpsSec the same?

No, they are not exactly the same.

Then what’s the difference between DevSecOps, SecDevOps and DevOpsSec?

There is not much difference between these three approaches. However, the wording of the names gives you an idea of what is sacrosanct in each approach.

DevSecOps

DevSecOps is a widely popular approach. Here the emphasis is given to development since “Dev” is positioned first in the name. Security comes second which means that the software should pass security checks before it is pushed to the operation team. This is a common approach among organisations that lack a security focus but still want to integrate security testing into the software development process.

SecDevOps

SecDevOps is also known as rugged DevOps.

Here security is given utmost importance and all decision including design choice, development standards, deployment platforms etc. are made after factoring in security considerations.

While this is the best approach an organisation can adopt considering how crucial security is in today’s world and age, it demands fair support from all members of the team that participate in the product development lifecycle. The members should have a good understanding of security standards and common vulnerabilities. They should also be able to foresee the impact of their decisions on application security, every time they make one.

DevOpsSec

Compared to the other two approaches, this one gives the least importance to security. While something is better than nothing, this approach is nothing but a normal DevOps approach with some security testing implemented at the end. Since security testing is done only after application deployment, the likelihood of the application and its data getting compromised is very high. Therefore, DevOpsSec is the least popular and less preferred approach among all three.

Conclusion

The transition from the Waterfall software development model to agile and then DevOps offered us tremendous advantages. Incorporating security practices into already popular DevOps is a continuation of this positive trend. DevSecOps is fixing the loopholes of DevOps and gradually taking over its position.


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What is Multicloud Computing?

Around the globe, businesses are migrating to the cloud to reduce IT infrastructure costs. Cloud computing helps them to customize computing based on actual requirements and avoid any wasteful spending.

However, as the popularity of the cloud increased, the cost of cloud computing also increased. This happened mainly due to a small group of mega vendors dominating the public cloud markets. Due to monopoly, innovation became stagnated, and prices became no more competitive due to new entrants having no ability to enter the market. Businesses were forced to discover new opportunities for cost saving without compromising on quality.

This unique situation led to the discovery of a new architecture called multicloud. Nowadays, this computing model has become the de facto standard among organizations.

According to a survey conducted by Flexera, 89% of organizations are following a multi-cloud strategy. Only 2% of organizations are still in a single private cloud. When it comes to the case of a single public cloud, the figure stands at 9%. These figures prove how fast the cloud computing market is evolving and how rapidly multicloud is becoming the new face of the industry.

What is multicloud? Definition and meaning

Multicloud is the use of cloud services from multiple cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Cloud, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure so that the organization will have more flexibility to optimize performance, control costs and leverage the best cloud technologies of the day.

In a multicloud model, an organization can use two or more private clouds, two or more public clouds or a combination of public, private and edge clouds to run their applications and distribute services. Such cloud computing models make use of open source, cloud-native technologies like Kubernetes that are supported by all public cloud providers. The model will also have a “central console” to monitor and manage workloads across multiple cloud platforms.

Multicloud architecture is mainly used for enterprise application development, compute infrastructure, data warehousing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud storage and disaster recovery.

Multicloud vs Hybrid: Are they the same?

Even though both multicloud and hybrid clouds use more than one cloud platform for deployments, they differ due to the kinds of clouds used in the architecture.

There are mainly two kinds of cloud deployment: public and private.

In the public cloud computing model, computing resources and infrastructure are managed by a third-party vendor and shared with more than one user via the internet. Whereas, in a private cloud computing model, the computing resources and infrastructure is dedicated to only a single organisation/user. Usually, it’s an organization that builds and maintains a private cloud themselves. However, they can also seek help from an external vendor to host a private cloud for them.

The difference between multicloud and hybrid cloud models depends on whether they are using private cloud, public cloud or a combination of both.

A hybrid cloud model makes use of two or more types of clouds. In other words, a computing model that makes use of private and public clouds for deployment is known as a hybrid cloud. In contrast, a multicloud model may utilize a combination of clouds that can be two or more private clouds, two or more public clouds or a combination of private and public clouds.

You need to consider various factors before deciding whether you need a multicloud or hybrid cloud strategy for your business.

Cost

Private clouds are costly to set up and maintain compared to public clouds. This is mainly because there are multiple beneficiaries participating in a public cloud model and the cost is shared among them all making it cheaper. Whereas in the case of the private cloud, all costs are borne by a single organization. So naturally, a multicloud model that utilizes several public clouds will be cheaper than a hybrid cloud model that utilizes private and public clouds.

Reliability

The Multicloud model is comparatively more reliable since the model makes use of multiple clouds to distribute the services. Even during peak times when the demand is high, the application will be up and running without any issues as the workload can be distributed to backup clouds or more resources can be allocated. On the other hand, a sudden rise in demand may overwhelm a hybrid cloud architecture since it will be consisting of at least one private cloud and private clouds are not easy to scale generally.

Security

The security element should be evaluated carefully when deciding between multicloud and hybrid cloud models.

Most of the multicloud and public cloud vendors have more resources at their disposal to fight security intrusion, data theft, privacy breach etc. They frequently release new patches to protect the data of the users.

However, if you have access to a private cloud or on-premises data centre that is best in terms of security and management, a hybrid cloud model will be a better choice for you.

Resources

Most public cloud services are fully controlled by third-party vendors. This is an advantage for businesses that want to maintain a small team and avoid unwanted overhead.

On the other hand, an on-premises data centre requires a team of experts to set up, run, maintain and manage the infrastructure. Even if you approach an external vendor to host a private cloud for you, the price will be higher due to service, support and maintenance charges.

Scalability and dependency

Lack of scalability is one of the major issues haunting on-premises infrastructures. Growth will not be possible without upgrading the technologies on a regular basis. Such requirements demand more investments and maintaining a team of experts to manage the infrastructure is also needed. Migrating from legacy systems to the cloud also demands effort, investments and time.

On the other hand, a multicloud environment makes scaling easier for a business. Moreover, a business does not have to depend on a team or vendor in a multicloud environment as they can move to better alternatives without much hassle.

Performance

Public cloud servers can vastly boost application performance and user experience by integrating new computing methodologies like edge computing.

Other benefits of multicloud

Flexibility

The multicloud model provides businesses with an opportunity to choose cloud services from different vendors. An organization can choose cloud service providers based on a combination of price, performance, location, security, legal compliance etc.

Technology advantage

Multicloud enables businesses to have a technology edge over their competitors. Since a multicloud user is not dependent on a single vendor, the organization can move to a better environment that offers advanced technologies.

Reduced outages

In a multicloud environment, an outage on one cloud will not affect other clouds in the same environment. As a result, the application will run smoothly without any interruptions and the organization can ensure a better user experience.

No more monopoly

With the introduction of multicloud, technology gatekeeping and industry monopoly in the IT sector have come to an end. It was a usual strategy followed by several vendors to charge a premium for their services because they were marketed as an “ecosystem” that is easy to use and well-integrated. This strategy is not effective anymore since businesses now have the option to combine services of different vendors and create their own “cloud ecosystem”.

Even with all these advantages, the multicloud model may not be suitable for all businesses. It is mainly due to the challenges posed by it.

Multicloud: Challenges

Management

Since multicloud utilizes more than one cloud, integrating, monitoring and managing them may appear as a challenge to some businesses. The situation becomes more complex when the different vendors are following different processes, methodologies and technologies. Also, data and technology stacks being scattered across different clouds under different vendors may have their disadvantages too.

Latency

When different services are running on different clouds, there will be frequent interactions between clouds to fulfil user requests. This can introduce latency depending on how closely the services are integrated, the amount of data that needs to be transferred, the location of each cloud and the frequency of the interactions. Utilizations of technologies such as microservices and edge computing etc. can solve this issue to an extent.

Risk

When an application is using many software and hardware, it is offering more targets for a cyber-attack. A single vulnerability in any of these components can lead to the complete shutdown of the application and services and sensitive data may end up in unwanted hands. So, a strict security policy should be formulated before adopting a multicloud model.

Performance

Load balancing can become difficult when there are multiple clouds involved. So, a centralized console to monitor and manage resources across all clouds is very crucial in a multicloud environment.

Multicloud management

To utilize the full benefits of multicloud architecture, all the clouds involved must be integrated closely as if they were part of a single cloud. Therefore, a central console to monitor and manage resources and services across all clouds plays a vital role in a multicloud architecture. With the help of the central console, an organization can

  • Maintain uniform and consistent security across all clouds.
  • Ensure a universal application of compliance policies.
  • Ensure consistency across every stage of the application life cycle (Development, staging, testing, deployment, production etc.)
  • Monitor events and logs from different service components using a single interface.
  • Configure consistent response to all events.
  • Implement version control effectively and efficiently.

Keeping the above points in mind, you can choose a cloud management tool or multicloud management platform that

  • Helps you monitor and control any cloud resource including IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, data storage, networking or deployment resources.
  • Offers analytical capabilities with the advantages of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). AI and ML can be used to streamline operations (E.g., AIOps), add elasticity to resource scaling and perform automatic responses to various events.
  • Integrate well with DevOps workflows.
  • Helps you implement consistent and universal security and compliance policies.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning can be used in multicloud computing to optimize resource usage and to have better analytics. (Image credit: iqlect.com)

Examples of multicloud management platform

VMware

VMware offers you the vRealize Suite, a central management console, to monitor and control the availability of resources and their utilizations irrespective of what deployment platform you use. vRealize already offers different modules to help you manage resource catalogues, policies, self-service deployment and CI/CD for DevOps organizations. And the number of modules it offers is increasing day by day. For example, in 2018, VMware acquired CloudHealth which can help you with cost management and optimization. It recently acquired SaltStack, an infrastructure automation platform.

VMware stack can run on AWS natively and Azure and GCP via CloudSimple. The VMware Tanzu Kubernetes already works well with AWS. It will start supporting Azure and Oracle cloud very soon.

HyperGrid

HyperGrid is a new kid on the block. It is widely recognized as an “intelligent cloud management platform” due to its full range of capabilities that extend to proactive budget monitoring and reporting, security control, audit readiness, continuous compliance and migration and disaster recovery planning. Gartner considers HyperGrid a “Visionary” in the field. IBM, the US Navy, Synopsys, Henry Schein etc. are a few well-known names in their customer list.

HyperGrid Supports AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and VMware.

Scalr

Scalr boasts itself as the only CMP (Cloud Management Platform) designed for enterprise scale. It enables enterprises to incorporate standardization to resource usage and have better cost control. Another advantage of Scalr is that it allows enterprises to choose cloud platforms that meet their actual needs rather than being restricted to using only the features offered by a specific vendor(s). Scalr helps organizations to avoid vendor lock-ins. Recognizing Scalr’s commitment to multicloud philosophy, Gartner named it a leader in the industry.

Samsung, Gannett, Sephora, the FDA, NASA JPL, Xerox, etc. are a few well-known names in their customer list.

Here are a few features that are offered by Scalr

  • A single central console to monitor cloud usage.
  • Option to incorporate conditional security and compliance
  • Role-based access control.
  • Smooth integration with various IT and DevOps tools.
  • Customized provisioning portals.

Morpheus

Morpheus aims to integrate CloudOps with DevOps. It offers a variety of multicloud management tools to link development, IT operations and business processes.

Morpheus offers AI-based reporting tools to optimize cloud costs. It also provides role-based access so that the organization can have better governance of the environment. The self-service tools help with faster provisioning and deployment. And in fact, Morpheus claims that its users can set up and run a multicloud environment in less than one hour. It also supports more than 20 cloud platforms.

McDonald’s, BlackRock, AstraZeneca, Penn State etc. are a few well-known names in their customer list.

Conclusion

By Adopting a multicloud model organizations can now have the freedom to use the best possible cloud for each workload. It helps them to avoid unwanted overhead, improve performance, reliability and security and have a technological advantage over their competitors.

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Edge Computing: The Complete Guide

Gartner defines edge computing as a distributed computing topology where information processing is located close to the edge where things and people produce or consume that information.

The birth of edge computing can be traced back to the 1990s when content distribution networks were created to serve web and video content from edge servers close to users. Later, edge computing evolved into an advanced version that hosts applications and application components such as shopping carts, ad insertion engines, dealer locators and real-time data aggregators.

Edge computing market revenue worldwide from 2019 to 2025(in billion U.S. dollars) Source: Statista

The number of papers related to edge computing on Google Scholar was only 720 in 2015. However, it has grown to more than 25,000 in 2020. The number of edge patent filings done as of 2020 is 6,418. This is a hundred times more than the number of patents filed related to edge computing in 2015.

While the edge computing market was valued at 139 billion US dollars in 2019, it is expected to reach 274 billion US Dollars in value by 2025.

Apart from these data and figures, if we investigate the real world, the word “edge computing” is becoming familiar across industries, day by day.

So, what’s the deal with edge computing? Why more and more companies are adopting it and becoming an advocate for this technology?

What is edge computing?

Cloudflare defines edge computing as

“Edge computing is a networking philosophy focused on bringing computing as close to the source of data as possible in order to reduce latency and bandwidth use. In simpler terms, edge computing means running fewer processes in the cloud and moving those processes to local places, such as on a user’s computer, an IoT device, or an edge server. “

From this definition, it is clear that edge computing is a distributed computing principle applied by companies to reduce delay in information processing and bandwidth usage by moving computing closer to the source of information.

Since the computing is executed as close as possible to the users, there is minimal long-distance communication between a client and the server. As a result, the users will have a faster and more secure experience when using technology-based services and the service providers will have the benefits of providing the best-in-class user experience.

How does edge computing work?

Traditionally, enterprise computing was done by moving data that is produced at the user’s devices via the internet to enterprise servers, then it is stored and worked upon, and the results were sent back to the user’s device. Client-server computing was the most proven and time-tested approach implemented by most organisations.

However, ever since the internet and digital revolution, the volume of data produced by consumers and shared with enterprises skyrocketed. Sending, storing, and computing such a large volume of data at a centre infrastructure became a herculean task. Also, sending and receiving so much data put a toll on the internet. There was frequent congestion, latency issues even downtime that affected the services.

So, the industry came up with an idea of a decentralized system in which the storage and computing are done closer to where the information is produced. Since the computing is done at this closer point, called “the edge”, this approach is known as “edge computing”.

Image credit: Wikipedia commons

Edge nodes or Edge servers collect and process data locally. Depending on the business model and architecture, sometimes the results of the process are sent to the principal server that is deployed in the cloud.

To better understand how edge computing works, here are a few use cases for you.

Transportation

Self-driven vehicles are replacing manual-driven vehicles at a faster rate. They are widely used for cargo movements and courier services. Such autonomous vehicles function by aggregating a large volume of data related to their location, physical condition, road condition, climate condition, traffic condition, speed and movements of other vehicles close by. It is by gathering and analysing such data in real-time that the vehicle is able to reach its destination without any accident or shortcomings. To facilitates this “auto-piloting”, onboard computing is very much required as a single self-driven vehicle produces anywhere between 5 TB to 20 TB of data in a day.

Network routing

Latency has a significant role in internet traffic. To ensure the quality of the network, the traffic must be routed via the most reliable and low latency path. Edge computing can help with optimizing network routes by regularly measuring traffic conditions across the internet and choosing the best path for each user’s traffic.

Healthcare

Healthcare has technologised rapidly in recent years. There are countless pieces of equipment that make use of the latest technologies to diagnose and monitor the health of a patent. Such types of equipment collect and process large volumes of data, regularly for a longer period of time. With the help of edge computing and machine learning these data can be used for finding abnormalities and delivering proper treatment at the right time.

Retail

The benefit of implementing edge computing in the retail sphere is manyfold. It can be used for surveillance, stock tracking and refilling, real-time sales monitoring, and analysis, aggregating, sales and customer information, loyalty programmes based on sales data, item procurements etc.

Manufacturing

A product must go through many stages before its ready for sending to the market. These stages include product design, prototyping, production, quality checks, packaging, and branding. By implementing edge computing, manufacturers are able to monitor these activities in real-time and at a large scale and it also enables them to reduce resource wastage and find loopholes in the existing process. Together with machine learning, edge computing helps manufacturers collect and analyse data in real-time. Making the right decision at the right time has become easier for them.

Benefits of edge computing

Speed

Since data is produced and processed at the same point, computing became a lot faster. There is no need to send and receive large chunks of data and there is little to no uncertainty of computing demands. Due to this increased responsiveness, edge computing is better than traditional and cloud computing in so many cases such as IoT, autonomous driving, healthcare, public safety, surveillance, augmented reality etc.

The healthcare industry has already recognized the benefit of edge computing.

Reliability

The distributed topology ensures that reliability is not a concern when it comes to edge computing. Because the data is produced and processed at the edge, and multiple edge nodes are used in the system, failure in one node does not affect the remaining ones. Also, since there is a low dependency on the central cloud server, any disruption in the connectivity between the cloud and edge node will not affect the overall performance. In fact, once the connection is restored, the data can be securely synchronized between the nodes and server.

Efficiency

Since computing is executed at the edge, edge computing offers a sophisticated environment that is fit for the usage of advanced analytical tools, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. We have already seen how this can help certain industries like transportation and healthcare.

The opportunity to use powerful analytical tools also helps the system to optimize itself. The system can regularly monitor the user demands and determine where to execute the computing depending on how resource-intensive the task is. For example, if the edge node has the required capacity, it can execute the task and send back the results to the client device saving up bandwidth, resources, and time. If the task requires additional resources, it can be assigned to the central server, where most resource-intensive but rare occurrence tasks are executed.

Scalability

A distributed system is easier to scale than a traditional one. New nodes can be set up to meet the growing demands and any addition or removal of nodes will not affect the system as a whole. Also, each node can be customized according to demands that are specific to the area it serves.

Privacy and security

Edge computing makes use of special encryption mechanisms to protect data that may travel between client and nodes, nodes and nodes and nodes and server. Using a decentralized trust model, the communication between each node is evaluated and whitelisted. Since edge computing emphasises producing, gathering, and processing data at a single point, data is handled in a better way in terms of security and privacy. For example, a node that is situated in a particular geography can be governed by the local law and the condition of local infrastructure and vulnerabilities can also be taken into consideration while setting up the security measures.

Is edge computing and IoT the same?

It is a common misconception that edge computing and IoT are the same. In reality, Internet of Things (IoT) is a use case of edge computing.

IoT makes use of cloud servers for data storage and computing. It means that IoT totally depends on the internet for connectivity. It also means that IoT implementations are centralized and usually intended for specific purposes only.

However, edge computing is decentralized by design, and it can be implemented independently of the internet since data can be produced, collected, and processed at a single point. An edge computing system can also be generic in nature and the data and processes can be heterogeneous.

In short, IoT can be implemented as part of edge computing. However, both are vastly different.

Edge vs cloud vs fog computing

It is common to compare the new technology with existing ones to find out whether it is justifiable to adopt it for your business. The case of edge computing is not exceptional in this matter. Organisations are already used to cloud and fog computing. There should be apparent incentives for them to adopt the new kid in the block. So, let us discuss how these three are different from each other and what they bring to the table.

Edge computing

Edge computing is the deployment of computing and storage resources closer to where the data is produced or consumed. For example, a retail mall with an indoor traffic system can use edge computing to collect and process traffic data in real-time to facilitate its smooth functioning. If it is a chain business, data can be sent to a centralized data centre for human review. However, if the amount of data collected and processed exceeds the computing and storage capacity, the system will fail until the capabilities are improved.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is the distributed deployment of computational resources and data storage over multiple locations. Since computing is available on-demand, cloud computing is highly scalably and affordable at the same time. Since it is a distributed system, cloud computing offers better storage and retrievability of data and there is least to nil concern about data being lost forever.

However, each cloud server can still be far away from end-users. Data is processing at these far away points and the system depends on the internet to share the data between client and server. In other words, cloud computing is nothing but traditional computing implemented in a distributed architecture that depends on the internet. It consumes bandwidth, can be affected by latency and even overwhelmed by a sudden surge in demands if not configured with the right anticipation.

Fog computing

Fog computing or fogging is an improvised version of edge computing. Sometimes, “the edge” become so large that implementing a strict edge computing system will be detrimental to the actual plan. For example, smart cities are producing a large volume of data every minute. These data are heterogeneous in nature and used for different purposes. However, the objective of the whole implementation could be based on a few principles. Setting up several nodes to cover the whole city will not be practical and it will also affect the objective of the whole system. So, such a system makes use of a fog layer that consists of fog nodes. These fog nodes act as a backend to the edge nodes and add additional computing power to the whole system. Fog computing is the combination of cloud and edge computing and aims to mitigate the weaknesses of both.

Conclusion

Edge computing has opened up so many untapped opportunities and several industries have already started leveraging its advantages. However, its true potential is still unachievable due to the lack of compact devices with enough computing power and software that can handle a limitless number of edge devices. Improvised versions of edge computing such as fog computing may be a step in the right direction.


Are you looking for a renowned technology partner to develop a next-generation edge computing solution? Contact our team of experts for a free consultation.

AWS Beanstalk – Emerging PaaS Opportunities

PaaS (Platform as a Service) market is expected to reach 57.15 billion dollars in 2022. Considering that the market value was 49.41 billion dollars in 2021, it is a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 15.7%. At a CAGR of 13.9%, the market is forecasted to reach 96.24 billion dollars in 2026.

If you are new to the term “PaaS”, PaaS or Platform as a Service is a cloud computing model that offers an environment for businesses to develop, deploy, run, and manage applications over the internet without the need for them to build and maintain the required infrastructure. The infrastructure and the related computer resources are provided by the PaaS provider. So, when we use the term “PaaS market” it denotes the total sales from such cloud-based platform services.

Forecast: PaaS Market Value

There are different types of PaaS. We can generally classify them into web applications, computing platforms, business applications and social applications. Some of the popular PaaS providers include Heroku, Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Beanstalk, Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure.

In 2021, North America was the largest PaaS market followed by Western Europe. Other markets like Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, South America, the Middle East, and Africa are also witnessing significant growth in recent years.

Why PaaS: The opportunities it offers

The major reasons why the PaaS market is seeing such growth are manyfold. A PaaS platform can be accessed by multiple users. Businesses can choose computing resources as per their need and scale accordingly when there is a rise in demand. It is easy to run and maintain PaaS platforms as it uses virtualization technology and you do not need extensive system administration knowledge.

Other benefits of PaaS include,

  • PaaS enables businesses to avoid investing in IT infrastructure and they can invest the budget in their core operations.
  • PaaS enables businesses to avoid the tedious process of procurement and the need to hire expert personnel for the same.
  • PaaS enables businesses to save up on office space that otherwise would be needed for storing devices and infrastructure.
  • Since PaaS is a managed service, businesses can avoid the cost of hiring and maintaining the talent required for building and managing hosting environments and infrastructure.
  • PaaS enables businesses to reduce their team size. It improves the efficiency as the team will be working only on the core business functions.
  • Since PaaS offers a way to deploy applications fast and automatically, it reduces complexities and saves up time and money for businesses.
  • Most of the PaaS providers offer hybrid cloud solutions that are a mixture of private cloud, on-premises computing and public cloud solutions. It enables businesses to innovate, improve efficiency and agility, increase development capabilities and speed and reduce IT costs.

These advantages help businesses and developers in multiple ways.

  • They can concentrate on developing innovative solutions instead of focusing on external issues.
  • Developers do not need to start from scratch. They can avoid a lot of repetitive tasks and extensive coding, saving time and money for businesses.
  • Since PaaS enables developers to solely focus on actual development, the overall development cost comes down. A competitive business can use the saved-up money to better their product by adding more features and implementing creative and user-friendly ideas. They can also use the saved-up budget for market research and better marketing.

In short, PaaS offer businesses an opportunity to develop innovative applications in the most cost-effective and time-effective way. Since PaaS eliminate the need to create and maintain infrastructure and deployment environment, it reduces a lot of complexities and investment.

However, PaaS is not free of disadvantages.

  • Since PaaS is still an “over the internet” service, it possesses certain risks like privacy and security threats. This is a big concern for corporates since they must protect application data and the privacy of users, especially since there are several regulations in place like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and HIPPA.
  • PaaS has certain security vulnerabilities that make them a popular choice for cyber-attacks. These vulnerabilities include lax default application configuration, misplaced or lost Linux updates, lost third party patches and holes in secure socket layers (SSL) protocols. Such vulnerabilities can cost businesses money and credibility.
  • Since PaaS is a managed solution, it takes away control over the environment.
  • PaaS may have compatibility issues. Certain PaaS supports only specific software architecture and there may be restrictions on the kind of services that can be used on the applications.

Rise of AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Amazon introduced Beanstalk as a solution for system-level development rather than business application development. As a result, Elastic Beanstalk is not a pure PaaS technology. AWS paired Beanstalk with hundreds of cloud services it offers, such as AWS Lambda, to counter the challenges faced by most PaaS technologies.

AWS used its existing stack of services including EC2, S3, Simple Notification Service (SNS), CloudWatch, autoscaling, and Elastic Load Balancers to integrate emerging technologies with Beanstalk. This helped developers to build serverless subsystems directly from the platform and make use of most of the native AWS cloud services and even from outside the ecosystem. Developers can use AWS Elastic Beanstalk to build websites, back ends for both mobile and APIs and for asynchronous work.

Also, Beanstalk integrates well with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud Container Registry and Docker’s repository. It can use container orchestration tools such as Kubernetes to launch multi- or single-container instances. The platform is compatible with any PHP, Java, Python, Node.js, Ruby, .NET, Docker or Go web applications.

Let’s take a look into the advantages of AWS Elastic Beanstalk and how it tries to overcome the challenges of common PaaS solutions.

The advantages of AWS Elastic Beanstalk

AWS Elastic Beanstalk enables businesses and developers to get access to emerging development opportunities through its advantages.

Faster development and reduce complexities

You can use AWS Management Console, a Git repository, or an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) such as Visual Studio or Eclipse to deploy your code to the platform. When a code is deployed, the platform automatically handles capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and monitoring; thus, the process becomes simple. Since the tasks are automated, it takes only a few minutes maximum for the code to run; so, the deployment duration is also very less.

Easy monitoring

AWS Beanstalk provides a unified user interface for you to monitor the health of your deployed application. The platform tracks more than 40 key metrics and offers you an opportunity to customize the health permission, health checks and health reporting.

You can integrate Beanstalk with Amazon CloudWatch and AWS X-Ray for easy performance monitoring. Using CloudWatch, you can also set up customized thresholds for metrics like CPU utilization, latency etc. and get notified when these metrics exceed the configured thresholds.

Scale on demand

AWS Beanstalk allows you to set up auto-scaling. Once enabled, the platform automatically scales your application based on needs and the configured settings. This feature offers you flexibility in the sense that you can choose any metrics such as CPU utilization to trigger auto-scaling. It also helps you ensure that there is no application downtime, and the cost is directly dependent on resource utilization.

Customize it

Not all businesses have the same requirements. The scope of customization enables a business to leverage every opportunity it has in its hand. Therefore, Elastic Beanstalk is becoming one of the popular choices for businesses across industries.

When using Beanstalk, you can not only choose what AWS resources to make use of for your product, but you can also retain full control of the environment. Beanstalk’s management capabilities make it easier for developers to take control of one or all the resources that are available on the platform.

For example, as a developer, you have the option to choose the type of EC2 instance for your application and what is the optimal amount of RAM or CPU needed for your code to run. You can also customize the default Elastic Beanstalk Amazon Machine Image and configure Beanstalk to use it for your application.

Flexibility and adaptability

Due to feature requirements or better opportunities, a business may choose to use different technologies to develop a product. However, this is not an easy task since combining two or more services may cause compatibility problems.

Fortunately, AWS Elastic Beanstalk tries to help you overcome such challenges. It lets you integrate numerous services that exist in AWS environment, and you can use Docker’s repository or tools such as Kubernetes to develop and launch your application. You can also run multiple services on EC2 and the application you create on Beanstalk will be able to access them efficiently.

Security

The platform automatically keeps itself up to date with new patches and the latest platform versions (minor). The only caveat is that “managed platform updates” must be enabled by you from the configuration tab. Another caveat is that the platform will not perform major platform updates since such updates may include backwards-incompatible changes. But you can perform such updates manually.

However, the true strength of the platform is its “immutable deployment mechanism”. It ensures that the existing environment is safe from any changes caused by the updates by creating a parallel fleet of Amazon EC2 instances that are to be updated with the latest patches. The existing instances are terminated only after the completion of successful installation of updates that are done parallel and independent of the existing ones.

Also, when the updates are being installed, the health of the application will be under scrutinization by the system and in case any conflict occurs, the traffic will be redirected to the unaffected fleet of instances. So, the end-users will not be affected by a faulty update.

Privacy and legal compliance

AWS Elastic Beanstalk follows several criteria including ISO, PCI, SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC 3 and

HIPAA compliance. So, when using Beanstalk for your applications, you do not have to worry about processing financial or health data. You can also be sure that the applications follow the major security and privacy standards.

Elastic Beanstalk architecture

The above advantages are the result of Beanstalk’s unique architecture. So, let us briefly discuss the architecture it uses.

Image credit: Amazon Web Services

AWS Elastic Beanstalk architecture consists of several major components. They are,

The environment

All the resources needed to run your applications are contained within the environment. So, it is right to say, the environment is the heart of your application. The moment you create an environment Beanstalk automatically provisions all the resources required to run your application. These resources include an elastic load balancer, Auto Scaling group, and one or more Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. The CNAME is considered a part of the environment and it will be pointed to the load balancer. Any request to your domain name will be redirected to the CNAME.

The environment will change depending on the software stack you want to use. It is because each software stack requires a different infrastructure topology, and these topologies are defined by a “container type”. To give an example, an environment with an Apache Tomcat container will be using the Amazon Linux operating system, Apache web server, and Apache Tomcat software.

Load balancer

As the name suggests, the load balancer automatically distributes the incoming requests across multiple Amazon EC2 instances to ensure that the resource utilization is optimum irrespective of whether the traffic is normal, high, or lower. This is done with the help of Elastic Load Balancing URLs and the EC2 auto-scaling.

Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling

Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling (Denoted by Auto Scaling Group in the diagram) is a crucial component without which the environment will fail to handle any variation in traffic. It automatically creates new Amazon EC2 instances when there is an increase in the load on the application. When the load decreases, it terminates any unwanted instances to keep resource utilization at an optimal level. Beanstalk allows its users to customize the minimum and the maximum number of instances the auto scaler should create and handle.

EC2 instances

EC2 instances are compute images that process the actual workload. These can be created, handled, and terminated automatically by the platform. However, Beanstalk allows the users to customize these instances to offer better flexibility. By customizing instances, you can change CPU and memory allocation in case you want more control over the environment.

Host manager

Each EC2 instance will have its own host manager. A host manager is a software component that is responsible for

  • Deploying an application
  • Aggregating events and metrics for retrieval
  • Event generation at the instance level
  • Monitoring application log file for any critical errors
  • Monitoring of application server
  • Installing patches for instance components
  • Publishing log files to Amazon S3

Any metrics, errors, events, or server status that are available via the Elastic Beanstalk console, APIs, or CLIs are reported by the host manager.

Security group

The security group is what defines the firewall for each instance. In other words, a security group allows or restricts traffic to and from an instance. The default security group can be accessed using port 80 (HTTP). While the default one is created by Elastic Beanstalk, as a user, you can create additional security groups to define the traffic to certain instances or from other sources. The best example could be for your database server. AWS Beanstalk – PaaS components

How to deploy an application using Elastic Beanstalk?

Here is a brief guide on how to deploy an application to AWS elastic Beanstalk.

Preparation

If you are going to use an external database for your application, you must launch an instance of the database to Amazon RDS first. It is safe to choose “multi-AZ MySQL database instance” in the Amazon RDS console since it enables database failover if the instance fails.

Once the above process is completed you can start working on the access rule. Modify the security group to allow downstream traffic to access only a specific port.

Create an AWS Elastic Beanstalk environment

Access the Elastic Beanstalk Console and create an environment using the default settings. By default, Beanstalk automatically creates an EC2 instance, security groups, load balancer, autoscaling group, Amazon S3 bucket, Amazon CloudWatch alarms, AWS CloudFormation stack and the domain name.

Customization and configuration

You can customize the configuration to grant yourself more control over the environment. This includes configuring the minimum and the maximum number of instances for the auto skating group.

You can also create additional security groups to allow or restrict traffic to specific instances or specific ports. You can use the environment properties to configure connection data to the environment. The properties are available on the management page of the environment you created. Also, confirm that the environment is compatible with the Amazon RDS database instance we created in the first step.

Deployment

Use the “Upload and Deploy” option on the management page to upload your code bundle to the environment. Also, confirm the URL for the application.

Congratulation you have successfully deployed your application to AWS Elastic Beanstalk!

Conclusion

PaaS technologies, with their advantages, offer businesses several opportunities. However, there are challenges too. AWS Elastic Beanstalk, with its user-centric approach, better integration, and flexibility, tries to help businesses overcome these challenges and have better opportunities at hand.


Need help with deploying your application to AWS Elastic Beanstalk? Contact our team of experts now!

World Is Moving Towards Automation, Where Are You?

Digital adoption has been accelerating across the globe ever since the pandemic. IT roles are becoming more prominent in organizations and routine tasks are permanently automated.

According to Gartner, by 2025 half of the world population will participate in at least one IoBs (Internet of Behaviours) programme formulated by private, commercial or government organisations.

Within the next year, 40% of all enterprise workloads will be managed by cloud infrastructure and platform services. Also, 40% of Product and platform teams will be using automated change risk analysis with the help of technology pipelines like DevOps to reduce downtime and risk mitigation.

By the year 2025, half of the total enterprises will have artificial intelligence (AI) orchestration platforms at their disposal.

New terms like IoB etc. are the best example of how technology is advancing into new fields and how automation is becoming a normal part of life. IoB programmes make use of big data and IoT to influence customer behaviour. Such programs can help retailers and manufacturers to find the right price for their products and increase sales.

Adoption of automation is not limited by industry. However, the IT, service, retail, marketing, and manufacturing industry are the major sectors that are adopting automation at a faster rate. In fact, by 2025, the majority of the workforce in the manufacturing industry will be replaced by machines, resulting in 20% of all products produced not being touched by any human being before they enter the market. It is estimated that such transformation in the operational process will help organizations to lower their operation cost by 30%.

If all these data points to one thing, it is that the future of businesses depends on automation. Today, digital transformation is not a convenience. It has become a necessity for businesses that want to survive the fearsome competition and changing market.

By 2025, 50% of enterprises will have artificial intelligence orchestration platforms at their disposal.

Should you adopt automation?

Automation helps you reduce manual and routine processes. As a business, it will help you save time and cost along with improving operational efficiency. The application of automation is not limited to cutting down costs and time.

Since technology is so advanced today, you can use automation to collect data on a large scale, analyse them and make real-time decisions. Such opportunities bring tremendous advantages to a business that is competitive and analytical with its long-term goals. If used in the right way, such strategies will help a business to understand their customers better and reach the right audience to promote their products and services.

Because it is handled by technology, the opportunity to scale with automation is limitless. Manual processes will not only slow you down, but they are also prone to trivial errors. Also, the security of data becomes a bigger concern if there are more people involved.

Automation can be adopted by any business since customer support, invoice generation, payroll management, documentation, record-keeping and tracking, reporting etc. are common to all businesses and there are already stacks and tools available in the market.

What can you automate?

While customer support, invoice generation, payroll management, documentation, record-keeping and tracking, reporting etc. are the most common tasks that gave way to automation, there are other opportunities that vary depending on the objective and the nature of the business.

For example, here is a list of automation opportunities available to different businesses.

Automation opportunities

Batch Scheduling

A batch is a collection of tasks or jobs that are grouped together for execution. Since they are resource-intensive, batch processes are pre-planned and scheduled overnight when the number of other processes is very less. Ever since the technology advanced enough to have more powerful resources in hand, these batch processes are executed frequently by organizations.

The best possible examples are the banking industry and the stock market. Prior to automation, all the documentation and transactions were handled manually and “closing” was scheduled weekly, monthly or even quarterly. As the technology advanced, the interval between each schedule became shorter and nowadays the closing is executed almost daily.

Automating batch scheduling helps organisations to reduce workload and human interaction. It also helps organisations to ensure that the process is executed on time.

Examples of batch process automation tools include IBM workload automation, VisualCron, VisualCron and Redwood RunMyJob.

Business Process Automation (BPA)

Business Process Automation mainly deals with sales, marketing, finance etc. BPA tools are essential for competitive businesses since they help with scaling and growth through digital transformation. Since enterprises deal with file transfer, report generation and distribution, employee onboarding, document approval etc. at a large scale on a day-to-day basis, BPA has become essential in this day and age.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic Process Automation should not be confused with BPA. RPA executes predefined tasks via user interfaces. Each RPA program will have certain rules that it follows to complete the task. Usually, RPA software is trained by a human being to execute the tasks. When ready, such programs can completely replace a human being; hence they are implemented mostly to reduce workload. Recent developments in Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence have enhanced RPA capabilities. Website scraping, screen scraping etc. are the best examples of RPA.

Big Data Automation

Big data automation is implemented to collect, organize, and process large chunks of data in a noticeably short time. It is immensely helpful in dealing with anomaly detection and fraud detection as the data collected can be used to discover patterns. Big data automation along with other technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to detect fraud in big casinos and the banking industry.

Digital Process Automation (DPA)

Digital process automation aims to facilities end to end flow of information in a business ecosystem. It integrates applications, business operations, workforce and customers of a business to ensure that data is available in real-time to all the parties involved and as a result customers have a better experience. Digital process automation is implemented knowingly or unknowingly by businesses when they undergo digital transformation. However, without due focus, the advantages of DPA will be limited in scope. The customer support portals offered by most businesses are the best examples of DPA tools.

Enterprise Automation

Business Process Automation and Robotic Process Automation etc. can be limited to a single department or workflow. However, enterprise automation aims to create a single, enterprise-wide automated environment. Enterprise automation is the integration of different automation workflows implemented within an organisation. When they work in tandem, the overall efficiency and productivity of the enterprise is improved.

IT Process Automation

IT Process Automation aims to replace manual IT processes with the help of automated platforms and orchestration. It helps IT staffs to deploy, run, manage, and monitor processes using a single platform. For example, a business may implement Business Process Automation to augment its digital transformation initiative. The required IT infrastructure and process can be automated using IT Process Automation.

Infrastructure & Operations Automation

Infrastructure & Operations Automation mainly deals with the hardware and middleware of a business environment. There is a need to regularly update operating systems, tweaks configuration, and maintain optimal resource usage to avoid downtime and ensure security. An automated platform can be used for this purpose.

Cloud Automation

Businesses are moving to cloud environments faster than ever before. However, operating and managing cloud resources can still be a challenge for businesses. They must maintain a team who understands the technology to regularly monitor and configure the cloud resources as the demand and traffic can change at any time. Cloud automation aims to automate these tasks and offer a dynamic cloud environment where any changes in demand will be handled in real-time without the need for human interaction. PaaS services like AWS Elastic Beanstalk can help you with cloud automation.

Top 10 Programming Languages for AI Development

Recent studies show that businesses are investing more in artificial intelligence.

According to studies conducted by DataProt, 37% of businesses employ AI in their operations. The industry will be earning $126 billion by the year 2025 and the market value is expected to cross $267 billion by 2027.

Another study, conducted by Oberlo, states that 91% of top businesses have already invested in Artificial Intelligence. Also according to them, around 62% of customers are ready to share data if it improves their experiences with a business.

As artificial intelligence and related development are becoming more popular, the programming languages used for developing such software are also becoming popular.

If you are someone who has an interest in developing AI solutions, understanding the programming languages used for AI development will be compelling to you.

Best programming languages for AI development

When it comes to AI development, there are several programming languages you can choose from. Among them, here are major 10 programming languages that are used extensively in AI and machine learning development in 2022.

1. Python

Python is a high level, general-purpose programming language. It uses significant indentation to improve its code readability. Using language constructs and an object-oriented approach Python helps with developing clear and logical code for small to large scale AI projects.

Python was released in the year 1991 by Guido van Rossum. Ever since its inception, the language has been used in desktop apps, web apps, networking apps, scientific computing, machine learning apps and data science applications.

The libraries offered by Python such as Tensorflow, Keras, PyTorch, Scikit-learn, PyBrain and MXNet etc. make it one of the popular choices for AI development. Since Python offers rich text processing tools and uses modular architecture for scripting, it has also become a popular choice for Natural Language Processing (NLP).

A few of the leading companies that use Python include Google, Amazon, NASA, Reddit, Instagram, Intel, IBM, Facebook, Netflix, JP Morgan Chase and so on.

2. R programming language

R is a very popular programming language for statistical programming, especially data analysis and statistical computing. The language was created by statisticians Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman in 1993. As of March 2022, R is ranked at 11th position in the TIOBE index.

R is primarily written in C, Fortran and R itself. It comes with a command-line interface and offers support for multiple third-party user interfaces like RStudio and Jupyter.

R’s S heritage enabled it to have best-in-the class object-oriented programming facilities. R supports procedural programming with the use of functions and object-oriented programming with generic functions.

Due to its advantages, R is considered the primary programming language for statistical computations in domains such as biology, sociology, finance and medicine. The advantages of R can be extended through user-created packages that offer statistical techniques, graphical devices, import/export, reporting etc. The packaging system allows researchers to organize data, code and files in a systematic way for sharing and archiving. It is the ease of using such packages that drives the popularity of R as the best programming language for data science.

The alternatives to R programming language are SPSS, Stata and SAS, However, they are commercial statistical packages while R is a free software under the GNU General Public License.

Renjin and FastR used in the Java Virtual machines is a Java implementation of R programming language. The runtime engine “TERR” that is part of “Spotfire” is developed in R.

R is used by most of the leading companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Uber, Airbnb etc.

3. Java

Java is one of those programming languages that everyone has heard of.

This high-level, class-based, object-oriented programming language was designed in the year 1995 by James Gosling and became popular in the industry due to its write once, run anywhere (WORA) principle. WORA simply means that a compiled Java code can be run on all platforms that support Java without recompiling.

Java is one of the most used programming languages for client-server web applications. Even though it shares similarities with C and C++ in terms of the syntax used, Java has fewer low-level facilities than both.

Apart from web applications, Java is also used in Android apps, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning applications, search algorithms, server-side programming, neural networks and multi-robot systems. Its scalability, low dependencies, platform independence and support for Java Virtual Machines have made Java a popular general-purpose programming language.

When it comes to AI development, Java offers several libraries and frameworks such as Apache OpenNLP, Java Machine Learning Library, Neuroph, Deep Java Library, MLlib and so on.

Java is used by several companies including the noteworthy ones such as Google, Uber, Netflix, Airbnb, Instagram, Amazon, Spotify, Slack etc.

4. Rust

Designed by Graydon Hoare in 2010, Rust is multi-paradigm, a general-purpose programming language designed for performance and safety. Even though it is syntactically similar to C++, Rust guarantees memory safety unlike the former. Another benefit of Rust is that it offers memory safety without garbage collection and reference counting is only optional.

Rust offers low-level memory management as well as high-level features such as functional programming. Since it offers speed, performance and safety, Rust is gaining increased popularity day by day. It has been adopted and implemented by mainstream companies like Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Discord. Google announced Rust as an alternative to C/C++ for their Android open-source project.

Here is a list of recent adoptions we have seen in the industry.

  • Microsoft Azure IoT Edge, a platform used to run Azure services and artificial intelligence on IoT devices, uses rust to create some of its components.
  • The blockchain platform Polkadot is written in Rust.
  • TerminusDB is written in Prolog and Rust
  • AWS’s Firecracker and Bottlerocket use Rust.
  • Google Fuchsia, an operating system by Google, uses Rust for its components.
  • Figma is written in Rust.
  • The Servo parallel browser engine developed by Mozilla in collaboration with Samsung is written in Rust.

5. Prolog

Prolog, which derived its name from “Programming in Logic”, is a logic programming language mainly used in artificial intelligence and computational linguistics. It was designed by Alain Colmerauer and Robert Kowalski in 1972.

Unlike many other programming languages, Prolog inherits first-order logic and is intended mainly as a declarative programming language. The logic is declared in the form of relations represented by facts and rules.

Even though Prolog was one of the first logic programming languages, hence one of the oldest, it still holds its position in the industry. There are several free and commercial adoption of Prolog such as Tabling (used in systems like B-Prolog, XSB, SWI-Prolog, YAP, and Ciao), hashing (used in WIN-PROLOG and SWI-Prolog) and Tail Call Optimization (TCO). 

Prolog has been mainly used as a primarily logic language for expert systems, term rewriting, type systems, automated planning, theorem proving and natural language processing. This programming language is best suited for an AI solution that features rule-based logical queries such as searching databases, voice control systems, and filling templates. IBM Watson is one such system. 

IBM Watson. Image credit: Pbs.org

6. C++

C++ is one of the well-known programming languages due to the popularity of C, the programming language it inherits from.

Designed by Bjarne Stroustrup as a general-purpose programming language in 1985, c++ has seen significant expansion over the years. Now it supports object-oriented, generic, and functional features besides low-level memory manipulation. 

The main advantage of C++ is its performance, efficiency, and flexibility as it was designed as a programming language for building resource-constrained software and large systems. The language is used extensively in building desktop applications, servers (mainly for e-commerce, web search and databases), video games and performance-critical applications such as telephone switches and space probes.

C++ offers several AI and ML libraries such as Caffee, Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK), TensorFlow, DyNet, OpenNN, FANN, Shogun and mlpack library.

The popular companies that use C++ include Walmart, Google, Accenture, Twitch, Telegram and Lyft.

7. Lisp

Lisp, a name derived from “LISt Processor”, is the second-oldest high-level programming language still in use and is only one year younger than Fortran. Designed by John McCarthy in 1958, this family of programming languages has a long history with the presence of several distinctive dialects such as Racket, Scheme, Common Lisp and Clojure.

Designed primarily as practical mathematical notation for computer programs, Lisp later became the most favoured programming language for Artificial Intelligence. Several inventions in the field of programming are pioneered by Lisp and they include tree data structure, dynamic typing, conditionals, automatic storage management, recursion, self-hosting compiler, higher-order functions and read-eval-print loop. Apart from these, Lisp offers several features such as rapid prototyping, dynamic object creation, flexibility, garbage collection and information process capabilities.

CLML (Common Lisp Machine Learning Library), mgl, Antik and LLA are the popular AI and ML libraries offered by Lisp.

iRobot, The Mimix Company, NASA (in their PVS), Rigetti Quantum Computing, Grammarly, Mind AI, Carre Technologies, NuEcho, Kina knowledge, Emotiq and Anaphoric are a few examples of companies that are using Lisp in their products or operations.

Logo of Lisp programming language

8. Julia

Julia is a high-level, high-performance, dynamic programming language well suited for AI solutions that deal with numerical analysis and computational science.

Designed by Jeff Bezanson, Alan Edelman, Stefan Karpinski and Viral B. Shah in 2012, Julia supports concurrent, parallel and distributed computing.

Advantages of Julia include

  • It can direct call “C” and “Fortran” libraries without glue code.
  • Compiles all code by default to machine code before running it.
  • Automatic memory management/garbage collection
  • It uses easter evaluation
  • Offer libraries for floating-point calculations, random number generation, linear algebra, and regular expression matching.

Julia offers several packages for Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Few of them are Flux.jl, Knet.jl, Mocha.jl, TensorFlow.jl, ScikitLearn.jl, TextAnalysis.jl, MXNet.jl, DecisionTree.jl, Merlin.jl, and LossFunctions.jl. Find the complete list here.

9. Haskell

Named after great logician Haskell Curry, Haskell is a general-purpose, statically-typed, purely functional programming language. Primarily designed for research, teaching and industrial application, Haskell boast of pioneering innovative features like type classes that enable type-safe operator overloading.

According to the number of Google searches conducted for tutorials, Haskell was the 28th most popular programming language in 2021.

The several features offered by Haskell include lazy evaluation, pattern matching, lambda expressions, list comprehension, type classes and type polymorphism. Since Haskell is purely a functional language, functions have no side effects.

Popular applications of Haskell include Agda (proof assistant), Cabal, Darcs (revision control system), Git-annex, Pandoc, TidalCycles, Cryptol, Facebook’s anti-spam programs and Cardano blockchain platform.

10. Smalltalk

This object-oriented programming language was specifically designed for constructionist learning. It is a dynamically typed reflective language which means that using Smalltalk, developers can create software programs that have the ability to examine, introspect and modify their own structure and behaviour.

Smalltalk’s reflective features help developers with advanced debugging in the most user-friendly way. In fact, Smalltalk ranked second in the list of “most loved programming languages” in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey in 2017.

Designed by Alan Kay, Dan Ingalls and Adele Goldberg in 1972, Smalltalk has influenced so many programming languages such as Python, Ruby, Java and Objective-C.

Even though it was created mainly for AI-related studies, Smalltalk lost its position in front of other popular AI programming languages such as Python and R. However, Smalltalk is picking up the pace by introducing more libraries for AI and ML development and natural language processing. For example, Pharo has a numerical package called PolyMath that is almost equal to NumPy of Python.

Due to its conciseness, object purity, simplicity and better OOP implementation, Smalltalk has started regaining the attention it always deserved as an AI language.

Conclusion

The adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning is growing at a fast pace. There are several programming languages used in AI and ML development. However, languages like Python and R are the most popular. To meet the growing demand of the industry, there are several other programming languages that are expanding their capabilities to become the best AI programming language of tomorrow.

All You Need to Know When Hiring Full Stack Developers

The demand for hiring full stack developers is rising every day.

In LinkedIn top emerging jobs of 2020, full stack developer is featured in the 4th position. The role of full stack developers has grown 35 percent every year, compared to 2015.

Many companies are now viewing full stack developers as a critical asset for the company’s core operations. Such companies include software developers, IT and related services, and financial services.

Full stack developers can write both front and back-end code. They know how to create a minimal viable product with little to no support from others. Hiring Full Stack developers can provide a high-level specialty in a variety of technologies. Hiring a full stack developer instead of hiring a team of developers helps you save investment, managerial cost and other indirect costs like benefits and taxes.

What is a full stack software developer?

There is a general disagreement over the definition of full stack. It is somewhat a controversial subject in the technological field. Various organizations have different definition for who is a full stack developer and what kind of skills they should possess.

But all the definitions have something in common.

As per general sentiment, a full stack software developer is someone who knows how to create a fully functioning web application, and their knowledge of both the back end and front end is valuable to the organization. One of the best qualities of full stack developers is the amount of help they need from outside, which is very little.

This is because generally applications would have two major components; back end and front end (also called server side and client side).

While it is the backend that “powers” the applications, it is the front end that helps users to interact with an application. Since the approach, methodologies and technologies varies from front end to back end, their developments parts are assigned to different teams who are experts in their own fields (front end or back end). As a result, a single application would need at least two developers hypothetically.

But, if the same company hires a full stack developer, it can save up cost on human resources since a full stack developer would be an expert in both front end and back-end development.

MEAN stack developer vs. Full stack developer

A MEAN stack developer is someone who has knowledge in a specific technology. The term MEAN in MEAN stack developers refers to MongoDB, Expressjs, AngularJs, NodeJS.

Since these technologies are based on JavaScript a good MEAN stack developer should have extensive JS knowledge. Using these technologies together, a MEAN stack developer can develop a full stack application just like full stack developers. However, the knowledge and exposure of a MEAN stack developer will be limited to these four technologies unlike a full stack developer.

Similarities between MEAN stack and full stack developers

Both MEAN stack developers and full stack developers can create full stack applications. Both will be able to tackle client side and server-side development using their own knowledge and expertise.

Differences between MEAN stack and full stack developers

Area of expertise

A MEAN stack developer and full stack developer will have different set of expertise.

A MEAN stack developer will have knowledge on MongoDB, Expressjs, AngularJS, and Node.js.

Whereas a full stack developer will be an expert on technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Angular JS, PHP, ASP, Python, Node.js, and databases such as MySQL, SQLite or MongoDB, etc.

Framework

A MEAN stack developer uses AngularJS to accept requests and display results to end-user. They use NodeJS to handle client and server requests.

On the other hand, a full stack developer may be using HTML and CSS to power the front end and PHP to power the backend.

Database

Mean stack developers use MongoDB to store data. A full stack developer may use SQL MySQL, or Oracle, etc. to store data.

Scalability and flexibility

MEAN stack development is limited in a sense that it leverages only JavaScript based technologies. So, scalability becomes an issue since to upgrade an application, we must totally depend on JavaScript based frameworks.

On the other hand, full stack development offers better scalability and more flexibility as the developers will have the options to choose from several frameworks.

Popularity

MEAN stack development is less popular compared to full stack development. It is mainly due to the limited flexibility and scalability offered by MEAN stack.

Pros and cons of hiring full stack developers

At first, we will go through all the pros of hiring a full stack engineer.

Pros of hiring full stack developers

Scope of development

A full stack developer can take care of client side and server-side development. Since he has knowledge of both the front end and back end, the application will be simple, less buggy and offer better experience.

Range of skills

A full stack developer will have a variety of skills under his belt. It is mainly due to what the position demands in terms of technology expertise and product planning. Since the same person will be responsible for both front end and back end, he must have variety of skills to complete the application and have a better understanding of the user case and development roadmap to avoid development conflict.

Experience

Full stack software engineers are well versed in multiple phases of software development, covering fields such as front end, back end, testing, QA, and coding. The knowledge in all the areas comes over time, and full stack developers have the experience under their belt, making them more appealing to the companies. They can use the occasion to face challenges quicker without any hesitation.

Framework

Since full stack web developers know multiple technological stacks, they can be put to work on several frameworks instead of hiring different developers for different frameworks.

Cost

Since a good full stack developer can take care of front end and back-end development and even unit testing, hiring them over technology experts are more economical for companies. Hiring full stack developers helps companies to save up cost on infrastructure investment, office space, taxes and benefits and on managerial tasks since the size of the companies can be kept small.

Performance

Hiring Full stack engineers ensures better performance since the responsibilities are well defined. There is less dependability between team members and the complexities due to misunderstanding and lack of teamwork is also less. The project progress can be easily monitored and the performance to progress ratio can be calculated more easily.

Trouble solver

Experienced full stack engineers will adapt to the changes at any stages of the project development. They can easily identify problems and easily overcome them due to their familiarity with different development stacks and programming methodologies. So, by hiring full stack developers, companies can mitigate uncertainty and incorporate more flexibility to their development process.

Cons of hiring Full stack developers

Keeping up with technologies

Full stack engineers have expertise in multiple technologies. However, it become a hassle to be kept updated on all these technologies due to the rapid advancement happening in the software development industry.

Less performance

Being a jack of all trades comes with its disadvantages. A developer who works or specializes in a single technology or platform will perform better than a developer who doesn’t spend too much time on a single stack. Full stack developers have a large area of expertise to justify their profile. Still, a developer who has experience in only one specific field will have better output than a full stack developer.

Switching languages

Suppose a project demands the developer to work with multiple languages. It can be cumbersome for the full stack engineer, as they will constantly have to change the programming language on the fly. They can change the field, but they will need some time to brush up on the small things to get a grip on the language.

Transitioning between programming languages can slow down the process; hiring a specific individual who knows their way around one language will help smooth the transition from one language to another faster, requiring hiring another developer to fasten the process.

Types of Full stack developers

Having expertise in various programming languages makes full stack engineers heavy-on-demand in the market. But the demand and supply vary depending on what type of full stack developer you are looking for. Depending on the use case, we can categories full stack developers into different groups.

Full stack web developer

A full stack web developer is someone who can develop the front end and back end for a web application. The person will be an expert in web related stacks such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Angular, Vue, PHP, ASP, Python, Node, SQL, SQLite, or MongoDB.

Full stack Android developer

If you’re planning to develop a mobile app for the Android platform, a full stack android developer will help you complete the project. Android development focuses on Java, React, Python, HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

Full stack Python developer

A full stack python developer has the expertise in the python suite of language to develop various applications. Python is become popular day by day and a lot of AI and data science related applications are made using Pythons.

Full stack Java developer

Most mobile apps and computer software heavily depend on the Java programming language. Java is a popular server-side programming language for AI development. It is also the native programming language for the Android platform. A full stack Java developer will be able to write codes in Java and help you with developing applications for different use cases. 

Full stack JavaScript developer

A full stack JavaScript developer can use programming languages such as JavaScript, jQuery, Angular, or Vue to program the front end and then use languages such as Node.js to create the server side.

When it comes to JavaScript full stack development, you have several options such as you can hire a MEAN stack developer (MongoDB, Express, Angular and Node.js), MERN stack developer (MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js) or MEVN stack developer (MongoDB, Express, VueJS and Node.js).

Full stack cloud developer

Full stack cloud developers uses HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Node.js, React, Python etc. to developer cloud applications. He is most likely to be familiar with DevOps practices, containerization, microservices etc. A good full stack cloud developer uses various Cloud Native tools and technologies to develop, deploy, run, and update applications on cloud platforms.

Full stack PHP developer

PHP alone can’t be used to develop full stack application. It must be used with front end languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Angular, or Vue etc. to create a complete application. A full stack developer can also use Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (LAMP) to accomplish this task.

Full stack mobile developer

A full stack mobile developer uses several programming languages such as Swift, ObjectiveC, Java, Kotlin, Node, JavaScript, TypeScript etc. They also use software like Android Studio, XCode, Ionic and APIs to complete the development.

Full stack AI developer

A full stack AI developer has extensive knowledge of various technologies related to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Programming languages such as Python, Java, Nodejs, etc., will come in very handy, connecting the machine learning model.

How to hire a full stack software developer?

It has more to do with the qualities than anything else. A full stack software engineer must have an interest or passion for new things, and they should understand different technologies and their best-case scenarios. Their decision-making abilities will also come into play as they must develop complete applications for different use cases and industries.

Depending on nature of employment, we can divide full stack developers to below categories.

Freelance full stack developer

A freelance full stack developer is someone who is self-employed. She creates applications for different clients and get paid based on hours worked, tasks completed, or projects finished. The scope of work, estimate, roadmap, and delivery terms are usually finalized before starting the project.

Pros of hiring freelance full stack developer

  • Low investment: You don’t have to invest on infrastructure, tools, and training
  • Fixed pay: Pay only the negotiated amount
  • Flexibility: You can hire multiple developers to shorten the development time. You can also terminate the agreement once the tasks are completed.
  • Large pool: Freelance full stack developers are available globally making it easier to hire them.

Cons hiring freelance full stack developer

  • Limited scope: The resource may not be available once the project is completed.
  • Compatibility: Not the right choice for huge projects.
  • Hard to find a quality developer
  • They will not share the same enthusiasm for the project as the organization.

Hiring in house/full-time developer

A full-time developer is someone who works at a specific role permanently for the company. Along with salary, she also gets other benefits and allowances that is borne by the employer.

Pros of hiring in house full stack developer

  • They are more likely tool invest time and effort in your idea and work for a better product to ensure a permanent role and better appraisal.
  • Less likely to bail out
  • Act as a long-term player
  • Availability

Cons of hiring in house full stack developer

  • Tiresome hiring process
  • Limited pool of talent if you are hiring locally
  • The time it will take to find the right developers
  • A lot of indirect cost related to hiring and maintaining talent
  • Difficult to upsize and downsize the team
  • You must invest on infrastructure and tools

Outsourcing full stack development

Outsourcing full stack development is the act of hiring an outside party, preferability an agency, to perform the development of an application.

Pros of outsourcing full stack development

  • Saving money. Outsourcing always leads to a cheaper method to get the work done for a quarter of the cost or less compared to hiring a permanent team.
  • Short-term commitment.
  • Away from office noise can help them to work better.
  • Access to expert talent pool
  • No need to invest on infrastructure
  • No indirect cost involved

Cons of outsourcing full stack development

  • Quality may dwindle
  • Trouble in communication can hinder the performance
  • Sometimes it is harder to monitor the progress of the project
  • The outsourcing agency may be working on other projects at the same time

Outstaffing full stack development

Outstaffing full stack development is the act of hiring remote developers to take up the development. Usually, organizations approach outstaffing agencies to outstaff the work. Such agencies will already have a pool of pre-vetted developers with them. The salary and benefits are paid by the agency to the developers and the organization must make a one time or task-based payment to the agency.

Pros of outstaffing full stack development

  • Work can get done at a faster rate
  • The outstaffing agency will be responsible for the quality of the final product
  • Training is provided by the agency
  • Pre vetted developers means you are getting the right person for the role
  • No indirect costs
  • Affordable
  • Easy to monitor the progress of the progress
  • You get dedicated resources

Cons of outstaffing full stack development

  • Miscommunication
  • Adding remote employees may slow down your team
  • It will take time for the developer to fully understand the project

Conclusion

The demand for full stack developers is on rise due to companies seeking an all-in-one solution for their software development requirement. Instead of hiring individual developers for different roles, companies are hiring people with variety of skills and knowledge to take up multiple roles.

AlignMinds has a wide pool of expert full stack developers. We make sure that all our developers have the right expertise, have high exposure to industry standards and ensure best outcomes for simple to complex projects.  If you are looking for pre-vetted full stack developers for your next project, contact us now.

Building and Scaling Productive Remote Engineering Teams: Top Tips

The number of people working from home has been rising since 2009.

Over the past decade and so, most industries have realized the benefits of allowing their employees to work remotely. In fact, hiring remote teams to build and scale businesses has become a norm in recent years.

According to Owl Labs, 16% of companies around the globe are fully remote. It may seem like a small percentage. Nevertheless, the trend shows a groundbreaking change happening in the industry. Because at the beginning of this century, terms like “remote teams” and “virtual businesses” were not so popular.  Such approaches were often termed as “non-workable models” by most companies.

But at the beginning of the past decade, things began to change.  More people choose to work remotely for better work-life balance and better opportunities.  Companies also started granting remote work to increase employee retention rate, flexibility and to attract a high talent pool. Today, 85% of managers think that remote teams will become a common practice in their industries.

The trend is more apparent in the IT, financial services, and healthcare (surprise!) industries. In the IT industry, the hiring of remote engineers happens mainly due to three reasons.

  • It is difficult to find the right talent locally.
  • It is expensive to hire locally.
  • More people are preferring to work remotely. Unless companies choose to hire remotely, this talent pool, which mostly consists of experienced professionals, is out of reach for them.

We have seen a 44% growth in remote working over the last 5 years. The rate of growth becomes 159% if we consider a longer duration of 12 years. If these numbers have proven one thing, it is that remote working is becoming the new norm in the industry.

So, as a business, how can you cope with this latest trend and leverage it to your benefit?

If you are looking for an answer to the above question, don’t worry, we have the answer ready for you.

In this article, we are trying to answer three commonly asked questions related to hiring remote engineers. They are

  • How to build a remote engineering team that fits your business?
  • How to manage and scale a remote team of developers?
  • Why should you hire remote engineers?

So, let’s dive into them.

How to build remote engineering teams?

Understand the actual role

When hiring for a position, the hiring team should first understand the position in depth.  They should understand what the position demands and how critical the position is for the business. They should also comprehend the existing chemistry between the teams and what work style will suit the environment perfectly. This will also help you as a hiring manager to evaluate whether the position is suitable to hire remotely.

Industry expertise

Along with technical and soft skills, the team should also evaluate the industry expertise of the candidates. A candidate who has enough expertise in the industry is less likely to make mistakes and she will need less supervision throughout a project. Hiring people with expertise will help you to avoid one of the biggest drawbacks of hiring remotely, communication issues.

Industry experience

Experience should be a primary parameter when evaluating candidates for a remote engineering role.

Just like candidates with industry expertise, an experienced candidate will be more familiar with the role and responsibilities. Such candidates can contribute to your business independently and also as a part of a team. The experience they have gained in their career will also help your existing team positively.

Also, keep in mind that remote working does not suit everyone. Hiring candidates who have already worked in a remote position will help you to mitigate the risk.

Availability and communication

Hiring a remote engineering team has its own challenges. When the teams are available on-site, communication is a breeze and availability is not an issue.

However, when hiring a remote engineering team, these two factors can become challenging. When you are hiring from a different time zone, the resource may not be available during a time that is convenient to you and the team. This will negatively impact the quality of the work and the timeline of the project. As a result, the cost of the project will also shoot up.

Thankfully the recent technological advancements have made a positive impact on the communication landscape.

The various communication and team collaborations tools available today can mitigate most of the communication issues arising from remote hiring. However, the hiring team should make sure that the candidates are comfortable working in a different time zone and the tools you are going to use are convenient for them too.

Hire remote teams from existing markets

Outsourcing talent is one of the most revenue-generating industries for many countries.

Countries like India, Vietnam and Ukraine already have a well-established outsourcing industry. This means that the talent in these countries is already accustomed to remote working, its culture and challenges. Moreover, they are more likely to be fluent in one of the international languages, making the language barrier irrelevant. 

Since a major chunk of revenue is coming from the outsourcing industries, such countries are also focusing on improving the infrastructure in this field. There are more IT parks emerging day by day and the people in these countries have access to electricity, better internet and higher education already. The lower living cost around this part of the globe warrants that the cost of hiring a remote team of developers is also affordable.

Hire pre-vetted remote engineering teams

The hiring process can be hectic. Especially when you are hiring remotely.  You have to make sure that the candidate is right for the role, right for the team, the “cultures match”, and successful hiring will contribute positively to the overall business. As a result, the hiring process can become complex, lengthy, repetitive, and tiresome for every party involved.

Thankfully, hiring pre-vetted remote teams helps you avoid this. A pre-vetted engineer is someone who has already gone through screening, interviews, and tests to prove that he or she is the right fit for a specific role.  So, by approaching such pre-vetted developers, you are most likely to find the right candidate.

How to manage remote engineering teams?

Managing and scaling a team of remote developers is different from hiring a remote team. To make it easier for you, here are a few tips on how to manage a remote engineering team, once hired.

Communicate clearly

When working with remote engineering teams, it is better to define a formal communication channel and set clear expectations. Unlike in an on-site work environment where communication is faster and informal, a remote work environment demands a different approach. Since availability, cultural background and language barriers can cause gaps in communication and lead to misunderstandings, it is better to plan and schedule face to face virtual meetings or define a formal channel to communicate. In a remote working environment, formal communication supported with documentation is the right approach.

Build rapport

A remote team should not be unorganized and unengaging. There should be a good connection and better understanding between team members and friendly engagements should be encouraged. When there is a good rapport between the team members, it is easier to come up with innovative ideas and the team will move in the same direction. A supportive environment will transform any challenging task into an opportunity to learn.

Encourage transparency

The number of software that can help you with team collaboration, documentation, project management, task management, incident response, bug tracking, design thinking, review and quality check etc. is higher than ever before. The use of such software not only brings transparency to the team but also helps you with managing the resource most effectively.

Here is a list of the most common software used in the industry.

  • Communication and collaboration: Slack, Google Hangout, Twist, Zoom
  • Task management: Todoist, Tick Tick, Microsoft ToDo
  • Project management: Jira, Asana, Trello, Basecamp
  • Incident response: Freshservice, PagerDuty, Dynatrace
  • Bug tracking: Asana, Jira, Sentry
  • Design thinking: InVision, Sketch, Figma, Abstract

Plan ahead

Planning and scheduling are most important when managing a team of remote engineers.  Every member of the team should have a clear understanding of the project roadmap and the role he is going to play. The task list and schedules should be communicated at the beginning of the project itself and they should be documented. With the right planning, the team will have a way to avoid uncertainty and can work in a stress-free environment.

Convenience and automation

One of the common mistakes everyone makes when dealing with a remote development team is excessive micromanagement. This can be in the form of an excessive number of daily meetings, morning, and evening status reports, using tools that question privacy, or excessive amounts of documentation. As a result, the remote team finds the working environment stressful and there is not enough time to complete the actual work.

So, it is better to schedule meetings only when necessary. The participation should be limited to people who would really benefit from the meeting. Most of the meetings can be replaced by a morning or evening email or with good project management software. Instead of using traditional documentation methods, we can use readily available tools, like the ones mentioned before, to improve team collaboration and track progress.

Why hire remote engineering teams?

Access to the right talent

Hiring the right talent locally can be difficult for so many businesses. There can be various reasons including affordability, lack of local talent, the nature of the business, indirect hiring cost, lack of flexibility or even the nature of the project.

For example, even though it’s rare in occurrence, companies may be forced to work on projects that are outside of their expertise. To fill the gap, they would need a person or a team of professionals who are an expert in a particular niche. If the demand for such expertise was always low in their country, the number of people with the right talent would also be less. It is because people are more likely to choose a career in fields with high demand so that they will never run out of opportunities.

So, if the talent is not available locally, what can the business do?

Of Course, dropping the project will have a negative impact on the business; especially when its growth is dependent on the completion of the project. In such cases, hiring remotely will be the right choice for them.

Affordability

The cost of hiring and maintaining a permanent team is the highest in countries like the USA. However, there are other countries like India and Ukraine where the salary for the same role is only a quarter of what it is in the US. So naturally, if a US-based company hires remotely from India or Ukraine they can save up on costs as they have to pay only an amount equal to the local pay band. This way companies can cut costs and improve their profit margin significantly.

According to Standford, employees that work remotely are more productive than on-site workers. The study also showed that remote staff have a lower attrition rate, and they work more hours per year than their onsite counterpart. This is mainly attributed to the better work-life balance and flexible working hours available to remote workers.

Flexibility

One of the benefits of hiring a remote engineering team is, you can hire them for the short term or long-term depending on the duration of the project. Since remote roles are not treated equally to permanent roles, cutting down or scaling the size of the remote team is easier and less complex.

If you are outstaffing the role, things become a lot easier since the salary, allowances and benefits are handled by the outstaffing agency.

Final thoughts

Hiring remote engineering teams has already become a norm in the industry. It helps businesses to save up costs, add flexibility to the business, find the right talents, and improve productivity. Even though building and scaling a remote engineering team has its own challenges, they can be easily mitigated by using the right methods and tools that are readily available.

AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in working on web, mobility, cloud, and AI technologies. We are offering a wide set of services including outstaffing and remote development. If you are looking for a pre-vetted team of remote developers, contact us now!

IT Outstaffing: Should You Pull the Trigger?

Striving to get your IT projects done effectively and efficiently?

Well, most of the IT projects get stuck because of numerous difficulties and complexities resulting due to a lack of development capacity. 

IT companies require their staff to be updated, vigil, fast, and super talented. An IT company that faces the issue of lack of development capacity might face hefty losses in business and profit.

However, to avoid these issues, big corporations prefer to work with outstaffing their IT projects and strive to upgrade the effectiveness and efficiency of their core operations.

With Outstaffing their work, organisations are reducing their expenses up to a substantial amount along with improving their scalability and flexibility.

The majority of the organisations require IT specialists, temporarily or based on project requirements. In such a scenario, employing IT professionals for a permanent role can be a costly affair for the company.

Therefore, assigning the projects to an outstaffing company and entrusting them with management and developments of the same can be a smart decision for them.

To understand the concept of IT outstaffing services, let’s discuss its various aspects in brief.

Trends and statistics of outstaffing in the industry

Since the year 2020, there has been an unprecedented level of increase in the sector of remote working.

Remote working is also commonly known as hybrid working. Due to the devastating spread of Covid-19 majority of the organisations have adapted the culture of remote working to continue the core operations of the company smoothly.

  • Major organisations are concentrating more on their core business and prefer to assign complex tasks to professionals who are specialised in the respective fields. They are also boosting their work processby inducing their operations with RPA (Robotic process automation) to eliminate the repetitive tasks processes.
  • Most organisations are moving to cloud-based technologies for better scalability and security. The majority of companies prefer to outsource or outstaff all their infrastructure-related work.
  • Companies are looking for IT professionals that are specialists in building complex and advanced products. If the right talent is not available locally, they are open to hiring globally.
  • The substantial growth of Artificial Intelligence in the industry makes major organisations infuse themselves with this advanced technology. Therefore, such companies are looking to outstaff AI-centric projects to IT professionals who are specialised in automation and AI.
  • After the pandemic, more people are preferring to work remotely. Organizations are finding headhunting more tiresome, less fruitful, and most of the time the right talent is out of reach for an onsite job.
  • Several organizations are finding it difficult to maintain their talent pool and it is affecting their productivity. Since human resource plays a vital role in business growth, they are looking for innovative ways to attract and maintain talent. 

Definition: What is outstaffing?

For a better understanding of the concept of Outstaffing, let’s discuss it in brief.

IT outstaffing is a concept where big corporations, companies, or organisations collaborate with IT professionals and hire them to work for them as independent developers. Hiring an IT developer or a team of developers to do remote work on the IT projects of the companies is known as IT outstaffing.

These IT developers are directly employed by an IT outstaffing agency, but they ensure to perform all tasks for your organisation and submit it on time. The IT outstaffing company also has the entire responsibility of paying wages, bonuses, and other employment benefits to the employees.

To be clear about this concept, you must know that outstaffing and outsourcing are two entirely distinctive concepts.

Outstaffing is a concept that allows you to gain access to hiring an independent development team. Moreover, in Outstaffing, the chain of communication is not complex and is simple because you can directly contact them for the status of the projects. It also eliminates the complex process of communication in the form of hierarchy.

Furthermore, in IT outstaffing services, you can also instruct the development team to work on multiple projects at the same time according to the work agreement conditions.

Outsourcing Vs. Outstaffing

The concept of outsourcing and outstaffing is commonly confused with one another.

Indeed, both the concepts are a bit similar in some aspects; but if you will try to understand it in brief they are entirely different.

Let’s clear your confusion regarding both the concepts and help you gain a clear understanding of the same.

Advantages of outstaffing

Outstaffing is a popular concept of getting work done by independent IT specialists without enrolling them as an employee in your company.

Besides the easy culture of getting work done, there are numerous other benefits of outstaffingas well. The various advantages of IT outstaffing services are as follows:

Smooth model of hiring

Outstaffing is one of the best forms of getting your IT projects done by IT specialists and professionals.

With the benefits of IT outstaffing services, the company can have their own permanent staff and also can hire independent professionals who are specialised in certain fields and technologies from other companies temporarily.

The features that makehiring outstaffing services beneficial for your company as well as for your hiring model is that this way, you can maintain a flexible team and can have full control over cost and resource management.  You can make a onetime payment to the outstaffing service provider and the wages or salary of the IT specialist along with bonus and benefits would be handled by them.

Full control over the development project

Another benefit ofIT outstaffing servicesis that your projects and work is handed over to the hired development team, which means that the work will be done by the partner company employees. However, the control over the development projects remains with you.

While deciding whether to outsource or outsaff software development, you must keep in mind that with outstaffing, you will have a dedicated team of IT staff to work on your project.

By choosing IT outstaffing services, the companies will get a chance to vet the professionals before hiring and since she will act as a dedicated staff to your company the project will be delivered on time with the expected quality.

Full access to the resource

The prime reason why most organisations are choosing outstaffing is that this way, they will have full access to the day-to-day management decisions as well as resource management. If you have a project manager, she can assign the day-to-day task to the hired professional or you can also a hire team of IT professionals that include designers, developers, project managers, testers etc.

Substantially low costs

The cost of outstaffing is substantially low compared to hiring permanent employees. You do not have to pay any bonuses, benefits to the IT specialist you hire through outstaffing and you also get a dedicated employee to the team. Also, there is no labour penalties for downsizing your outstaffed team.

Moreover, if you are on a “pay per hour” contract, you will get a precise report on how much time each task is taking, and you can also request the staff to work on more specialised tasks.

Overall, the expenses spent on a permanent employee are substantially higher than making a single time payment to an outstaffing company. Furthermore, if the company is more careful and attentive in working effectively and efficiently, outstaffing will be the right option.

Cons of outstaffing

Outstaffing models are beneficial for companies in general, but every hiring model does have its loopholes as well. The outstaffing model has a few shortcomings or challenges that are as follows:

Communication gap

Since the hired professional will be working remotely or independently and separate from the entire development team, this might result in some communication gaps between the team of IT staff. Such communication gaps between the team might result in misunderstanding, complexities, and non-quality work.  

However, today, due to the advancement in technology and communication, this can be mitigated by using the right communication tools.

As the project management team of the company, you must ensure a smooth communication channel with all the developers of the development team that are part of the outstaffing company. Moreover, you must also make sure that the entire team of the project is connected and updated with the required details of the projects.

The reporting and work status must be transparent and should be shared with the corporate team managing the IT project.

Responsibility of the project

Hiring anIT outstaffing company to provide the IT projects to them can raise a question relating to the responsibility of the projects. Indeed, the final responsibility of the project is within the hands of the outstaffing company only; however, it is fair enough to say that the responsibility must be shared.

It is always recommended to curate the contract based on all the aspects of the projects including responsibility and resolution.

What types of business will benefit the most from outstaffing?

Outstaffing is a common work model that is incredibly famous in the entire corporate industry.

It has various benefits such as cost-effectiveness, saving time and effort to find the right talent, quality of work, flexibility and more.

The concept of outstaffing is a common concept that is not linked with any particular industry or business. However, as per the popular trends of the market and survey reports of various experts, we can say that the concept of outstaffing is highly beneficial to small businesses who like to manage their resources more efficiently.

IT outstaffing is also beneficial to the companies who want IT projects to be done by professional developers without going through the pain of hiring them as direct employees.

This hiring model is also suitable for businesses that need people who are specialised in certain fields or technologies only for a particular project or temporarily.

Where to outstaff?

There are numerous outstaffing companies available across the globe. However, the cost associated with outstaffing varies depending on the living standard in these countries. If you are looking to outstaff software development with a minimum cost without compromising on quality it will be better to hire from developing countries like India, Eastern Europe, Vietnam, the Philippines etc.

But always vet the professionals before making a hiring decision. Also, it is recommended to check the history, vision, experience, expertise, and reviews of the IT outstaffing company before making a partnership with them.

Final thoughts

The outstaffing model is incredibly famous, beneficial as well as productive for organisations that want to implement IT projects. If you are aiming to develop complex or high-quality IT products without increasing your employment budget, then IT outstaffing is the best option for you.

AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in the field of web, mobility, DevOps and AI. We have a pool of specialised talent with the experience of working on small to complex projects for several verticals from media to government.  If you are looking for an IT outstaffing company for your next project, contact us now.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is IT outstaffing?

Outstaffing is a form of indirect employment of a developer, development team, or professional. In this hiring model, a company hires a dedicated and specialised professional temporarily through an outstaffing service provider to ensure better resource management, flexibility, and quality of work.

What are the advantages of it outstaffing?

There are numerous advantages of IT outstaffing. Some of the most beneficial pros are as follows:

  • IT outstaffing is more affordable.
  • Full control of the management aspect of the IT projects.
  • Full control over the resources hired.
  • Access to the vetting process.
  • Decrease of a burden on the corporate team in regard to talent hunting and management.  
  • Saves time and promotes flexibility.
  • Access to the best talent and specialised professionals.
  • Promotes working on complex or multiple projects simultaneously.

Should I outsource or outstaff software development?

Outstaffing the development project can help the company to have access to the right talent with minimum cost and effort. It provides you with dedicated resources without the need to go through the complexities of hiring and maintaining talent.

On the other hand, outsourcing helps with getting the work done by an outsourcing company without any worries or additional effort from you.

How much does outstaffing software development cost?

As compared to the outsourcing model, the outstaffing model is comparatively cheaper and more cost-effective. However, the exact cost will depend on the speciation and experience of the resource. For an estimation, please contact us.

What is the best country to outstaff software development?

If you are cost-conscious, outstaffing IT projects to any developing country that has the right talent pool will be the right option for you. Since the cost of living is less in such countries, the project cost will also be less. However, male sure that the country and the organization has the right infrastructure, suitable working culture, experience in working on similar projects before outstaffing.

Benefits of Microservices Architecture

Microservices architecture has become the new trend in the software development industry. Big companies like Amazon and Netflix are also favouring microservices architecture as it offers several benefits like improved scalability, better data security and compliance, future-proofing, business agility and faster development.

According to research, 73% of firms are using or planning to use microservices as it helps them build next-generation services and applications. Around 63% of organizations surveyed are already building some or all of their applications using microservices.

According to Allied Market Research, the microservices architecture market is projected to reach $8,073 million by 2026 from an estimated market size of $2073 million in 2018. That is a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 18.6% from 2019 to 2026.

All these statistics are pointing to one thing; microservices are the future. However, if you are a business that is yet to adopt the new trend, trying to understand the benefits of microservices will convince you to do so.

But before listing out the benefits of microservices architecture, let’s start with understanding what is microservice architecture.

What is microservices architecture?

Microservices architecture, commonly known as “microservices”, is an architectural style for developing applications. It allows a large application to be separated into smaller independent parts, with each part having its own realm of responsibility. As a result, a microservices-based application can call on many internal microservices to compose a response to a single user request.

Google defines microservices architecture as

“A microservices architecture is a type of application architecture where the application is developed as a collection of services. It provides the framework to develop, deploy, and maintain microservices architecture diagrams and services independently.”

Microservices are typically used to speed up application development. Website migration, data processing, transactions and invoices, media content storage and retrieval etc. are the other usages of microservices.

Microservices vs Monolith

Traditionally developers followed a monolithic design approach. In a monolithic architecture, components share a common memory space and work together as one cohesive unit. As a result, such applications are self-contained, and their components are interdependent. To make changes to a single component, developers must rebuild and redeploy the entire software altogether. This is a big drawback for businesses who want to add new features to their applications frequently. The monolithic architecture limited their rate of technology advancement, took away their competitive edge and constrained their growth opportunities.

On the other hand, the microservices architecture allows an application to be divided into a set of individual and autonomous services. Each of these services can be implemented in a different language on a different platform. Yet, it won’t affect the quality of the application as a whole. Moreover, each service is robust, flexible and complete on its own. So, adding a new feature to the application or removing an outdated feature is no more a difficult task. Since you can make changes to a particular feature without affecting the remaining part of the application, the cost of development and maintenance also went down.

Overall, microservices architecture offers more benefits than monolithic architecture to businesses that want to be competitive in the industry.

What are the benefits of microservices architecture?

Scalability

Microservices run independently. That means each microservice can be added, removed, updated, and scaled without affecting other microservices that comprise the application. During an increase in demand, you only have to allocate more resources to the concerned microservice(s) to meet the demand. As a result, an organization can save costs on server resources.

In 2008, Netflix had to ditch their monolithic design and adopt microservices after a three-day service failure caused by a major database corruption. The migration helped them to serve a wider audience in 2016 as the numbers of streaming members went up by eight times and the overall viewership tripled in those eight years! Their viewership is growing ever since and moving to microservices architecture became one of the best decisions they have ever made as a business.

Data security

Microservices architecture supports secure APIs. Developers can use them to connect with microservices without security concerns as APIs ensure that the data is accessible only to authorized parties.

iPaas (Integration Platform as a Service) providers like DreamFactory can help you build secure APIs in minutes using their automatic API generation tools.

Legal compliance

Since APIs provide a secure way for developers to handle and safeguard the application data, following legal policies and data and privacy rules are no more an issue. Microservices along with secure APIs help developers to meet various legal compliance including HIPAA, GDPR and other security standards.

Future-proofing

One of the main advantages of microservices architecture is that it supports CI/CD/CD (Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, Continuous Deployment). It enables you to quickly deploy core microservices as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and continuously update it with additional microservices to make it a full fetched product in the future.

Also, as technology advances, new features may be introduced in the market and it is much easier to add them as microservices. Besides, a higher level of application security can be maintained all the time by adding a new security feature to the application as new security threats arise.

Conflict free

Compatibility and conflict are two major nightmares for every developer. Compatibility issues can lead to service outages and bring down the quality of the user experience. However, if you are using microservices, you don’t have to worry about such issues.

Due to its pluggability, microservices architecture offers faster and easier application development and updates. Since each microservices in an application will be functioning autonomously, making changes to a microservice or adding/removing a microservice to the application will not conflict with other microservices. As a result, there are fewer chances for coding conflicts and server outages due to the compatibility of codes.

Fault isolation

Along with being conflict-free, microservices architecture also offers circuit breakers that prevent cascading failure and server resource depletion. As a result, dependency related shutdowns are least to nil in a microservices architecture-based application.

Developers can also avoid using Remote Procedure Calls (RPCs) between microservices to prevent cascading failures. Furthermore, fault tolerance libraries like Hystrix help you to build fault-tolerant microservices so that you can totally avoid cascading failure and enable resilience in your complex application.

Business agility

The market is ever-changing. Businesses need to cater to different demands that may not be permanent in the market. However, making changes to their applications frequently to fulfil user’ demands was always a difficult task for businesses. New features had to be designed, developed and tested before they are integrated into a live application. The whole process cost them time and money and even then the results were not promising.

With the introduction of microservices, agility became no longer an issue for businesses. An application that is based on microservices architecture is comprised of several microservices that work independently and enable certain feature sets in the application. To enable a new feature, you just have to integrate a new microservice into the system, and thanks to its autonomous nature, you don’t have to worry about any dependency failures. Thence, businesses can now easily integrate new features to an existing application and roll back to the previous version if the new feature doesn’t work out.

Focused teams

A microservice is small enough for a single team to build, test and deploy it. In Amazon’s terms, a team that is small enough to be fed by two pizzas can manage everything related to a microservice.  By keeping the size of the team small, they noticed that the work efficiency improved, there was more ownership, teams were easier to manage, they achieved their goals faster and the quality of the end results were often better.

Since the teams are working independently and there is a good rapport between the team members, fostering creative thinking and innovative ideas becomes spontaneous. Moreover, there will be a positive relationship and trust between the team members and the teams will be highly motivated.

How to implement microservices architecture?

Decentralize

Microservices replaces monolithic design thinking. In a microservices based application, everything from code to teams is decentralized. Small autonomous teams shall be responsible for designing, developing, testing and deploying services and there should be no sharing of code or data schemes.

Business-focused design

Microservices should be designed around the business domain. Each business microservice should have a single cohesive domain model. Depending on the scenario, a business microservice can be composed of several physical services that share a single domain model. However, the domain model must capture the business language, rules, behaviours and constraints of the business microservice it represents.

Ownership of data

A microservice should be totally independent. This rule is applicable in the case of data storage too.  In a microservice-based application, data ownership lies with the service that handles the data; so the data storage should be private to that particular service.

Use APIs

All service communications should be handled using secure APIs. The APIs should be modelled around the domain not the internal implementation of the services.

Use gateways

Simplify application development by offloading cross-cutting services such as SSL certificates and authentication etc. to a gateway.

Decouple

Coupling between services should be avoided to make each service independent. So that any changes you make to one service will not affect any other services that comprise the application. This is applicable to communication protocols and even shared database schemas.

Functional cohesion

Functions that are serving a single purpose should be packaged and deployed together to avoid tight coupling.

Tight coupling is a sign of low cohesion. When there is low cohesion, a change in one service will affect other services in an application. Therefore, you will be forced to make changes to other services when updating a particular service. So, the focus should be to create services that are loose coupled and have high functional cohesion.

Fault isolation

The purpose of microservices architecture is to design reliable applications. You should implement fault isolation along with a resilience strategy to avoid cascading failure and dependency related shutdowns.

Adopting microservices: The Netflix and Amazon stories

Netflix and Amazon identified the potential of microservices and leveraged it to their business advantages earlier than any other in the industry.

Netflix

In the beginning, Netflix was using monolithic architecture for their application. In 2008, due to a major database corruption in their servers, the services of Netflix were unavailable to their customers for three days. Around the same time, the company also realized that the vertically scaled model was hampering its growth. They were not able to meet the demand of their growing customer base with the then-existing model.

Around 2009, Netflix started moving their services to microservices architecture. They began by moving to distributed cloud systems that are highly reliable and horizontally scalable. In 2016, Netflix expanded their services to more than 130 countries and became a global service provider. Their API gateway handled more than 2 billion requests daily around the same year. Now Netflix has more than hundreds of microservices instead of a single monolithic application.

Amazon

The growth of Amazon started in the early 2000s. As they were growing, more issues related to scaling started to interrupt their operations. The company quickly recognized that a single model that acts as a master product will not help them in the long run. So, they started to create independent teams that are small enough to be fed by two pizzas and assigned them the responsibility to develop autonomous services that are complete on their own.

The idea was to use microservices to power every feature of their platform and the term “microservices” didn’t even exist at that time! These microservices together would give the impression of a big, single application and communicate with each other via secure APIs. The developers would be fully responsible for the services they build and that includes coding, testing and deployment.

However, a lot of operational work became repetitive, and it slowed down the process. With the introduction of AWS (Amazon Web Services), Amazon was able to automate these operational processes and it helped them to scale the services depending on the demand and business needs.

Conclusion

It is true that moving to microservices architecture requires a paradigm shift. But the benefits of it will depend on the nature of the business and its long-term goals. For large enterprises, adopting microservices is a necessity due to the complexity arising from their large-scale operations and the magnitude of demands they must fulfil.  For startups and small-scale businesses, microservices architecture may not seem attractive now. However, if you are a growth-oriented business, choosing microservices architecture will benefit you in long run.

N.B.: AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in developing trendsetting yet cost effective solutions for startups and enterprises alike. If you are looking for a microservices developer for your next project, contact us now!

Technology Trends to Watch Out for in 2022

2021 saw many technology trends as a continuous response to the COVID pandemic that emerged in 2020. Industries were in shock during the first quarter of 2020. But towards the end of the year, most of the industries were able to take control of the situation and we saw somewhat an accelerated growth during the year 2021.

In 2021, most industries optioned for technology adoption and it helped them tremendously. The industries that took advantage of digital transformation included manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, education, financial services, media, and retail. Since customers were mostly confined within their homes, we saw some big jumps in emerging technologies in industries like education, media, retail, and healthcare.

2021 is already over and we are now in 2022. Most of us will be wondering what to expect this year especially in technology industry since it was the driving force behind all emerging trends for past couple of years. To help the curious minds, we have curated a list of emerging technology trends for the current year, 2022.

Major technology trends to watch out for in 2022

Automation

The word “automation” is not new to any of us. We have been hearing about automation and how different industries are adopting it to improve their productivity, efficiency, cut costs and boost profit margin. However, as different industries are seeking out more ways to adopt automation, automation is also seeing a diversification.

In the beginning, it was the manufacturing industry that recognized the benefits of automation. Later, the service industry also adopted automation in the form of CRMs, inventory management software, payroll software, invoicing software and so on. These days automation has reached every nook and cranny of a business. People have become familiar with terms like self-driving vehicles, autopilots, smart wearables, smart home notifications etc. We are also seeing an increase in consumer numbers for IoT devices as they are becoming more affordable and convenient.

According to McKinsey,

“By 2025, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), generating 79.4 zettabytes of data yearly.”

We can expect more growth in the field of automation and IoT in coming years as the potential is limitless and we have only touched the tip of the iceberg.

Metaverse

Facebook renamed itself to Meta in October last year. The tech giant rebranding itself after a decade and a half reflects the potential of metaverse.  While AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) are not a new trend in 2022, the coming together of physical, augmented, and virtual world to form a single and seamless entity, where people can hang out with friends, meet new people and places, do shopping, participate in entertainment and professional activities alike, is something new and yet to experience. Of course, the idea has been lingering around for a while and we even had a chance to see few demos and experimentation, the Metaverse was still in its conception stage. But we can expect some breakthroughs soon especially since trillion-dollar companies like “Meta” have recognized that it is the future.

Enhanced Search Optimization

The pandemic forced so many physical stores to close down. Businesses around the globe, irrespective of their industry, discovered that it is difficult to find customers in traditional ways since movement of the people are mostly restricted. It forced businesses to migrate from offline business model to an online business model with a focus on websites and apps to connect with their customers.

However, the results were not promising since most businesses were out of reach for the customers. Their websites and apps failed to show up in search results and were undiscoverable for potential clients. It forced businesses to put more focus on search optimization and become discoverable for their customers.

Due to the comfort and convenience it offers, people are still preferring online shopping even after the restrictions are lifted. We can expect the trend to stay the same for a while at least until there is some incentives for customers to prefer the traditional way for shopping. So, currently businesses are forced to find new search and discoverability strategies to attract sales.

Decision intelligence

Decision intelligence is a new discipline that can help such organizations with their organizational decision-making process. It can support and enhance human decision-making using intelligence and analytics to inform, learn from and create a set of processes to find the right decision. It combines various disciplines like data science, engineering, social science, decision theory and managerial science. We will be seeing decision intelligence in action more often in the coming years.

Distributed business

A distributed business or distributed company is a business that has a remote workforce and consumers connected via digital technologies. It is a digital-first, remote-first business model that encourages hybrid workforce and virtual services to improve employee and consumer experience. Ever since the pandemic there is an apparent shift in employee and consumer preferences and distributed business model can help companies to meet the expectations of both.

Cyber AI

Hacking, breaches, data theft etc. are becoming widespread despite technological advancements. Hackers are leveraging the advancement in technology to find loopholes in systems and create novel ways to get access to them. In 2022, businesses need to be proactive than ever to counter such cyber threats.

Thankfully, artificial intelligence and machine learning help to build models that can learn their own and detect novel patterns in a system. Processes like “Anomaly detection” etc. are a big step towards achieving this goal. Such models can not only detect an unusual pattern, but they can also contain them, notify about such events to concerned parties and use the data to improve themselves.

Distributed ledger and Blockchain

Decentralization is happening in all fields. Data storage and processing are also undergoing a major transformation. The traditional, centralized databases are giving way for distributed ledger (shared ledger or DLT) and blockchain models that are more secure and safe.

Industries like finance and banking are taking full advantage of these technologies as they offer more efficient transactions. The transactions and their details are recorded in multiple places at the same time making them impossible to be lost.

DLT is still an emerging technology if we compare its potential to the current rate of adoption. Since it can help to deter issues like hacking, unauthorized access, data theft etc., we can expect it to become an emerging trend in 2022.

Cloud

Businesses are moving from legacy environments to the cloud at a faster rate. The necessity to go virtual and remote forced most businesses to ditch legacy models and find alternative solutions.

Since the tech industry foresaw the rise of cloud a long time ago, most of the new solutions like productivity tools, businesses suits, even games and media services are already cloud-based. Along with the necessity to go for a decentralized and distributed model, the potential for much better compatibility and integration are forcing companies to build their infrastructure and solution using cloud tech.

Wordless Passwords

Are you someone who always click on the “forgot password” button every time you try to log in to a platform? If yes, here is good news. The traditional, character-based passwords are giving way to more sophisticated biometric passwords. The use of fingerprint, face recognition, iris scan and voice authentication etc. are becoming popular as an authentication mode. They are not only secure but also convenient compared to traditional passwords that are based on alphabets, numbers, and special characters that we always manage to forget.

Also, service providers like Google etc. are moving towards more convenient authentication methods like signing in with your phone or authenticator app where you do not have to remember any password or code but to tap on the matching code that appears on your device/app.

Fewer keys

The introduction of the Apple Pencil was revolutionary. Even though stencils were in use for a long time, Apple Pencil offers something more than a pencil. They are integrated very well with the devices and designed in a way that is convenient to users. It can undertake different functions based on pressure, tilt, the application that is currently open, double-tap, or for navigation and everything else including notetaking and drawing.

In short, we are moving from an era of keyboards and input tools to a new era that enables us to interact with devices just like how we interact with other human beings.

Immersion

Technology is moving its focus from experience to immersion. Until now each component in a system had its own set of functions that focused on delivering a specific experience to users. However, the recent technology trends are moving towards immersive experience where each component is designed in a way to offer a realistic, more enjoyable and wholistic experience and eliminate any chances for interruptions. The vision is to narrow the border between the virtual and real world and deliver the experience the users want rather than they need.

The two industries that are more focused on this emerging trend are gaming and media. It is because these industries were always struggling to deliver “the right experience” to their users especially when the users’ interests span across history, science, and fantasy. For example, it always was a challenge for game developers to offer the experience of living in space or a treasure hunt in ancient times to its users even though the storyline and models were of the best quality. The fault was not in the quality of the design but the delivery of the experience.

Ever since AR and VR became more mature and there are significant improvements in rendering, physics, display and audio technology, the experience has become much better for the users. In 2022, we can expect this trend to become widespread and more industries adopting it to improve customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

There are some exciting technology trends we can expect in 2022. Some of the names associated with these tech trends may seem familiar to you. Even if they are familiar, we are yet to see the adoption of such technologies on a scale that is large enough to make an impact on our day-to-day life. 2022 seems like to be the year we are going to experience them in our regular life.

AlignMinds is an award-winning technology consulting company that specializes in product engineering in mobility and cloud platforms. We offer best in class consulting in web and mobile app development, AI, AR, IoT, cloud, blockchain and cybersecurity. Are you looking for a technology partner for your next project? Contact us now!

Why Choose Application Maintenance Services?

Imagine one day you discovered an app called “MobileApp”.

The app helps its users to find rides that are economical by letting you share the occupancy with other users who want to travel in the same direction. You were not sure about the practicality of what it offers, so you tested it on a weekend night when you were not in a hurry. Fortunately, the app worked perfectly. You were able to find a ride quick enough and save some money too.

You have been using the app for a while now. All your rides, including the one to your office, are handled by the “MobileApp”. Like on any other morning, you woke up, got ready, took your mobile and opened the app to book your ride today too. To your horror, the map is not loading, and the app keeps on freezing even after several reboots.

You open Play Store to see whether there is an update pending.  But alas, you found nothing! However, you notice that most of the recent comments are about the similar issue and seems like it is happening for a while for most users.

But you got no time at least enough time to read all those comments. You must hurry now or be prepared to reach your office at the wrong time. luckily, you discover one of your colleagues lives just nearby and he will be able to offer you a lift for the day. Now you are feeling ashamed of yourself for trusting a mobile app and depending on it too much enough to bring you trouble. You lost trust in the whole technology thing itself.

This is what happens when app developers don’t take care of application maintenance. The trust and image that built over time is just lost within a minute. The existing users are lost mostly forever, so are most of the potential users who see those feedbacks on Play Store. Revenue, hard work, development, and everything else went into vain.

What is application maintenance?

Application maintenance is the process of continuously monitoring, analyzing, evaluating, updating, and upgrading part of an application or application as a whole to offer the functions and features as intended without any interruption or lack of usability for the end-user.

Application maintenance comes at later stages of app development. But it plays a vital role in deciding the success of an application.

Due to evolving market needs, competition, new technologies and technology adoption, change in business strategies, and other external factors like government policies and latest events in the industry, an application need regular modification to maintain its relevancy among customers. It is irrelevant whether you are developing the app in one go or the development is scheduled in several stages, maintenance and technical support are very crucial from the moment the app goes live.

Why is application maintenance important?

There are several reasons why application maintenance is so important.

Ensure application functions

An application’s functions and features are what make it unique. They offer an advantage over its competitors and play a crucial role in whether the app is going to be successful in the market.

However, due to technology advancement and some of the existing technologies getting outdated, the app needs to be modified and updated in regular intervals to ensure that all its functions and features are still available to the users. Otherwise, the app will lose its functionalities and its place in the market. It will become obsolete within a short span due to how fast technology is evolving.

Technology adoption

Technology is evolving at a fast pace. Existing ones are replaced by faster, modern, and safer technologies. Businesses and applications that leverage the latest technologies will have the upper hand in competition because it will help them offer an enhanced experience to their customers.

However, most applications are not able to leverage upon latest technologies due to the wide gap between the existing one used in the application and the latest technology. Either they must recreate the whole application once again or compromise on what they can improve to offer a better experience to their users. This often happens when an application missed maintenance for a while increasing compatibility issues.

New features

Since applications that are devoid of maintenance for a while will have compatibility issues, such applications are more likely to be at a disadvantage when it comes to integrating new features. Most of the new, trending features are powered by the latest technologies. It is due to the lack of these technologies earlier applications failed to include these features during their launch. So, it is clear that to integrate any new features that depend on the latest technology, application maintenance is a must.

Security

As technology evolves, more and more vulnerabilities and security threats are surfacing. Hackers try to exploit loopholes in an application to get access to sensitive data. These loopholes are the product of outdated codes and technologies the application still uses. Also, there are other threats like malware, ransomware, data breach, etc. because the application is not up to date and has not deployed the latest security measures. To ensure security alone, application maintenance is critical for any application.

Legal compliance

Governments across the world are identifying more user rights like the right to privacy, right to option out, right to accessibility, right to request for the removal of information etc. They are not only identifying but also legalizing them to ensure that these rights are respected by tech companies. For example, new policies like GDPR forced most tech companies to change their way of collecting data or withdraw from the market. So, to become compatible with ever-changing market needs and legal obligations, application maintenance is a must to follow.

User satisfaction

User satisfaction is a critical factor in deciding the success of an application. However, there are many factors, like the ones stated above, that are contributing to user satisfaction. In other words, to ensure user satisfaction, an app should take care of security, its functions and features, legal compatibility, user experience, the addition of new features version wise etc., which are not possible without application maintenance.

Trust and brand image

Remember the story at the beginning of this article? Trust is hard to build but easy to lose!

Nowadays applications are focusing on certain niches. They are trying to help the users with one specific action. It can be booking a ride, booking a table in their favorite restaurant, trading in the stock market or trying their luck in online dating. Whatever it may be, once a user becomes familiar with the application and its usage, it is more likely that he or she is going to use it on a regular basis making the app a part of their day-to-day life.

When you are interacting with something on a regular basis, there will always be some emotional bonding. In other words, applications are taking over the place of other human beings in one’s life. Not a long time ago, you used to book tickets from travel agencies. If you are one who is frequently travelling, you mostly have an emotional connection or even friendship with the ticket agent. However, these days such positions are slowly replaced by mobile applications.

But the point is that, due to the same emotional connection, when an application fails to do its job or totally mess up, the user feels like they are being cheated and the trust is broken forever. And often they share their experience with friends and family circles just like how they used to recommend the ticket agent when everything was going well. And when something goes wrong? The negative news spread faster!

Application maintenance services

Now you might have understood why application maintenance is so critical. It is as important as application development and can solely decide the future of the application.

Thankfully when it comes to application maintenance, there are several options available to you. Most of the application development companies offer app maintenance as a standalone service or as part of their application development service.

Approaching a single company that offers both app development and app maintenance has its own benefits.

  • It is easier to create a solid and comprehensive roadmap if you are approaching the same agency for app development and maintenance.
  • When maintenance and support are included as part of the whole package, it becomes more economical.
  • Since application maintenance is a long-term service by nature, it is more likely that the agency and you will have a long-term relationship, which in turn offer you the opportunity to negotiate.
  • When the app development company is also responsible for maintenance and support, the probability of bugs and errors will be less since they understand the system very well. Also, they will be able to resolve issues faster if in case one arises, and the application development will be futureproof.
  • You will have more control over the budget due to the opportunity for negotiation. Also, companies that offer both development and maintenance services mostly have flexible pricing plans.
  • You have more control over the future of the application. For example, since it is the same agency that developed the application, they will already have a team that is familiar with the architecture and infrastructure of your application, the strength, and weaknesses of the system, and how to migrate to an upgraded environment in future to integrate more features to the existing system.

Whether you are looking for an agency that offers both development and maintenance services or planning to purchase app maintenance services from another company, the important thing is that you must plan and create a roadmap for application maintenance at the beginning stage of product development itself. It will help you allocate enough resources for the maintenance part and play the long game.

Cost of app maintenance

The cost of app maintenance depends on so many factors like how the pricing is calculated, the location of the team, nature of the work, the complexity of the work, technologies to work with etc.

Pricing model

There are different pricing models available. For example, some companies charge per hour, some others charge per new version release or as a monthly retention plan.

Location

If you are from a developed country and looking for application development or app maintenance services within a minimum price range, hiring an offshore company from geographies like Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe will be the best choice. Tech companies from these parts of world have a more affordable rate compared to companies from developed countries like the US.

Nature of the work

  • Are you approaching a different company for application maintenance or are you planning to purchase both development and maintenance services as a package from a single company?
  • Are you also looking for technical support from the same team?
  • Do you want them to just fix the bugs or release a new version with more features periodically?
  • Do you want to migrate the application to a better environment when there is a better opportunity available?

As you see, the nature of the work can vary from project to project. So, it is important that the nature of the work is well identified in advance to calculate the cost of app maintenance.

The complexity of the work

The cost of maintenance will change depending on how complex the work is. More complex work demands more resources and the involvement of an expert team. A complex work also demands more time unless more resources are invested. These factors will increase the cost of maintenance to a certain level.

Technologies involved

Even though there is a team involved in the development and maintenance of applications, each team will have members who are an expert in specific fields or technologies. Some technologies are easier to work with and there is a lack of experts in some fields. In other words, when more technologies are involved and it is difficult to find the right expert for the project, the cost of maintenance will be on the higher side.

Usually, an experienced developer or a developer from a developed country like the US may charge $30 and above per hour for their services. Whereas in a developing country like India, the price starts from $15. However, these prices will vary depending on the above factors mentioned.

Conclusion

Application maintenance plays a vital role in deciding the success of an application. So, it is important to plan and allocate enough resources for the maintenance services at the beginning stage of product development. AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in developing trendsetting yet cost-effective applications for various verticals. We have successfully implemented application maintenance and app management for thousands of projects throughout these years. If you are looking for an expert team to take care of app development or maintenance for you, Contact us now!

Finding the Best DevOps Consulting Services

DevOps consulting services are becoming popular day by day. The estimated value of the global DevOps market was USD 4,311.95 Million in 2020. It is expected to cross USD 5,114.57 Million by the end of this year. Considering a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18.95%, experts have forecasted that the value will reach USD 12,215.54 Million by 2026.

The reason why DevOps has become so popular is that it promotes a culture of trust and risk-sharing between team members. It motivates teams to continuously work together, experiment and shares knowledge to reach a common goal, i.e., make a software product ready as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The statistic shows the importance of DevOps in scaling software development. Courtesy: Statista

As it promotes team play and encourages communication and mutual support, the uncertainty regarding the quality of the end product is minimized. As a result, so many businesses are adopting DevOps at a fast pace to eliminate uncertainty and improve the quality of their products.

What is DevOps?

AWS by Amazon defines DevOps as

“DevOps is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity: evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. This speed enables organizations to better serve their customers and compete more effectively in the market.”

Microsoft Azure defines DevOps as

“A compound of development (Dev) and operations (Ops), DevOps is the union of people, process, and technology to continually provide value to customers.”

The above definitions make it clear that DevOps is not just a method or technique. Rather, it is a combination of principles, practices, methodologies, values, and philosophies that are shared between teams to help them achieve a common goal of creating software with maximum value.

Benefits of DevOps

DevOps offer so many benefits to a business. But what makes DevOps more popular is how crucial these benefits are to a business.

High collaboration

Communication between teams is crucial when developing a product. Developing a web or mobile application is not a simple process. It involves a set of processes such as market study, product conceptualization, product designing, development, deployment, and maintenance. The quality of the final product will depend on the level of mutual collaboration, communication, and integration across various teams who are part of the whole process.

DevOps encourages an environment where the boundaries between each team are reduced. There is a free flow of information and mutual support between teams to ensure that the quality is maintained at each stage of product development. Did your IT team have to send back the module your development team had worked tirelessly for the last few months as there was a conflict between the code and the deployment environment? DevOps will save you next time!

Early conflict detection

DevOps encourages knowledge sharing between teams. Each team will have a clear idea of what must be done and what are the requirements at each stage. These requirements are clearly communicated to other teams. The automated, continuous monitoring along with rigorous testing eliminates the chances for any conflict. And even if a problem arises, it is identified and mitigated in the initial stage itself.

Innovation

DevOps promotes collaboration between teams. When a group of talent comes together, the chances of finding something disruptive is much bigger.

Also, DevOps streamline the whole process of product development starting from market study to deployment and maintenance. The roadmap, automation, rigorous testing, and continuous monitoring help with eliminating extra work and reworks. The teams are more relaxed and there is a good work-life balance that promotes a fresh mindset and innovative thinking.

Faster delivery time

Automated processes, an environment that discourages conflict, quick feedback cycle and continuous delivery models help with transforming software development into a smooth and fast process. Effective communication and continuous testing ensure that quality is not lost in any stages. As conflicts and rework are less to nil, the projects are completed within deadline and with maximum efficiency.

Better quality

From the above points, it is clear that DevOps directly improve the quality of the end product. Rigorous and continuous testing, mutual collaboration, effective communication, continuous feedback cycle and automation are a few of the many factors that contribute to the quality of the product.

Reduced cost

Most businesses wonder whether they can afford DevOps services. This doubt arises from the misunderstanding that the budget can be reduced without affecting the list of features or quality of a product. Chances are, if you are opting for the traditional development process, the cost may increase due to conflicts and reworks. You may end up spending more than forecasted.

DevOps consulting services

To get all the benefits of DevOps, you must find the right DevOps consulting company. However, finding the right one may seem difficult due to the variety of options available in the market. Also, there are certain parameters you must check while choosing a DevOps consulting service. These factors not only help you to find the best DevOps consulting company but also you will be hiring the right one for your requirement.

Finding the right DevOps consulting company

Here is a list of things to check while hiring a DevOps consulting firm.

Identifying your requirement

The first step in choosing a DevOps consulting firm is to identify your requirement. Ask yourself questions like

  • What are your requirements
  • How are you planning to meet these requirements?
  • What is the available solution for your requirements?
  • What are the pros and cons of each available solution?
  • Which are the solutions that match your budget and timeline?

For example, if your requirement is to develop a complex product that demands certain technical expertise and faultless implementation, hiring a DevOps expert will be better than hiring a full stack developer.

If you are planning to hire an external agency instead of hiring a team in house, DevOps will be a better choice since it offers a robust feedback cycle along with ensuring that the product is ready as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Expertise

DevOps consulting firms should be an expert in software development and IT operations.

A DevOps consultant usually works on complex projects. Without having a better understanding of the process, technology stacks, methodologies, and operation constraints it will be harder for them to implement a project and achieve the results that are intended.

Also, since a DevOps engineer is most likely to work with an external company, it should be easier for them to understand the current technologies used by the said company, what are the strength and weaknesses of these technologies, and how to improve them to match the actual requirement without increasing the cost to an exorbitant level. The best DevOps companies are a maestro in doing research, analysis, evaluation, and planning.

Communication

Communication plays a large role in any DevOps project. In fact, it is one of the core aspects of DevOps project management.

Since DevOps demand mutual collaboration and knowledge sharing between teams and there is a continuous feedback cycle involved, communicating in a clear and precise manner is very important. Not only that, but a DevOps expert should also be well versed with popular communication and project management tools since most of the communications and monitoring will be done through technology platforms.

Support mentality

What DevOps tries to achieve is a rapport between different teams in the same project. It helps with finding innovative ideas and helps with avoiding conflicts and glitches in product development.

While elimination is a reactive process, avoiding a conflict altogether will need a proactive approach. The approach demands proactive communication and a supportive mentality between team members and different teams. For example, the IT team can help the development team to understand the strength and weaknesses of the client’s IT infrastructure and help them develop codes that are fully compatible with the existing environment. This also demands that each team has expert knowledge and adequate experience in their own field.

Being friendly

Only a friendly environment can promote team collaboration and communication. When team members feel intimidated or not valued it will negatively impact the whole process. It will also add certain biases to the product development cycle and the quality of the final product will be below the bar. So, a DevOps Expert should be friendly in her approach and promotes friendly gestures and expression of gratitude whenever possible.

Professionalism

Friendly yet professional. That should be the description of a DevOps expert.

While friendliness encourages communication and feedback, overdoing it may add certain biases to the product development cycle.  For example, as a DevOps professional your duty is to ensure that a software product is ready as quickly and efficiently as possible. It demands keeping up with deadlines, monitoring resource allocation, monitoring the status of tasks assigned to team members and checking and verifying quality at every stage of the development. These duties demand an honest approach towards identifying problems and solving them as early as possible.  But biases due to lack of professionalism and being overfriendly may result in overlooking these issues and the quality of the product will suffer.

Willingness to learn

A good DevOps expert never stops learning.

Most likely that a DevOps engineer will be continuously exposed to different problems and different teams each time they take up a project. Since the core philosophy of DevOps is to work as a single team trying to achieve the same goal, each member of the team should have a proper understanding of the whole project. They should also understand why certain things must be done in certain ways and how not following the guidelines will jeopardize their team or the next team in the product development cycle. 

Empathy and patience

Software development is a complex process. It involves different stages, continuous feedback, and several iterations. Not all members of the team will be familiar with the scope of the project especially when there is a junior member involved. Since DevOps demands different teams, who may be an expert in their field but lack knowledge in other aspects of software development, to work together, it is likely that some members have some catching up to do. They may need more time for getting familiar with the project or need occasional technical assistance from an experienced member.

A good DevOps consultant will take notice of this and try to solve it in the most effective way possible. It is because she understands that when it comes to teamwork, there are no individual problems but problems that are common to everyone as a team. This is also why a good DevOps engineer can easily help their clients with solving the technological challenges they are facing.

Conclusion

The popularity of DevOps is increasing day by day. It is mainly due to the advantages DevOps is offering compared to other product development methodologies.

Hiring DevOps consulting services helps businesses to develop software products as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, the success of the projects will depend on factors like whether the business was able to hire the right DevOps consulting service. AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in working with projects that are varying in scale, technology, and complexity. If you are looking for a DevOps expert for your next project, contact us.

Finding the Right Mobile App Development Services: Checklist

In 2020, global revenue from mobile apps crossed 318 billion U.S. dollars. This was a big jump from 60 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

The mobile games segment topped the chart with a revenue of over 200 billion U.S. dollars. Social networking mobile apps created revenue of around 31 billion dollars and came second on the list.

Due to high earning potential and the chance to capture a huge market share, mobile apps are becoming popular in all segments. Statista reports that as of the first quarter of 2021, over 3.48 million mobile apps were available on the Google play store.

As mobile apps became popular, the demand for mobile app development services also saw a huge rise. Businesses and entrepreneurs recognized the importance of finding the right mobile app development services, so they can maximize the potential for growth and revenue.

However, as the demand for mobile application development services increased, the industry also saw significant growth. Countless mobile app development companies came into existence across the globe to tap on the opportunity.

As a result, finding the right app development companies from the plethora of options become a difficult task for most businesses.

The number of available apps in the Google Play Store from 2nd quarter 2015 to 1st quarter 2021. Courtesy: Statista.

Resources required for mobile app development

You may think the new-age businesses like mobile games and social media etc. are different from traditional businesses. Their business strategy and resource allocation are something new that traditional businesses can never relate to.

However, this is a false notion.

Just like a traditional business, any technology-oriented business also has the strategies set out almost similarly. The resources are invested in market research, competitors’ analysis, consumer behaviour study, planning of solutions, implementation of the solution, marketing, and post-purchase services. The major segments where a new-age business invests its resources are listed below.

Market Research

Before you start building your app, there are a few steps you must complete. The first one on the list is “market research”.

Try to find answers to questions like

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are the problems they are facing?
  • How the solution you are going to develop will help them?
  • What are the current options in front of your target audience?
  • How can your solution help the audience better?

Business strategy

You have to strategize how the mobile app you are going to develop will help you as a business. For every business, profit and growth are the ultimate goals. So, any investment they make should bring them returns in terms of profit or growth.

At this step, a business should strategize whether the mobile app is part of their growth plan or a source of revenue. For example, a construction business can create a mobile app as a media consumption platform where they share the latest designs, DIY tutorials or general tips and guides on construction and design. Here the strategy is to help their brand name reach a larger audience, so it will be easier to sell to the same audience later.

On the other hand, a revenue-oriented solution will be a platform where a business connects with their customers and sell products and services directly to them. eCommerce websites are a suitable example of this.

The other things a business should decide include how are they planning to implement this strategy. Are they planning to generate revenue via ads, subscription offers, in-app purchases, one-time payments, upgrade plans or any other modes? If the strategy is to increase their brand reach, what types of content they can utilize? How frequently the content should be updated? Should the content be available in multiple languages?

Consumer study

To be honest, this one should be a part of all the stages of app development. The targeted audience will come into contact with a business in several instances. Each time, the interaction will provide more data about the targeted audience. As a business, you should leverage this information to improve your products and find better and efficient ways to reach the target audience.

In the preliminary stages, you can make use of direct surveys and market research to build a customer profile. Once the app is live, you can leverage the data from the inbuilt analytics or third-party tools. More information can be collected from customers directly once they have directly engaged with your business either during a business transaction or post-purchase.

The collected data can be used to improve existing products, introduce new products, improve your marketing efforts etc.

Building the app

The app can be built in house or by hiring external agencies who are experts in mobile app development.

While building an app in-house will offer you more control over the whole process, it may increase the cost of the process and may delay the launch of the app. You have to invest in technology, infrastructure, human resources and set methodologies and quality standards all by yourself. You also must take care of app deployment and post-deployment strategies. All these will build up cost and hiring the right resources and setting up infrastructure etc. will take time.

If you are hiring a mobile app development company, they already have the right resources and methodologies with them. So, the development cost and time may be less compared to developing an app in house.

If you have no prior experience in this field, has budget constraints or need to launch the app as early as possible, hiring an app development agency will be the right option.

App launch and post-deployment

Whether it is an iOS app or an Android app, your app should follow certain guidelines and quality standards to become eligible to be featured on respective app markets. For example, this is a guideline offered by Apple. And, this is one of the guidelines offered by Google. There are several such guidelines and tips available for both App Store and Play store.

However, submitting your app to the app store or play store won’t be enough. Even if the app store optimization is done right, the success of your app can’t be guaranteed at this stage.  You have to promote your newly launched app to your target audience and for that implementation of a well-planned marketing strategy is necessary.

You should also update your app periodically to meet new technology standards and keep it secure and bug-free.

Should you hire mobile app development services?

As you just read, mobile app development is a complex process of combining business strategies and technological innovation. It demands market and technology expertise. The resources needed for developing a mobile app is demanding and you should plan it carefully to not waste your investment.

Thus, unless you have prior experience in developing a mobile app, it is always better to hire mobile app development services so the result can be somewhat guaranteed. The good thing about hiring a mobile app development company is that the right one will have enough experience and expertise in the industry to help you out with the whole process starting from market research and product conceptualization to app launch and app marketing.

But the question is how do you find the right mobile app development services?

Finding the right mobile app development services

Definition of “right mobile app development services” may vary from one business to another. There are different factors that decide whether a mobile app development service is suitable or non-suitable for a business.

Price

First and foremost, the cost of hiring an app development service should be affordable. Unless the services are available at a price range you are able to meet, hiring becomes futile since the project will never be completed or you may lose ownership of the final product.

The best way to find affordable app development services is to hire globally. For example, the cost of developing mobile apps is comparatively less in south-east Asian countries like India or Eastern European countries. If you think hiring from these countries won’t handicap you in terms of communication and quality, this will be a wise decision to make in terms of investment.

Pricing model

Often app development agencies will have different pricing models. For example, some agencies charge you per project, some charge you based on services offered and some others may charge you based on resources. There are also app development agencies that offer you a flexible pricing model.

Experience

Hiring an experienced app development agency will be the right decision for most businesses as it will reduce risk.

When hiring a mobile app development company check whether they have any previous experience in developing similar mobile apps or a mobile app for the same market or industry. Check how the apps are performing in the market. If they have prior experience in developing a similar app, they might be familiar with the industry, business model and target market. So, they can leverage their experience in each stage of development such as user experience, choosing the technology platforms, payment integration, data security and legal compliance etc.

You must also check the performance and quality of the mobile apps they have developed by downloading a few of them and using them on a device. You can also check the ratings and feedbacks their previous customers have given them.

Expertise

Mobile app development is a complex process. It involves different stages and each stage demand expertise in certain disciplines.

For example, the first stage of app development can be identified as product conceptualization. This stage involves planning the product you are going to develop, what are its strength and how it will help you as a business and how it will help the targeted audience with their problems. Here, the expertise should be related to market research and business planning.

The next stage of app development deals with product design. It involves the process of transforming the product concept into design in terms of wireframes, icons, typography, and images. Here, creativity and design capabilities are the expertise called for.

In the next stages, experts are needed for

  • Finding the right technology platforms,
  • Maintaining coding standards,
  • Understanding quality parameters,
  • Following legal and security guidelines,
  • Meeting app store eligibility
  • Promote the mobile app
  • User analytics etc.

If your plan is to hire an agency to take care of the whole mobile app development process, you should check whether they have the expertise to manage each stage of the development cycle. Lack of expertise in even a single stage may negatively impact the success of your mobile app.

Location

If you are hiring from outside the country, you should be careful about communication and cultural differences.

If there is a big difference in time zone, it may negatively impact the communication since the team you hired may not be available at a time that is convenient for you. So before hiring, you must check whether support is available around the clock or during the time that is convenient to you and your team.

You should also check whether the team can communicate in a language you are comfortable with. Miscommunication will lead to misunderstandings. It will cause unnecessary delays in the development and may impact the functions of the final product negatively.

Quality standards

The quality of a mobile app is necessary due to several factors. First and foremost, the app should provide a good experience for the end-user. It should meet security standards to avoid any legal proceedings from authorities or the users who think the app has violated their basic rights. The quality should be kept in check to become eligible to be submitted to App Store and Play Store, the most popular app markets currently in the market.

So, while looking for mobile application development services, you should check whether the service provider has any understanding of these quality standards. Normally any professional app development agency will have a document that states the quality standards they follow, what are the measurements they take to ensure the mobile app quality and how they mitigate any issues that arise related to this matter and details of contact points who are responsible for monitoring and maintaining the quality of the product they develop.

Before hiring, you should check whether the agency can share any such documents. If no such documents are available, you should check what options are available to check what quality standards the agency follows.

Property rights and Disclosure

Have no doubts. If you are the one paying for the services, you should be the owner of the product idea and final product. A proper non-disclosure agreement should be signed between you and the app development agency in the preliminary stages of communication itself and the agency should respect the product as intellectual property of your business.

Security

Security standards are compulsory for any app product. The app should be safe and secure to use, it should be protected from unauthorized access and the data should be stored securely following all data policy and data security standards set up by security experts and legal authorities.

Any failure in this department will not only impact the business negatively but also cause additional costs in terms of fines and compensation and tarnish the image of the business in front of the public. It may even force the business to shut down its operation and the parties involved may have to undergo legal scrutiny.

Delivery management

Hiring mobile application development services doesn’t mean that you are handing over the whole process to the agency and left waiting until the final product is ready.

The agency should keep you updated periodically as the development progress and seek frequent feedback from you. You should not be left out as an external party but should be respected as part of the team. Regular meetings should be scheduled, and you should have ways and means to raise your concerns and share your feedback.

The delivery management standards and guidelines should be documented and shared with you in the preliminary stages of communication itself. As a client, you should also have the details of contact points at different levels so that if an issue arises, you can seek for remedy immediately.

Deployment

Deployment is the process of launching the final version of a mobile app and offering a way for the actual users to access it.

Generally, apps are deployed on app markets like App Store or Play Store depending on the technology and platforms. To be eligible for deployment, each app market has its own guidelines and quality standards. The app will be approved only after the review of the same. The agency should be familiar with all these guidelines and ensure that the app is deployed as preplanned. They should also take care of all the App Store Optimization(ASO) techniques that will help the app to reach more users.

Post-deployment services

Post-deployment services are mainly app maintenance services. It includes bug fixes, releases of the new versions, adding new functionalities and features, user analytics, data on acquisition etc.

Most companies charge based on hours or a monthly retainer fee for post-deployment services. But this will wholly depend on their business and pricing model. As a business, you should try to hire the best post-deployment services as they will have a direct impact on uptime and the user experience.

Conclusion

Finding mobile app development services is not difficult in this day and age. However, finding the “right” application development services may be difficult for most businesses as the definition of “best app development services” vary from one to another. As each business is unique, you should find an app development agency that understands your industry and business goal and share the same business values as yours.

AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in developing mobile apps for startups and enterprises alike. We have developed several trendsetting yet cost-effective solutions for multiple verticals throughout the years of our existence. If you are looking for an experienced mobile app development agency who is also an expert in this field, contact us now!

Cloud Migration of Legacy Systems: The Ultimate Guide

Cloud migration services are becoming popular day by day. As more businesses are optioning for cloud technologies, the industry has seen a sudden growth in recent times. The surge in demand for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is an example of this.

According to Gartner, worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 23.1% in 2021 to total $332.3 billion, up from $270 billion in 2020. Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report states that enterprises are continuing to spend on the cloud and most of the respondents are leveraging multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies.

Cloud migration: The driving force

The COVID pandemic has had a significant impact on the pace of cloud adoption. However, the trend was much noticeable even before the pandemic. Organizations that recognized the benefits of cloud technologies were the first to move from traditional environments to cloud ones. In other words, the benefits that are offered by the cloud environments are the driving force behind this trend. The pandemic has just fastened its pace.

Why migrate to the cloud?

The main advantage of the cloud is that it offers growth and scalability. Since these two are the major goals of any business, most of them saw the emergence of cloud technologies as an opportunity to turn their ambitions into realities.

The major benefits of cloud include,

Cost

Setting up and maintaining technology infrastructure will drive up the total cost of ownership. You must spend on purchasing the components, hiring experts to set up the system, place proper authorizations and security measures, enable hardware and software compatibility, and update the system as technology and industry advances. It is your responsibility to train your staff or hire an external team to periodically evaluate the strength and weaknesses of the system, make it up to date and running. These are the major drawbacks of any legacy systems.

However, ever since companies like Amazon and Microsoft started offering cloud services to thousands of customers, companies could opt for infrastructure as services and pay only for the usage. Since the cost is divided among a large customer base, the price of the services has become affordable.

Resources

To set up, run and maintain legacy systems, businesses have to invest on human resources. The systems are maintained by dedicated staff who need to have adequate knowledge on how the system works and how to make it compatible and future-proof.

However, when a business is optioning for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS), they are also getting expert support as part of the service. The service provider will take care of staffing, training, maintenance and updating of the system. So, the businesses can fully focus on their core functions.

Security

The security of data was a big headache for businesses. Even now, it remains a major concern for them and their end-users. The introduction of cloud systems couldn’t change it. However, ever since businesses have started adopting IaaS, businesses could worry less and spend less on this area as the infrastructure providers also offer security as a part of the overall package.

During the time of legacy systems, businesses must allocate a portion of their profit to security and threat prevention. They are also compelled to periodically evaluate whether their infrastructure has any vulnerabilities, and it can withstand the latest threats. Many small businesses find it difficult to allocate funds since the profit they are gaining is already marginal.

However, the introduction of cloud as services brought new concepts like the “shared responsibility model” to the industry. The services provider, for example AWS, will be responsible for the hardware, network and other facilities needed to run the systems and you will be responsible for encrypting the data and authorization.

The benefit is that businesses no longer have to invest in research and development and maintenance of the infrastructure. The responsibility and cost of the same will fall on the service providers. Since their whole business model depends on the quality and security of what they offer, it is more likely that they will invest in these areas, and they are more than capable to do so compared to businesses depending on legacy systems.

Accessibility and Authorization

Legacy systems are more vulnerable to data theft and similar threats as the data are stored in local premises. Anyone who has access to such premises may have access to the stored data whether it is in raw form or encrypted form. So, companies had to take extra precautions to ensure data security when it comes to legacy systems.

On the other hand, data are stored safely and remotely in a cloud system. Often the services providers demand that the data should be converted into encrypted form to avoid any data leakage. They also offer several features to enable multi-level authorization where not everyone can access the whole data and often systems are in place to track who is accessing what.

Collaboration

Cloud enables several people from different locations of the world to work on a platform at the same time. This not only increases productivity and communications but also enables companies to hire from across the globe. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right talents locally or the cost of hiring locally may be higher. Using cloud technologies, businesses now have a way to overcome these challenges.

Speed

As cloud platforms leverage the advantages of latest technologies, they are often fast and more responsive compared to legacy systems. Also, cloud service providers have a good portion of their budget allocated to research and development of the platform to increase speed, compatibility, and uptime.

Should you migrate to the cloud?

For most businesses, migrating to the cloud will bring at least one or more benefits mentioned above. However, cloud migration has its own challenges. Often the process is considered troublesome and demands support from experts. Sometimes, the existing system may not be supported on the cloud and a new solution have to be developed from scratch.

Legacy application migration: Challenges

To understand the challenges of legacy application migration to cloud, we first must understand what a legacy system is.

Legacy systems

Legacy systems are self-managed applications deployed within a company’s on-premises. Typically, the pieces of equipment and facilities are owned by the company and the system is maintained by the company staff. This type of system requires huge cost to set up and run as the companies must invest in space, equipment, licenses, post-purchase services, hiring and training staff, maintenance and replacement, security and periodic evaluation etc.

What are the problems with legacy systems?

Legacy systems are sometimes considered as a hindrance to growth as businesses must find capital to invest in the infrastructure to enable scaling. Without uninterrupted cash flow, it will be difficult to invest in infrastructure and resources at each stage of growth. It becomes more challenging when the growth is sudden, or the business is not confined to one market.

How do you deal with legacy systems?

When it comes to dealing with legacy systems, there are mainly two ways.

  • You can maintain the legacy system
  • Or modernize the legacy applications

Maintaining legacy systems

Businesses choose to maintain legacy application to avoid cost involved with modernizing their applications. Be it maintaining, adding additional features, or replacing the existing applications with new one, it all demand additional investment in terms of money, resources, and time. However, most businesses consider maintaining the existing systems cost less money as compared to replacing it. So instead of investing on new technologies and methodologies, they will allocate a portion of total budget to maintain the existing system.

However, maintaining legacy applications become problematic for most business in long run. They must ensure frequent cashflow for maintenance, hire and train expertise to maintain the systems, replace outdated or failed components with new ones, and the uptime may go down causing a dissatisfaction among the end users. Maintaining legacy applications become more challenging when the industry is too narrow, where finding the expertise and replacing components are difficult and costly. When the applications are not modernized for so long, compatibility issues may arise, and it may force the business to replace the entire systems causing heavy investments.

How do you modernize a legacy application?

Through containerizing, rehosting or re-platforming businesses can maintain a legacy system. Amazon states that GE Oil & Gas reduced their TCO (total cost of ownership) by 52% by rehosting hundreds of applications to the cloud as part of a major digital overhaul.

With the help of containerization, businesses can improve the efficiency and portability of their legacy applications. It involves encapsulating software code and all its dependencies in order to make it suitable to run on any infrastructure. In simple terms, containerization helps applications to be “written once and run anywhere.”

Other ways of modernizing legacy applications include

Rehosting

Rehosting is moving the applications components to physical, virtual or cloud infrastructure without modifying the functions, features or structure of the applications.

Re-platforming

Migrating the entire system to a new platform to make the system compatible and futureproof. The system may undergo small modifications to make it fit for the new platform. However, the basic functions and features stay the same.

Restructure

Change the code of the applications and make it optimized for the current time. It is mainly done to make the applications more compatible, remove outdated methodologies from the code and incorporate efficient coding methods to the system.

Rearchitect

Change the entire architecture of the applications. It is mainly done to improve the capabilities of the application or make is compatible with a new platform. Sometimes it become costly as restructuring the entire code may also be involved in the process.

Rebuild

Rebuild specific functions of the application from scratch or rebuild the entire applications. The challenge is the process requires right planning and more investment.

Replace

Replace the legacy applications with modern systems. For example, the number of businesses moving from legacy applications to cloud based modern ERP solutions are increasing.

When it comes to modernizing legacy applications, the best way is to evaluate your situation and choose the path that is more efficiency, affordable and future-proof.

What is legacy cloud migration?

For most businesses cloud migration of legacy systems is the efficient and cost friendly way to modernize their systems.

In simple terms, cloud migration of legacy applications is a process of moving existing applications and its components from a on-premises infrastructure to a cloud based one. With the help of cloud migrations, the businesses will gain benefits like better scalability, security, efficiency, speed, team collaboration, less upkeeping cost and better end user satisfaction. As the legacy application is not replaced but only moved to a new platform, the functions and features of the systems remains almost the same.

However, businesses will also have an option to add additional features to the system as the new cloud platform will be more compatible with latest technologies. Since we are not replacing the entire system, the overall cost of modernizing legacy application is less compared to replacing it with a new one or rebuilding it entirely. It is also beneficial than maintaining the legacy application as the compatibility, uptime, and the cost of upkeeping of legacy systems will be on a downward trend each day.

How are applications migrated to the cloud?

Often, application migration to cloud is implemented in a systematic way.

Process of moving legacy applications to the cloud

Evaluation

The first step is to evaluate why you must migrate legacy applications to cloud. Often though it is adopted as a part of an organization’s long term digital strategy. As strategies are solutions to problems that may arise in the future, an organization will evaluate its current state and future trends in the industry periodically. The main objective of this evaluation involved doing a SWOT analysis of their existing systems and whether they can meet the businesses long term ambitions. Most businesses find legacy applications as a hindrance in long term as scaling and growth will be slowed down due to the characteristics associated with legacy systems and the cost involved with maintaining and upgrading such systems is also high.

Planning

Planning mostly involves identifying the systems that to be migrated, how much resources can be allocated for the process and when it can be implemented. The objective of the planning is to reduce the overall cost of migration by either migrating only the necessary components of a system or do it in a way as the resources needed for the process is bare minimum. This step also involves the process of deciding the right time to implement the migration to avoid any negative impact on the ongoing businesses functions. During this step you may also list down the objectives of cloud migration and what are the things you as a business trying to achieve from the process. The success of cloud migration will depend on whether you are able to meet these objectives and a reevaluation will be necessary at the end of the process.

Choosing the right cloud environment

Each cloud environment will have its own strength and weaknesses. You must evaluate each opportunity and identify which one is best suitable for your businesses case. Here the objective you set in the previous step become handy. The strength of a cloud environment can be anything like its price, unique development opportunities, uptime, customer support, compatibility features, futureproof or even marketing potentials.

More focus should be given to businesses core values and its long-term goals like end user satisfaction rather than short term objective like keeping the budget of the process under control. You may need the help of an expert to choose the right environment and to avoid making any mistakes. Please keep in mind, choosing the wrong environment will force you to spend more in future.

Choosing the right tool and expertise

There are numerous data migration tools available in the market. Since you are migrating an existing system, there will be data that is already stored in the system that have to be migrated safely and securely.

Just like different cloud environment, each these data migration tool has its own functions, strength, and weaknesses. So, a single tool cannot be used in all business cases. You must choose the one that is compatible with your existing infrastructure and the cloud environment you are planning to migrate to. Different data migration tool has different pricing. However, you should choose one considering factors like data loss prevention, efficiency, safety and compatibility, and security.

Reevaluation

As a final step, you as a business must evaluate whether moving to cloud has helped you to achieve the things you are intended. You must consider whether the new environment is helping you to overcome the weaknesses of the old system and how efficient it is in helping you achieve your businesses goals. You can also compare the results of the whole process with the list of benefits you had curated on step 2 (Planning). Only if the result of revaluation is positive, we can say that moving of legacy application to cloud was a successful endeavor for your business.

Conclusion

Moving legacy applications to the cloud offers several benefits that are crucial to you as a business. However, the migration must be planned and implemented carefully which may requires the help of a cloud migration expert. AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in working with legacy applications, cloud environments and cloud migration. If you are looking for a technology partner to plan and implement the entire process for you, feel free to contact us.

How to Hire Remote Developers?

Hiring remote developers enables you to meet your business’s objectives a lot faster and efficiently. However, organizations find the process of hiring remote developers troublesome and tiring. This article will help you understand why you should hire remote developers for your projects and how to hire them.

Remote developers

Remote developers, as the name suggests, work remotely. They are not physically present on the premises of the organization, but they are part of the organization’s process and contribute towards its business goals and objectives.

The main benefit of employing remote developers is, you can hire them globally based on talent, market expertise, industry, or cost. In fact, these are the four main parameters organizations are using to scale whether a candidate is a right fit for a remote role.

Talent

Just like any other industry, raw talent is invaluable in the software industry too. Be it coding, designing, testing, deployment, management, or any other skill relating to software development, there is always a high demand for talent that can make the implementation of projects fast, smoother, efficient, and trouble-free. One of the reasons why outsourcing development becomes popular is because of the non-availability of talent in an organization or even in particular geography and organizations as a supplier of software development services is forced to find talent to meet their clients’ expectations.

Usually, the best talents are found in developed and developing countries as they have better access to new technologies. Also, since the industry existed there for so long, the human resources in such countries have gained massive experience due to either being a part of the industry or working under an experienced organization or mentor. Exposure to different methodologies and working culture has helped them to become familiar with most of the challenges in the industry and it has boosted their creativity to find unique solutions to challenging problems.

Market expertise

Ever since globalization, the border between markets has narrowed and even faded away. However, there is still a demand for products and services that are tailored to fit a specific market. Developing such tailored solutions demand insight into the target market and what type of solution would be better suited for them. So, the demand for people who can understand the market, find the best possible solution and implement it in a way that meets the goals effectively arises. A demand such as this forces organizations to hire workers who are more familiar with the market even if that means hiring them remotely.

Cost

Cost is a bigger factor that’s in play when it comes to hiring developers. Hiring a developer internally and long term may increase the overall cost for an organization. They have to account for the cost of infrastructure, allowances like travel expenses and rent, etc. So many companies, especially the one that manages short-term projects prefer to hire developers remotely as they can be employed short-term until the project completes. Hiring developers remotely also allows them to hire from a large talent pool. Also, there are countries where the cost of living is less compared to other countries, and you can find developers who charge less from these countries.

Industry expertise

Just like market expertise, industry expertise is also an important factor when it comes to hiring remote developers. Since different industries have different problems that are unique to themselves, companies need developers who can think differently to address such problems in the most efficient way. For example, a solution targeting the logistics industry needs to address several issues like tracking, cost, the time needed to deliver items, pick up and schedule, space allocation, etc. However, developing an e-learning platform demands a different approach since it has at least no nil presence offline.

Why hire remote developers?

The main reasons to hire remote developers are productivity, the right talent, low investment, less legal work, and experienced candidates. Let’s discuss the reasons one by one.

Productivity

Remote working allows developers to work from an environment that enhances productivity. They can work from the comfort of their own home, or from their favorite coffee shop. Some companies do away with regular 9-5 schedules and employees are allowed to work during the time convenient to them. The only expectation is the compilation of work assigned to the employees. Due to these benefits the developers will be working with the comfort of mind, there are fewer chances for error, and the work will be completed faster as there will be fewer creativity roadblocks.

Courtesy: Great Place to Work

Right talent

As mentioned earlier, sometimes it is difficult to find the right talent locally. This is especially true for companies who work in niche markets or the ones from developing or underdeveloped countries. Since developed countries are spearheading technology innovation, they have enough talent who are already familiar with the latest technologies in the industries. They might also have people with decades of experience in an industry and it is most likely that the industry is pioneered by them.

Low investment

Remote developers work independently. They are less dependent on company infrastructure since they are working away from the official premises. So, companies who hire remote developers can save the cost of infrastructure and space and may be able to allocate the budget to find the right talent in the global market.

Quality

Hiring remote software developers is one of the ways to increase the quality of work for many companies. Since they are no longer restricted to limited geography to hire from, the large pool of talent available at the global level helps them hire skilled developers who also have experience in the industry and the market. Right skill along with optimal experience directly contribute to an increase in the quality of the work.

Less legal work

Hiring internally, especially from abroad, demands excessive paperwork. The process undergoes excessive legal scrutinization, making many companies think double while hiring globally. For example, when hiring a foreign nationalist as a regular employee there is a need for official documents like passport, background check, application of VISA and approval of the same, etc. As result, the overall cost increases as allocation of more resources are needed for the extensive documentation and the onboarding process will become longer since VISA approval takes time.

However, if you are hiring remote developers, you can avoid such hurdles without compromising on finding the right talent.

Availability 

Being available to clients around the clock is one of the challenges faced by software companies. It becomes more of a challenge when their client base is spread across different time zones. So, companies are looking for a way to create multiple shifts with different rosters. This challenge also forced companies to hire from the same time zone as it will also help them with narrowing cultural and communication barriers with their clients and market.

Employee retention

Employees, especially millennials and gen Z, are moving towards a good work-life balance rather than job security and higher-paying jobs. Unlike previous generations, they are quick to change jobs and more likely to choose a job that gives them comfort in terms of quality of life and convenience. Most of them prefer remote jobs as it offers them an option to choose how they work and their working environment. According to this report by Gartner, “By 2020, organizations that support a “choose-your-own-work-style” culture will boost employee retention rates by more than 10%.“

Cost

Hiring remote developers is one of the best ways to reduce operational costs. Apart from the reasons like low infrastructure investment, no need to pay allowances like transport expenses, rent, etc., the availability of options to hire from countries where living expenses are less is another contributing factor to the reduced cost.  Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Vietnam, and some east European countries can offer great talent at a reduced cost.

Daxx reports that hiring remote developers from India will cost you around $19–$40 per hour. Wherein if you are hiring from Eastern Europe the rate can be anywhere from $30-$65. However, you should consider the skills and experience of developers when evaluating the cost of hiring.

Challenges of hiring remote developers

Even though the benefits of hiring remote development teams are known to most organizations, they are hesitant to hire remotely due to many reasons. The challenges they are afraid to face are,

Tracking productivity

Many organizations are afraid that working remotely will make developers become less productive. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has already proven it wrong. In fact, reports like the one from Great Place to Work® show that working remotely improves productivity.

Communication

Another challenge they are afraid of facing is the communication barrier. Since software development involves collaboration between different teams and members, a gap in communication can increase the cost of development due to quality issues and fixes, and it can also extend completion time. However, if developers are using the right tools and methodologies, such worries are just imaginary. Apps like Asana and Slack, virtual meeting solutions like Google Meet and Zoom, and productivity suites like Google sheets and docs, etc make communication between teams, and between developers and clients, smooth and effective.

Time zone

The difference in time zones can become a potential challenge when it comes to remote hiring. However, it is more of a planning and communication failure than anything else. As mentioned above, with the right tools and methodologies, organizations can avoid emergency situations and employees will not have to worry about odd calls.

If you are still worried, here are a few tips on how to manage remote development teams.

How to hire remote developers?

You can use certain techniques and procedures to hire remote developers. This will allow you to hire the right people and avoid any trouble.

Define requirements

This is most important. To find the right developers, you first have to define your requirements clearly. Start with understanding the project and its requirements. Find what skills and levels of experience are required to meet the requirements. If you are totally new to the industry, you may need help from an experienced person to define the requirements.

Usually, the requirement listing starts with identifying the problem you are trying to solve and the features of the solutions you are trying to develop to solve the said problem. Then you must choose a platform that makes the development of such solutions easier and future-proof. Once the platform is confirmed, you can break down the features into a set of requirements and identify what level of skills and experience is required to build these features. This step may not be possible without choosing a platform as different platforms have different strengths and weaknesses, and each may follow different approaches and methodologies.

Once all these are well defined, you can look into the cost and timeline required to complete the projects. The quality of the solution can break or make how successful it will be in the market. So, cost and time should be considered as an elimination method rather than a primary requirement when it comes to software development.

Search for candidates

Start looking for eligible candidates and share requirements online and offline. You can share the details with your professional and personal circles and also create a list on the various job listing websites.

Another way to find talent for your requirement is to search the internet, especially B2B websites Clutch and GoodFirms, freelance websites like Upwork and Fiverr, and also make use of your connections on LinkedIn.

Screening

Once you have a list of potential candidates for the job, start screening based on eligibility and the nature of the requirement.

You can check the candidates against various parameters like,

Expertise and experience

Check whether the candidate has the right skills and enough experience to do the job. He should be an expert in his field and also have a basic understanding of the technologies and methodologies that are going to be used for the development of the solution. Since software development requires an interdisciplinary approach, a lack of basic knowledge of the overall process may cause conflict during the development. Another point is to note that, while hiring the most experienced candidate may seem like the best approach, it will shoot up the cost unnecessarily. So, hire only for the required role.

Location

The location of the candidates has an impact on the development process as people from different geography may have different cultural backgrounds. It is always better to make sure that their values and ethos are aligned with that of your organization.

Even though you can give importance to time zone, it is not as important as we usually think as most remote developers are already prepared to work during the time the client prefers. In fact, some of them may be looking for remote jobs due to the flexibility it offers.

Cost

It is better to screen out candidates who are outside of your budget. Make it clear how much you are willing to pay them and negotiate if possible. But do not expect them to lower the price significantly. Keep in mind that you need someone who is eager to take up the job and complete it with the same enthusiasm.

Work set up

Even though as important as any other factors mentioned above, this one is usually neglected by hiring companies. Even if the candidates have eligible skill sets and experience, they will not be able to complete the required tasks without the right tools. If you are willing to pay for the setup they are going to use for your project, communicate it in the very beginning itself or even on the descriptions of your listing. There may be potential candidates who are not interested in applying for the position as they think the job demands a costly setup. Stating your willingness to pay for the cost may make more developers interested in the job.

Interview

Conduct a virtual interview with the selected candidates. Make sure that the interview is scheduled for a time they are also comfortable. If possible, give them the time required to understand your project and requirements. This will help you to weed out candidates who are not so serious in their approach.

During the interview, check their communication and technical skills. You can also discuss the challenges they faced during previous remote works, how they overcame them, and what are the challenges they are expecting to face during your projects. If it is required, you can also conduct a machine test along with the interview.

Contract

Once you have decided who fits for the remote job, make it formal by requesting them to sign a contract. The contract should clearly state the nature of the work, requirement, nature of employment, the pay and payment mode, and how the work will be delivered to you. The contract should also protect your intellectual property rights.

Conclusion

Hiring remote developers may be the right choice for many organizations. It will help them reduce costs and legal work and hire the right talent for the required job. The best thing is that hiring remote developers is not as difficult as many people think. The latest development in technology and communications has made it trouble-free and transparent.

If you are looking to hire remote developers, AlignMinds offers On-Demand Talent with a wide range of expertise and experience.  To know more, contact us now.

Why Hire Offshore Software Development Company and Outsource App Development?

The software development industry has seen a lot of changes in the last decade. It is predicted to continue changing at an exponential rate, with technologies like AI and IoT becoming more prevalent. As software becomes more complex, the need for highly skilled developers will grow exponentially. Even though there are many skilled developers out there today, it’s still difficult to find qualified candidates that have all the skills needed to fill these positions.

Software development in 2021

The markets for IoT, data, telecom services and system integration grow to $520 billion in 2021, almost double the spent in 2017. The IT sector is recovering in the post-pandemic period and will return to the growth trend line soon with an estimated 5% CAGR. The employment of software developers is expected to improve 21% between 2018 and 2028.

(Information Technology (IT) services spending forecast worldwide from 2008 to 2022. Source: Statista)

Software development continues to be a critical component of any company’s ability to compete on a global scale, as new technologies continue to transform the way we work and live. The advancement and innovation of technologies such as cloud computing, mobile applications, and artificial intelligence have contributed greatly to the growth of these industries over time.

Software development outsourcing trends

Software outsourcing services help organizations to get software developers they can afford and depend on for high-quality results. It also helps them to be more competitive in the marketplace by leveraging expertise from other parts of the world where labor costs are cheaper than they would be at home.

(Recent IT outsourcing trends. Source: Statista)

Almost 60% of companies believe software outsourcing services allow them to completely focus on their core business programs. Outsource app development is the popular IT function in 2021. One among two technology companies is doing application development outsourcing because of its immense benefits.

What are outsourcing and offshore software development company?

Outsourcing and offshore software development are terms that have been popular in the business world for years. An offshore software development company provides outsourced services to businesses. Outsourcing is when a company hires outside talent or programmers located overseas (typically in countries like India and China) to complete their projects or tasks rather than hiring employees internally. This may not only save money on salaries but it also provides access to specialists that might not otherwise be available locally or even regionally.

Software outsourcing services and offshore software development companies are excellent choices when you need help developing an app or website that is too complex for your current staff or budget. You can also use them if you’re running short on time and need a project done quickly without compromising quality.

Benefits of hiring an offshore software development company

Small businesses are always looking for ways to save money without sacrificing quality, and hiring offshore software developers is an effective way to do just that. Outsource app development can help companies cut costs in excess of 50% when compared with on-premise development teams.

The best part about it is there’s no need for your company to relocate overseas or send employees abroad – you’ll have the same access to the team as if they were an in-house group! Software outsourcing services provide a number of benefits including cost savings, high productivity rates, 24/7 customer service availability, reduced risk due to geographical distance from key business operations, increased innovation potential due to cultural diversity within the project team.

Cost savings

In the modern business world, companies are looking for ways to cut expenses and increase productivity. In fact, a recent survey states that 62% of CFOs plan to outsource IT services in order to save on costs. An outsource mobile app development company is a cost-effective way to hire the best talent without breaking the bank.

Hiring offshore software development companies can help you save up to 50% or more on labor costs, as compared with hiring in-house teams. As the offshore software development industry continues to grow, it will become more important for companies to cultivate their offshore relationships as they look for ways to reduce IT costs, improve quality of service, and increase agility in decision-making.

High productivity

The offshore organizations hire expert developers who are great at work. They have experience working on small to large-scale projects, so they are able to provide their best work; no matter the size of the project you assign to them. Outsource mobile app development companies improve productivity by utilizing the latest technologies to create software applications that are innovative and user-friendly.

Round-the-clock business operation

With the current state of business and society, it’s important to have a 24/7 support system with people who can cover your needs at any time. Since there are more developers from different geographical areas, the business will remain operational all the time. This enables the timely completion of the app development process.

Stay focused on core business function

Offshore software development is a form of software outsourcing service that enables companies to stay focused on their core business functions. It allows businesses to free up their resources so they can focus on innovating or expanding their current product offerings instead of being stuck by maintenance tasks.

A dedicated outsource app development team is a great way to scale your business as per the requirements. Since these professionals come with experience from different industries such as IT or engineering they know all about making sure their clients’ needs continue being met no matter where they may be located across the globe.

Improved security

Outsource app development and software development improves security by allowing the software development team to work remotely. This allows for a more secure environment, as company secrets and data are not shared with the offshore business partner. Additionally, offshore teams typically have fewer employees than on-site teams which decreases the risk of sabotage.

Access to the newest technologies

The offshore software development companies specialize in creating high-quality, cutting-edge programs that address your needs. They use their time wisely by learning new skills and improving existing ones to create something perfect for you as soon as possible! The small business owner can now finally afford all these technologies at an affordable cost.

Offshore software development service providers of dedicated specialists can help you get better results. A software outsourcing service provider brings new insights to the work, improving your overall product development lifecycle with their knowledge in a range from engineering through design and production.

Reducing liabilities and improving opportunities

Offshore software development services are a reliable way to reduce business liabilities and take on more important projects. The offshore development team has a dedicated team that works on one particular project instead of working with multiple projects. This means they can ensure high-quality service and fewer errors, which is something you want from your business partner!

Cost comparison of hiring offshore development services

Offshore employees are always less expensive than onshore ones if you’re a business based in any of the developed countries. Businesses located in Europe or North America find it lucrative to hire virtual workers for outsource app development projects paying like $30 per hour but those who choose to do their work through an experienced local developer may end up spending upwards of $100K annually!

In 2021, the virtual work ecosystem will be a reality for businesses. It’s important to consider that this decision should not be taken lightly as it can have consequences on your budget and timeline in hiring an offshore employee or onshore recruit – so make sure you’re ready before diving right into these types of recruitment methods!

The best countries to outsource software development

Software development outsourcing is now a major global industry, with countries such as India and China becoming centers for outsourcing app development. Many companies outsource to save money but there are other advantages as well. The best countries to outsource software development will depend on the needs of the company and the budget.

You should also consider whether or not the country is a good fit for your business and if it will be easy to work with their team remotely.

India

India offers affordable talent with a high level of education and English proficiency, making it easy to find employees who are both qualified and capable of communicating effectively with clients from all over the world. India has lower rates than others, ranging from $15 to 30 per hour. This is an attractive option for many businesses who want to outsource their work but are not able or willing enough themselves with the project management aspect of things possible in India which includes quality assurance as well!

China

The number of app development jobs outsourced in China alone has increased by over 50% since 2017. Other reasons include lower rates for labor and better-qualified employees with a stronger work ethic.

Russia

With its abundance of skilled labor and low production costs, Russia is an ideal country for outsourcing software development services.

Ukraine

Ukraine is home to many skilled programmers who enjoy lower living expenses than their Western counterparts and can work more hours per day due to fewer time constraints on weekends and holidays.

Choosing an outsourcing partner for web and mobile app development

Finding the right software outsourcing service partners to outsource app development can be a daunting and often costly process. These tips will help you find the perfect fit for your business.

Do online research

Take your time to evaluate offshore software development companies carefully by checking out their website, reviews, testimonials, and portfolios. Look at their website and see if they have a page dedicated solely to describing this aspect of doing business with them. It is important to make sure they work in a field that matches your industry or the scope of your project.

B2B directories and listings

B2B directories provide an excellent way to find the perfect vendor for your company’s needs. These directories are a valuable resource for finding offshore software development companies that can offer the services you need at an affordable price. They offer detailed information about each vendor, including testimonials and reviews from other companies that have hired them before. You can search by industry or by location, which is great if you need someone close by.

Check out the portfolio

Look at projects that are similar to yours and see if they have experience working with other companies like yours. If their work looks good then it’s worth asking them for more information about what they can offer you.

Get references

References are a great way to get an idea about the organization and culture within any given company. They can provide insights on what services you will be working with, how communication is handled between partners or clients of those companies and all sorts of really valuable points that might otherwise take some time to find. Ask about recent clients who have had similar needs as you so that you can get feedback from people who have actually used this service before.

Review contracts

Never sign anything without reviewing it thoroughly first with an attorney or other trusted advisor. Be wary of any contract that has terms that are not clear or states something you do not agree with. This could lead to problems down the road when things go wrong between the parties involved in the project.

Explore the case studies

Case studies show how the selected outsourcing partners have handled various challenges they met when developing customer products and solutions. They mention which technologies were used, tools that helped them test out their applications for smooth running in order to create outstanding user experiences.

Things to consider when hiring outsourcing software development companies

There are a lot of options when it comes to hiring offshore software development companies. It can be overwhelming and difficult to figure out who is the best fit for your needs. There are some factors that you should consider before making a decision on which company to hire. It includes the type of services they offer, their pricing structure, experience level, and how quickly they can complete the job.

Another thing you need to look at before hiring an outsourcing software development company is their history as well as their customer reviews. These two factors can make or break your decision in terms of how good they might be for your business. Hiring an offshore software development company can make the business process easier.

Final note

Hiring an offshore software development company will save you time and money. Whether your business needs a mobile app or website, it can be costly to hire local developers with the best skills for all of these different tasks. An offshore team is capable of developing any type of application that suits your budget and timeline.

Choosing to work with an offshore company for your app development needs may be the best decision you ever made. With so many benefits, it’s hard to find a downside. You can get more done in less time and at a lower cost than if you did everything yourself or hired someone locally.

Are you looking for an offshore development company for your next project? Contact us now!

Why Choose Flutter for Your Next Mobile App Development Project?

Cross-platform applications are critical for any business enterprise and it is the most popular development trend in 2021. Recent studies and surveys say that Flutter is the most preferred choice for developing cross-platform applications as it speeds up the app development process and reduces the cost.

According to Statista, Flutter is the second most popular cross-platform technology in 2021 with a massive 532% growth over the last two years. Google confirms that half a million developers are using Flutter each month. This framework allows us to build high-performance, attractive, and customized solutions in a short span of time.

What is Flutter?

Flutter is an open-source mobile user interface software development kit from the world’s largest tech giant Google. It helps to develop cross-platform applications for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, and the web from a single codebase. Flutter is the most advantageous framework in mobile application development.

Courtesy: Flutter.dev

Flutter combines the ease of application development with native performance while maintaining visual consistency across various platforms. Since it is open-source and completely free, Flutter is preferred by developers all over the globe. Also, it is amongst the top and most powerful frameworks as compared to various other languages. Flutter is set to dominate the market with its reduced code development time. This cross-platform application development framework reduces the development efforts without compromising on the user experience.

Why Flutter for mobile application development?

Mobile applications are becoming an integral part of our life today. The total number of mobile applications launched on Android has exceeded the 100K per month mark with another 30K iOS app releases. Since the post-pandemic period, app development services have become accessible even to small companies located in remote areas of the world, every business is launching new apps. Selecting the most suitable framework with improved performance is the most decisive factor in deciding the success of a mobile app.

Comparison of cross-platform technologies

Flutter from Google

Since Flutter uses Dart programming language instead of JavaScript, the app developers can see modifications in real-time. So, it is easy to avoid mistakes and build complex applications in comparatively less development time.

React Native

Just like Flutter, React Native is also an open-source framework for cross-platform mobile application development. However, it uses JavaScript and a small amount of native component APIs. Here a developer should strictly define the sequence of actions that describe how the application should work and turn the design into a real-world application.

Percentage of developers who are interested in continuing to use the same technology they are using. Flutter ranked 3rd while React Native stand at 10th position. Courtesy: insights.stackoverflow.com

Xamarin

Xamarin is another popular cross-platform application framework for iOS, Android, Windows, vOS, watchOS, and macOS. It uses C # and .NET. Since a variety of APIs is available, Xamarin developers can easily integrate many native hardware components into the solution which could, in turn, improve the user experience further. However, the user interface development is time-consuming.

Benefits of Flutter app development

Flutter helps with developing and maintaining mobile applications for both Android and iOS in a single code base. Let’s discuss the major advantages of using Flutter for application development.

Large community support

Flutter is an open-source project developed by Google. It is not only free, but the framework gets frequent updates and bug fixes. Google organizes meetup events and conferences to help companies learn how Flutter can help them to strengthen their businesses. Since they are open to collaboration, it is easy to create solutions and you can even modify the framework to suit your project requirement.

The total number of apps launched in various periods. Courtesy: Statista.com

Cost-effective and fast development

Code then compile is the common procedure followed by both Android and iOS developers. However, with Flutter, developers can check the results immediately after every modification in code and roll them back if necessary. Thus, the probability for bugs and errors is less in the case of Flutter app development. As a result, hiring a Flutter app developer makes it less time-consuming to launch your business apps into the market and utilizing minimum human resources.

Organizations using Flutter can quickly create well-tuned applications for their business and with an innovative UX design. Since Futter is using Dart programming language, debugging is also a comparatively easier process.

Web application capabilities

The Flutter framework has destroyed the traditional approach of developing separate solutions for web and mobile. With Flutter, you can build apps for iOS, Android, and the browser from the same codebase and offer the same experience to end-users.

Customized and attractive user interface

The layered architecture provides faster user interface rendering to produce personalized designs. It is also equipped with packages that contain custom widgets for both Android and iOS operating systems. Even a smaller development crew can build a beautiful mobile app using the Flutter framework.

Easy integration with the existing applications

Flutter offers a trouble-free integration facility with the existing business applications. You can try Flutter technology on an existing mobile application running on native code with least to nil compatibility issues.

Top 5 applications built with Flutter framework

Flutter is gaining popularity among developers and in the industry. This feature-rich developer-friendly framework has aided in the creation of many modern applications.

Google Ads

The mobile application for Google Ads allows you to manage the paid advertisement campaigns directly from your smartphone. The application’s feature includes campaign statistics and real-time updates on campaigns. This helps advertisers and marketers with real-time monitoring of campaigns and effectively manages them to meet their adverting goals.

Xianyu by Alibaba

Flutter helped the eCommerce giant Alibaba to come up with Xianyu. It is the online retail platform of Alibaba Group. This application is used by more than 50 million users to buy and sell various products.

Reflectly

This Flutter app allows users to create stories in a personal journal with artificial intelligence support. Reflectly adopted Flutter recently to overcome the issues faced with its React Native counterpart.

KlasterMe

KlasterMe is the first social media platform built with the help of Flutter framework. This application enables users to share creations with their friends. Users can build dedicated pages, add images, and create blog posts.

Hamilton Musical

Flutter framework supports the official application for Hamilton – the award-winning Broadway musicals. This application updates its fans with all music news and provides access to merchandise.

Lunching

Lunching is a Flutter app that facilitates the delivery of food online. Flutter helped Lunching with an easy and elegant design, smooth animations, and a rich user interface.

Factors to consider when hiring a Flutter developer for your project

Technical and professional expertise

A Flutter developer should familiarize themselves with the best practices in the industry. They should have a good understanding of common development methodologies, quality guidelines, cross-compatibility, and update themselves with the latest trends in the industry. Someone who has prior experience in working on similar projects or markets may have a visible advantage over other developers.

Geographical proximity

Traditionally, the best choice was always to hire someone from proximity. The common notion was it helps with avoiding conflicts that might arise from differences in time zone and culture. However, modern innovations have made remote working a viable possibility and it is time to make the best use of it.

Service cost

Flutter framework helps in bringing down the development cost. However, you should be careful about the development cost since it usually varies across the world. For example, developers from countries like India may charge less compared to someone or some agencies from USA. Also, you should be careful about the service model and how the agency will charge you.

Innovation and technology update

The domain of application development is very dynamic. Upgrading your technology can help you work better and more efficiently. The Flutter developer should be self-motivated and innovative. This not only helps them to have greater flexibility but also make them a great problem solver which is an essential characteristic for a developer.

How to hire a Flutter developer?

Agencies

Certified agencies provide full-time engagement and it is beneficial for long-term projects. You can rely on their expertise and professional skills.

Freelancers

You can easily find specialists offering services on various freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. Hiring Flutter developers from the same time zones can help with easy communication. However, it is better to focus on quality and affordability when hiring a Flutter developer.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing combines the benefits of both in-house hiring and freelancers. You can collaborate with Flutter application developers around the globe. There are also reputable outsourcing agencies you can partner with to discuss and implement your project. Such agencies will mostly have the right talent for your requirement since they are employed full-time in the agency, and they are hired only after professional evaluation. Also, such agencies will also have the infrastructure to support the app development process from start to end.

How to find the best Flutter app development company?

Work portfolio and customer retention

A successful company will showcase the previous work details on its website. You must be attentive to the details as it will show you what you can expect from that particular Flutter service provider. Give special attention to the scale of the work, nature of the work, the timeline of the project, the technologies used, and also check the final product by trying it out by downloading it from the app store or visiting their client’s website.

Expertise and cost-effectiveness

Make sure you find someone who can work within the set budget without compromising on the quality. If you are cost-conscious, it is better to hire someone from countries like India where you can find the right expertise for comparatively less cost.

Reviews and client testimonials

Most app development companies will have active profiles on platforms like Clutch and GoodFirms. Such platforms feature client reviews, ratings, and testimonials provided for their Flutter development services. By assessing their profile, understand whether the app developer was able to meet their client expectations and what are the strength and weaknesses of the agency.

Flutter for app development in 2021

Flutter is one of the most used technologies in the mobile app development industry in 2021. Flutter mobile application programmers can develop cross-platform apps that run seamlessly on several operating systems. Flutter framework poses minimal risks to you as a business and so it should be your first choice for cross-platform app development. If you need to know more about Flutter development, don’t hesitate to contact us!

e-Learning App Development: Learn How to Create Your Next App

Place and time. These are the two main barriers men have always despised. Ever since the adoption of technology, we as humans have been somewhat successful in breaking these barriers. 

In recent times, one of the industries that are seeing the fastest growth due to the elimination of these barriers with the help of technology in the education industry. Learningnews reports that the e-learning market will exceed USD 375 billion in 5 years. According to Global Market Insights, the e-Learning Market size is set to exceed USD 1 trillion by 2027.

The below graph shows the size of the global e-learning market in 2019 and 2026, by segment in million U.S. dollars

(Source: Statista)

According to the research,

“In 2019, the global online e-learning market was sized at approximately 101 billion U.S. dollars. During that same period, learning management system market generated roughly 18 billion U.S. dollars. By 2026, the total market for e-learning worldwide is forecasted to grow exponentially, reaching over 370 billion U.S. dollars”.

The reason for this exceptional growth is now people are looking to learn from the comfort of their home or they have very limited time that they can invest in learning and looking for something flexible so that they can learn whenever they have free time. Also, the pandemic has boosted the growth of the e-learning industry since people have no option to go out and there are restrictions put down by the government in so many countries. So many EdTech companies tapped into this opportunity and invested heavily in e-learning solutions to meet the demand.

What is e-learning?

Economic times defines e-learning as

A learning system based on formalised teaching but with the help of electronic resources is known as E-learning. While teaching can be based in or out of the classrooms, the use of computers and the Internet forms the major component of E-learning.

However, not just computers, students and teachers are using other devices like smartphones and tablets that support connectivity to participate in an e-learning system. In fact, smartphones have become one of the strong pillars of e-learning systems due to them being more affordable and mobile. Almost all e-learning systems have a native version for at least the major mobile platforms, Android and iOS.

What is an e-learning app?

An e-learning app is an application that is built specifically to impart knowledge, encourage creativity, and most importantly encourage healthy dialogues between teachers and students to simplify the process of learning.

As mentioned earlier the process of E-learning is performed through an application like a mobile app which can be easily downloaded through your Android and or iOS devices. It is a closed-end system ensuring effective privacy and security to both teachers and students ensuring a safe environment for all the participants. The interface used in the app is simple and easy to use making it a comfortable place for students to learn each topic.

How to create an e-learning app?

There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the e-learning app is the future of learning, the pandemic has further solidified this observation. e-learning apps are a global phenomenon, and it is the right time to capitalize on the same. As per Reuters, the e-learning App industry is expected to touch $275 billion globally.

Now, the billion-dollar question of 2021 is how to develop an e-learning app, e-learning app development consist of five steps they are as follows:

1. Identify and develop the concept

The next step in how to create an e-learning app process is to further develop your concept. This stage can be defined with the help of six key product dimensions they are as follows:

Target audience

The first step in the process of developing an e-learning app is identifying the target market. The biggest question to be answered in this stage is who is your app catering to? For example, is it for elementary school students or for bachelors’ students, masters, STEM field, architect, or just a general portal that provides diverse educational material?

The right target group must be identified as it influences the e-learning app development process. If the target audience is elementary kids, then the fonts used in the app will have bright attractive colours and a lot of animation to capture the attention of the children.

Public vs Private

The next important factor to consider is will the app be available to the public or will the information be accessed only to a close group. For example, if your e-learning mobile app development is for an educational institution like school or college then it is important to make the app private.

Geographical scope

Is the app directed for specific geography like India or is it for a specific economic area like the EEA? such decisions will play a vital role while developing the app. Each country has its unique grading systems, class structures, and so on, which are very important considerations while developing an e-learning app.

Customizability

Is your product flexible enough to be customized as per the requirement of each organization?. Is it possible to add or delete certain functions in your app to suit the requirements of each customer or is it a non-flexible product targeted at a specific crowd? Clearly, an important topic to consider.

One way vs two-way communication

Does the e-learning app have two-way communication enablers like video telephony, videoconferencing, voice call, and so on? Two-way communication is especially useful for universities and schools that might require frequent student-teacher interactions. Does the market require one-way communications like lectures, pre-set audio files, slides, and so on? It is important to keep this aspect in mind while developing the e-learning platform.

Price

Price is arguably one of the most important dimensions while identifying the scope of the app. Will the app be paid or unpaid? and if it is paid how do you expect to get paid, is it a monthly subscription, or it is based on the modules, contents consumed, and so on. A perfect price strategy can determine the success of the product.

2. Competitor analysis/Feasibility study

The research phase is an important phase in the e-learning mobile app development process. In this phase, the individual concerned will have to do extensive research on the competitors. It is very important to be aware of the latest developments in the industry and to be updated about the same. Once thorough research is performed it is safe to move to the next stage, selecting a development partner.

3. Selecting a development partner: e-learning app development company

Selecting a development partner for developing your e-learning project is very essential to ensure timely delivery of the product. While selecting the e-learning app development company it is important to look at their past projects and judge based on their success. You could also contact their previous clients to know more about the quality and performance of the e-learning app development company. Associate with a company only after you are 100% satisfied with identifying who they are and what their capabilities are.

4. Promotion and advertisements

Even though this step cannot be counted as a core aspect of how to create an e-learning app, nevertheless it is a very important step. No product however good it may be will not survive without proper promotions and advertisements. It is important to engage with potential businesses across the spectrum through both conventional as well as new-gen advertisement platforms. Promotion and advertisements are a must-do in today’s dynamic environment to get the best ROI for your buck.

The essential character of e-learning app

e-Learning apps usually has a unique set of characters that makes the product flexible, dynamic, and user-friendly. Some of the most important characters of the e-learning app include the following:

1. User-friendly and intuitive interface

The e-learning website should be user-friendly, clear, and easy to operate. The functions in the dashboard should be marked clearly with clear fonts. There should be a logical flow of functions making the system predictable. All these factors enhance the functionality and the ease of operation of the product making it accessible to a wide array of audiences.

2. SCORM compliant

SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) compliance enables learning software, e-learning material to be compatible with SCORM compliant LMS. It is the industry technical standard that ensures efficiency and standardization within the overall ecosystem. Hence if you are looking to develop e-learning solutions it is important to comply with internationally accepted standards to ensure competitiveness and future proof.

3. Easy dissemination of Information

The platform should offer easy upload and dissemination of information for its users. The users should be able to upload different document formats like pdf, words, jpg, along with video and audio formats depending upon the requirements. Furthermore, this information should be easily available to the selected group. The platform should have the capability to offer selective viewership of the information along with selective editing capabilities and view-only modes to ensure a seamless experience.

4. Scalability

e-Learning platforms need to be scalable, depending on the user requirements. The app should have the necessary infrastructure to handle heavy traffic as and when required seamlessly. Scalability is not limited to the number of people it can cater to but also functionality, this makes the app future-proof. Scalability plays a vital role in making the product versatile, efficient, and relevant in today’s world.

5. Integrability, documentation, and reporting

In most probable cases e-learning platforms are not sold as a separate unit rather it is sold along with a fully integrated CRM system. This ensures data is transferred from one system to another with minimum effort. Documentation function helps e-learning platforms to document day-to-day functions, results, grades of students, subjects’ wise information, and so on to create functional information that can help identify the performance of an individual. This information can be reported to the appropriate authorities, parents at ease with a well-connected and integrated e-learning app.

6. Learning automation

e-Learning apps should have significant automation of rudimentary and repetitive tasks that otherwise consume a lot of time. The users should have the capacity to send reminders, information to any number of people with a push of a button. These functions help bring flexibility and efficiency to the learning process helping instructors to fully devote their time to the core aspect that is teaching.

How much does it cost to develop an e-learning app?

The cost of creating an e-learning app depends on the specification and functionality of the app. The specification and functionality of the app can be further divided into four major parts they are as follows:

1. General specification and functionality

General specifications and functionalities for an e-learning app usually include things like user-friendly interface, push notification facility, multiple device sync facilities (for example mobile, laptop, tablet, and so on), multimedia content support capability, graphical designs, and so on.

2. Students and parent specification and functionality

Let us look at student specifications and functionality in the first paragraph. Some of the key specifications and functionality required for students include registration for a course or a specific optional subject, course information, course structures, assessment upload portal, assessment marks and exam marks portal, payment portal receipt generation, and downloading facility to name a few.

In the case of a parent, they should have the ability to develop a profile for themselves so that they could monitor the progress of their children, pay fees, and so on.

3. Teacher’s specification and functionality

Teacher’s Specification and Functionality include the following: Editing course materials, submitting and sending new documents, sending and receiving information with the class (including all audio, video, document formats), being able to mark assignments, send push button notifications, and so on.

4. Admin specification and functionality

Admins are in a way the most powerful person who uses the app as he enjoys the maximum power of the lot. He shall have full access to the e-learning software. He shall have access to creating his personal profile, he shall have the ability to monitor, and manage the activities in the platform. He will have the required authority to troubleshoot problems and help carry out activities as requested by other stakeholders.

How do I market my e-learning app?

Marketing is an art that helps suppliers identify potential buyers and sell their products at the best price possible. It doesn’t matter how good the product is, only with appropriate marketing tools can it reach potential buyers which in turn converts to a sale. Some of the most widely used app marketing techniques include the following:

1. Identify and reach your target customer

The first step is to identify who your target customer is and then identify ways and means to reach them. The most popular means to reach your potential customers is through the use of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, and so on. You could also take the help of Google ads, online forums, to further accelerate your outreach. Offline media include newspapers, magazines, scientific journals, and so on to reach your target audience.

2. Educate your potential customers on e-learning benefits

For this purpose, you could create small animation videos describing your app and how to use them. Finally ending the video with the benefits associated with the app. Visual messages have the capacity to captivate the audience hence they can offer a better customer acquisition rate when compared to other mediums.

3. Live demo

Let say you are targeting schools with your product, a live demo in front of school staff, teachers, and decision-making authorities could give you a better conversion possibility. Do not forget to allow your target audience to use your system and when they understand the simplicity of the system, they would certainly give it a thumbs up. You could even demonstrate the key strengths of the system and how it can simplify the work of the stakeholders using it.

4. Remind them about you through your online presence

Make sure you sign them up with your newsletter. Send them regularly about the new products developed by your, the new offers available, new functions available, and about popular events. You could even offer free passes to those events through your newsletter. Engage with them through multiple platforms like social media, ads, promotional emails, and so on. This will help you cement your brand name in their head.

These tips can surely help you grow your sales and eventually help you to expand your business beyond geographies and product verticals. Please note that understanding these tips does not automatically guarantee success but a careful and well-planned execution of the same will generate the right result.

Conclusion

e-Learning apps help to eliminate the distance between students and teachers. An e-learning app also makes education accessible to more people due to the flexibility it offers. However, to be fully effective and meet its purpose, an e-learning app should have a set of certain qualities that should be planned and implemented correctly. Such features are easy to be identified and implemented if you have the help of an experienced app developer. AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in developing trendsetting yet cost-effective digital solutions for multiple verticals. If you are looking for some ideas for your next project, contact us now!

How to Hire the Best Enterprise App Development Company?

Ever since companies and businesses identified the strength of enterprise applications to achieve their corporate goals, the enterprise software market has experienced tremendous growth. The market revenue has doubled within the last decade and it is expected to reach $429 billion in 2021. It is a 7.2% growth from last year. As more businesses are adopting technology at a faster pace than ever, due to COVID and the change it caused in work culture and market, this number may reach double digits this year.

Usually, a wide range of applications is considered under the term “enterprise applications”. It includes ERP software(Enterprise Resource Planning software), accounting software, Human Resource Management(HRM) software,  Office suits, Customer Relationship Management(CRM) software, Supply Chain Management(SCM) Software, Business Process Management(BPM) software, Business Intelligence(BI) software, etc.

The main difference between enterprise applications (also known as Enterprise Application Software (EAS)) and other applications is that the former is mainly used by organizations rather than individual users. A collection of such software applications is known as an enterprise system. Such systems can undertake a large number of organizational operations with the purpose to maximize the quality of business and management reporting tasks. The ability to process data at a high speed and the advantage of being deployed across a variety of networks help enterprise applications meet their purposes.

What are enterprise applications?

Enterprise applications are computer software that are integrated with all phases of an enterprise’s operations to facilitate cooperation and coordination of work across all levels.

An ideal enterprise application should,

  • Control all major business processes in real-time.
  • Make complex operations easy and simple.
  • Save time and human resources.
  • Can be easily integrated into a variety of networks.

Advantages of enterprise applications

Sharing of data

Enterprise application software increases interoperability between the departments of an organization. It integrates a variety of operations and their respective applications with IT structure, making data sharing fast and efficient. Based on their user level, all the employees of the organization will have access to all these data and applications.

Easy management

As information exchange and management are improved, the management will have better data and control over the business processes. Enterprise applications make it easier for them to analyze where they stand as a business, and what improvements they can make to achieve their corporate goals.

Easy workflow

As information is readily available, and enterprise applications make technology integration a lot easier, most of the workflow within an organization can be automated. For example, the employee database can be integrated with attendance and payroll software to help the HR department. As most CRM applications store and update customer data in real-time, they can be integrated with marketing tools to automate promotional campaigns.

Increasing efficiency

The availability of information in real-time and the opportunity to automate most of the workflow improve an organization’s overall efficiency. More tasks can be executed with comparatively fewer resources and the margin of error can be reduced to a bare minimum. Since a common workflow can be implemented across the organization, there will be better interoperability between departments.

Competitive edge

Increased efficiency and reduced operating costs due to the introduction of enterprise applications offer an organization with competitive advantages.

Simplify business processes

Normally an organization has two major processes it has to take care of internally. They are day-to-day operations and achieving their long-term goals.

As stated earlier, with the help of enterprise applications, you can automate most of the day-to-day operations and backend work. The recording of all the information by the enterprise software enables the organization with real-time data that they can use to achieve their long-term goals.

Save up cost

Since enterprise applications enable automation and most of the tasks are performed electronically, an organization can save up on their operating costs by a big margin. The demand for fewer human interventions combined with information being recorded and exchanged electronically brings down the cost to optimum level without compromising on efficiency.

Lower time and efforts

By enabling automation of operations, enterprise applications help with reducing the time needed to complete tasks. Also, there is less human intervention needed comparing to a traditional business.

Increase opportunities

A reduced operational cost will help with investment opportunities. It enables funding needed for scaling the business and since most of the operations are now automated, an expansion for the business will be much easier.

Easy adoption

An organization that utilizes the benefits of enterprise applications will have a strong IT structure. As such organizations are technologically strong, adopting new technologies will be easier for them. Also, since information is stored and processed electronically, more tools and applications can be integrated into the existing system to boost productivity and efficiency.

Adopt enterprise applications for your business

The ever-growing challenges in the business world are forcing companies to adopt technology at a faster pace. Moving away from traditional methods and adopting leveraging technology has helped companies to not only cut down the competition but also save up on their operating cost. The increasing demand for technology solutions by such future realistic companies has driven up the growth of enterprise applications development. Nowadays the demand is equally or more than equally met by enterprise application development companies whose services are available across the globe.

The improved availability of supply has benefited the technology industry and companies alike. However, due to the same reason, some companies are feeling it difficult to choose the best enterprise application development company for themselves.

So, how do you choose the best enterprise app development company for your organization?

Hire the best enterprise app development company

There are a few important points to consider while choosing an enterprise app development company. They are

Nature of the requirement

You can be looking for enterprise application development services for internal purposes or you may be a part of an organization that wants to develop a product to later sell it in the market. Most of the time, just like how different the nature of the requirement is, the approach and parameters for choosing a technology partner should also be different.

When you are developing an enterprise application for your organization’s internal purposes, you have to consider things like what would be the objective of the solution, what are your organization long term goals, what growth and changes you are expecting in the future, the company culture, the size of the organization, the internal policies of your organization, organization hierarchy, and communication flow, etc.

However, when you are developing a product to sell in the market, you must consider the demand in the market, existing and future competition, features of the products competitors are offering, development cost and sale value, revenue potential, data collection, and privacy policy and many other things which are totally different from the above one.

Usually, it is difficult to find an enterprise application developer who has expertise in both these fields. So, the first step you need to take when you are looking for enterprise application development services is to identify your requirements.

Organization goals

Consider what are your future goals, both long term and short term.

Is it cutting down the operating cost with the help of technology? Or is it to expand your operations to a global scale within the next 5 or 10 years? What is your expansion plan? Have you considered the peculiarities of new geographies and whether the solution can meet the special requirement of the same?

These questions are important because when you are looking for enterprise application development services, the company you are going to hire should analyze and understand all these aspects of your business and help you with achieving your goals. In fact, the company and the solution they are going to develop for you should help you with achieving your goal faster and more efficiently.

Organization growth

When you are hiring an enterprise application development company, you should consider your organization’s growth over time. The service provider should have a good understanding and prior experience in developing large-scale enterprise applications. The solution should be easy to scale and futureproof. Additionally, it is better to choose an app development company that can offer you long-term support.

Data policy

Always choose an enterprise application developer who understands different data policies and their benefits. Protection of data and privacy is a major concern for individuals and corporates alike. You should partner with an agency that can use data effectively to maximize the benefits of the product and at the same time protect it from intrusion, misuse, and legal suits.

Technology expertise

The development company should have expert knowledge on all the aspects of technology and where the industry is heading. They should be able to suggest the best solution after evaluating your requirements, business nature, and market trends.

Choosing the right platform is most important in any type of application development. The right choice will improve efficiency, save up cost and avoid any bottleneck that otherwise would arise in the future due to some technology being outdated or replaced.

Another reason why you should choose an expert technology partner is that enterprise applications are required to be compatible with many other modules/applications that are already used by an organization or will be used in the future. Technology expertise is much needed when it comes to optimizing a product for cross-compatibility. Furthermore, if you are looking to migrate from legacy applications, their expertise will make it easy to do so.

Experience

Let us acknowledge that great ideas bring no benefits if they are executed poorly. Faultless executions are the result of practice and experience. Even though the stages of enterprise application development look simple and familiar, it may be challenging for a new app development agency to execute them. It is mainly due to each business being different, their objectives and goals being different, and the varying micro and macro variables that affect the business.

If we are going to develop an enterprise application to sell in the market, the development company should understand the market first. Each market will be different from one other. A developer who has already worked for a similar company or the same market will have a huge advantage over an app development company with no prior experience. The former one can understand the challenges much easier and they can incorporate countermeasures in the initial stages of product design itself.

Conclusion

Moving from legacy applications to enterprise applications will bring you so many benefits. However, the expertise of an experienced enterprise application developer is much needed to reap the full benefits. AlignMinds has more than 12 years of experience in developing technology solutions for startups to enterprises. If you are looking for a renowned technology partner for your next project, contact us now!

Cloud Application Development: Dos and Don’ts

Cloud applications are becoming one of the popular options for businesses all over the world. The reason is, it helps them with their cost-cutting strategies.

Since cloud computing works with the help of the internet, the cost of setting up hardware and maintaining the infrastructure can be avoided. Also, the SAAS products have better support and they are easy to use due to their popularity and user base.

What is cloud computing?

Microsoft defines cloud computing as

“Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.”

The main benefits of cloud computing are

  • You pay only for cloud services/resources you use
  • Scalability: As more resources are easily available
  • Affordability: As you can run the infrastructure more efficiently

As cloud computing became more popular, there was a new trend that became prominent in the industry. The rise of cloud applications.

What are cloud applications?

A cloud application is software that works with the help of data stored in a remote server and uses its resources to process the data and functions. A cloud application has two different systems that work in synchronization. They are client-side and server-side systems. While some processes will take place on the client-side (client’s device/local hardware), the remaining process will be taking place on the server-side which is located remotely and connected with the help of the internet.

One of the main benefits of cloud applications is that they can be accessed from different devices, at any time from anywhere. Also, there are cloud applications that can work without being installed on local devices. Due to such benefits, cloud applications are becoming more popular in the technology industry.

Why should you use cloud applications?

Cost

The main advantage of cloud applications is that they save you money. Most of the cloud applications offer “pay as you go’ plans helping you pay only for the features you use. Also, there is no setup and maintenance cost in the traditional sense.

As cloud applications offer flexibility in terms of features, it is easier for you to upgrade them when a need arises. You can add more features to your existing plan and the investment is reasonable.

Security

Another major benefit of cloud applications is security. Since cloud services are offered by big companies, they can invest dedicated resources in improving the security of data and their services. They have more resources to invest in research and measurements to prevent data theft that may not be possible for a company that chooses in house data storage.

Flexibility

Cloud applications can be accessed from different devices by different users at the same time. You can access the same applications – if they are cloud-based – from a mobile or personal computer anywhere in the world. Due to this, cloud applications are the popular choice for big companies that spread across the globe or companies with a remote workforce.

Team collaboration

If you are a business that needs your team to collaborate on a large number of tasks, cloud applications are the best solutions. As cloud applications handle data instantly, sharing of information between team members becomes fast and secure. Some dedicated cloud applications offer their users the advantage of working on the same task simultaneously from across the globe. As a result, the execution of tasks takes less time.

Quality culture

Cloud applications can be used as a way to implement your company culture and quality control. As everyone in your team can access the same data and information stored in the applications, you can maintain quality standards, consistency in data formats and avoid human errors. It also helps with record-keeping as any updates from a user are automatically recorded by the cloud applications. Monitoring work progress and reviewing tasks will also become easier.

Low risk

As data is stored remotely and across multiple servers, the chance for data loss becomes less in the case of cloud applications.  On the other hand, if you had gone with the traditional method of storing the data locally – in your company premises – any accident or natural calamities may lead to the loss of such valuable data. By storing data locally, you will also have the risk of data theft from a malicious insider.

Competitive edge

As mentioned earlier, cloud computing services are offered by big companies or companies that dedicate a good portion of resources in research and development in the latest technologies to cut down the competition for themselves. As they offer cloud computing as a service, it is natural for them to have competitors and the only way for them to stay in the business is to offer their clients – you –  the best and latest services possible. As a result, when you opt for cloud applications you have a higher chance that you have the most up to date technology in your hand compared to your competitor who still uses traditional methods and invests their own limited resources on technology research and advancement.

Other benefits of Cloud applications

  • There is no need to install a cloud application on your device to get it working. Unlike traditional apps, they can work with the help of the internet and without using the resources of the local system. It also offers all features of a desktop app.
  • The main advantage of using a cloud application is that it uses many cloud servers that are placed across the world. So, the data is faster to retrieve irrespective of your location. Also, the data are more secure as they are remotely stored.
  • The virtual server helps the user to access the data from the nearest server thus decreasing latency.
  • Updations and deployment can be done quickly for a cloud app.
  • As only authorized users can access the data on cloud apps there is less data theft from internal parties.
  • Cloud applications offer mobility. A user can access the cloud app at any time, from anywhere. Usually, cloud applications support a variety of devices too.

Cloud-based services for app development

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This includes services such as storage, security, and backup. IaaS is an important part of web architecture. Businesses get servers in which they can run their applications without giving the operational costs when choosing this service. 
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Provides a platform for application creation. You can deploy your app at a low cost and significantly reduce the amount of coding.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): Can be rented on a per month or per user basis. Applications managed by a third-party vendor are delivered through the internet. Can reduce the time spent on processes such as installing, updating etc.

Cloud application development

Now you already know that cloud applications offer several benefits for your business. However, these advantages can be taken away by bad development practices. If a cloud application is developed in the wrong way, it is more likely that it will handicap your business than offering you any advantages.

So to ensure the quality of the cloud application, the cloud application development companies should follow certain principles.

Cloud application development: Dos

Decoupling

One of the purposes of cloud applications is to store data separately, remotely, and safely. By storing the data on your application, you are not only sabotaging the purpose but also making your apps slower as it now has to handle data and operations. By separating data from the app you are making your app function faster as it now has to only take care of the processes it intended to do.

Separate logs

Technology is not immune to errors. Even if the application is built by the best developers, there are chances for bugs due to reasons out of their control. So keeping a log file of things is very important for every application.

However, if you store the logs in the local system, it is less accessible compared to storing them on third-party log aggregators. The use of third-party log aggregators will prevent situations where the logs are lost forever, become partially corrupted, not synchronized, or just simply not accessible. 

Futureproofing

One of the reasons why businesses choose cloud applications is that they are easy to scale. However, scaling is not an easy task. If there are restrictions like the ones caused by bad coding, selection of improper platforms, components, or the environment, the application will be difficult or even impossible to scale. So, it is important that future-proofing should be implemented from the conceptualization phase itself.

Optimization

The advantage of cloud applications is that the data is stored remotely and separately. However, if poorly executed this can turn into a disadvantage.

Data is an important component of an application. To work as intended, the application should be able to communicate easily with the server and process the data faster. So it is important that each component of a cloud application is working as intended and the communication between these components is properly optimized.

Security

As the data are stored remotely and separately away from the local system, there is a higher risk of data vulnerability. To overcome this, the developers should adopt the best ways to make the communication between the app and server secure. Also, as cloud servers are a favourite target for hackers and people with malicious intent, you should always choose cloud services providers who follow strict security measures and adopt the latest technologies at a fast pace.

Go generic

Use a common standard for your codes, platforms, and topology. This will ensure that the app you built will fit in most cloud environments. It will also help you with the scalability of your applications as mostly the process will be automated and certain standards need to be followed.

Vulnerability checks

Periodically checks for vulnerabilities. Since Cloud applications work with the help of the internet there is a higher risk of data breaches and security exploit.

Consultation

Cloud technology is a fast-growing industry. New technologies are emerging day by day and the services are becoming complex. However, the client may not be aware of the complexity of cloud technologies. So, always try to educate them on the benefits of the cloud, what features will benefit them, what are the limitations and how the cost can be calculated.

Cloud application development: Don’t s

Security and privacy

Never neglect data security and privacy. Two of the major concerns when it comes to cloud applications are how secure the application is and whether it values user privacy. Follow strict policies on security and privacy and always adopt the latest trends in these fields.

Downtime

Server outages can be common. However, it must be avoided when it comes to cloud applications as without server connectivity the application will not work. For most businesses, it will affect their day-to-day functions and revenue.

Complexities

You won’t be seeing yourself moving to the cloud anytime sooner. However, that does not eliminate the possibility of you adopting cloud as the requirement changes in the future. As mentioned earlier, you should always keep this possibility in mind and avoid any complexity in the system which will hinder the process.

Don’t test your luck

There are several companies offering almost the same cloud services. But that does not mean that all of them offer the same quality of services. Instead of trusting your instinct you should carefully evaluate your options, study what their services offer, check their customer feedback and review their service level agreement (SLA). Switching between various cloud providers may not be easy and it will cost you a lot of resources and expertise.

Don’t force

Never force all your existing applications to migrate to the cloud. It is common that big corporations have hundreds of applications in their arsenal. However, not all of them will be suitable to migrate to the cloud. A few may not be worth migrating when evaluating the cost and benefits. So, prioritize the applications based on the value when it comes to cloud migration.

Don’t underfund

Never try to save money on cloud migration and the process by underfunding. You should first analyze whether it is beneficial for your business to move to the cloud. If yes, make sure that the process is well-governed, monitored, and implemented. That way you can save more money in the long term and avoid any pitfalls due to quality issues.

Documentation

Never forget to document everything. It will not only help you with reevaluating the process if any pitfall occurs but also help your team with future development. Without documentation, your team will not have any clarity on the limitations of the application and the environment and it will be difficult for them to envisage a roadmap for further development of the application.

Cost

Never forget to start the process with a cost analysis. Approach a good application development company that is an expert in cloud-related services. They can help you with evaluating the cost most accurately as there may be additional or indirect costs that you may miss out on. For example, as a business, you may not know the right cloud architecture for your application or you will not know the additional cost associated with optimizing the application prior to moving it to the cloud. A cloud application development company can easily identify them.

Hiring cloud application development company

Before hiring a cloud application development company, consider some of these points:

  • Define your goals prior to approaching a cloud application development company. Having a perfect understanding of your goals helps the cloud application developer to plan and execute the project easier.
  • Analyze if your application is suitable for migrating to a cloud. There might be a need for a complete rewriting of the application.
  • Select your deployment model-whether it is a private cloud or a public cloud. Private clouds are more costly. Public clouds are less costly but there is a higher risk of security.
  • Build custom cloud management platforms to keep everything in checks such as the security and application performance.
  • Prior to deployment, test the cloud app for potential security risks. Testing should also be done to ensure optimal performance.
  • Before hiring a cloud application development company, always research their credibility. Choose one which is following global standards for data processing and handling.
  • Make sure that the cloud platforms have containers. Containers are used to divide the applications into components which help in easy deployment.

Conclusion

Moving to the cloud has its own benefits. However, these benefits come with their own complexities. While cloud applications are becoming more popular and they are replacing traditional applications across multiple verticals, businesses need the assistance of an expert in the field to reap the actual benefits of the cloud. AlignMinds has more than a decade of experience in developing best-in-class applications in mobility and cloud platforms. If you are searching for a technology partner for your next project, contact us now.

Hire Laravel Developers | The Best Choice for a Competitive Business

Choosing the right development framework has a major role in deciding the success of any digital solution. Web development is not exempted from this. If you are a business that has always been cautious about choosing the right platform for your technology solution, you might have come across Laravel, a trending technology framework that is getting popular among businesses like you. If that is true, you might have also wondered whether to hire Laravel developers for your next project.

Here, as a technology partner for startups to enterprises for more than 12 years, we are trying to list out the benefits of hiring Laravel developers for your next project.

Is Laravel the right platform for businesses?

As a serious business that has its own goals to achieve in the long term, you want someone who is an expert in the latest technologies as your technology partner. Especially since, due to the ever-changing nature of the technology industry, new technologies are being introduced every day and existing technologies are being updated or outdated.

As a web development company, we have seen a new trend in the industry, The rise of a new framework that is often preferred by businesses and developers alike. The framework is none other than Laravel.

There has been a huge rise in the popularity of Laravel in the last decade. Compared to PHP, the programming language this framework is based upon, Laravel is a new kid in the block. However, due to the features and benefits it offers, more developers are choosing Laravel over other PHP frameworks nowadays.

The benefits are not exclusive to developers. The huge rise in demand for Laravel based solutions underlines that businesses are also getting benefited from this framework.

What is Laravel?

Laravel is a free, open-source PHP web framework, intended for the development of web applications following the model–view–controller architectural pattern and based on Symfony. It is primarily used for building custom web apps using PHP. The advantage of Laravel is that it handles routing, templating, HTML, and authentication perfectly. Laravel is a server-side framework, and it focuses heavily on data manipulation.

Model–view–controller

The Model-view-controller is a design pattern used for designing user interfaces that divides the codes into three categories, Model, View, and Controller, and each category of code has its own purposes. For example, the model deals with raw data, logic, and rules of an application. View deals with the representation of information and the controller ties together the model and view. It is the controller that accepts user inputs and converts them to commands for model or view. While the model is the central component, the controller is the brain of the application.

Laravel is based on the same “Model-view-controller” architecture and functions in the same way.

Why hire Laravel developers?

The reactive businesses change their business approach due to the pressure from the market. They introduce new products or services because the demand for the existing ones is on the decline, or their competitors are offering better ones. There can also be other reasons like the cost of the current business model is increasing and they are forced to come up with a new one. The market preferences have changed, and they must analyze the new trends and align their products and services to meet the latest demands. Since these businesses are led by the market, they have least to no control over the industry they are operating in.

On the other hand, the proactive business is the one that sets new trends in the market. They invent new products to create fresh demands in the market. They come up with unique solutions to win the attention of the market and increase the demand for their existing products and services. They keep on rejuvenating the industry with the help of the latest technologies and they are always ahead of their competitors.

Among these two, which one will be more likely to survive as a business in the long run?

The answer will be proactive businesses.

As a business, if you want to win the market and have an advantage over your competitors, you must be proactive in your approach.

Technology is the best tool available to any business that wants to be competitive in their industry. As a competitive business, you are not using technology to survive in the market. You are leveraging the latest technology to cut down your operating cost, maximize customer interaction, satisfy your customer’s needs, and inventing fresh methods to reach more customers. The right technology can help you with saving resources like money and time and increase your profit margin.

So, if you are a business that falls into the second category and is looking to build a web solution, Laravel is the right choice for you. This PHP framework comes with a ton of features that helps business and developers alike. These features make the development process easier and when the process becomes easier the cost and time will be reduced. So, if you decide to hire Laravel experts, you can have the best solution at an affordable price within a short time as a business.

So, let’s discuss the features of Laravel that make the framework the best choice for most businesses.

Features of Laravel

The question of whether to hire Laravel developers is not a brainer for most businesses due to the advantages the framework offers. The main advantages of Laravel are;

Better performance

Most businesses hire Laravel developers because the framework has certain performance advantages over other frameworks in the market.

Laravel comes with native support for Memcached and Radis caching systems. The benefit of such systems is that they help you to build applications quickly by storing diverse cached objects so there is no need to rebuild the configuration for every request. The availability of route optimization helps you with maximizing your app performance even if it has lots of routes. The scalability and multilingual support make Laravel one of the best PHP frameworks to work with if you are expecting more users in the future.

Laravel also offers features like Image optimization, limiting the number of plugins,  composer load optimization, precompiling assets, etc. to improve the performance of your application.

Object-oriented libraries

Laravel boasts of having Object-oriented and pre-installed libraries. The availability of such libraries makes Laravel one of the easiest frameworks to use for complex solutions. Laravel programmers can easily integrate functions like Bcrypt hashing, checking active users, CSRF (Cross-site Request Forgery) protection, password reset, encryption, etc to the solution with the help of these libraries.

Security

Security is a major concern for any business. Offenses like Data theft, cybercrime, leaking personal data of users, etc. are increasing day by day. Businesses must make sure that the solution they are going to develop and use is immune from such threats.

The good news is, if your decision is to hire Laravel developers, you will no longer have to worry about application security.

The framework supports salted and hashed passwords. This means that it will be harder for hackers to decipher your passwords. Also, with Laravel, implementing authentication is amazingly simple. The framework comes with all settings preconfigured. If you want to make changes to the authentication logic or process, it is easily doable since many documentations are readily available.

The CSRP protection offered by Laravel helps you with safeguarding your application from cross-site request forgery. So, fraudsters will not be able to get access to your application by running unauthorized commands through an authenticated user.

The use of prepared SQL commands by Laravel avoids injection attacks; so, it becomes impossible for untrusted inputs to alter the execution of a command in your web app.

Artisan

Laravel comes with a command-line interface called “Artisan” that provides you with several helpful commands to develop your application easily. Every command has a help screen that shows the command’s available arguments and options. Artisan is powered by the robust Symfony Console component. The availability of such a powerful tool makes the application development process easier and less time-consuming. As a result, when hiring Laravel developers, you can expect a quick turnaround time.

Better user experience

User experience is a crucial factor that decides the success of an application.  According to a survey conducted by PWC,

“32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.”

In this online age, most customers are interacting with businesses online. In fact, the market is rapidly moving towards digital services and products where all the interactions between customers and businesses are done solely online.

Do you think it is possible for a business to survive in the industry without giving enough attention to user experience these days?

Fortunately, PHP frameworks like Laravel offer more features to improve user experience. Laravel uses a template engine called “Blade” that simplifies the development process and makes your application lightweight and easy to use for the end-users. The intuitive interfaces offered by the engine helps you with building your own unique brand image and giving your customers an experience that sets you apart from your competitors.

Better database migration

Database is a  crucial component of any application. If not taken care of properly, it can render the whole application useless within a fraction of the time. One of the challenges faced by developers and businesses alike is migrating databases between different environments and syncing them between development machines. Since Laravel offers a convenient way to deal with database migration and management, the pool of potential problems is further reduced.

Automatic package discovery

Laravel has a user-friendly feature known as “Automatic Package discovery” that automatically identifies the packages which the users might want to install. If you are someone who wants to disable this option, Laravel also lets you do so.

Community

Laravel has one of the most active communities. This means that the technology is still on a growing stage and there is no sign of it fading away anytime soon. While developers can seek help from the community on complex problems related to coding and development, as a business you can ensure the solution you will have in hand will be future proof. Also, such communities make it easier to find the Laravel experts you are looking for.

Who should hire Laravel developers?

As stated earlier, if you are a business that wants to be competitive in your industry, it is better to hire Laravel experts for your next projects. The advantages of Laravel – most of them are stated above – make it one of the easiest and wise decisions you can ever take.

If you are a business that operates in banking, entertainment, healthcare, eCommerce, or other industries with high traffic where a lot of data processing and complexities are involved, Laravel will be the best option for you.  Features like Service Container, Event Broadcasting, baked-in queue systems, etc. helps Laravel to handle these functions better than any other frameworks available in the market.

Laravel also supports microservices architecture. This means that when you are hiring Laravel developers, you can create one massive application that comprises several independently functioning modules. Such applications are efficient, robust, and can handle multiple functions simultaneously at the same time without compromising on processing time.

Laravel can be integrated with existing content management systems like WordPress or Drupal. You can also build content-based applications entirely from scratch using Laravel. So Laravel is also the best choice for entertainment businesses, news portals, etc.

Popular systems built using Laravel

Due to the wide range of advantages stated above, Laravel is used by many businesses that spread across different industries. If you are looking to hire Laravel developers, you must be interested in knowing a few of such popular solutions built on Laravel.

MyRank

MyRank is a popular e-learning platform that is built using Laravel. Being an e-learning platform, one of the major requirements for MyRank is scalability; so that it can add more scholars and more learning resources to the platform. Choosing Laravel over other frameworks has helped MyRank to meet its requirements easily.

Visit MyRank

Contentoo

Contendoo is a platform for businesses to find the right talent for their content needs. It acts as a bridge between business and freelance content creators. The platform features a variety of talent including translators, content writers, designers, content strategists, marketing specialists, etc.

Businesses can choose talent based on subject expertise and language. Contendoo handles management, invoicing, and payment for the businesses so that they can have all the advantages of in-house and freelance combined.

Such a complex solution demands innovative features and third-party integration. By choosing Laravel to build the platform, Contentoo made the development process easier and less time-consuming.

Other features of the platform include a secure messaging system, contact management, and a reminder system to implement deadlines.

Visit Contendoo

October CMS

October is an open-source self-hosted content management system based on the Laravel web application framework. With October, even users with the least technical knowledge can manage page contents with the WYSIWYG editor. They can manage images, videos, and other files, and even edit website menus with a simple visual interface. It is fully compatible with the PHP composer package manager. Adding new functionalities and configuring them is easy due to CMS page components. October supports CDN and image cropping and has a ton of plugins that can be integrated into the platforms.

Visit the official website of October CMS.

Flarum

The purpose of any forum is to host engaging conversations online. To enable it, the platform has to be fast (so conversation happens instantly), secure (users’ data should be secure), reliable (downtime can affect user experience and it will also render the platform useless), responsive (users can engage in a conversation from a wide choice of devices; even while on move) and good looking.

Flarum is one such platform that is also modern, simple, fast, and free. All the advantages of Flarum are made possible due to the capabilities and huge potential of Laravel. By hiring Laravel developers, you can start building simple discussion platforms and scale them to complex solutions with the help of numerous tools and plugins supported by the framework.

One of the popular forms built using Laravel is Laracasts.

Invoice Ninja

Invoice Ninja is an accounting solution that offers a ton of features to its clients.

The features include invoicing, tracking payments and expenses, auto-billing, recurring invoices, creation and sending of work proposals, time tracking, easy sharing of invoices, supports for different types of attachments, custom design for invoices, auto-reminder, payment notification, bulk sending, voice commands and a lot more. You can see the complete list of features offered by Invoice Ninja here.

Invoice Ninja is one of the best examples that showcase the real capabilities of Laravel.

Tably

Tably is solely built for restaurants to help them with online reservation, reservation management, walk-in management, and event booking. The solution automates most of the routine operations in a restaurant and helps the owners to solely focus on the actual business. Tably is one of the best examples of how Laravel can be used to build solutions that are specially designed for certain industries. It shows the versatility and robustness of the framework.

See the list of complete features here.

BonAppetour

BonAppetour is a solution built using Laravel to leverage the potential of culinary tourism. It connects travelers and hosts and offers them a platform for finding local homemade dishes. The advantages of Laravel made it easier to store, manage and display the huge database of local hosts in a meaningful way that helps travelers to find their next stay, easily.

Visit BonAppetour.

Bagisto

Bagisto is a free & open-source Ecommerce Platform built on Laravel.

It enables you to create your own free eCommerce website and scale it is using various extensions. The main features of Bagisto include sales through multiple channels, customers and groups, various payment modes, custom attributes, insights and reports, localization, multi-currency support, access level control, and so on. Bagistop proves that if you want to build an eCommerce solution, Laravel is one of the best choices for you.

Visit Bagisto official website.

Canvas blogging application

Canvas is a minimal blogging app built by Todd Austin using Laravel. It features writing in markdown with the Summernote WYSIWYG which also supports autosaves, a media uploader, post tags, and post scheduling. Canvas is a simple to use yet scalable solution that underlines the value of Laravel as a flexible framework.

Know more about Canvas here.

Conclusion

If you are a competitive business that is looking to develop an innovative web application, Laravel will be your best choice. The advantages offered by Laravel over other frameworks make hiring Laravel developers for your next project a no-brainer.

Want to hire the best Laravel developers in the industry? Contact us now. We have more than 12 years of experience in developing trendsetting yet cost-effective web and mobile solutions for startups to enterprises.

Custom Web Design: Why You Should Custom Design Your Website

What is custom web design?

Custom web design involves a team of people who are specialized in their respective fields working round the clock to build a website as per the customer requirements, keeping their brand uniqueness. The custom web design company takes cues from its customers and develops the website accordingly. When it comes to custom web design and development the possibilities are endless. 

How is a custom web design service different from template based web designs?

Template-based web design involves designers choosing from the available templates and working on the same to create websites for their clients. The basic integrity of template structure and navigation flow of the template cannot be altered, and the level of customization is limited. WordPress for example offers many templates for its customers to play with. But as mentioned earlier the level of customization is limited and it is mainly opted by amateur web designers or small businesses who just need a website for the sake of it.

On the other hand, custom web design companies offer tailor-made solutions to meet customer expectations. For example, a custom WordPress website design will in most cases be more professional than what is possible with a template design. Custom-designed websites are by all means a superior product offering when compared to template-based websites.

Advantages of custom web design

  • Custom web design services offer a high level of customization giving the website individuality.
  • Websites that are custom built are SEO compliant, aiding in better Search Engine ranking like in Google.
  • People prefer websites that are unique and that reflect that brand’s ethos, only custom website design can truly reflect the same in their website.
  • Custom web design and development promotes a customer-friendly(user-friendly) website interface. Customer-friendly websites not only attract large traffic but also drive up user engagement.
  • Custom web design and development ensure a high page speed. High page speed contributes to the overall user experience, better engagement, and maximum conversion.

Custom web design and development process

Custom web design and development process can be divided into 5 simple steps, they are as mentioned below:

Goal and scope identification

The first step in the custom web design process is to identify the goal and objective of your business. This stage is considered vital for the smooth flow of the project. Any discrepancies in clearly identifying the goal and scope of the project can impact the outcome of the project. Hence you (the client) and the custom website design company will take adequate time and effort to develop the goal and scope defining framework.

Identifying the goal of the project involves defining the purpose of the website(is it to sell products like an eCommerce website or provide news reports, blog, and so on), how should it interact with the potential customer, what is its USP, how much should the website be similar or different from the competitors, and so on.

Some of the common tools that facilitate the website goal identification process include the following:

  • Competitor analysis
  • Brand attributes
  • Target audience
  • Target geography
  • Target demography

Once the goal and objective of the website are understood, the client along with the custom website development company can set the scope of the project. Scope of the project includes the website features, graphic and icon design, add-on features, and so on. The biggest advantage of customized web design is the possibility it offers for a business to go above and beyond to develop a product that is unique, distinct, and most importantly reflects the character of the brand. Any discrepancies in the goal and scope identification cause disruption in the execution timeline and budget. Hence, this stage as mentioned earlier is especially important.

A legally binding contract and a timeline chart are used by the custom web design agency as a basis to start the project. This ensures that both you and the web design company are on the same page.

Sitemap and wireframe creation

Sitemap lays the foundation for a well-designed website. A sitemap will usually consist of all the links available on the webpage. It gives you an understanding of how information is spread across the website. A good sitemap also represents the logical flow of information within a website by defining the relationships between various pages on it.

While Sitemap is the blueprint for the website, a wireframe is a two-dimensional architectural skeleton of a web page. This helps designers identify the flows in the components and designs of the webpage, furthermore, it gives them a brief idea about the type of content required for the web page. A well-designed web page can be sleek and user-friendly at the same time.

Content creation

Website content plays a major role in attracting web traffic to the website. The website content should be crisp, clear, precise, and engaging. Website contents should be unique and use simple language for wider acceptability of the same. Furthermore, the structure in which the content is laid plays a major role in making the page attractive, informative, and engaging at the same time.

SEO-friendly content can help with having a good ranking in Search Engine Results (SERP). Tools like Google Keyword Planner helps content writers across the world to identify the most searched keywords on Google.

It is typically the business or the client who offers the bulk of the content. The custom website development company usually structures the content and makes it SEO friendly.

Visual elements

It is only when the designers start inserting visual elements into the website, it comes alive. Visual elements help make the website unique, this is especially true when the designer designs the right logo, images, frames within the website to disseminate information logically. Visual elements come in handy when you want to customize the design of the websites to resemble the brand image and exude brand ethos.

Testing and launch

Testing comes in the last phases of developing a website. In this stage, the custom website design company will test the website performance using a variety of methods and techniques to ensure that the website is ready to be used by the end user without trouble. Testing helps to fix issues present on the website. Furthermore, it ensures that the website performs the work it is meant to do in the real world.

Once the testing part of the website is performed successfully and the testers have given a thumbs up, the website is launched with the help of a server. Once it is launched, the website can be accessed by you and your customers alike with the help of the internet.

What language is best suited for custom web design?

There are a variety of programming languages used to develop custom websites. Each programming language comes with its unique set of frameworks and libraries that make them unique in their own ways. Some of the most widely used programming languages in the field of custom web design are as mentioned below. Please note that most of the time, more than one programming language is used to develop a complete website.

PHP

PHP is considered as one of the most commonly used programming languages to create custom websites. The biggest advantage of the PHP language is that it is open-source, which means that it is available for free of cost. PHP is also browser-friendly, making the website user-friendly, efficient, and fast.

HTML

HTML or Hypertext Markup Language is the language used to implement the structure and layout of web pages. Unlike PHP, HTML is a frontend language which means that it helps to develop the part of the website that the end users interact with directly.

SQL

Structured Query Language, or SQL as it is widely known, is a database query language that deals with data and databases of a website. It helps with adding, storing, modifying, deleting, and retrieving data using commands.

CSS

Cascading Style Sheets helps with adding styles to the web pages. Like HTML, CSS is also a markup language and the two often go together. However, the CSS has the most influence on how the web page will appear to the end user in terms of font, font size, colours, etc, and make the style consistent across the website.

Python

Python is relatively a new language but has gained immense popularity in the past few years. More and more developers are showing affinity to Python. It is a very powerful language, that is both simple and easy to operate. It is highly flexible and fluid making it an excellent language for developers who are responsible for building complex applications.

Java

Java as a language was developed in the 1990s, believe it or not, it is still one of the most in-demand programming languages of the 21st century. It is still considered as “the right choice” when it comes to programming. The program has the capability to work on multiple platforms making it highly versatile. A java programmer is still the most in-demand profession in today’s world.

Java Script

Javascript has the capability to support object-oriented styles, this makes it an extremely valuable language for building versatile applications. Javascript was created with the intention to develop websites, apps, and games that can run on all browsers. It can support both function-oriented and object-oriented styles helping programmers make excellent websites that look exotic.

Go

Go is a programming language designed at Google that is relatively a newcomer to the scene. It solves the problems that other programming languages have like ease to use, high readability, excellent integration to name a few. Being a product from Google and Google being the king of search engines its popularity is expected to outshine other languages in the years to come.

Why is a custom website the best choice for your business?

Web customization

Custom website design services offer a high level of customization giving the website individuality. The first impression is the best impression. When a customer enters your website, he/she should feel excited. The color combinations used, the simplicity of the design and the effortless dissemination of information will have a lasting impression on the customer.

These factors motivate the customer to visit the website again. Word of mouth publicity can further accelerate the traffic to your web page. People prefer websites that are unique and that reflect that brand’s ethos, only custom website design can truly reflect the same in a website. Did you know that 75% of perceived web credibility comes from design elements of the website?. This fact emphasizes the importance of customized web designs in this day and age.

Enjoy high SERP ratings

A custom built website is more likely to be SEO compliant; aiding in better Search Engine ranking like in Google. These websites are fast, easy to navigate, tick all the right boxes when it comes to SERP parameters. Even affordable custom web designs, when done right, can meet the basic SERP requirements. When all the right boxes are ticked the website will be ranked top in the organic search, helping you get more customers and business at a cheap rate.

But why is using website templates instead of a custom design bad for ranking in search engine results?

Usually, website templates are clunky and filled with unnecessary features to cater to a variety of businesses. As a result, they are slow, have low onpage scores, and are difficult to rank in SERP. Ultimately this will lead to 89% of customers shopping at your competitors’ websites due to the poor quality of your website.

Mobile-friendly websites reap the benefit

Mobile accounts for about 50% of the global website traffic today. About 74% of people are likely to come back to your website if you have a mobile-friendly interface. This is because as per the statistics available people spend about 70% of their internet time using mobile phones.

To capitalize on this opportunity, it is important that your website is mobile-friendly. If you choose custom web design services over ready-made templates, you have more control over offering the best mobile experience to your customers.

For example, if you are looking for a custom eCommerce website design, you can make sure that the front page is tailored to your customer interest, the inner pages are aligned with the sales funnel and it is easier for your customer to find the products they need, add them to cart and complete the order by making payment the most convenient way for them.

We should not forget that there are thousands of mobile-friendly templates available for websites that are built on platforms like WordPress. But are they able to showcase your business’s value and ethos? Can they incorporate the identity of your business as it is?

Also remember that in order to convert high traffic to more sales, the sales funnel should be properly planned and implemented. It is quite common that these sales funnels may vary from industry to industry and business to business. So, to make your website an effective conversion tool, it is better to go for a custom web design that focuses on your customer, their interest, and the brand identity and strength of your business.

Custom websites help with creating engaging websites

Websites need to be engaging. Only an engaging website can retain traffic. Only when the customers are engaged the traffic gets converted to sales figures.

95% of the internet users testify that a good user experience is an important factor while consuming content from the website. Hence, creating and displaying engaging content is a necessity for any website to sustain. Only a custom-made website allows you to develop a website that disperses information in a logical manner that engages the users and presents value and facts in a clean and crisp manner.

AlignMinds has more than a decade of experience designing best-in-class custom websites that are tailored to fit the interest and preferences of end-users. If you are in search of a competent custom web development company, contact us now!

Offshore Development Teams and Cultural Conflicts: Insights and Remedies

Earlier it was difficult for people to communicate with their family members and friends when they were working in a foreign country. The family members have to wait for days to receive a letter and vice-versa. Now, the situation has drastically changed. The advancement in communication technology has resulted in more communication modes such as video calls, chats, and emails. And, it has made communication easier and efficient.  

The advancements in communication have also transformed how businesses function. Every business tries to adapt and change according to the need of the hour. Startups or established businesses- both try to grow in a short span of time. In order to attain maximum growth, they need to adopt quality and efficiency and the “team” becomes a crucial component to achieve that.

Building the team

Interviews, training, onboarding-everything of the hiring process consumes time and money.

But it is now possible to hire a team who is fully equipped with the required skill set and knowledge. Also advancements in communications and technology have helped businesses to hire an exceptional team from any part of the globe. This type of hiring, known as ‘offshoring’, is considered the best way to develop a quality product at a low cost.

According to Forbes, offshoring “ does not only relate to the production of physical goods, but also services. The Indian IT industry, for instance, has been powered by waves of offshoring by technological companies in the West.”

The following graph shows the total contract value of the information technology outsourcing (ITO) market worldwide from 2000 to 2019. 

Source: Statista.com

From the above graph, we can see that, even though there was a dip in the contract value in the year 2016, it has bounced back in the year 2017 and remained almost consistent in recent years. With a value of around 60 billion US dollar, the outsourcing industry is one of the key industries in the world. It has helped in boosting the employment generation and income level in the east while the west was able to cut down their operating cost. 

The reason for hiring offshore developers may vary according to the businesses goal. It can be done to gain greater global scalability, for cutting the development cost or to develop a quality product.

Source: Outsourcing-outlook.com

What is an offshore development team?

As mentioned earlier, hiring offshore developers is a type of outsourcing where a business hires a development team from another country. Companies hire offshore development teams with different aims such as web development, mobile app development etc. 

Hiring offshore developers can be broadly classified into two. You can 

  • Hire offshore development agencies: You outsource a whole project to an agency abroad. They will take care of every aspect of the project and hand you over the final product.
  • Hire dedicated offshore developers: You hire an individual player to an existing team under your wing. They fill specific roles that are crucial for the implementation and completion of a project like design, coding, testing etc.

What are dedicated offshore developers?

Dedicated offshore developers are a team of professionals from another country who you hire to work for your project. A good team of dedicated offshore developers will work solely on your project and will deliver the project on time.

Hiring dedicated offshore developers will help you greatly in cost-cutting strategies. There is no need to spend on office space and other perks such as health insurance and salary hike. You only need to pay for the service they offer. 

Dedicated offshore developers are the apt choice for a project that does not have a fixed framework. Dedicated offshore developers are equipped with the required skill set. So it is easy for them to adapt to the random changes in the parameters of the project.

Pros of hiring offshore development teams

Low development cost

Developing countries have a lower cost of living than a developed country. It reduces the cost of hiring offshore developers from these countries. India is a popular destination for hiring offshore development teams.

No training needed

An offshore development team does not need any training. They are equipped with every skill which enables them to start the work immediately. Or if put it in another way, you can hire a team based on the required skill and expertise. 

Shared responsibility

When you outsource to an offshore development team, both you and the offshoring team have a shared responsibility. If the project does not end up as planned, some offshoring companies also provide a partial refund.

Working infrastructure and latest technologies

Offshore development teams are already equipped with all working infrastructure facilities. They also work with the latest technologies and have a better understanding of the competition in the field. You can use their expertise and technological advancement to the advantage of your business.

Cost-effective business scalability

When you hire an offshore development team, it can help you to scale your business in a cost effective way. It is a low-risk growth approach to expand your business.

Helps to concentrate on core areas of the business

Offshore development team comes with a better manageable workforce.  So, when you hire an offshore development team, you will get more time to focus on other core areas of the business. A good offshore development team will also make sure that your project will be completed within the budget and timeline which was agreed upon.

Easily increase and decrease the size of the team

You can easily remove and add team members when you hire an established offshore development team. You will also save time on interviews and the process of onboarding.

Cons of hiring offshore development teams and remedies

Communication issues

Time zone differences make it difficult to communicate with the offshore software development teams. Monitoring the activities of an offshore software development team is also a problem. You may not be available or there will be some network issues that can happen when the project manager tries to communicate with you on some serious problems.

Remedies

  • Foster a good rapport with the team.  You should communicate with them regularly through video or voice calls. If time permits you can go and meet your offshore development team at their place.
  • Setting up a dedicated chat room for proper communication between your project manager and offshore software development team is a good strategy. When there is a constant transmission of ideas, the scope of flaws in communication can be reduced to a certain extent. There is no need to regularly spend time interacting with the offshore software development team if there is a dedicated chat facility.

Data security issues

While hiring an offshore development team, data security is the most common problem faced by the clients. If you didn’t have a correct background check on the offshore development team, it might lead to information leak.

Remedies

  • Check if the offshore developers are following strong security policies. As most information leak happens through the internet, allow only necessary internet interactions.
  • A best offshore company encrypts and stores the given data. Before hiring an offshore software development team, you should ensure that they follow proper data encryption protocols.
  • A regular risk assessment carried out from your side will minimise the risk of a data breach. You can also ask your offshore development team to conduct random checks.
  • Regular scanning of the network for vulnerabilities and security issues will help in minimising the risk of a data breach. You can also ask the team members to not bring any data storage devices to work.

Management issues

It is easy to manage an in-house team as every one is available in the same workspace. Some may find it difficult to manage a team of offshore developers.

Remedies

  • You can send one of your trusted employees to oversee the work of your dedicated offshore developers. It might incur extra charges for you but, it is a good option if your project takes only a month or two for completion.
  • You can also seek help from a team member and ask him/her to write a detailed daily work report. You can regularly schedule conference calls with the offshore developers and convey your ideas to them.

Issues relating to cultural differences

Cultural differences might reflect on the quality of work. The developers from different countries have the same technical skills but different cultural backgrounds.

Remedies

  • Prior to the start of the work, you can have a conference call with the offshoring team and can discuss working standards that both can agree upon.
  • You can make sure that every member of your dedicated development team understands and speaks English or any other common language.
  • You can invite your offshore developers to your office events. This will help to understand them better.

Geopolitical issues

Since your offshoring development team is from another country, geopolitical situations of the country can affect the work. Geopolitical issues include terrorist attacks, wars between nations etc.

Remedies

  • You should always have a contingency plan when you hire offshore development teams so that you can take necessary steps if something goes wrong. A good awareness about the geopolitical situations in the country where your team is located is an absolute must.

Where to look for an offshore development team?

When you are looking for offshore development teams prefer a location that is having similar cultures as your homeland. The best offshore developers are found in Asia and Eastern Europe due to their affordable rates and good communication skills. In Asia, India and in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is a popular destination for hiring the best offshore developers.

You can search popular directories such as Clutch, ITFirms, GoodFirms etc. to find offshore developers who are having the required skill set according to your needs. When you search on these platforms you will get the reviews of the past clients and choose the best offshore developers among them.

You can also seek help from consultants who can connect you with the best offshore developers out there. They can be a mediator and help you in making negotiations on the rates.

How to hire an offshore development team more effectively?

When you are looking for offshore development teams you should check some factors. You should have a good understanding of your project and its expected outcomes. You need to communicate important details like number of members you need, skill level, and expected date of project delivery etc. to the offshore development team.

  • Hire a team of offshore developers who are committed to delivering quality work. If you are choosing dedicated offshore developers, always double-check for reliability and experience.
  • A complex project may take years to complete depending on the workforce. So it is advisable to hire offshore development teams who not only understand your current requirements but also the future needs as well.
  • Shortlisting countries that have the best price/quality ratio is an important part of hiring. You can get a quality product at a reasonable price when you hire the right offshore developers.
  • The communication process is the most important part of hiring an offshore development team. So hiring a team of offshore developers who can interact with you without any flaws is an essential requirement.
  • Always have a deep-check on the data protection norms of the country before hiring an offshore development team. 
  • You should choose an offshore development team who respects and has clear specifications about intellectual property rights.

The following graph shows the leading countries in offshore business services.

Source: Statista.com

Managing offshore development team

Managing offshore development teams is as easy as handling an in-house team if you know how to handle the communication gap between two time zones. Some of the things that should be kept in mind while managing offshore development team are as follows:

  • Always check that the offshore development team is having the same business mindset as yours. Ensure that the cultural differences do not lead to any challenges in product development.
  • At the start of the project itself, make the offshore development team understand the values put forward by your business. Managing offshore development teams becomes easier when the offshore development team understands the values and objective of your business.
  • If you think that cultural differences will pose some issues in the development, you can hire offshore development teams from a country that possess similar cultural standards as yours. Managing offshore development teams are easy when the cultural standards of both sides are similar.
  • Managing offshore development teams becomes difficult when there is less communication or there is a language barrier. You should hold meetings regularly with your offshoring software development team. It helps to avoid misunderstandings and moreover, it gives good control over the team.
  • Always dedicate some time to listen to the offshore developers. They have years of experience and worked for many clients on a global level. They can help you in brainstorming ideas that may help your business to grow beyond boundaries. 

Hiring an offshore development team is not a simple task. But it offers more advantages than having an in-house team. When the concept of offshoring is fully understood and when the offshoring team works in sync with the ideas put forward by you it helps in the smooth development of a quality product.

AlignMinds Technologies is an award-winning mobile app development company with a decade of success stories. We offer digital product engineering services that include strategy and design, web and mobile app development, DevOps and cybersecurity. We can help your businesses to get an edge in the competition through innovative solutions. Contact us now!

How to Make Your Mobile App Go Viral? Best Kept Secrets

People have used telephones to communicate with each other. It is considered as a pinnacle in communication technology. Nobody might have thought that one day the technology will advance to a point where everyone will have their own portable mobile phones. Not just that, a device which was originally invented as a communication device will perform almost all tasks related to day to day life and eventually replace personal computers!

The high usage of smartphones phones and mobile apps during the last couple of years have led to an increase in the number of mobile app development companies. These companies are launching new mobile apps almost daily. But only some of the apps are catching the attention of the end-users. 

The following survey shows the time spent by the users on different app genres.

Source: Statista.com

Here is a survey which shows a projection of worldwide mobile app revenues from 2014 to 2023.

Source: Statista.com

The above graph gives an insight into the profits that a business earns by offering a quality mobile app.

But why does a user prefer one app over another?

Some of the reasons include the following

  • A user will like an app that has a lower battery consumption.
  • An app that has better integration with mobile hardware like cameras, microphone and sensors is admired by the users.
  • Users like an app that works online and offline.
  • While navigating, users like to access information that is simple and easy to understand.
  • Security and privacy are the most important factors a user considers before downloading an app.
  • Users also love a guidance feature in an app that easily makes them understand the features of the app.

Below are some tips on how to make your mobile app go viral.

Tips: How to make your mobile app go viral

Title

The first thing that a user notices while downloading an app is the title. 

A title that stands out will make a user curious about what’s inside. The title like Messenger and WhatsApp also tries to give an idea of the category to which it belongs to. To know the content of the app, he/she might read the description and images. Make sure that the images and the description are attractive.

Online presence

The online presence of the business also helps with mobile app marketing strategies and to make your mobile app go viral. 

It won’t be easy to make your mobile app go viral in the beginning itself. Especially if your business has low visibility. In cases like these, you can use paid marketing to promote your business and mobile app. Social media are a good option when it comes to promoting your mobile app. Use eye catching banners and good ad copy to catch the attention of the users and make them download the app. 

Also, create a website that gives details about the mobile app and include a link for downloading the app.

Rewards

One of the most used mobile app marketing strategies is giving rewards to users. An example includes that of Google Pay, which offers a cashback for its users. Rewarding users helps in gaining new users and building brand loyalty over time.

Social media integration

There should be a feature in the app that allows users to share their app activities on social media platforms.

For example, some games allow users to gain more rewards when they clear each level and share their new rankings through social media. A predefined eye-catching image and description are also shared by the game app that creates curiosity in other users. This curiosity generated will make others download and try the mobile game. When more users download and share it with others, this will make your mobile app go viral.

Increasing curiosity

Increasing curiosity among users is an important mobile app marketing strategy.

Creating a mystery around the features of the app before the launch is a good marketing technique. A business can also promote a mobile app with the help of celebrities. People show interest when they see a familiar face. A T.V ad can also help with increasing the visibility of the mobile app..

Before the launch of the app, conducting a giveaway can increase the popularity of the mobile app. A giveaway will attract many users and it will also help with word of mouth marketing. 

Promotion through videos

You can make your mobile app go viral by posting and promoting short videos that can be shared through social media platforms. Users usually like to see a video than to read a description. If the video is successful in promoting the benefits and features of the mobile app, users are more likely to download it and try it out. They will also share it with family and friends. If done correctly, videos are the best option you can adopt for your mobile marketing strategy.

Retaining users

Gaining new users will be important for a mobile app. However, retaining the existing users is also equally important. 

By giving reason for the users of your mobile app to stay on the platform and increasing their usage time, you are not only increasing your revenue margin but building brand loyalty by giving them the best app experience. By doing so, you are indirectly encouraging them to become a brand ambassador for your mobile app and pitch it to their friends and family. As we commonly say, “A satisfied customer is the best marketing effort you can have”. The same applies for app marketing too.

Updating the app with engaging content regularly is one of the best options to ensure user retention.

FOMO

A user may download and use an app due to the fear of being left out. This phenomenon is called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in marketing. 

When marketed well, FOMO can be used to the advantage of a business and can help to make your mobile app go viral. Take the example of Facebook. Earlier only a few people used Facebook. Now the number has increased to a stage where people will get surprised if you say you don’t use the social media platform.

Making a user comfortable

Building a good relationship with the users is also an important part of mobile app marketing strategy. If a suggestion put forward by a user is a good one, the business can implement it to improve the mobile app. Also answering their queries and making them comfortable is an essential part of mobile app marketing. 

What are the best mobile app marketing strategies?

There are mobile app marketing services that help to make your app go viral.

The mobile app marketing strategies followed by an app marketing company include:

Referral marketing

Most of the businesses use this type of mobile app marketing strategy. 

A user shares a link to download the mobile app with their friends and family in return for rewards or points. These types of promotions are mainly done by gaming apps and eCommerce apps.

Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most used app marketing strategies where a business uses email communication to promote a mobile app. 

Emails are sent regarding an app launch to people who might be interested in such apps. Email marketing can also be used to educate potential users about the benefits and features of a mobile app. 

If you are an ecommerce company, you can promote the products on your platform via email marketing and the people who are interested in purchasing such products may try out your platform. 

Social media marketing

Social media is one of the best and cost-efficient ways for marketing your mobile app.

There are millions of users active on different social media platforms. With a correct marketing strategy, you can attract people to your app within a short span of time. Facebook uses A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) to deliver ads to a potential user. So it is a good option to find people interested in your product. You can also use messaging platforms such as WhatsApp to invite users to your mobile app.

Offering a trial

You can offer a free trial to help potential users understand the benefits of the mobile app . If the customers find the features to be useful, they will pay for it after the end of the trial.

Call-to-action (CTA) campaigns

CTA is a successful mobile app marketing strategy. Here, many techniques are used to get the attention of the users.

The Ice Bucket Challenge by ALS Foundation is a famous example of a CTA campaign. It was created by the ALS Foundation to promote awareness of a disease- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Another example includes that of Uber- “Drive with Uber – Be Your Own Boss”. It suggests that anyone can make money with their vehicle.

App store optimization

Correct app store optimization helps your mobile app to gain maximum visibility, organically. 

If your mobile app has a dedicated website, search engine optimization can help with gaining more website visitors and increasing the app downloads. Likewise, app store optimization is an important part of app marketing. You can seek help from a mobile app marketing company to better your scores in app store optimization.

Knowing about competitors

You should have a clear understanding of your competition. This helps in developing a better mobile app that is easy to promote and easy to be accepted by the user. 

As users like to try new features and they are always on a search for the best mobile app that can make their life easier and more entertaining, there is always a chance for new mobile apps to win in the market. Having innovative features that your competitors do not possess will make your app stand out.

Planning a burst campaign

Burst campaign provides a boost to the marketing strategies. 

Before 24 or 72 hours of the launch date, a business aggressively advertises the mobile app through paid media such as T.V., social media, websites etc. This is called a burst campaign. 

Burst campaign helps the app to gain a good exposure and make the app go viral even before the launch.

You can hire marketing and advertising professionals to help you with your burst campaigns.

Hire mobile app promotion services?

A perfect mobile app marketing strategy is necessary for an app to be successful. 

Mobile app marketing is the planning and execution of a set of ideas to ensure maximum exposure for your mobile app and get more people to try it out. Some studies show that over one-third of the companies dedicate 31% to 50% of their budget to mobile app marketing services. 

About 68% of mobile companies have a fully documented and 30% of mobile app development companies have partially documented mobile app marketing strategy.

Some of the strategies employed by mobile app marketing agency are as follows.

Market research and other promotions

Market research is a vital part of any app marketing strategy. All mobile app promotional activities should be based on the latest trends in the industry. So, deep and constant market research is the first step towards promoting your mobile app.

App Store Optimization (ASO)

ASO has a vital role in making a mobile app go viral. To ensure you follow all ASO standards, you should hire an excellent mobile app development company and maybe a mobile app marketing agency.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is achieving a stable and maximum growth under a short time span. Growth marketing or growth hacking is a very good option for a start-up company. As usually growth marketers work based on metrics and data, you can be sure that your marketing efforts are result oriented and there is a good chance of outdoing the competition.

Generally, since an app marketing agency will have years of experience in market research and mobile app marketing, it is always a good choice to approach them for your app promotion as a failure in marketing will not only cost your marketing expenses but the app development expenses too.

Promote Android apps

Following Android design principles is essential when you promote Android apps. 

Some of the best ways to promote your Android app are as follows:

  • Get the Android app featured in Android related platforms such as the Android Community, Android Developer forum etc. 
  • If you are promoting a paid Android app, Google recommends starting with a higher price. Later you can cut down the price or give discounts during festive occasions to increase new signups.
  • An icon defines your business. Icon and the title is the first thing a user sees while browsing the app store. So it is important to create an eye-catching icon for promoting an Android app. 
  • The landing page of your app in the app store should have attractive in-app images and videos. A proper description based on the benefits of using the app will be appreciated by users.
  • Google helps to promote both Android and iOS apps. You can make use of the Google app campaigns. It helps to promote your mobile app through Google services such as Google Play, YouTube, Google search etc. 
  • Remarketing is considered as a strategic component of advertising by Google. Remarketing helps with increasing new registrations, sales and brand familiarity among users. If done in a proper manner, remarketing can help to make your app reach maximum targeted users.

For more guidelines on android app marketing, you can visit the official Android page.

There is a different strategy for marketing iOS mobile apps.

Promote iOS app

Promoting an iOS app may seem a bit different compared to promoting an Android app.

It is better to promote an iOS app by giving two versions- A free one and a paid one. The paid version of your app should have more engaging features than the free version. You will see more downloads for the free version. Eventually some users will turn to the paid version to get access to the full feature.

You can give discounts during the launch to promote iOS apps among the people. Building your app’s online presence is also an important iOS mobile app marketing strategy.

Apple recommends to follow these points when you promote iOS apps.

  • You should always use Apple provided product images in all your marketing materials when promoting the app through supported Apple devices.
  • Apple product images should be readable at the provided image resolution. The minimum device size should not be smaller than 25 mm in height for printed materials and 200 px on screen.
  • You should not promote iOS apps based on Apple features. The headline and copy should focus on the app rather than the iOS platform. Apple also recommends using a clear and simple description. This along with a call to action to download the app is important while you promote iOS apps.

For more details on iOS app marketing, please visit the official Apple page.

Last word of advice: When you formulate your mobile app marketing strategies to make your mobile app go viral, you should also ensure that you have proper resources to update the app content regularly. This increases the user retention rate and will help you to build brand loyalty over time. Hiring a top mobile app development company ensures that you have a quality mobile app in your hand that will be loved by the user. A good app developer will also ensure that their development strategies will be supportive of your app marketing strategies. 

AlignMinds Technologies is an award-winning mobile app development company with a decade of success stories. We offer digital product engineering services that include strategy and design, web and mobile app development, DevOps and cybersecurity. We can help your businesses to get an edge in the competition through innovative solutions. Contact us now! 

Hiring Web App Developer: All You Need to Know

The internet has revolutionized the lifestyle of humans to a great extent.

A British computer scientist named Sir Tim Berners-Lee paved the next step in internet technology. His invention, popularly known as the WWW (World Wide Web) and HTML (HyperText Markup Language) transformed the usage of the internet to a whole new level.

The last couple of years have seen many improvements in internet technology. The invention of the WWW led to the development of web pages. Later it developed into the combination of web pages known as a website.

Web applications or web apps is the most recent advancement in this field.

Websites and web apps have made tasks such as booking tickets and buying commodities much easier.

But what is a web app?

What is a web app or web application?

A web app uses a remote server to store data and has functions and interface similar to a native app. Users can access a web app through the internet. It is done with the help of a compatible web browser which is already installed on the device.

A web app is different from mobile applications installed on mobile phones.

Web apps are popular among individual users and business firms due to its easy access through mobile phones. eCommerce shops, webmails, social networking sites such as Facebook are some of the businesses that use web apps. As the majority of people use mobile phones, business firms hire web application developers to change their websites into a more interactive web app. Offering their services and products through a more user-friendly and preferred platform helps these business firms to widen their reach.

There are two types of web applications- static web apps and dynamic web apps

  • A static web app is a basic type of web app. Interactivity features are less as compared to a dynamic web app.
  • A dynamic web is much more complex than a static web app. Updations are easily done in dynamic web apps.

What’s a website?

A website is a collection of related web pages.

The interlinked web pages of the website have a single domain name. Website is publicly accessible. Individuals or business firms create websites to carry out many functions such as business branding, to showcase and sell their products etc.

Now, a question may arise.

If a web app and websites are using the same basic structure, what is the difference between the two?

Difference between a web app and a website

  • Web apps differ from websites in terms of features and functions. Web apps have interactive elements while a website has static content.
  • Web apps offer more features and options than a website.
  • Regular updations are necessary for websites to keep the content authentic.
  • The user can control and use the features of the web app.
  • Storing and accessing customized data, according to the needs of the user is possible in a web app. But websites do not have this option.

Is web app and mobile app the same?

Difference between a web app and a mobile app

Native mobile apps are those developed for a particular platform such as Android or iOS.

Some of the difference between a web app and a native mobile app is as follows:

  • The development cost of native mobile apps is higher than that of developing a web app. This is because native apps use platform-specific designs for development.
  • To develop web apps, You need to hire a web app development company or web app developers who are proficient in programming languages such as JavaScript, CSS or HTML5 etc. For native apps that will be working on an Android platform, mobile app developers widely use Android Studio for development. An iOS native mobile app developer uses Swift or Objective-C to develop an app for the Apple platform.
  • Templates are available for the web app developers but do not have access to any development kits as available for native mobile apps. Web apps are easier to build than a native mobile app.
  • Native mobile apps have more advanced features than a web app.
  • There is no need to download the web app as other mobile apps. You only need a compatible web browser to interact with a web app.
  • The loading time of a web app is slower when compared to a native mobile app.

‘Progressive web app’ is another type of web application that is widely used nowadays as it is having the qualities of both native and web-based apps. Progressive web apps can work in low connectivity and load faster as a native app.

Why do businesses now prefer to hire web application developers over websites developers?

There are many advantages of using a web app.

Advantages of web apps

  • As web apps use a supported internet browser to function, there is no need to download the web app. Thus, a web app does not affect the external or internal storage of the mobile phone.
  • A user always has access to the updated version of a web app. This is because changes made in the server get reflected in the web app. The user does not need to update a web app as compared to a native mobile app.
  • A business firm using a web app can easily change the contents according to their growth and change in demand when they hire web app developers who are having the required expertise in this field. Web apps are easily customizable and scalable, so a business can add or remove functions from the app within a short time.
  • As mentioned earlier, web apps store information in a remote server. So if the device gets stolen, the user can retrieve his/her personalized data from another device with the help of a supported web browser.
  • Many types of mobile phones with different screen sizes are available in the market. When you hire a web app development company with the right talent, it makes a web app equally functional and customizable for a wide range of devices.

Websites and web apps are both cost-efficient ways to deliver your content to the users.

But which is a better option for your company- website or a web app?

Which is better: a website or web app?

There are some factors to keep in mind while choosing a website or web app for your business. To an extent, cost and features have a role in deciding whether to go for a web app or a website.

Websites, compared to web apps, do not integrate well with other online tools or third-party apps. Integrating with other software is one of the basic functions of a web app. Web apps provide a better user experience than websites by combining with third-party applications.

All websites need a good internet connection to function. But web apps have offline compatibility. This is a function which most users prefer while browsing the internet.

Personalizing web apps based on user needs is a comparatively easy process. Different users see different content while using a web app that gets personalized to his/ her needs. A website hosts content that is publicly accessible by any viewers. As usually, personalization is not possible, every user sees the same information on a website.

A variety of functions are available in web apps and they are more responsive to customer choices. Users can manipulate data while using a web app and receive information based on their request. Websites are usually not that responsive to a user’s request.

A website is a good choice while looking for cost, cutting strategies. If you are looking for developing more interactive, secure and personalized content for your business, opt to hire web app developers. Also, a web app is a feasible option in the long run.

But what are the important points to keep in mind when you hire web app developers?

How to hire web app developers?

It is a simple task to hire web app developers if you have a correct and detailed analysis of your business challenges and purpose.

While hiring web app developers, you should give preferences to the one that uses modern technology and development methods. Hire web app developers who know and follow the latest trends in the industry.

Hire web app developers who are having experience and expertise in their field of work. This will help in ensuring that the app will meet all the industry standards.

Checking skills and qualifications is important when you hire a web app developer. There are mainly three types of web app developers.

They are:

  • Front-end web app developer
  • Back-end web app developer
  • Full-stack web app developer

Each of them has different job roles.

1. Front-end web app developer

Front-end is the part of the web app where the users directly interact with.

Front-end web development is also known as client-side development. The tools required to develop web front-end constantly changes. This is the main challenge faced by front-end web developers.

Front-end web app developers develop the design and layout features of the web app. Hire web app developers who have exceptional working skills at the front-end to make the interface of the web app an eye-catching one.

The main duties of a front-end web developer include the following

  • Front-end web app developers analyse the UI/UX designs and make sure if it is technically feasible.
  • Client-side development also finds suitable ways to optimize web application for peak speed and performance.
  • Front-end web app developers confirm all user input and submit it to the back-end for further actions

2. Back-end web app developer

The back-end is what determines how a web app works. This part of the website is responsible for the structure of the application.

Back-end development is also called server-side development. The back-end web developers write the code that helps the front-end communicate with the database.

Some of the responsibilities of back-end web app developer are as follows:

  • The back-end web app developer creates and maintains the server-side of the application or website. Back-end web app developer is also responsible for checking and resolving errors at the back-end.
  • The back-end web app developer makes sure that data and other services are delivered promptly when requested by the front-end.
  • The creation and integration of the database are managed by the back-end web developers.

3. Full-stack web app developer

Web app developers who have expertise in developing both front-end and back-end are called full-stack developers.

You will get a full package when you hire web app developers who have very good knowledge about front-end and the back-end. Which means that hiring full-stack web app developers is the most suitable option for startups.

The main objectives of a full-stack web developer are as follows:

  • As they are well-versed in the client-side and server-side languages, they can analyse and provide solutions to problems in the server, network or hosting environments.
  • Hiring full-stack web developers help to cut costs and improve efficiency. Since you hire web app developers who have the expertise to handle both the front-end and back-end, the cost of hiring separate web developers can be reduced.
  • The workflow of the team improves when you hire full-stack web app developers as there is no need to collaborate with more members of a team and there is no chance for error due to a flaw in the communication.

There are three choices you can opt for when you hire web application developers for your business. You can pick any one of the following according to your requirements and budget:

  • Hire a web app development company
  • Hire a freelance web app developer
  • Hire a dedicated web app development team

But, which is the best option?

Hiring web app development company vs freelancer vs dedicated development team?

To choose the most suitable option for your company, you need to get a clear understanding of these three choices.

Let’s start with hiring a web app development company.

1. Hiring a web app development company

Mobile phone users are increasing day-by-day. Major companies have turned to concentrate more on developing web apps as it will generate a wide market and reach.

The growing demand for web apps has produced more web app development companies. You will get exceptional web app developers to work on your project when you hire a web app development company.

1.1 Advantages of hiring a web app development company

1.1.1 Hiring a web app development company is time-saving

Hiring a web app development company that has the required experience and expertise in the field of web app development significantly reduces the development time. Understanding and fixing errors become easy or there is no scope for errors while hiring an expert web app development company.

1.1.2 Hiring web app development company helps in developing a more reliable web application

An experienced web development team will help you in creating a perfect web app with the right structure and code. Crashing and breaking issues of a web app is least while hiring a web app development company.

1.1.3 Hiring web app development company gives an insight into the latest technologies

A good web app development company equips itself with the latest technology and tools. So hiring a web app development company also helps you in bringing innovations to your web app that a user would like.

To hire a web app development company that suits your business challenges, consider the following aspects.

1.1.2 Consider these points before hiring a web app development company

  • Conducting a proper search on the internet helps you in hiring a web app development company which is the best according to your requirements.
  • After searching the internet, compile a list of the best web app development companies based on their years of experience and expertise, ratings and reviews of past clients, awards and other recognition etc. Hire a web app development company, which is the best according to this evaluation.
  • Contacting the past clients will help you in knowing more about the web app development company, you chose to hire. Enquiring about the work satisfaction of the former clients will help you in your decision.
  • Hire a web app development company according to your budget. Pricing is always the deciding factor. Price is decided mainly by three factors
    • The experience of the company
    • The expertise of the employers
    • Technology used
  • A right-minded web app development company follows all coding standards and guidelines. So hire a web development company that writes clean and consistent codes.

2. Hiring freelance web app developers

Hiring freelance web app developers is the best option if yours is a startup business and if you are looking for cost-cutting strategies.

Searching the internet helps you hire freelance web app developers with the required skill set. Some of the search platforms and coding communities that help you in hiring exceptional freelance web app developers include DevTeam.Space, Upwork, Hired, StackOverflow etc.

Your professional contacts from the industry can help you to hire web app developers who do freelancing. Compare their rate and quality of work before hiring a freelance web app developer.

Some of the advantages of hiring a freelance web app developer are as follows

2.1 Advantages of hiring a freelance web app developer

2.1.1 Less project turnaround time

An experienced freelance web app developer is always working on one or another project. This makes him/her more experienced than a fresher. Freelance web app developers do not need to spend time on routine tasks such as documentation and communication like employees in a company. This helps in the significant reduction of project turnaround time.

2.1.2 Knows the latest trends in web app development

Due to their continuous exposure in the field of web app development, freelance web app developers are up-to-date with the latest trends. This will help in providing a good user experience to users.

2.1.3 A good contact with expert web designers and testers

Experienced freelance web app developers will have contact with many web designers and application testers who are exceptional in their work. Freelance web app developers can team up with web designers and testers to develop the perfect web app for your business.

2.2 Consider these points before hiring freelance web app developers

  • Always conduct initial screening and tests before hiring a freelance web app developer. There are many freshers who take up freelancing and poses as an expert. Hire web app developers with the necessary skill-set. Also, check their previous works before hiring a freelance web app developer.
  • While hiring a freelance web app developer through the internet, closely examine the ratings and reviews of the previous employers. The rate of hiring freelance web app developers also differs based on the geographical location. So consider the geographical location as well.
  • Freelance web app developers work hourly or per the project basis. Hire web app developers according to your project needs.
  • Hire freelance web app developers who provide proper support and maintenance after the deployment of the web app.

3. Hiring a dedicated web app development team

Hiring a dedicated web app development team is the best choice for developing a quality web application at a low cost.

Opt for hiring a dedicated web app development team if the project needs to be started soon. As a dedicated web app development team is equipped with a workspace, the project can start the next moment an agreement is signed.

Hiring a dedicated web app development team have some of the following advantages.

3.1 Advantages of hiring dedicated web app development team

3.1.1 Flexible and transparent hiring process

You can directly take part in the selection of the team members while hiring a dedicated web app development team. You can also increase or decrease the number of team members at any stage of development.

3.1.2 You will have total control of the dedicated web app development team

You have direct control over the team members. A project manager is always available for proper communication. This helps in delivering proper updates and project status. You can also make changes in the requirements of the project at any time.

3.1.3 Security is not compromised

A chance for data breach is minimal as you are directly involved in every stage of development. Hiring a dedicated web app development team that follows strong data encryption protocols ensures better security.

3.1.4 Hiring dedicated web app development team is highly economical

If you hire the dedicated web app development team for a project, he/ she needs to pay only for that individual project. You do not need to spend money on bonus and other perks of the employees.

A dedicated web app development team also updates themselves with the most modern tools, technology and training. So there is no need to spend money on these aspects.

3.2 Consider these points before hiring dedicated web app development team

  • Always verify the quality and expertise of the dedicated web app development team by contacting past clients. An initial screening that consists of tests and interviews of the team members help you to check whether they are the right candidate for your project.
  • While hiring a dedicated web app development team from another country, consider the difference in the time zone. It is better to confirm the availability of the team according to the time zone you prefer. Also, make sure that the dedicated web app development team is having proper communication skills.
  • From the very initial stage itself, you should make clear the requirements and intended results of the project to the team members. This will reduce confusions and help with developing a perfect development roadmap for the project.

Best place to hire web app developers

When you hire web application developers of your choice, you should have a clear-cut idea about your project- size, scope, intended results and future developments.

The internet can help you hire web app developers who are having the skill-set and experience you are looking for. When you want to hire web app development companies and dedicated web app development teams, you can also search B2B directories such as Clutch and GoodFirms.

Before you choose to search and hire web application developers from B2B directories, you can create a framework which includes all the relevant details. This can include budget, salary, required skill-set etc. This will help you to cross-check your requirements while searching for hiring a suitable web app developer.

Always double-check the reviews and ratings before hiring a web app developer considering that there are web app developers with fake reviews. Reliability and quality should be your prime concerns while hiring web app developers.

To hire a web app developer, you can also seek help from your professional contacts. This is a more reliable option than the internet because your contacts might have worked with a web app developer in the past and know the quality of their work.

Hire web app developers who have the perfect knowledge of programming languages and understand UI/UX and design principles.

You can hire a web app development company from another country or can develop your own in-house team. There are many advantages and disadvantages when you opt to hire web app developers from another country and when you develop your web app through your in-house team.

Developing web app: in-house vs offshore team

An in-house team is your internal team, where you hire web app developers and other team members such as project manager, UI/UX designer, QA analyst etc. to work for your company.

When you hire web app developers for working on your project from another country, it is offshoring. India and China are some examples of Asian countries that are famous for offshoring.

There are many merits and demerits for an in-house team and offshore web app development team.

1. Benefits of in-house web app development teams

  • Your internal team devotes all their working time towards the development of your web application. This will ensure that the web app is completed under the specified time.
  • You are in direct control of the in-house app development team. You have total control of the workflow and will have an insight into the daily status of the work. There are no focus issues for your employees as they work only for you.
  • You can individually give salary to your team members according to their performance, expertise and experience.
  • An in-house web app development team will understand the target audience, goals, brand voice and competitors in the field of work better than an offshore web app development team.
  • In-house web app development team does everything promptly. As everyone is working in the same office, approvals and reviews happen in a time-bound manner and at a faster rate.
  • While developing a project with your in-house team, you can have any number of revision checks that increases the quality of the web app. But when hiring a web app development company, you are having limitations of the budget, so you can have only a certain number of revisions.

2. Disadvantages of in-house web app development

2.1 Recruitment

The main disadvantage of an in-house app development team is that it takes time for the recruitment process.

To hire web app developers and other team members, you need to have an initial screening such as tests and interviews. After hiring the right team members, you need to give them proper training for the execution of the project. This increases time and budget.

2.2 Cost

Hiring in-house web app development teams are more expensive than hiring web app development companies and hiring dedicated web app development teams.

You will need infrastructure and office space. You will also incur extra expenses like taxes, rent etc. You also need to pay for various types of software and hardware that are essential for work. There are also expenses for maintaining an in-house development team.

2.3 The team

When an important member of the in-house team resigns, you may need to put the project on hold.

You can only resume the project only after finding a replacement. You may also need to train the employee, which further increases time.

2.4 Expertise

If you hire web app developers without the proper knowledge or expertise, it will have negative impacts on the project.

You may not deliver a quality web app if the employees are not up to the mark. Costs could also go up unexpectedly as you may need to give more training to the employees who are not up to the mark.

Hiring an offshore web app development team makes up for some of the disadvantages posed by in-house web app development teams. The advantages of an offshore web app development team are as follows.

3. Advantages of offshore web app development team

  • You get access to a good number of talents while hiring offshore web app development teams. You can hire web app developers who can build quality web applications at a low cost.
  • The vendor company will take care of project management activities such as human resource management, hiring and onboarding employees etc.
  • There is no need to spend money on office rents, recruitment and training, insurance benefits, provident funds etc. while hiring an offshore web app development team. This will drastically reduce the cost and time needed to develop a web app for you.
  • Hiring an offshore web app development company is very beneficial for a start-up. A startup has less workforce than an established firm. They can save a lot of time and money on hiring and managing manpower. Thus, they can concentrate more on the actual business.
  • Hiring an offshore web app development company can help you analyse the competitors in the field. As an offshore web app development company will have an understanding of the global market, they can have a better evaluation of the competition. They have professionals who are working in the field for many years. With their help, you can develop one of the best web apps using the latest technology, market data and the newest trend among consumers.

4. Disadvantages of offshore web app development team

4.1 Time Zone

You and the offshore web app development company are in different time zones.

This is one of the major drawbacks of hiring an offshore web app development team. Reporting issues to the web app development team and getting them solved will take time.

4.2 Communication

While hiring an offshore web app development team, always give importance to communication. English is commonly used by offshore web app development companies to communicate with you. But there can be a communication barrier arising due to cultural influences and English being a second language to many.

There will also be issues related to phrases, usages, style of communication etc. For example, if a team member uses the sentence structure of his/her native language while communicating in English, you may have difficulty in deciphering it.

4.3 Geopolitical conditions

The geopolitical conditions of the offshore web app development team will affect their work and could increase the completion time. So you should have a proper understanding of the situations in the country to which the development team belongs. You should have a contingency plan if there is a probability of geopolitical unrest.

4.4 Cultural and social practices

While hiring offshore web app development teams, it is difficult to overcome the cultural barrier. The culture will have an influence on the attitude and behaviours of the people and can influence the product quality.

How much does it cost to hire web app developers?

There are many factors that determine the cost of hiring web app developers. Some of them includes the following:

1. Experience and expertise

When you hire web application developers, one of the prime factors that determine the cost is experience and expertise.

A project is divided based on its complexity level such as simple, advanced, complicated etc. It is always economical to hire web app developers with different seniority levels. This helps in dividing the payments and the project according to their expertise.

2. Location

When you hire web app developers, always have a look into the geographical location.

There are web app developers from many countries such as India and Ukraine who develop quality web apps within a low budget. It is very expensive to hire web app developers from the U.S. You can hire web app developers from the US in the price range between $75-$115. If you are looking to hire web app developers from the Western European countries, they charge between $65-$80 for an hour.

Hiring web app developers from Asian countries such as India is the most suitable choice in terms of rate and quality. It is very economical when you hire a web app development company from India, as they only charge between $25-$40 per hour. The quality of web apps is also not compromised when you hire web app developers from Asian countries.

3. Billing models

There are two types of billing models which decide the cost when you hire a web app development company. They are

  • Fixed price model
  • Time and material model

3.1 Fixed price model

In the fixed-price model, the budget will be fixed before signing the contract with the web app development company you hire. You cannot modify the requirement once you sign the contract. Or a new contract or additional contract will be made if there is a change in the requirement.

This type of billing is most suitable for a short term project with a clear understanding of the requirements. You only need to pay the rate which was finalized before signing the contract. A development roadmap and date of delivery of the product will also be discussed prior to signing the contract.

3.2 Time and material model

In the time and materials model, you have to pay for the time and resources used. This type of billing guarantees a quality end product. It involves paying for the work completed. You can modify the requirements of the web app while using this model. It is suitable for developing a complex web app with more functionalities. So it is flexible compared to the fixed price model.

4. Features and functionality

The functionalities are another factor that determines the cost when you hire web app developers. Web apps with simple functions have a lower rate of development compared to a complex web app.

5. Other factors

  • While developing a complex web app, there is a possibility for more bugs and errors. Fixing them also increases the cost of development.
  • Using the latest technologies reduces time. But it increases the cost of development as money is needed to be spent on buying these technologies and training the team.
  • Security is users’ top priority. To enhance the security features of the app, you need to invest some money and in most cases it is unavoidable.

Having a web app for your business is better than a website. But to develop one, you need the expertise and skill set of a remarkable web app developer. You can choose to hire dedicated web app developers or a web app development company. You might need inputs from the best web app development company to build a web app that will generate more revenues for your business.

AlignMinds Technologies is an award-winning mobile app development company with a decade of success stories. We offer digital product engineering services that include strategy and design, web and mobile app development, DevOps and cybersecurity. We can help your businesses to get an edge in the competition through innovative solutions.​ Contact us now!

How to Hire the Best PHP Developer for Your Next Project?

Innovations in technology have brought many changes in the lifestyle of humans.

One of the examples involves that of the internet. The internet has brought many innovations such as eCommerce, eLearning, etc. Earlier, the internet was accessed through a computer. Now, anyone can access the internet through a mobile phone.

The following survey shows the market position of various languages used in web development.

Source: w3techs.com

From the graph above, we can find that PHP is used by many sites. The following graph shows that PHP is used by 78.8% of websites.

Source: w3techs.com

The following survey compares various server-side programming languages in web development.

Source: w3techs.com

A huge market is created by websites or web applications. When used correctly it can bring good revenues to your business.

These web applications and websites are powered by many programming languages. Some of the examples include PHP, JavaScript, Python, etc. PHP is one of the most favoured programming languages of developers.

What is PHP?

PHP is the commonly used programming language in website or web app development.

PHP is an open-source language. This means that anyone can use PHP without any cost. The source code of PHP is released to the public for studying, modifying, and also for distribution.

Some of the websites that use PHP include Facebook, WordPress, Wikipedia, Yahoo, etc.

PHP is used for server-side scripting, unlike HTML which is used for designing the layout of the web page.

Difference between server-side scripting and client-side scripting

Server-side scripting

  • Server-side scripting is a process in the back-end of the website or web application. Server-side scripting helps in various operations of the website or web app such as customization, accessing application databases, etc.
  • Server-side scripting requires server interaction. The server-side scripting helps in establishing a connection between the server and the user.
  • Some of the most used server-side scripting languages include PHP, ASP.net, Python, etc.

Client-side scripting

  • Client-side scripting is a process in the front-end of web apps or websites. This scripting happens on the end user’s device. This may include all those that a user sees such as text, images, etc.
  • Client-side scripting does not need server interaction. It uses the web browser as a host program. Client-side scripting can minimize the load to the server
  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript are some of the examples of client-side scripting languages.

PHP and server-side scripting

PHP is one of the most popular server-side scripting languages.

Server-side scripting happens on the server-side and helps to connect to the databases in the webserver. HTML or HyperText Markup Language is the basic language used to create websites. Creating interactive features is not possible with HTML. But by using PHP, one can integrate interactive elements into a website.

As PHP is an open-source language, anyone with the proper knowledge can use it for bringing more innovations. There are no specified rules to use PHP and can build features according to the PHP programmers.

PHP supports a wide range of database management systems. MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Sybase, Cubrid, etc. are some of the popular examples of databases that can integrate with PHP.

Why is PHP important?

Source: 7php.com

Originally, the full form of PHP was Personal Home Page. Now it is changed to Hypertext Preprocessor.

Rasmus Lerdorf is a Danish-Canadian programmer. He wrote many CGI (Common Gateway Interface) programs by using the language C in 1994. This was used to maintain his personal homepage. This Personal Home Page (PHP) was later developed into Hypertext Preprocessor.

A blue elephant is the mascot of PHP. It is stylized as ‘elePHPant’ and was created by Vincent Pontier in 1998.

According to a ​survey​, about 78.8% of websites work on PHP. This shows the popularity of PHP among developers and businesses.

Why is PHP favoured the most?

  • PHP is a reliable scripting language and one of the most affordable options that assist you in creating a website.
  • PHP works on every platform, be it Android, Windows or iOS. Most of the browsers also support PHP.
  • PHP provides foolproof security. PHP provides protection against viruses and threats.
  • Anyone with a sound knowledge of HTML can learn PHP very easily.

It is a very simple process to change your website that is based on HTML to PHP. PHP programming and HTML rendering are easier than other languages like ColdFusion, Python, etc.

Nowadays, PHP programmers use version PHP 7. PHP 7 shows improvements in performance and better memory usage. The newest version, PHP 8 is scheduled to be released on November 26, 2020.

The good thing about PHP

  • It is affordable for both startups and established firms to hire PHP developers. It is better to hire PHP programmers who are experienced rather than a trainee.
  • There is a large community of PHP programmers all around the globe who are connected. So there are always solutions to problems while using PHP.
  • PHP is a flexible language. The flexibility of PHP helps to integrate with application databases and develop advanced web apps.
  • PHP is seamlessly used in any platform without any issues.
  • PHP can help in creating a more SEO-friendly website than other languages like Ruby, Perl, etc.

Hiring PHP developer

If you are looking to create a perfect website, it is important to hire PHP developers.

PHP programmers are an essential part of a website or web application development team. PHP programmers help in combining your web project with other services. They also assist front-end developers in developing an ideal website or web app.

Why is a PHP developer a vital part of web development?

PHP programmers write the scripts for the back-end. The PHP programmers also make sure that the web infrastructure is working as intended. You can also hire PHP developers to modify scripts and also to test the code for errors.

How to hire PHP developers?

When you hire PHP developers for your business, make sure that they have the required experience and expertise along with good technical skills. There are three levels of seniority in the PHP programmer’s community. They are

  • Beginner
  • Mid-level
  • Senior-Level

1. Hiring beginner level PHP developer

A fresher who does not have prior experience in the field of PHP development is called a beginner-level PHP programmer. Good guidance and training can help a beginner-level PHP programmer to polish the skill-set. You can hire a beginner-level PHP developer to help with data manipulation and other simple tasks.

2. Hiring a mid-level PHP developer

A mid-level PHP developer is more experienced than a beginner. Mid-level PHP programmers have good knowledge in the field of work. They can smoothly work under senior-level PHP programmers with little supervision.

3. Hiring senior-level PHP developer

A senior-level PHP developer is having advanced knowledge and vast expertise in the field. Many years of experience will help a senior-level PHP programmer to quickly find solutions to problems while developing. He/she is highly skilled in every aspect of PHP.

  • Hire PHP web developers who have good knowledge in other languages such as MySQL, XHTML, etc. This will help in the proper integration of PHP with these frameworks that are usually used in website or web application development. Check the quality of the work by referring to the past works before you hire PHP developers.
  • When you opt to hire PHP web developers, always be sure that he/she is a good team player. The PHP programmer can effectively collaborate with others and ensure a proper workflow and quality of the product.
  • Hire PHP developers who can upgrade themselves according to the newest trend in the industry and who have all the required skill-set.

When you hire a PHP developer, you can go for any of the following options.

You can

  • Hire PHP development company
  • Hire freelance PHP developer
  • Hire dedicated PHP developers

Hiring PHP development company vs hiring freelance PHP developer vs hiring a dedicated PHP developer

The three choices mentioned above have their own merits and demerits. You can compare the three options and hire PHP developers that are best suited to your needs.

1. Hiring PHP development company

There are many PHP development companies that offer good quality work. Before hiring a PHP development company of your choice, you should understand its advantages and disadvantages.

1.1 Advantages of hiring a PHP development company

Experience

When you hire a PHP development company you get PHP programmers who are having years of experience in this field. There is no need for giving any training and can start the project once an agreement is made between the development company and you.

Expertise

When you hire a PHP development company, you get PHP programmers who are having excellent expertise in various fields of web development. Educational portals, eCommerce sites, news portals, NGO websites all make use of PHP to develop a better website.

Timely delivery

PHP development companies usually follow an established workflow. This makes sure that the product is delivered on time. So, hire PHP development companies with positive reviews of past clients and ensure that they can deliver the project under the specified time.

Best development practices

A good PHP development company will ensure the delivery of a quality product by following good development practices. This includes proper documentation, clean written codes, troubleshooting for errors, etc. A PHP development company also uses the newest technologies in developing your PHP program.

Certified PHP developers

PHP programmers are having a worldwide ever-growing community. Hiring PHP developers who are the best in this community is a difficult task. But when you hire a PHP development company, you get access to certified PHP programmers. The PHP development company will conduct interviews and tests to know the skill level before they hire PHP developers.

There are some disadvantages as well while hiring a PHP development company.

1.2 Disadvantages of hiring a PHP development company

  • If you didn’t perform a good background check before you hire a PHP development company, you might incur extra charges. Some PHP development companies can overcharge the client based on the increase in their employee salary or other office expenses.
  • Before the start of the project, an agreement might be made by the PHP development company and the client on the number of revisions. If the client needs more revisions in the future, he/she is bound by a contract that allows only a certain number of revisions.
  • The cost of hiring a PHP development company is higher than that of a freelance PHP developer. The client should pay for all the expenses while hiring a PHP development company. But when hiring a freelance PHP developer, he needs to only pay for the service.

There are some advantages and disadvantages of hiring freelance PHP developers, which are discussed in the next section.

2. Hiring a freelance PHP developer

Hiring freelance PHP developers are the best option if there are budgetary restrictions. Some of the advantages of hiring freelance PHP developers are as follows.

2.1 Advantages of hiring a freelance PHP developer

  • As a freelance PHP developer cost less compared to other available options, this is a good option for a startup. The startup can invest the saved money on other core objectives of the business.
  • A freelance PHP developer can work without any supervision or guidance. To be the best in the industry, a freelancer updates themselves with the newest technologies and practices.
  • Usually, a freelance PHP developer works on a global level. So the freelance PHP developer knows the different kinds of trends practiced by different businesses. A client can use this knowledge to the advantage of their business.
  • A freelance PHP developer may not follow a 9 to 5 work schedule. So a client can appoint time slots according to his/her choice. Therefore flexibility of communication is an advantage of hiring freelance PHP developers.
  • There are many search platforms available on the internet to find the best freelance PHP developers.

2.2 Disadvantages of hiring a freelance PHP developer

  • A freelance PHP developer who does not have any ethics would drop out from your project mid-way for more profitable work. So it is important to sign contracts between you and the freelance PHP developer.
  • A client has full control over the working of an employee in the in-house team. But, the client has little control over a freelance PHP developer.
  • There are only some freelance PHP developers who are experienced professionals in their field who give the best output. Quality of work is affected when you end up hiring a freelance PHP developer who does not show any professionalism and skill.
  • There are freelance PHP developers who post fake reviews and ratings of themselves. Confidentiality issues and disputes based on payments is a problem while hiring such freelance PHP developers
  • A freelance PHP developer might be working on multiple projects at a time. So meeting the deadlines is a problem while hiring a freelance PHP developer.

3. Hiring dedicated PHP developers

When you hire dedicated PHP developers, you can be sure that you get quality work for a reasonable price. Unlike freelance PHP developers, a dedicated PHP developer is like a member of your in-house team. You have direct control over the dedicated PHP developer. You get the following advantages when you hire dedicated PHP developers.

3.1 Advantages of hiring dedicated PHP developers

Quick completion time

When you hire dedicated PHP programmers, the project turn-around time can be significantly reduced. It is because the requirements are already understood and the dedicated PHP developer will be hired based on the required skill set to complete the project on time.

Easy management

Hiring dedicated PHP developers will help you greatly in team management. Dedicated PHP developers are flexible, which means that you can increase or decrease the size of the team according to the need. A project manager will be responsible for smooth communication between you and the dedicated PHP developers. You can hire dedicated PHP developers if you want to develop a quality product under your supervision, just like an in-house team.

Cost-effective

Cost is significantly reduced when you hire dedicated PHP developers. There are no additional costs incurred for training the employees as in an in-house development team. You also don’t need to spend any additional costs for equipment, allowances, annual bonuses, etc. These all expenses are implicitly covered in the service rate of dedicated PHP developers.

Experience and expertise

Hire dedicated PHP programmers to get a team of employees who are experienced in working on various areas of web development. Due to their level of mastery, they can come up with solutions to problems within a shorter span of time.

High level of security, reliability, flexibility, and professionalism

Hire dedicated PHP developers who are very professional in their approach. Dedicated PHP developers will mostly have the experience of working for several clients and projects at a global level. They can help you with the conceptualization of ideas that best suit your project.

Hire dedicated PHP programmers who follow proper documentation procedures and data protection protocols.

There are also some disadvantages when you hire dedicated PHP developers.

3.2 Disadvantages of hiring dedicated PHP developers

  • If you hire dedicated PHP programmers from another country, different time zones might cause problems in communication. If there is something important to communicate regarding the product development and if it is not possible due to network issues or one party being not available, it could increase the delivery time of the product.
  • Dedicated PHP developers might not always have a project manager to oversee the work as in the case of an in-house development team. You might need to also hire a dedicated project manager to oversee the work of dedicated PHP developers.
  • When you hire dedicated PHP developers from another country, always analyze the geopolitical situation. The development of the project would be stopped or delayed If there is any situation of geopolitical unrest such as wars or terrorist attacks.

Best place to hire PHP developers

You can hire PHP developers mainly from the

  • The internet
  • PHP communities
  • Referrals from your professional contacts

The internet

There are many freelance/B2B platforms that help in hiring freelance PHP developers from around the globe. Some of them include Freelancer, Truelancer, We Work Remotely, etc. If you want to hire dedicated PHP programmers, you can search in Toptal, Hired, Upwork, Clutch, etc.

If you have a LinkedIn account, you can use it to connect with PHP programmers who have the required skill-set.

PHP communities

PHP is having a large community of developers. A client can look in PHP communities to hire PHP web developers with the desired skill set. PHP communities and groups can be found in social media networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., and also on internet forums. You can also attend PHP conferences where you can meet exceptional PHP developers.

Referrals from your professional contacts

You can seek help from your professional circles to find the best PHP developers. They might give you the contact details of experienced PHP developers who they might have worked with in the past.

Cost of hiring a PHP developer

There are some factors that influence the cost of hiring PHP programmers. Some of them include the following:

  • Experience
  • Geographical location
  • Skill-set
  • Complexity of project

Experience

As the experience of a PHP programmer increases, the rate of hiring also increases. For example, a junior PHP developer, on average, charges about $20 an hour. The mid-level PHP developer charges about $30 per hour and a senior PHP developer may charge $40 and above.

Geographical location

When you hire PHP programmers from developed countries such as the U.S., it could cost between $10,000-$15,000 for a one-month-long project. The annual salary of PHP programmers from the U.S is about $103,000.

Some countries such as India and Ukraine have PHP developers who could help you with your web project at a very low rate. A client may need to spend about $5000 for a project in these countries, or maybe more, depending on the size and complexity of the project. The PHP developers from Asian countries have an annual salary of about $50,000. It is less compared to the salary of the PHP programmers from the U.S.

Skillset

The required skill set will vary depending on the nature and requirements of the project. You can hire a mid-level developer for a simple project that does not need the expertise of a senior-level PHP developer.

For a more complex project, you will need to hire a senior-level developer who is equipped with the knowledge of different areas of web development, for example -back-end, front-end, SEO, technology architecture, web security, etc. So, the rate of hiring PHP developers differs according to the type of project and the skill level of the PHP developer.

Complexity of project

The rate of hiring PHP developers is influenced by the complexity of the project. For a simple project with fewer features, the cost of developing is in between $1500-$3500. A mid-level project can be completed in between $5500-$10,500. For a complex product with advanced features, it may cost $15,500 and above.

To develop a web-based solution that stands out from the competition, you need to hire PHP developers who are exceptional in their field of work. In other words, the experience, skillset, and expertise of developers are the backbones of any good web-based solution.

AlignMinds Technologies is an award-winning mobile app development company with a decade of success stories. We offer digital product engineering services that include strategy and design, web and mobile app development, DevOps, and cybersecurity. We can help your businesses to get an edge in the competition through innovative solutions.​ Contact us now!

Hiring Dedicated Development Team: A Complete Guide

We all are living in a world which is constantly evolving and adapting to needs.

In this fast-moving world, where everyone and everything is connected, there is absolutely no need for hiring regular staff for your company. Discovering and adapting to new approaches of working ensures a better workforce and work culture.

Technological advancement has helped in hiring employees from all around the world belonging to different cultural backgrounds who are an expert in their field of work. The dedicated development team is the newest entry into this segment.

Hiring a dedicated development team has become one of the best approaches for both cost reduction and quality maintenance. You can hire a dedicated development team and obtain the best skill set out there. ​Surveys ​show that many companies hire dedicated development teams from countries that offer the best services and quality at a very low cost.

Now, what is a dedicated development team and how to hire dedicated development teams?

Let’s look into the details.

What is a dedicated development team?

What will you do if your company doesn’t have the required expertise in developing your project?

Do you want to get involved in every stage of planning a software or an app and also want to work with a reputed and professional team?

All these questions lead to the concept of ‘dedicated development team’.

Dedicated development teams are another system or establishment different from your company that are hired to work for you. Hiring a dedicated development team helps you find talents from many parts of the world.

You will get a team of professionals who have the required expertise and experience in the domain while hiring a dedicated development team. Hiring a dedicated development team also helps you greatly in your cost-cutting strategies.

As the term suggests, dedicated development teams are fully committed to you and the work you offer. The team directly reaches out to you for updates on the projects and you can directly communicate with the team, control and monitor progress from any part of the world.

Advancements in cloud-based technologies have also led to the development of various working models. The dedicated development team is one such working model that came into prominence by using cloud-based technologies.

Now, why should you hire a dedicated app development team?

Why hire a dedicated development team?

Are you confused between hiring a dedicated development team or building your own in-house team?

If you find these points relevant based on your requirements, hiring a dedicated development team is your best choice.

  • If your team is not having the required expertise in the development of your project, you need to hire a team of experts. By hiring a dedicated development team, you can ensure that your project is developed by an expert team in the field.
  • If you do not want to spend on hiring employees and infrastructure and consistently reduce budget; hire a dedicated development team. As the dedicated development team has all the infrastructure facilities and a full-fledged team to support your project, you only need to pay for the services they offer.
  • If the project is a large scale one, and if your team cannot complete the project under the specified timeline, hiring a dedicated development team will definitely help you in reducing the project delivery time to a great extent.
  • Dedicated development teams regularly update themselves with the latest technological advancements and infrastructures. So you don’t need to spend on upgrades when hiring a dedicated development team.
  • If you want to develop a quality project with the insights from experts in the industry, hire dedicated development teams. This will also help you to combine your innovations with that of the team enabling in the development of a better product.
  • If you are looking for an easily manageable team of experts, hiring dedicated development teams can help you. ​Most likely they will be a team of professionals with the required skills and communication quality and a ​dedicated development team is directly controlled by the client.
  • If you want to start a project immediately and is looking for the best professionals in the field of work, hiring a dedicated development team makes sure that the project begins the next moment after the requirements are made clear.
  • You can also hire a dedicated development team if your company doesn’t have the necessary resources to ​support the development of a product.

There are certain factors to look into while hiring a dedicated development team.

Hiring a dedicated development team

You should have a good understanding of the factors that help in hiring the best one among the many dedicated development teams out there.

The main points to look into while hiring a dedicated development team include:

  • Requirements of your projects
  • Experience and expertise of the dedicated development company
  • Flexibility
  • Infrastructure and technological advancements

Analyse and evaluate the requirements of your project based on the targeted customer. Cost and project completion time will vary depending on the requirements.​Calculate the cost, project completion time and accordingly hire a dedicated development team that best suits the requirements.

Experience and expertise is another important factor to look into while hiring a dedicated development company. Before hiring a dedicated development company of your choice, contacting past clients will help in getting an overall picture of the firm ​and evaluate whether the team has the skills and knowledge to complete the project on time without compromising on quality.

Gaining more and more experience ​in their craft​ makes a company perfect. Hiring a dedicated development team with many years of experience helps you in launching the ultimate product according to the ​demand in the market and which will be loved by the users.

Flexibility is another factor to consider while looking for a good dedicated development team in foreign countries.

While hiring a dedicated development team, you should check how the team is adapting to technological advancements in the industry. An ideal dedicated development team should have the latest technologies incorporated into their workflow along with necessary resources and high-end infrastructure.

Analysing the pros and cons of hiring a dedicated development team ​will help you in deciding whether to go with a dedicated development team or not.

Let’s have a deeper look.

What are the benefits and cons of hiring a dedicated development team?

Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. Hiring a dedicated development team helps you in many ways. You also face some problems while hiring a dedicated development team.

First, let’s discuss the benefits of hiring a dedicated development team.

Advantages of hiring a dedicated development team

The main advantages of hiring a dedicated development team is a significant reduction in cost and time. Some of the other benefits are:

  • There is no need to invest in infrastructure as everything is already available with the dedicated development team.
  • There are no daily management issues as in an in-house model of development.
  • You get a team of professionals and experts who are hired after multiple ​stages of tests, interviews and evaluation.
  • You can employ cost-cutting strategies very efficiently while hiring a dedicated development team. You can cut or increase the number of members in the team at any stage of the development cycle.
  • All the stages of development are directly controlled by you. You can also make changes or bring innovations at any stages of development of the project.
  • You can carefully plan and assign tasks to each member of the team if needed.
  • You can access real-time updates on the project progress.
  • Hiring dedicated development teams is the best choice if your project is complex and long-term.
  • When you hire dedicated development teams, you will get to work with a more coordinated and affordable workforce that does not compromise on quality.
  • A replacement is always available if you think that anyone in the dedicated development team is not up to the mark.
  • Another important advantage of hiring a dedicated development team is, you can hire the team on an ​hourly, weekly, monthly or project basis.
  • Risk of a data breach is minimum while hiring a dedicated development team as ​most of them promise intellectual property protection and data security and will legally sign any related agreement along with a non-disclosure agreement.

There are also some cons to look into while hiring a dedicated development team.

Cons of hiring a dedicated development team

You should also consider some of the cons of hiring a dedicated development team. Some of the possible cons include the following:

  • This team model is ineffective for short-term projects, as the members need to adapt to the project requirements and this consumes time. Efficiency is also low for short term projects.
  • If you are hiring a dedicated development team from another country, communication barrier may be a problem.
  • The initial stage of hiring a dedicated development team takes time and multiple evaluations as you will need to search for the best team, compare price, reviews and ratings.
  • If you have changing project requirements, financial planning is difficult due to variations in cost estimates.

Now, another question remains:

How to hire a dedicated development team?

How to hire a dedicated development team?

The process of hiring an excellent dedicated development team is time-consuming. There are two stages of hiring a dedicated development team.

The first stage

  • The first stage is to have a thorough analysis of the requirements of your project before hiring a dedicated development team. Set priorities to your needs of the project.
  • Make an estimate of your budget.
  • Search the internet for the most rated dedicated development teams. Make acquaintance with past clients to know ​about the quality of their work and make a detailed​ analysis of the ones you have shortlisted.
  • Compare the rates of the dedicated development team you have selected.
  • Give priorities to the dedicated development teams with awards and recognition and that is flexible to work with.
  • Look out for the latest tech and infrastructural facilities, expertise in a variety of platforms and uninterrupted power supply and high-speed internet while hiring a dedicated development team.
  • Hire dedicated development teams with good project management skills such as prompt delivery time, focussed and adaptive to sudden changes in the requirements.
  • Hire a dedicated development team which is having secure encryption protocols for data protection.
  • Clutch and GoodFirms are a few examples of platforms that help you in searching for the best dedicated app developers. Conducting a search in these platforms helps you in finding the best dedicated development teams.

According to ​the project requirement, your quality expectations, budget and the timeline of product delivery,​ hire the right dedicated development team.

The second stage

After shortlisting a dedicated development team, there are some points to consider to ensure a good workflow.

  • Check the number of team members and analyse the skill set and field of expertise of each member.
  • The team members should be able to design engaging content to the users.
  • Look out for the team members who are focussed, reliable and experienced.
  • If time permits, you can ask the selected team members to show some past work or check whether they are fit for the project by asking questions related to the implementation of the project​.
  • Good communication skills are also an important part of hiring a dedicated development team. Members with adequate communication skills are a plus point of an excellent dedicated development team.

Now let’s discuss ​the cost of hiring a dedicated team.

How the cost of hiring a dedicated development team is determined?

Cost is always a deciding factor while hiring a dedicated development team. There are many dedicated development teams with varying rates.

The number of team members is a determining factor in the cost of hiring a dedicated development team. You can change the number of members at any time in a dedicated development team based on your agreement.

As stated in earlier sections, you can hire dedicated development teams on an hourly/ weekly or monthly basis. Cost of hiring is different for each method. According to your requirements and financial estimates you can evaluate which of these methods is a better option for your project.

The cost will also depend on the level of involvement of the team. There are various stages of product development. Product conceptualization, product design, product development, QA (Quality Assurance) and testing, product deployment etc. As the team gets involved in more stages, the cost will also increase​.

All these factors have an influence on the overall cost of hiring a dedicated development team.

What is the cost of hiring a dedicated development team?

The cost of hiring a dedicated development team is determined by the geographical location. Surveys ​show that the cost of hiring dedicated development teams from Asian countries such as India is low as compared to the USA.

Dedicated development teams from the USA charge a higher rate of about $150-$195 per hour, but South Asian countries such as India charge between $26-$35 dollars per hour.

The following table shows the estimated cost of hiring a dedicated development team.

Source: Clutch.co

Hiring the right dedicated development team is the first step towards the success of your product. ​AlignMinds Technologies is an award-winning product engineering company with a decade of success stories. We can help ​your ​businesses ​to get an edge on the competition and​ bring more revenue and recognition through innovative solutions. ​Contact us now!

Ensuring Quality in Mobile Apps – Key Considerations

We are living in a world where mobile phones have become a part of our lives.

Mobile phones, nowadays are not only used for calling but are used for many activities as well. Ordering food, shopping of products using platforms such as Amazon, booking tickets for various activities such as travel, watching movies etc. are made easier by the introduction of mobile apps.

Courtesy: Statista.com

Moreover, surveys show that the usage of mobile phones is increasing over time. This has led to the development of mobile apps in many genres. Every business is considering turning into developing quality mobile apps after evaluating the huge usage of mobile phones. But only a few mobile app development companies are investing time and money to develop a quality mobile app.

If you ensure a high mobile app quality then you can witness the steady growth of your business. Users of your app will admire your venture for keeping up the quality standards.

Users do not compromise on the performance of a mobile app. If the mobile app did not work as intended, users will uninstall it and give it a lower rating in the app stores. This will have a negative impact on your business.

Let’s see what are the negative aspects of a mobile app that makes a user remove it from their mobile phone.

8 things users hate the most about low quality mobile apps

Here are some aspects that reduce a mobile app’s quality.

  • Customers hate it when mobile apps crash while using it.
  • Freezing is another aspect that reduces the quality of a mobile app.
  • Users uninstall apps that are slow to respond.
  • High battery usage and too many ads are not appreciated by the users.
  • Some users try to free up their internal storage by moving mobile apps to external storage. Inability to move an app to external storage also declines the overall mobile app quality.
  • Not responding to feedback is another problem that a user hates.
  • If the user experience is not up to the mark, he/she will uninstall it from their mobile phone.
  • Users don’t like it when a mobile app is asking for unnecessary permissions.

To ensure mobile app quality, the mobile app development company or developers face many challenges throughout the development cycle of an app.

Following a mobile app QA checklist is an important factor which determines the overall quality of an app.

But, what is QA?

QA and ensuring mobile app quality

Throughout the app development cycle, QA is the most important factor that determines the popularity of the app among users.

QA means quality assurance. QA is the systematic monitoring and a way to check and prevent any errors or defects while developing a product. Ensuring QA in every stage of development helps in delivering a product that meets customer expectations.

Your company should plan a mobile app QA checklist and should work accordingly to meet the goals. Ensuring QA during every stage of app development helps in avoiding issues such as crashing or freezing of the mobile app. This will help in gaining positive feedback from customers.

There are about six stages of mobile app development. Every stage should have its own mobile app QA checklist. This will ensure an excellent mobile app quality.

1. Ensure mobile app quality during product conceptualization

Maintaining mobile app QA checklist at the very first stage of development helps in delivering a perfect app to the user.

Product conceptualization is the initial stage of app development. It is the stage where your ideas and concepts about the mobile app are envisioned.

The requirements and the design features of the product are drafted in this stage. This stage of development helps you to get a better understanding of the possibilities of your product.

Understanding the priorities of the user helps in ensuring mobile app quality from start to end of the development cycle. Market research based on customer needs helps to identify the demand for a particular product, in this case- the mobile app. Planning app specifications based on this evaluation will help you efficiently in the development process.

Involving employees, who are also customers during product conceptualization helps you in accessing more ideas. Verifying practicability of the suggestions put forward is also a necessary part of ensuring mobile app quality. Documenting these suggestions helps to make the necessary changes during the development cycle.

Take into account the calculations based on the future course of your business while planning a mobile app. In the future, your business might venture into new fields. There is no need to develop another app if you have a mobile app that can cater to the needs of the near future.

Users will not tolerate any performance or quality issues in a mobile app. Hardware and OS (Operating System) also determines the mobile app quality. So while product conceptualization, consider these two factors. A best quality mobile app will exceed the expectations of the user and also should work in every condition.

Planning based on the user requirements and interactive features of the app is another important aspect that ensures mobile app quality during product conceptualization.

A mobile app should have all the functions that a customer needs. Users look into many aspects while downloading a mobile app. Some of this includes seamless login and registration, user-friendly interface and design, engaging content etc.

Choosing a platform, which is the most preferred by users, is also important. There are three types of platforms in which mobile apps are developed. They are web-based apps, Native apps and hybrid apps.

A web-based mobile app is easy to develop and is directly linked to the website of the firm. All the functions of the website are accessible using the mobile app. Native apps are exclusively developed for a single platform (Android or iOS etc.). A Hybrid app is an app which is the blend of the two types discussed above.

The design of an app is also a part of measuring mobile app quality. There are certain aspects that help in building an app with a striking design.

2. Ensure mobile app quality during the design stage

Apps help to simplify your business and tasks. A good app with a brilliant design catches the eyes and mind of the users.

Attractive app design is an indicator of mobile app quality. There are about four steps in the design stage of an app.

2.1 Wireframing

Wireframing design is the first step in creating design layouts.

Digital sketches of designs are called wireframing. Wireframing provides a clear outline of the styling, colour, graphics etc. that will be used in the app. Creating device-specific designs during wireframing will help in providing a better user experience.

2.2. Style guide

Style guides provide a set of guidelines which is useful while designing the content.

A style guide is used as a reference manual that helps in achieving an overall consistency of the mobile app. Style guide documents the font style, colour scheme etc. which is based on the interests of the firm.

2.3. Mockups

The design is rendered using style guides and wireframes.

This visual layout is called mockups or high-fidelity designs. This high-fidelity design resembles the final product. It is a computer-based interactive representation.

2.4. Prototypes

Prototypes help in testing the functionality and design features of the app.

A Prototype is used to demonstrate how an app works. It simulates real-time user experience. App prototyping shows the basic functions and design of an app.

Different mobile app platforms have different design guidelines. Android and Apple recommend some design guidelines that will help in ensuring the mobile app quality.

2.5. Android app: design guidelines

Android uses a design system called Material Design which is based on print design methods. Some of the design guidelines put forward by Android includes the following:

  • Organize the content using cards, lists and sheets
  • Notify users with the help of snack bars, banners and dialogues
  • Usage of a floating action button to perform tasks
  • Android also has an organized system to apply colour to promote consistency and accessible contrast.
  • Material Design provides 13 types of typography which include headlines, captions and body text.

For more information on Android app design guidelines, please visit the official page.

2.6. iOS app: design guidelines

For apps designed for iOS, Apple recommends the following to enhance your mobile app quality.

  • Use legible text at every size with precise and bright icons
  • Highlight content using suitable graphics, colour, fonts etc.
  • Keep the interface design light and casual with minimal use of drop shadows and gradients
  • Use distinct visual layers.
  • Use of transitions provides the users with a sense of depth while navigating through the content.

For more details on the same, please visit the official page of Apple.

The design stage of the app is followed by the development stage.

3. Ensure mobile app quality during the development stage

A properly planned and documented development stages of the application ensures overall mobile app quality.

In the development stage of a mobile app, the developer writes the codes. These codes are then tested by another team that looks into errors in the code. By continuous testing, the team makes the code bug free.

In the development phase, a good level of attention is necessary to develop a bug-free app. A prototype of the app built by the developer and proper documentation sees to it that nothing misses out during actual development

Planning and maintaining a “mobile app quality assurance checklist” from the very beginning of the development cycle is a very important aspect of this phase. It helps in checking mobile app quality during every phase of development.

In the development phase, a good level of attention is necessary to develop a bug-free app. A prototype of the app built by the developer and proper documentation sees to it that nothing misses out during actual development.

There are three important parts of mobile app development. This includes the following:

  • Back-end or server technology: Back-end is a process which involves writing codes for an app to operate. The end-user does not directly interact with the back-end features. There are three types of back-end technology – cloud server, custom server and Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS).
  • Application Programming Interface (API): API helps the app to communicate with the back end. APIs are used to increase the user experience and also help the users to interact with other applications.
  • Mobile app front-end: Front end is the user interface part where the customers see and interact with the app. It is also called client-side development.

A simple and easy to use app helps in building up the reputation of the company. Issues such as security breach, crashing, slow processes, failing transactions during purchase will decrease your reputation in the eyes of the users. You will eventually incur a loss in your business as a result of a low-quality app.

If there are any such issues mentioned above in the app, this will lead to high remediation costs and also increases maintenance and marketing costs.The development team should follow popular coding guidelines and can thus avoid committing any such faults.

A good level of attention given to every detail during testing can help in fixing errors easily and early. Avoiding bugs from the early stage of development can help in reducing the cost of bug fixing, patching and updates.

Apps use data such as images and videos commonly. To increase the performance of the apps, the development team can reduce the size of this data by compressing it without compromising on the mobile app quality.

Reducing the load time of the app by pre-fetching data is also a good measure to ensure mobile app quality. Load the data as per the need of the user. Breaking down the content and pre-fetching them helps in reducing the data loading time.

Today, the mobile phone makers use different methods such as sensors, gestures, voice etc. to provide the best user experience. The app development team can use these to the advantage of their app by providing certain features which other apps of the same genre lack.

The next stage involves continuous testing for fixing the mistakes in the app. There are many types of tests that help in enhancing mobile app quality.

4. Ensure mobile app quality while testing

Fixing bugs through frequent testing ensures a higher mobile app quality.

Documenting every test will help in maintaining an overall consistency in mobile app quality. Another factor that helps with ensuring mobile app quality is high accuracy test results. Using real devices will help in achieving high accuracy during testing.

Different platforms use different types of testing to maximise mobile app quality. So the testing team should choose the suitable tools for testing in different devices working on different operating systems. As updates are rolled out for various operating systems every year, test the app on different versions to reduce compatibility issues.

Testing an app on various screen resolutions and rectifying the errors help in improving the performance of the app. Consider the geo-location and carrier while testing the app to reduce crashes as some apps are available only through particular carriers in some locations.

Tests done on the basis of confidentiality, authentication, authorization, storage and web services will ensure the development of good quality apps. Tests should ensure that proper encryption protocols are followed by the app to secure the privacy of the user. Before giving data access to a third-party application, the app should communicate it with the user.

Tests should also ensure that proper encryption protocols are followed when data is stored locally on the phone.

Making and receiving calls- this is the main function of mobile phones. Apps should not interfere with the connectivity and performance of mobile phones.

There are three methods of testing an app which includes:

  • Manual
  • Automated
  • Cloud-based

4.1. Manual testing

Manual QA testing is done with the help of a qualified tester without the usage of any automated tools.

Manual testing consumes time and money as it is done by professional analysts and testers. As the end-user is a human, manual testing helps in determining how the customer uses the final product.

4.2. Automated testing

Automated tests are done with the help of automated tools and without human assistance.

In this method of testing, a test script is generated based on the targeted platform. It saves time as it is faster than manual testing. It also saves money as fewer manual tasks are required in automated testing.

4.3. Cloud-based testing

Cloud-based tests are based on cloud-based technologies.

While using this method of testing, the testers get access to a wide variety of devices through the internet. The testers can test the app simultaneously in different platforms, thus saving a lot of time. But, the chance of data breach is higher while using this type of testing.

There are various types of tests conducted to ensure maximum mobile app quality.

4.4. Mobile app QA checklist: Different testing types

Proper testing makes a mobile app perfect. Security, compatibility and usability are given prime importance while testing a mobile app.

Testing done on real devices helps in getting a more accurate result than using an emulator.

There are various types of tests done to ensure quality before the deployment of the app.

  • Smoke testing: Smoke testing is also known as ‘build verification testing’. It is one of the tests done to verify if the app is stable and to look into the working of the key functionalities of the app.
  • Cross-platform testing: Cross-platform testing helps to know how your app functions in multiple platforms. It looks into the consistency, user experience, performance issues etc.in different environments.
  • Functional testing: This test helps to know if the app is functioning as intended.
  • User interface testing: It is a test used to detect faults in the graphical user interface of the app. The user interacts with the app through this interface.
  • Accessibility testing: It is a test which gives an insight into how a person with disabilities such as poor vision and hearing can use or access the features of the app.
  • Performance testing: The test helps to know how the app performs under various workloads and looks into battery consumption, network performance, memory usage etc. There are different types of performance testing. This includes load testing, stress testing, endurance testing etc.
  • Usability testing: Usability testing ensures better customer comfort. Usability testing is usually done with the help of people who closely resemble the targeted users. This test helps in receiving real feedback before the launch of the app.
  • User experience testing: The test helps in improving user satisfaction. User experience testing helps to know how the app interacts with the user. The test also ensures that the original design and specs are also maintained after the development of the app.
  • Security testing: This test helps to identify the vulnerabilities of the app. The most important tests under this category include vulnerability tests and penetration tests. Stick to global level security standards while testing app security. High security of the app provides a good reputation for the company and ensures an overall mobile app quality.
  • Compatibility testing: A test to ensure that the app functions smoothly in a variety of devices, platforms, screen orientations etc.
  • Beta testing: Beta testing helps in getting feedback from a real user.

There are also tests that help in knowing the reliability, content localization, Wi-Fi and GPS integration etc. Multiple testing approaches and testing on different devices help with improving mobile app quality.

5. Ensure mobile app quality during the deployment stage

Users download their desired app from various application stores such as Google Play and App Store. The policies for deploying apps are different for each store. You should have a good understanding of these submission policies to reduce time and effort during the deployment of the app.

You need to work on creating an End User License Agreement (EULA) to protect your organization, intellectual property etc. and also design an icon for your app before deployment.

The vendor of the app store will review your submission to look if your app is following the guidelines or norms put up by them.

Here are some important points to consider before launching Android and iOS apps.

5.1. Important points to consider before launching an Android app

  • Localizing content: Plan to localize your app according to differences in geography and culture before deployment.
  • Simultaneous release: Plan your release simultaneously on different platforms to ensure a better reception among the users.
  • Follow all mobile app quality guidelines: Offer the best design, features and functions for your users.
  • Design details for Play store listing: Add a description of the app along with videos and screenshots in the app store listing. Also, attach the privacy policy of your app.
  • Plan the in-app products and subscriptions: Add details about in-app products and confirm the countries which can access these products and subscriptions.
  • Promoting the app: You can promote the app using Google Play badge.

For more best practises, please visit the official page of the Android launch checklist.

5.2. Important points to consider before launching an iOS app

Before submitting an iOS app, consider the following:

  • Safety: People should download an app with confidence. The app should not have any offensive or upsetting content. Implementing proper data security is another factor that makes an app safe and thus ensures an overall mobile app quality.
  • Performance: Apple divides this category into five important sections.
    • App completeness: Apple App Store will reject an app which has incomplete app bundles and binaries, the apps that crash or have other technical problems. You should submit a fully developed app with all metadata, fully functional URLs etc.
    • Beta testing: App store does not include trial or beta versions of your app. To beta test, you can use the TestFlight (beta testing app of Apple).
    • Accurate metadata: Metadata provided in descriptions and screenshots of the app should mirror the content of the app.
    • Hardware compatibility: Apple encourages developers to build an app that is equally accessible with iPads as well.
    • Software requirements: Apps should not interfere with volume and power buttons. Such an app will be rejected by the Apple App Store. Apps should not alter features or functionalities of other apps and hardware components.
  • Business: Apps that cheat users with expensive in-app products will be removed by the App Store. Ads should be displayed according to the app’s age rating.
  • Design: Develop designs that are simple, refined and innovative. Update your apps and give more functions to the users.
  • Legal: All legal requirements should be followed according to the location where the app is going to be launched. All apps should include their privacy policy in the App Store metadata.

For more detailed information, consider visiting the official site of Apple.

After you submit the app, there is a review process of Apple to check whether the app has met all the quality standards.

6. Ensure mobile app quality in the post-deployment stage

Mobile app analytics platforms help you to get a glance into the performance of the app.

Updating the app to meet new user requirements will help in increasing the app value. Proper maintenance is another factor that determines mobile app quality post-deployment.

Users will give feedback once they start using the application. Use such feedback to update the app as per the requirements of the users. Take feedback and suggestions into account while planning an update for the app.

Replying to all the queries of users will help in gaining positive feedback. The app developers should watch for operating system updates and should fix compatibility issues by bringing necessary changes to the app.

Users look for mobile apps with high quality while downloading and using an app. In order to give the customers a perfectly built app, you need an expert and experienced team to develop the app for you.

In other words, hiring qualified developers is also an important aspect of ensuring mobile app quality.

You can get in touch with expert mobile app developers through a search on the internet. According to the budget and other requirements, you can choose to hire

Hiring a dedicated development team is the best option if you are looking for cost-cutting strategies without compromising on the mobile app quality.

For startups,hiring a freelance mobile app developer is a good choice. Hire only established freelance mobile app developers rather than freshers for assuring mobile app quality.

Hire a mobile app development company if you do not want to compromise on the mobile app quality and if budget is not a problem.

Make sure that the team you hired that consists of mobile app developers, designers, project managers and QA testers are top-notch in their field of work. Give preferences to the ones who update themselves with the latest trends and technologies.

Hiring a dedicated development team is the best option if you are looking for cost-cutting strategies without compromising on the mobile app quality.

For startups,hiring a freelance mobile app developer is a good choice. Hire only established freelance mobile app developers rather than freshers for assuring mobile app quality.

Hire a mobile app development company if you do not want to compromise on the mobile app quality and if budget is not a problem.

Make sure that the team you hired that consists of mobile app developers, designers, project managers and QA testers are top-notch in their field of work. Give preferences to the ones who update themselves with the latest trends and technologies.

AlignMinds Technologies is an award-winning mobile app development company with a decade of success stories. We offer digital product engineering services that include strategy and design, web and mobile app development, DevOps and cybersecurity. We can help your businesses to get an edge in the competition through innovative solutions. Contact us now!

Hiring Mobile App Developer: Things to Consider Before Planning Your Perfect App

The internet has become a crucial part of our lives.

Today, there are 3.5 billion mobile users worldwide. The transition of feature phones into smartphones during the past years has led to higher internet usage. There are many​ ​surveys that show an insight into higher mobile usage compared to preceding years.

The following graph forecasts an increase in smartphone users by the year 2025 in India.

Courtesy:​ ​Statista.com

People mostly use smartphones for games, business and education along with communication. On average,​ ​a user in India spends about 4.3 hours on a smartphone daily.

This recent trend has led to the development of various mobile apps in many genres. Here is where a business firm thinks twice before developing an app. They find finding a good mobile app developer is rather hard.

Most businesses start planning a mobile app by looking into the interests of the user. The next phase usually involves hiring mobile app developers.

The future of the mobile app depends on whether you were able to hire the best mobile app developer and how much expertise he/she had in the field working on similar solutions.

Hiring a mobile app developer is not a troublesome task if you know how to approach it. Consider these points before hiring a mobile app developer.

  • How to hire a mobile application developer?
  • Which is better: freelance app developer, app development company or dedicated app development team?
  • The best place on the internet to hire a mobile app developer
  • Developing a mobile app: in-house developing team or offshore development team?
  • How much does it cost to hire a mobile app developer?

Let’s discuss these points in detail.

How to hire a mobile app developer?

As the number of apps launched on different platforms is increasing day by day, your app should have its own strong points. To ensure that your app stands out from the rest of the apps in the market, you should hire mobile app developers who are exceptional in their field of work.

How to hire a mobile app developer for your next project?

Usually, this is the first question that comes to the mind of anyone who is looking to develop a mobile app.

To hire mobile app developers, begin your search using the internet. You can also ask for help from your contacts from the industry. After finding the most experienced and the most reputed team of mobile app developers, compare the price range.

An analysis and comparison of the projects accomplished in the past will help in hiring the right mobile app developer for your project. The best way is to hire mobile app developers who have received awards and certifications.

Looking into the expertise in multiple fields of app development and search based on reviews by earlier customers will help you to hire mobile app developers who are exceptional in planning and developing a mobile app.

There are three types of mobile app developers.

This includes freelance mobile app developer, mobile app development company and dedicated app development team.

Which one is better?

Let’s analyse the pros and cons of hiring freelance mobile app developers, mobile app development company and dedicated app development team.

Hiring app development company vs freelancer vs a dedicated app development team

When it comes to finding a developer for your next mobile app, you usually have three options.

  • Hire a mobile app development company
  • Hire a freelance mobile app developer
  • Hire a dedicated team of mobile app developers

There are many mobile app development companies that offer exceptional development services. There are also fraudsters who take advantage of posing as a great mobile app development company, thus draining all your money.

Hiring mobile app development companies helps you in hiring staff with more skill, experience and expertise as they are appointed after an initial screening or tests. The mobile app development companies assist you in the full development of the app including testing and app deployment. A mobile app development company will also offer you a more professional approach and support.

There are also some disadvantages to hiring a mobile app development company. Communication barrier is one of the cons of hiring a mobile app development company. As you cannot interact directly with the team of developers, accessibility to the workflow is less. Rate of hiring mobile app development companies is higher if you are looking for developing a budget-friendly app.

A Freelance mobile app developer is a good option for startups. But hiring a freelance mobile app developer is not a good choice in the long run. ​The main disadvantage is he/she will have less exposure to new technologies and less expertise compared to app development companies. Also, a freelancer may not know all the aspects of mobile app development.

While hiring a dedicated app development team, one should look into the quality and commitment provided by the team.

Let’s take a closer look at each aspect of hiring a mobile app development company, freelance mobile developer and a dedicated app development team.

Hire mobile app development company

Mobile apps are now an unavoidable part of every business.

There are a lot of mobile app development companies that offer good services. But one should hire a mobile app development company, that is the best to succeed in the competition.

Before hiring a mobile app development company, you should have a thorough background check on the firm. This helps in knowing the track record of the app developer company.

Checking similar apps developed by the mobile app development company helps in knowing their expertise in the field and involvement in the project. This also helps in knowing the feedback and ratings from the users.

To hire mobile app developers, who are the best, you should emphasize on communication. Hire mobile app development company that briefs project updates on a daily or weekly basis. A good mobile app development company will arrange a project manager to communicate with the client on project updates.

Timely completion of the project is another important part of hiring mobile app developers. A right-minded mobile app development company respects project deadlines and will complete the project promptly.

To hire a mobile app development company offering the best work, a look into the data security norms will help you in choosing the right one. The mobile app development company should have strict laws on data security. Hiring app development companies without a single incident of a data breach is an added benefit.

The mobile app development company should have developers who are proficient in a variety of platforms such as Android and iOS. The firm should also have the best UI/UX team of designers. Choose the right one with unique creative skills.

Before hiring a mobile app development company, the client should have a detailed analysis of the commitment of the firm. You can contact past clients to get a detailed work review of the mobile app development company. Hiring a mobile app development company that supports the client in the entire process of planning and development including the launch of the mobile app is an admirable point to consider.

Hiring mobile app developers who give proper support and maintenance after the launch of the app is also an important part of this process.

Hire freelance mobile app developer

Hiring freelance mobile app developers is a tricky task.

There are many sites which offer help in hiring freelance mobile app developers. Top sites include DevTeam.Space, Upwork, Hired etc. Also, job portals like Jooble help you post vacancies for mobile app developers on their platforms and find the right talent.

Keep these points in mind before hiring freelance mobile app developers.

  • Request to present a portfolio of earlier works to know the skill level before hiring a freelancer.
  • There are people out there pretending to be a qualified mobile app developer, but in reality, he/she may be a fresher in the field. Only hire freelance mobile app developers after an initial screening.
  • Hire a freelance mobile app developer who is established rather than freshers. This will help you in securing fail-proof work.
  • Hire a freelance mobile app developer who is brilliant in mobile app planning, development and execution of ideas.
  • Hire a freelance mobile app developer who is trustworthy and works according to the needs of the client.
  • Hire mobile app developers who are flexible in their working hours.
  • Look out for good communication skills before hiring freelance mobile app developers.
  • Hire a freelance mobile app developer only after discussing the price and project deadlines. Some freelance mobile app developers work on different projects at the same time. This may increase the time for project completion.
  • Country of origin is another factor to look out for. ​Surveys​ ​suggest that some countries such as the USA and India have the highest number of android app developers in the year 2018. Rates also differ from one country to another while hiring a freelance mobile app developer.
  • Online interactions are another important part of hiring freelance mobile app developers. Identify the best freelancer available with the criteria set by you.
  • You can also choose between a group of freelancers or an individual according to the complexity of the project.
  • Conduct a thorough online and offline research before hiring a freelance mobile app developer to minimise risks such as data breach.

Hire dedicated mobile app development team

While hiring a dedicated mobile app development team, there is no need to set up a workspace as every necessary element is set up already. Give preferences to the dedicated app development team which has the most modern tech and innovations.

Hiring a dedicated mobile app development team who have the necessary skills to develop engaging digital solutions for the customers will help in getting positive feedback. The dedicated mobile app development team should consist of multi-talented individuals. The client should also have full control of the team.

Hire dedicated mobile app development team only if they have the proper infrastructure facilities which support uninterrupted internet, power supply and ​access to the latest technologies.

Hiring a dedicated mobile app development team can help in minimizing the risk involved in data security as you are in direct control of the team. Direct communication and involvement are other features of hiring dedicated app development teams. You should also make sure that strong encryption data protocols are followed before hiring a dedicated mobile app development team.

  • If you are looking for cost-cutting strategies while developing an app, you can definitely hire a dedicated mobile app development team. But you should ensure that it does not compromise the quality of the work and ​you have the resources and expertise to manage the team.
  • Hiring a dedicated mobile app development team will help you in getting a workforce that is better than hiring freelancers.
  • Consider experience and flexible hours of work while hiring from a different timezone.
  • Hiring a dedicated mobile app development team also helps you in analysing the skill set of each individual in the team. If anyone is not up to the mark, you can immediately have a replacement.
  • You can also hire a dedicated mobile app development team on an hourly/ weekly/ or monthly basis.

If you do not want to compromise on the quality of the product, you can hire a mobile app development company.

If you are just starting a business and need a mobile app for better reach, then hire a freelance mobile developer.

If you are looking for a minimum cost and best quality, hire a dedicated mobile app development team.

The next step of the hiring process involves finding the best place to hire a mobile app developer.

Let’s have a closer look.

The best place to hire mobile app developer

The best place to hire mobile app developers, of course, is through the internet. A thorough search on the internet helps you to hire a mobile app developer who is an expert in the field.

Search platforms such as google help in finding the best place to hire a mobile app developer. There are also B2B directories such as Clutch, AppFutura, TopDevelopers, GoodFirms which helps you to hire a mobile app developer.

Only hire mobile app developers from reliable sources such as mentioned above. Websites offering full details ​such as company profile, past work portfolio, reviews and ratings from past clients​ along with contact number and address is a reliable one.

Hire mobile app developer only and only if he/she understands and meets the requirements furnished by you. You can also search sites offering professional assistance which helps to hire mobile app developers from the best circle.

If you hire a mobile app developer using the internet, please double-check for reliability and quality.

You can opt for hiring an in-house development team or offshore development team for developing a mobile app.

Now, what is in-house mobile app development and offshore mobile app development?

Let’s have a closer look.

Developing a mobile app: in-house development team or offshore development team?

Hiring offshore mobile app developer

Offshore mobile app development in simple words is outsourcing mobile app development to other companies. Nearshore and onshore are terms associated with offshore mobile app development. It is based on the geographical location of the mobile app development company you are outsourcing with.

Nearshore mobile app developers are those from neighbouring countries. Onshore mobile app developers are the developers located in the same country as you.

Offshore mobile app developers are those from different countries mostly far away from your nation.

Hiring an offshore mobile app developer is one of the most feasible choices. The majority of the offshore mobile app development companies offer high-quality work at an affordable rate. ​Since they will be mostly from a different part of the world, they might have a different perspective in creating better solutions and add more value to the project you are planning.

Hiring an offshore mobile app developer helps you in cutting your cost as you do not need to hire mobile app developers including other staff and also do not need to spend on infrastructure.

Offshore mobile app developers have expertise in different areas of work so adding new elements to the project that was not discussed before is easy. There are also no problems when a staff resigns, as there will be a replacement.

Different nations have different economic structures. A good understanding of the currency differences helps you in developing a mobile app at the lowest cost. For example, if an American offshore mobile app developer can develop an app for around $100,000; a mobile app developer from India can develop the app for approximately $4000 which is due to the currency conversion rate and cost of living. Reduction in time and budget is the greatest advantage of hiring offshore mobile app developers.

There is a risk of piracy and copying codes in hiring an offshore mobile app developer. You should take extra care while hiring an offshore mobile app developer.

Hiring famous and established mobile app developers can help you in developing your perfect app and reducing risks. According to some ​surveys​, India is one of the best countries to hire an offshore mobile app developer.

Now, what is an in-house developing team?

Hiring in-house development team

If you already have a team of developers who is part of your organisation, the team is called an in-house development team. There are many advantages and disadvantages while depending on in-house development teams.

You are in direct control of an in-house development team. There may be no language and cultural barrier as​ the employees have already adapted to the work culture of your organisation​. You can have a deep involvement with the development of the project when you have ​an in-house development team.

You can communicate directly with the team and execute your ideas much more easily. The development process of the app is closely watched and evaluated by you. This helps in avoiding and rectifying errors as early as possible.

Sufficient training given to the team ensures that every member meets the requirements. There is also a very low risk of a data breach as you are directly involved in the project.

There are also some disadvantages of relying on an in-house development team for your app development.

The first one is the cost of creating an in-house development team. The cost of setting up a workspace and the necessary infrastructure is costlier ​compared to hiring ​an offshore development team.

To hire mobile app developers with the right talent, a lot of time and investment are ​needed. You would also want to pay allowances and bonuses on special occasions to the employees which will increase the cost of owning an in-house app development team.

Hiring staff and giving them necessary training will increase the time of mobile app development. Everyone in the team will not have the required expertise in the field. Training given to such employees will further increase the time of project completion ​or indirectly affect the cost.

According to the complexity of the app, the number of staff and infrastructure requirements may also increase. When a staff resigns, filling the position is a difficult task. This further increases the ​cost and time needed for completing the development of the app.

In the long run, hiring an in-house development team is a good choice. But if you want to consistently reduce costs and develop an app in a short time period, hiring an offshore development company is the best option.

How much does it cost to hire a mobile app developer?

Let’s assess this question in detail and find out how various steps of app development associates with the cost.

Every business is turning into developing mobile apps to widen their horizon. To plan, develop, and execute a perfect app, you should hire a mobile app developer who is a specialist in the field. The main thing to consider here is the cost to hire a mobile app developer.

There are mainly three factors that affect the cost of hiring a mobile app developer.

  • Mobile technology/platform
  • Location of the mobile app developer
  • App complexity

Mobile technology/platform

There are mainly three types of mobile applications.

This includes native, hybrid, and cross-platform mobile apps. To understand how much it costs to hire mobile app developers, let’s analyse these mobile apps in detail.

Courtesy: Clutch.co

The first one is the native mobile app. Developed for a particular platform, native apps maximise functionality and user experience. Developing native apps is more expensive than developing apps in the other two categories. Cross-platform apps are designed using JavaScript.

Cross-Platforms are useful for those looking for compatibility in various platforms. The cost of developing cross-platform mobile apps are less compared to native apps. Cross-platform apps offer limited functionality.

Native apps and cross-platform apps are combined with the help of CSS, HTML, or other web tech to develop hybrid apps. The main benefit of using hybrid apps is that it works on any platforms with slightly modified codes. The cost of developing a hybrid app is lower compared to native and cross-platform apps. As this is a new category of app, troubleshooting options are minimum compared to other categories.

If budget is not a problem and if you want to provide maximum user experience, go for native apps. Also use this category, if the app is having a complex structure.

To be compatible with various platforms and to gain a wide market, use cross-platform apps.

If yours is a startup company and is looking for a low budget app, hybrid apps will be your best bet.

Location of the mobile app developer

The next factor that determines the mobile app development cost is the location of the developer. Mobile app developers from the USA, Canada, Australia charge the highest rate. Whereas India, Ukraine, South East Asia charges the lowest rate to develop a mobile app.

Courtesy​: Goodfirms.co

App complexity

Another factor that determines the mobile app development cost is the app complexity. To develop a complex app you need to hire a mobile app developer who has the required expertise in the field of work. The cost of hiring experienced mobile app developers is higher than that of hiring a fresher.

App design and security, user experience are other factors determining the cost of mobile app development. User experience defines the success of a mobile app. A good app design helps in providing good user experience. Thus a good amount of money spent on the design helps you to get positive feedback from users. As an important feature, a significant part of the budget goes into strengthening the security of the app.

App deployment, maintenance, and updates are other factors that determine the cost of developing an app.

Time is also a factor determining the cost of development of a mobile app. If you want to launch an app very soon, then you need to hire more staff along with the necessary infrastructure to speed up the process.

How much does it cost to hire a mobile app developer?

Based on GoodFirms ​survey​, the average cost of hiring a mobile app developer is as follows:

Choosing a perfect mobile app development company helps in planning the perfect app. Hiring mobile app developers who have the experience and expertise in each and every stage of mobile app development helps you in establishing a successful mobile app.

AlignMinds Technologies is an award-winning app development company with a decade of success stories. We can help ​your ​businesses ​to get an edge in the competition and​ bring more glory and revenue through innovative solutions. ​Contact us now!

24 eCommerce App Requirements That Can Turn Your Business Into A Success

Every major company in the world is turning towards developing mobile apps for their eCommerce requirements.

The eCommerce apps help to conserve time and money by helping the customers to shop at their will at any instant. It helps in an easier lifestyle. It is not a simple task to be first in this never-ending competition. eCommerce apps help companies to deliver an enjoyable experience to the users.

Customers look out for eCommerce apps while using the services of a company. eCommerce apps help the company in broadening its perspective. They can use this app as a key to reach every section of the society. ​Here is the list of the most needed eCommerce app requirements to become the best of its kind.

1. Know your customers

The first eCommerce app requirement is to know your target audience.

The company should analyze the needs and outlook of its customers. Understanding the necessities of the customers are useful while planning eCommerce app requirements. Good interaction with the customers through surveys and social media also helps in the development of the best eCommerce app.

Digital marketing tactics help the company in broadening the number of customers. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) are part of digital marketing strategies that help in promoting a brand. Google AdWords is the most important and most used example of SEM.

Social Media Marketing and Email marketing are other examples of digital marketing.

2. Know your competitors

The company should analyze and have a close study of the competition in the eCommerce field. Providing more features than the competitors is not enough for an eCommerce company to grow. Offering great user experience and engaging content are also an essential part of growth.

The eCommerce app requirements should be based on the preferences of the customers. The innovations and ideas should suit the existing and potential customers and should not meet but exceed their expectations.

3. Customization of the eCommerce app

An eCommerce app should be simple and elegant.

The prime focus must be to meet customer requirements. ​Customization of the app based on the customers’ need and demand is an essential eCommerce app requirement.

Before planning eCommerce app requirements, the team should have an insight from the customers’ point of view. The app should​ help them with solving their problems and provide them with an outstanding experience.

4. A good feedback system

A feedback system is a very important eCommerce app requirement.

The company can get insights from the feedback system of the app. A good feedback system ensures the proper growth of the company. The feedback helps in implementing certain initiatives such as quick response and follow-ups based on customer queries. This also helps in improving the performance of the app.

Feedback collected directly through the app and while purchasing products helps the eCommerce company to know their limitations. Through the feedback of the customers, the app can guarantee a good user experience that builds loyalty and brand image of the company.

As a very essential eCommerce app requirement, the feedback system helps the business in gaining perfection in the quality of its services and customer relationship management.

5. Search options

Search platform with filters is one of the basic eCommerce app requirement.

A customized search bar with customer preferences is better than a basic one. The filters can also include the price range and ratings.

The search pattern of the customer can help in showing a personalized home screen or product section. A provision for comparing different products through the search bar can help the customers.

6. Reviews and Ratings

eCommerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart use a system of ratings and reviews to help the customers. Such rating systems are an important eCommerce app requirement.

The ratings and reviews are very much helpful in determining whether the product fits the customers’ needs.

They also help a new user to know the quality and capabilities of a particular product. A provision for the users to upload images and videos of the products increases the chances of knowing the product. The system should also check and discourage fake reviews and ratings.

7. Sign up using various platforms

A Good eCommerce app should help the users to sign up using their social media account. This enables the customers to sign in by using other platforms such as Gmail, Facebook etc. and make the entire process a hassle-free experience.

This is another eCommerce app requirement which most of the customers search for while downloading or using an app.

The registration process should be simple and trouble-free​. Customers can share their experience of using the app on social media​. This will, in turn, help the eCommerce app to gain popularity and new customers.

8. Providing a good User experience

User experience is a significant eCommerce app requirement.

Knowing the needs and requirements of a customer helps in offering the best user experience. It shows how a customer interacts with the app, thus letting an eCommerce company know what are their priorities and desires. User experience helps in enhancing the quality of the app based on customer interests.

Discounts and rewards make the customer happy. ​This along with engaging content and best user experience​ make the customers delighted.

9. Optimization for offline availability

Many customers get frustrated when the app does not work properly in low network areas. App optimization for weak signals is a relevant eCommerce app requirement.

The developers should make sure that the users do not get disappointed while using the app. Offline compatibility of the app helps the company in gaining positive feedback from the customers.

10. Product gallery

A dedicated tab in the eCommerce app showing various images and videos of products helps the customers to an extent.

But these images or videos should be an accurate copy of the original product. Images and videos should be clear so that the customers can get a good​ understanding of the product​.

11. Analytics incorporated into the app

Courtesy: Clutch 2019 E-Commerce survey

A chief eCommerce app requirement is, ​it should provide accurate insight into product preferences and sales.

These data will help in understanding what products are selling and develop new products that are similar to trending products. This helps the eCommerce company to have positive growth.

The analysis of the data helps in enhancing the usability and features of the eCommerce app. Thus data analysis driven renovations help in increasing the number of customers. This will escalate the revenue of the company.

Data analysis can be also used to decipher the interests of the people.

12. Notifications and wish list

Creating a wish list based on the interest of the users is an essential component of an eCommerce app. Notifications about products on wish lists help the users to get better deals on their favourite products.

Discounts given on the price or delivery of items in the wishlist makes customers happy.

Push notifications help in advertising new arrivals on the platform. Notifications based on the search criteria inform the users about the availability of their desired product. ​Alerts should be customizable for the users based on their convenience.

Customers should be able to know if the desired product is available in their area. If not, the eCommerce app should help them with enabling notifications so that when the product becomes available, the customers can place an order.

13. Compatibility in various platforms

Compatibility is another important eCommerce app requirement. It should be equally compatible with various platforms such as Android, Windows, iOS.

Keeping the same design and interfaces across different platforms helps in avoiding confusion among users​. A simple UI/UX design helps everyone with basic knowledge to use it conveniently.

14. Personalizing app usage

An option for personalising the app according to their taste and preferences will help an eCommerce app to win the heart of its users. Options like customising the theme and other features ​will give the eCommerce app a new dimension.

Full access over privacy settings is also a key eCommerce app requirement.

15. Usage of AI and AR

Using Artificial Intelligence (A. I) helps in minimizing human interaction. It creates a friendlier interface in the eCommerce app. AI customizes and ​revolutionizes ​the user experience by personalizing the content, according to the customer.

Besides, through AI, the eCommerce firm can check the customer choices by having a deeper understanding of the search patterns. This also helps in knowing the preferences and tastes of the user.

Augmented Reality (AR) ​offers the user a chance to see and feel the product, like in the real world, before owning it.

16. Payment options

The app should house maximum payment options to its users. Online payment, cash on delivery, e-wallet are popular among customers who use eCommerce apps.

Multi-currency payment options with high-level security are an essential part of an eCommerce app. Payment options for international users also help the app ​to rank as one of the most favoured one in the eCommerce section.

Security is the most important part of the payment feature. This eCommerce app requirement should be planned without any flaws.

17. A faster check-out and delivery

A good eCommerce app should value the time of the customer. So faster page navigation with a faster check-out is an additional eCommerce app requirement.

Details such as price and product specifications, accurate date of delivery help the customers to plan their purchase accordingly. If there are any delays in delivery, the app should communicate it with the customers with the help of notifications.

18. Special membership options and loyalty programs

An eCommerce app can provide special membership status to customers.

Customers with such special status can​ book and view products before they arrive on the platform. Loyalty programs catch the eye of the customers and this can generate more revenues if marketed well. Loyalty programs made available helps in increasing the number of users ​and building a long-lasting relationship with the brand.

These programs can also include discounts and reward points on specific items.

19. Discounts with flash sales

The eCommerce app can conduct flash sales with good discounts on a weekly or monthly basis. This eCommerce app requirement helps the brand in its promotions by making use of social media and other types of advertisements.

This helps in increasing the value of the app in the public’s eye. Flash sales also help in gaining ​more users for the app.

20. Using live chatbox

Enabling live chat helps the customers to interact directly with ​customer care in real-time.

Live chatbox make it much easier to clear the queries of the customer. ​Company representatives ​can respond and communicate with the customers through the chatbox and also help them ​with finding the best product for their need or solving any inconvenience they are facing on the platform. Live chatbox is a very essential eCommerce app requirement in this internet-connected world.

21. Returning products and raising questions

If the product does not satisfy the customer, there should be an option for returning it. Offering a refund or return option helps an eCommerce company to build trust in the eyes of their customers.

The customers should also be able to raise questions about their desired product ​or the purchase process​. ​The questions, if answered in a time-bound manner, will help the eCommerce business to win the trust of the customer.

22. Ease of access

Any kind of disability should not stop anyone from using the features of an eCommerce app. The design should ensure that everyone can use the app with ease.

The app can incorporate screen narrator and provide search options based on speech. A smartphone camera can help a disabled person to search by product images. This eCommerce app requirement gives an equal ​level of accessibility ​to every customer.

23. Frequency in updates

Frequent updates ​fix bugs ​and introduce additional features.

New updates should use only a small amount of storage space from the device. Planning is important while releasing new updates. Safety and security are of prime importance and steps taken to resolve such issues make the app safer.

eCommerce apps should regard the privacy concerns of the users with the utmost respect.

24. Ads and featured products

Ads bring revenue to the business through more sales ​and commissions​.

However, the presence of ads on the platform may irritate some users. ​The ads should not be too pushy to the viewers. Personalizing ads or an option to filter out sponsored products will help in solving this problem.

Personalised ads will help users to find their desired products more easily. It will help the eCommerce business to increase sales through better conversion. ​Personalised ads can be also displayed on the home screen of the app.

The most important factor determining the success of an eCommerce app is the team who develops it.

AlignMinds Technologies is an award-winning app development company with a decade of success stories. We can help ​your ​businesses ​to get an edge in the competition and​ bring more sales and revenue through innovative eCommerce solutions. Do you have an eCommerce app requirement? ​Contact us now

Top UI/UX Design Trends in 2020

1. Split Screen Alignment

It’s always great to split the content area when dealing with Website designs. Especially with today’s wide desktop screens.

2. Low Key Gradients

Too bright and flashy gradients are no longer in trend. It’s getting lighter and lighter nowadays. Because ultimately minimalism is the key!

3. Colour Palette

Choosing a matching colour palette is the most needed ingredient for an eye-catching User Interface. This initial step will decide the future of the design. The combination of light and warm colours are trending now.

4. Full Width Design

Fixed-size wrappers? No! Web designers can utilize the entire space for arranging the contents. Wasting too much space on the left and right of the content section became old!.

5. Serif-Sans Serif Combo

Mixing Serif and Sans Serif fonts became a trend in 2020 instead of using the same style fonts.

6. Empty Space

Depending on the message the UI is delivering, it’s important to give it some space. There is no need to create congestion. 

7. Password-less Login

Are you still using native username-password login? There will be no such option in mobile interfaces very soon. The latest UX design is quickly moving forward with password fewer authentications like Fingerprint scanning and facial identification.

8. Interaction Sounds

Sounds are the fastest way to communicate an idea. But we didn’t try to add this in our applications. Just remember the transaction successful sound in google pay. No need to explain more! 

9. Gestures & Buttonless Design

The number of buttons has decreased. So, it gives more space and content areas. Avoid maximum buttons and provide gesture navigation.

10. Say No to Navigation Drawers

Are you still stick on with navigation drawer? You know what? Google introduced this design style in 2013! Upgrade your design knowledge if you still using this.

11. Voice Interaction

Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and much more! Voice-powered apps deliver precise and fast query results.

Some DO’s and DON’Ts

1. Inconsistency

Avoid using too many different styles. This will guide to a smooth and concise app. The key is repeating patterns and elements at any time you can.

2. Drop-Shadow

Try to use lightweight drop shadow rather than overusing them. Don’t use very harsh colours.

3. Prioritise Buttons

It is important to give visual importance to the primary action. Secondary action should be less prominent but still visible if the user is looking for them.

4. Text Hierarchy

Use the required space between text. Find text priority and arrange its weight.  Always start with a big title which should be the most prominent element of the page.

5. Iconography

All icons should either be outlined or filled. In addition, ensure a consistent line thickness and corner radius. Don’t use different icon styles in the same design.

6. Alignment

Don’t align related items to different sides. Always try to aligning related elements to the same side because it connects them visually.

7. Contrast

Try to find a better contrast ratio for different items. Low contrast is equal to low usability.

8. Forms

Forms are used to log in, to sign up, check out, etc. So, it’s important to provide clear guidance before and after submitting the form.

9. Touch Targets

Poor touch targets in mobile/tablet devices may lead to frustration. So, try to create finger-friendly targets by keeping the required space between them.

10. Quality of Images

Images are the life of a design. Choose creative and realistic photos. Avoid fake or staged stock photos. Also, try to use high-quality images only.

This article is written by Juny George and Sanunath G.

What Really Determines Mobile App Development Cost?

If COVID has benefited any industry, it is the tech industry.

Due to quarantine and self-distancing as a measure against the pandemic, the direct interaction between consumer and business has widened. As a result, there is a surge in demand for technology innovation and adoption in the market to fill this growing gap.

Even the ones that were called “traditional” have either digitalized their business or are in the early stages of technology adoption.

However, there are businesses and entrepreneurs who are not yet able to make the transition. One of the major reasons is the budget and availability of a reliable technology supplier. For most of them, the current situation was unforeseen, and they are sceptical about the ROE they may gain through the digitalisation of their business. Or, they have a limited fund available with them.

This article is written with an aim to help such businesses and entrepreneurs.

What is mobile app development?

To understand what mobile app development is, we should first understand what mobile apps are.

A mobile app is a set of mobile programmers with specific functions that are bundled together targeting a defined population with specific needs. These programmes tried to fulfil the needs of the defined population through

  • Delivering services directly through the app
  • Helping the population to request for the services and products through the platform
  • Helping businesses to connect with the population

In the first and last cases, there will be a single vendor whereas in the second case there may be more than ne vendor.

Mobile apps are rapidly becoming popular since the last decade. Industries like retail, telecommunications, banking, insurance, healthcare, and government have already leveraged the power of mobile apps to enable users to conduct transactions and access information in the most convenient way.

The number of mobiles apps are increasing day by day and the usage of mobile apps have seen a rapid increase in the past years.

(Source: https://www.statista.com/topics/1002/mobile-app-usage/ )

Number of mobile app downloads worldwide from 2016 to 2019 (Source: statista.com)

Number of apps available in leading app stores in 2020 (Source: statista.com)

These numbers are expected to increase many folds in coming years as technology is improving at a rapid pace and businesses are leveraging technology to offer a convenient medium for their customers to connect with them and get services and products from them.

Mobile app development cost

Due to the fact that customers are looking for more convenient ways to get services and products done and businesses are having a hard time with minimizing the gap between them and their targeted customer base, it has become almost a mandatory to use technology to your advantage.

However, one of the major hurdles in getting a mobile app for your business is the cost associated with the development of the app.

There are many factors that go to deciding the cost of developing a mobile app.

Factors affecting the app development cost

Geography

One of the major factors in deciding the mobile app development cost is the location of the app developer. Usually, service providers from first world countries charge a higher rate for their services. Whereas, app developers from south-east Asia and east Europe have a comparatively lower cost associated with their services.

Half of the mobile developing companies charge anything between $25 to $49 for each hour of work they do.  Developers in Asia keep their hourly charges to a maximum of $100.

Features and functionalities

The function and features of the proposed mobile app is another major factor that decides the cost of the mobile app. For example, to fulfil a function, the developer may have to choose various technologies, services and components and the integration them together to make the app suitable to successfully execute the function. As the function varies, these technologies and components will also vary, and the cost associated with them.

Platform

There are mainly two types of mobile apps: Native and hybrid.

Native: Developed for a particular platform, for example, Android. These apps will work only on this particular platform.

Hybrid apps: These are cross platforms apps that works on more than one platform.

The advantage of a hybrid app is that it will on more than one platform and there is no need to develop separate apps for different mobile platforms like iOS and Android. This will help in cutting down the development cost significantly since the resources needed now will be less.

If you are focusing only on one platform, for example, Android, the cost may be different compared to developing the same app for the iOS platform. It is mainly due to the workflow, resource allocation and quality standards that vary from platform to platforms.

Time

If you want the app to be deployed as fast as possible, the cost may go up. This is mainly because more resources need to be invested in the process to deliver the product as early as possible.

Experience and expertise of the development team

Experience and expertise do not come cheap. If the app developer is an expert in the field and has years of experience under the belt, she will be charging a relatively higher price for the services. The good thing is that such developers can provide quality products, based on the requirement and the nature of the market, within a short time possible.

Design and user experience

Design and user experience plays a vital role in deciding the success of a mobile app. An app with good design and offer great user experience will win attention and popularity easily in the market. However, coming up with a good design strategy and optimizing user experience requires expertise, time, and resources. A good design strategy and user experience are the results of in-depth market research, conceptualization, testing and evaluation. Therefore, developing a disruptive product always requires a good investment.

App security

Most of the mobile apps deal with at least one set of sensitive data like user information, financial transaction, documents, user locations and user behaviours. This information may be critical in the smooth functioning of the mobile app. But, what important is ensuring such data are stored securely and there is no data theft or unauthorized access. Since the value of data is usually decided by the sensitivity of the same, we will have to put extra security measures to protect such data. Security is one of the critical features of any digital solution.

App Deployment

App deployment is all of the activities that make a software system available for use. Usually, it means, the app is ready for use and is uploaded to app marketplaces like Play Store by Google (In case of Android apps) or App store by Apple (In case of iOS apps). App deployment itself is a service and there is usually a cost associated with it.

Maintenance and update

Apps demand maintenance and regular updates. Releases of security patches in regular intervals is a critical part of maintenance. Usually, the first version of the app is released with minimum features. More features will be added as updates based on user feedback and market demand. Also, as technology advances, there will be new methodologies that need to be integrated with the app to replace the outdated ones.

Maintenance and updates plan (Post-deployment plans) varies from developers to developers. Industry, technology, future versions planned etc are some other factors that decide the cost of Maintenance and update.

App development cost and app development methods

Waterfall and Agile are the promising app development methods in the industry.  In the case of waterfall method, documentation is required in advance before the process for development begins.  On the other hand, if you are going to use agile methodology, there is no requirement for process documentation before the development.  Using the waterfall technique, you will get a clear viewpoint on what you are getting and how much cost will it require.  Agile method is the most adopted as it comes with a more flexible structure.  You can adjust the products, functions, features and changes.  Through the agile app, you get your app on time and start getting your target audience faster than the waterfall method. 

Waterfall app development method goes right with a fixed fee structure.   You can decide the fixed charges you would like to have while developing the app, however, you may have to compromise with the quality of the app.

In the case of agile methodology, you will get what you pay for.  As mentioned above the method is flexible enough that you can count on the amount you invest in developing the app.  The developers will provide you with estimated rates of their work and you can track the time, efforts, and resources they put into the development process.

Conclusion

Android is the most popular mobile platform today. If you want to target the maximum population but have a limited budget, go for Android apps. 

The cost of developing an app depends on its functions, technology, app architecture, resources needed, planned stages, timeframe, security, and maintenance. Since App development is a dynamic process, there will be always an uncertainty associated with the cost until and unless all the requirements are finalized and there is a development plan in place. The inclusion or exclusion of even a single feature in your app will change its cost. However, never compromise on app quality due to expenditure.

If you have an idea that needs to be transformed into a mobile app, contact us now.

If you are wondering how much it will cost to turn your idea into a mobile app, contact us now and share your requirement! Our team of experts will get in touch with you soon!

Best App Development Companies in Kenya

  • Which is the best mobile app development company in Kenya?
  • Where could I get the best app developer in Kenya?
  • Who are the best mobile app consultants in Kenya?
  • What companies based in East Africa (particularly Kenya) are the best for developing custom mobile apps and websites?

What is common in these questions?

They are the same questions phrased differently!

Even though it looks like that may be true, these questions are asked by different people on Quora over a period.

These questions are asked by different people on Quora over a period.

There are so many similar questions that ask the same questions but phrased differently on the internet. The numbers are increasing day by day.

One of the reasons why such questions are asked more frequently is Kenya is rapidly becoming one of the technologically advanced markets in the world.

The number of people using smartphones and digital services is increasing in Kenya. As people are adopting technology to make their lives easier, businesses are investing more money on technology to keep up with the trend. As a result, the app industry is rapidly expanding in the country.

However, since Kenya is an emerging market, there is a gap in demand and supply when it comes to the app industry. While businesses are looking for technology solutions with top quality at an affordable price, there are not so many service providers who are able to meet this growing demand. This is just opposite to a developed market like the US which has already gone through several technology evolutions and the market is somewhat saturated with a good number of service providers.

Due to this wide gap between technology demand and technology supply, it is often difficult for a person or business to find the “right app developer” in emerging markets like Kenya. So, these questions are not without a cause.

Is that mean there are no good app developers in Kenya?

Absolutely not.

The Kenyan market is adopting technology at a fast pace. Due to the quality of the services provided and at the cost they were made available, there are several app developments companies who have already made their space in Kenya.

How to choose the best mobile app development company in Kenya?

There are many ways to find the best mobile app development companies.

Use Google

As always, Google is your best friend. Simply do a search on Google using keywords like “Best app development company in Kenya”. See what comes up.

Google has a sophisticated search approach that is developed to show only the best results.

Go to Business directories

There are several websites that list the businesses by industry and services offered. Websites like Clutch.co, Goodfirms.co etc features reviews from clients on the listed company profile. They also release curated lists of top app development companies based on the client ratings and reviews periodically.

App developers with good ratings and reviews may quote a higher price for their services. Unless you are looking for something cheap, always go for companies with top ratings since they are more likely to deliver quality and results.

Seek help from your business network

Investing in an app will cost you money. But, it will be the most beneficial step you can take for your business. The only thing is, you must make sure that the money is invested in the right team.

One of the most reliable sources to find the best app developers can be your professional network. Check whether anyone in your network has worked with any app developed company in the past. If yes, how was the experience and what was the result? Ask them questions like

  • What was the overall cost of developing the app?
  • What were the features offered at that price?
  • How long it took the development team to deliver the final product?
  • How was the communication between the teams?
  • How was the quality of the final product?
  • Did the app development company take care of deployment and maintenance?
  • Has the app helped your friend to achieve the same result she was expecting?
  • How did the market respond to the app?
  • What was the feedback from the actual users? Was it positive?

Find the creators of popular apps in your industry/market

In the past, as an app development company, we have partnered with some of the prominent organisations in Kenya to implement some of the cutting-edge solutions the market has ever seen.

Look at the examples below.

EMS2GO: Developing pick and delivery app for POSTA Kenya

Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) is the largest distribution name in Kenya. They vowed to deliver superior communication, distribution, and financial solutions to customers. As part of their mission, PCK wanted to develop a real-time pickup/delivery solution for their customers. AlignMinds developed a comprehensive pickup and delivery solution that consists of three components.

  • A consumer pickup and delivery app to help registered users to place and track orders real-time.
  • A driver app to help drivers and riders timely deliver the package to the right recipient.
  • A web backend that helps the staff of PCK to manage the system.

Visit the client’s website: https://www.posta.co.ke/ems2go/

Citizen Radio App for live streaming

Royal Media Services Limited is the largest media house in Eastern Africa with fourteen radio stations under their wing. They also own Kenya’s most popular TV channel, Citizen TV.

To meet the demand of their growing fanbase, RMS wanted to develop a mobile platform that will enable them to live stream all their radio programmes.

The mobile app AlignMinds developed, which are available for Android and iOS platforms, featured all the 14 radio channels of RMS and enable any smartphone user to enjoy their programmes live.

The app has been downloaded 100,000+ times in Play Store and a rating of 4.5 from 1206 users.

Google play store: Citizen Radio

Citizen TV

Citizen TV is the largest television news channels in eastern Africa. To widen their reach and penetrate even the remote areas in the countries, Citizen planned to develop a web news portal and a mobile app with live streaming to deliver unbiased news to maximum population.

To help Citizen with their business objective, AlignMinds Technologies developed a modern news portal with live TV and other friendly features like news page, article share, font customization etc.

The citizen mobile app which is available for Android, iOS and windows platform set a new trend in the news industry with its robust features that encourage users to spend more time on the platform. The app has been downloaded more than 1,000,000 times on Google Play and has an average rating of 4.1 from a total of 6,599 ratings.

News portal: https://citizentv.co.ke/

Mobile app: Citizen TV News app

Balton CP: Integrated digital portal

Balton CP has worked in Africa for more than 50 years with a mission to bring the highest quality products and state-of-the-art technology from around the globe to develop new services for the emerging African market. They are a leading player in the field of agribusiness, technology and innovation, energy and project management with their operations that span across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Ghana, and Nigeria.

AlignMinds developed an integrated digital portal with a central point of web management to help Balton CP to have distinct websites with independent web management for each of their subsidiaries and centralized management for the super admin.

Website: https://www.baltoncp.com/

Finding the developers behind the most popular apps in the market has its own advantages.

These apps became popular not by fluke. Only with a deep understanding of the market, right conceptualization, supervised development, and flawless deployment (Testing and maintenance) a solution can be turned into an awesome app.

To build something like this, the team must have the right talent, genuine passion, and good quality standard.

If you are searching for such an app development company in Kenya, you are in the right place.

We have implemented numerous projects for our Kenyan and international clients throughout the period of 10 years. We have done projects for POSTA Kenya, Royal Media Services, Citizen TV, Balton CP group and many other prominent players in the Kenyan Market. Contact us now!

Mobile Security: A Growing Concern in COVID Times

“One single vulnerability is all an attacker needs”
-Window Snyder

Mobile phones are becoming an efficient mode of communication and making life easier. New models and more advanced technology are introduced into the mobiles to meet the needs of people and make their life easier. With the ability to stay connected with people, pay bills online, storing data, taking pictures and many other irresistible features, the mobile phone has become an inevitable part in human lives.

As the different applications and features in a mobile phone make our life easier, it is also raising the risk of exposing our sensitive and confidential data to the hackers.

How do hackers cheat people to get their devices hacked?

The hackers are so much active and finding new ways to cheat people through a fake email, a fake web page etc. Especially, as people are in a state of fear due to this Covid-19, hackers are taking advantage of this situation. They use Covid-19 themes to create urgency and people unaware respond to this malware becoming victims of phishing and hacking. The scammers pretending to provide support and help by providing free meal coupons and such offers, often trick people to believe this is real. People unknowingly fall prey to this by clicking the malicious link and giving access to the personal information stored in their phones. Other sets of attackers persuade citizens to download malware by impersonating health organizations conveying important health information and tips.

Mobile malware, phishing, hacking is becoming common factors of threat in the mobile world. Protection of mobile phone data at personal and at the enterprise level has become very crucial.

How to protect your data in your mobile phones?

Bring self-awareness about security threats, training employees about the security measures, taking enough precaution steps are some good ways to protect the mobile phone data.

Popular brands have their own expert teams to protect their products and their users from attack. For example, Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) is a group of experts that provide a solution to protect their products and their users from phishing and scams. They work continuously to identify new threats and scams in the market.

Various organizations provide several mobile security services such as Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile App Access (MAA), Data Leakage Protection (DLP), Identity Right Management (IRM).

Here are few recommended security practices everyone should follow at personal and at enterprise level:

  • Implement robust authentication measures
  • Ensure routine updates and data backup
  • Block suspicious applications
  • Continuous monitoring of connected devices
  • Perform regular health checks

Let’s consider each of the security practice in detail.

1. How to implement robust authentication measures in mobile phones?

At personal level,

Set a screen lock (there are a number of ways to lock your smartphones based on the model of your phone), eliminate unwanted apps, block ads/tracking malware etc in your phone, keep notifications off the lock screen are some of the simple and common ways to secure your mobile phones.

Some more advanced mechanisms to provide secured passwords are providing pattern lock, setting a PIN number, and biometric authentication with fingerprint and face recognition. To make the authentication even stronger, one can combine these authentication methods along with multifactor authentication:

The different levels of authentication that can be applied on mobile devices are listed below:

Username Password authentication is sufficient where the apps are not very sensitive. This is a common form of authentication among social media apps.

Dual factor authentication

This method adds an additional layer of security making it harder for the intruder to get access to the mobile phone and its data. Here, PIN along with security token is used to authenticate users accessing the device.

Three factor authentication

Biometric factor along with this dual-factor authentication makes this authentication more secure to access the devices. The personal attributes of the user such as the voice or fingerprint are also used to authenticate the user in this method.

Geographical location tracking and device information

Geographical location tracking and device information can help prevent fraud by providing limited access to devices.

Behavioural analysis

Bigger enterprises also make use of technology connected to behavioural studies. It helps track any unusual user activities. If any different behaviour is noticed at the user end, they will be subjected to re-authentication. This behaviour also gets included in the Audit Analysis database for further monitoring and analysis.       

The authentication mechanism that an enterprise adopts depends on their needs and ability to adopt security mechanisms. Some enterprise uses OTP to authenticate their user that works well for the enterprise needs. Many banking applications use OTP as a mean for ensuring security.

Other enterprises adopt PKI authentication which utilizes a private non-transferable encryption key stored as a hardware token. They are also recognized by government regulations.  

2. Ensure routine updates and data backup

Ensure the updates are installed in mobile phones. Software updates for the mobile devices include the patches to the security holes for various security threats, so make sure to install the update as soon as they are available. Running an outdated or pirated version of OS could be more prone to mobile malware and malicious attacks.

Data backup is an essential security procedure that must happen at personal and at the enterprise level. The user data can be set for auto backup. How much and how often can be pre-defined.

At the enterprise level, based on how much data to back up and the budget available for data backup processes, they can choose an appropriate media like an external hard disk or NAS box with cloud back up for backing up their data. Other optical storage media like CD/DVD, Blu Ray etc can be considered as other cheaper alternatives, however, their life and capacity could be short.

3. Block suspicious applications

It is worth to check periodically what applications are given access to your device. The malicious apps may contain a piece of code that can extract personal details and other critical data. Before a download, always check the permissions of the app, the number of downloads, ratings, and reviews about the app. Do not download from third-party stores.

There is also good antivirus software available. Some are free, and some are paid but might provide better support. Based on your preferences, you may select a good one that meets your requirement.

4. Continuous monitoring of connected devices

Logging of activities at a various level can help to make access to mobile phone secure. Logging of text messages, social media activities, other web activity, application blocking etc to track any unusual activity can bring better security.

Protection can be made stronger at the enterprise level by using security services by various providers. For Example, AWS Security Hub, you can receive security threat alerts using services like GuardDuty for continuous threat detection.

5. Perform regular health checks

With emerging technologies and evolving security risks, the security aspects have become a huge challenge. Strong security solutions must be in place to identify vulnerabilities and an organization’s risk against real-world threats.

The more we are technology-dependent, the more we are prone to malware and cyber-attacks. It is mandatory that every individual is self-aware about phone security threats and preventive steps to protect their mobile phone data. Every employee at the enterprise level must be trained for security awareness.

Even if all the necessary steps to prevent the threat are in place, the security threat cannot be eliminated, however, it can be mitigated. There could still be attacks and losses, however, those losses could be controlled in a reasonable manner if we are well prepared. Security breaches, the violation to compliance law, data leakage etc. can cause severe damage to an organization’s reputation and trust among their users and business partners. So, it is very critical to adopt enough security measures to protect the data in smartphones and mobile applications.

Implementing effective security measures, making data protection practices a mandate, setting defined protocols for lost or stolen devices, spending money to bring security awareness among employees is a worthwhile investment and would benefit the organization in their long run.

“The only real security that a man have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability”
Henry Ford

Making Secure Financial Transactions on Mobile: Always Do This!

For the last few years, our mobile usage grew extremely high and this leads to a huge risk of data theft. Here the Government itself promote digitalisation and there arises a discussion on a very interesting topic of securing financial transactions on mobile devices.

Security for mobile devices has been advancing in an enormous way. But, compared to computers within your home network, mobile devices can be less secure. Here are a few tips you can follow to make your mobile devices more secure and use them to perform transactions that are protected.

How to make financial transactions on mobile secure?

1. Do not download apps from untrustworthy sources

Do not download 3rd party applications from other areas outside the App Store. Download apps only from the official App store for your device. Also, checking and verifying the following things before you download an app will help you with securing all the finical transactions you are going to perform later.

Read Reviews and check the ratings

Imagine ourselves as a customer who is buying a product from a shop. We would usually check the reviews and ratings of the shop and the products before making a purchase decision. Like that, you should undergo a habit of reading the reviews and checking ratings of the app before downloading it. There are apps that are fake and do not reveal much information on the app store. Going through the reviews and ratings will help you with deciding whether the app is useful to you and secure.

Number of Downloads

An app with a high number of downloads is more likely to be genuine and secure. An app with 1 million downloads makes it evident that there is a positive buzz created around the app due to its usefulness and security. A security breach will be less likely in case of such apps since it will affect the wide customer base they have.

Also, due to its huge customer base, the developer will usually have the budget and resources to maintain the security of the app even if the threats surrounding the mobile app evolves. So, using only the most popular apps is an easy way to secure financial transactions or any type of transaction on mobile devices.

Find the vendor or developer

App store shows the contact details of the vendor/developer of the app. Find and learn their security and privacy policies. Check whether your information is used for any other purpose and what are the purposes of sharing user data with third parties, if they are doing so.

Granting Permissions

Do you have a habit of granting all the permissions asked while getting the app installed on your device?

Due to convenience, users have the habit of granting all the permissions without checking what are they and whether they are really needed while installing a new app on their device!

While granting all the permissions allows users to explore the features of the app, granting unwanted permissions may put you in trouble. Asking permission to access the camera or social media accounts may be appropriate for a video editing app. Messaging apps like WhatsApp asks permission to access your messages and contacts. But, a mobile app that in no way is designed to make a call or send messages or email to people is asking for access to contact list may be inappropriate, especially if the app was downloaded from untrustworthy sources.

So, make sure that only the appropriate permissions are granted while installing the app.

2. Strong Password Protection

The first thing a user does in his new mobile is setting up a security password/pattern lock. The reason may be privacy more than security.

A strong password is a better way to protect your device. Nowadays, most of the smartphones are enabled with at least one of these features like facial recognition, iris scan, and fingerprint etc to secure mobile devices, restrict unwanted people accessing them and protect all types of transactions that will be done using the devices. These features offer more security and protection for your devices than a PIN or password can offer.

3. Keep your software updated

You must ensure that software on your devices is up to date. Updating software regularly ensures more security, and since they often fix security vulnerabilities from time to time, hackers will not be able to use them to their advantages.

4. Transactions only through secure mobile websites

In some cases when you have no computer to access online shopping portals to do some shopping and there are no apps available on the App Store to help you with it, you will be forced to use the mobile version of their website. In such cases, using only a secure HTTPS connection to access the website will be the first step to secure your transactions. This is a guarantee that any data passed between your device and the server are only shared between these two machines. Always check whether there is a padlock icon before dropping items to the shopping cart. The padlock symbol usually means that the transactions are protected and the webpage is secure. This also means that you should not be doing financial transactions through websites that do not have the padlock symbol on the address bar or on the top of the screen in case of mobile devices.

5. Don’t pass sensitive information through public Wi-Fi

Any information sends through public Wi-Fi can be accessible by those who have access to the network. So, use only your phone’s cellular network or your home’s password-protected internet connection for doing secure financial transactions.

6. Check bank statements and mobile charges

The majority of identity theft cases and cybercrimes involve financial fraud. So check your bank statements regularly and immediately report if there is any suspicious activity. Authentication through fingerprint can be enabled for banking apps on top of PIN or passwords authentication, allowing you to maintain more security for your financial transactions.

The Bottom Line

As technology is advancing, more techniques and methods and deployed to secure financial transactions. But, frauds and thefts are also on the rise as culprits are leveraging the same technology advancement. It may not possible to prevent all fraudulent transactions and data theft. These are some of the tips you can follow and invest in some type of protection to some extent.

This article is written by Sarath M V, Manager – Finance and Administration at AlignMinds Technologies

Future of Application Development and the Role of Microservices Architecture

An era without software seems to have been a millennium ago. We are used to software like never before. Be it creating a meeting appointment or switching on your air conditioner before you get home, software is an integral part of our life.

What is the future of app development and what will be the role Microservices Architecture?

Traditional software development has been following a monolithic approach. Any change will require the whole system to be updated. For example, if you run an ERP software and you want to make a change to the purchase module only, you’ll have to upgrade the rest of the software as well. It’s a single code base with multiple modules bundled together. However, this approach brings in a lot of disadvantages

  • Over a period of time, this becomes complex and impossible to manage.
  • Developers find it difficult to understand.
  • Modules are tightly coupled, eliminating the possibility of reuse.
  • Increases the risk of failure.
  • Testing is slow due to the higher amount of regression to be performed.
  • IDEs and Web servers tend to get overloaded due to monolithic code.
  • A high degree of coordination is required to scale development.
  • Results in long term lock-in of technologies.
  • Difficult to scale the application.

The result is that it takes ages to develop and deploy even small releases or bug fixes causing huge expenses and missed market opportunities.

The smartphone revolution in the latter part of the last decade has placed cutting edge software in the hands of the consumers. People are using mobile apps for everything they do – shopping, health, entertainment, work and securing their home. Every enterprise out there is looking to woo the consumers and get a share of the pie. Global IT spend is expected to touch $4 Trillion in 2022 after factoring in the expected decline in 2020 due to COVID-19 situation.

In today’s dynamic and competitive market, it is all the more important for software providers to be able to quickly and continuously release product updates and bug fixes. And where the traditional methods fail to deliver, newer ideas like Microservices are taking centre stage.   

What are Microservices?

Microservices, by definition, is an architectural style in which the application is a collection of loosely coupled services. In Microservices architecture, a large application is divided into small modular services and have the following characteristics –

  • Services are technology agnostic and use light weight protocols to communicate.
  • Services are organised around specific business capabilities.
  • Services are small in size, autonomously maintainable and independently deployable.
  • Services are built and released with automated processes.

What are the advantages of Microservices?

The advantages of breaking an application into different smaller services are numerous.

1. Modularity and simpler development

Each Microservice is a small module. Hence it is easy to understand, develop and test.

2. Scalability

Microservices are implemented and deployed independently of each other. Since they are independent processes, they can be monitored and scaled independently.

3. Empowered teams and distributed development

Microservices can be developed, deployed and scaled in parallel by small autonomous teams. Each team is empowered to make architectural decisions. The architecture of each service evolves independently to achieve the best results.

Microservices architecture helps with building and deploying application faster.

4. Build and deploy faster

Microservices architecture employs continuous integration, continuous delivery and deployment. This significantly reduces time to market and human errors.

5. Isolation of services and reduced risk of failure

Since Microservices are modular and independent, there is a reduced risk of overall system failure. Isolated services are easier to debug and fix.

6. Freedom to try different technologies

Since Microservices are technology agnostic, each service could be implemented in a different technology, whichever is best suited to the business function being performed. Sometimes, the choice could be based on the knowledge levels of available developers. A service written in Node.js works harmoniously with one written in Go. The focus is on implementing the business capabilities and not technology.

7. No long-term lock-in of technologies

Microservices are sufficiently small and independent. Hence it is easy to implement a service in new technology and replace the old one when the technologies become obsolete. It is easy to upgrade without impacting the system.

Companies like Amazon, Netflix, eBay, Coca-Cola, PayPal, Walmart, Spotify and many more have refactored their applications into Microservices. We are seeing deeper integration of microservices offerings in Google Cloud, AWS and Azure. AWS Lambda is a great example of serverless microservices. Microservices style of architecture is gaining traction quickly as the preferred method of implementing applications throughout industrial verticals. Companies are embracing innovation to increase the efficiency of product teams and reduce development and deployment times. With its rapid adoption rate, it is predicted that Microservices will become the default architecture for applications in the years to come.

This article is written by Madhu M Peringote, Director of Technology at AlignMinds Technologies

Want Your MVP to be Successful? 5 Most Important Considerations

Erik Ries who wrote the bestseller The Lean Startup says that the best strategy to dive into the Product-Market fit is by rolling out a Minimum Viable Product(MVP) and continuously iterating the same based on user’s feedback. This is the exact opposite to what we do today which is to release with what we think is our final and perfect product to the public.

This is not a wise idea!

“If you are not embarrassed by your first release, you probably spent too much time on it”

Here are the 5 most important rules for building a successful Minimum Viable Product(MVP).

5 Most important rules of building a successful MVP

1. Learning must be your goal!

MVP is the version of a new product which allows the team to gather a maximum amount of validated learning about the customers with the least amount of time and money. Your concept must be genuine. If you cannot explain it clearly and simply, don’t expect that your customers will understand it.

The important point is that you must have a clear idea about what you want to learn from this feedback. What problem your MVP is going to be addressed? Are your customers really like your idea or not? What is the important feature you would like to have on your product to solve the problem which you are planning to address? The problem you are choosing to get answers is the most important thing and chose it smartly to validate the results in build, measure and learn product building ecosystem.

2. Do not waste too much money

The whole idea behind building a minimum viable product is that you get a chance to review and improve your product before you are pouring a lot of money into it. So, you don’t need to release a full-fledged version of your product and instead, please concentrate on the main problem you are planning to get resolved or your core idea. It must be a cheap and not time-consuming solution to get feedback from your customers. You can choose the best-suited one from the different types of MVP.

3. Choose your target customers wisely

You will face more difficulty in finding the right customers if your proposed solution is more innovative. It’s not necessary that your proposed solution must be for everyone! You can share your MVP with the same people from your professional network who find passion in new ideas, give honest and constructive feedback. I am sure that they will give you an impartial opinion about the questions you are asking and will be the entry point to a wider section of your targeted customers.

4. Test, test, test and more test

If your assumptions are not correct, then there is a great chance that your MVP is going to be a disaster. Avoid it at any cost. The best way to get it is to test our MVP more and more. Your thinking will not always be the same as what the customers are actually looking for. Instead of assumptions, it’s always better to find an answer and validate every hypothesis even if it looks good. The more feedback you get through testing, the more you are closer to your customers’ needs and goals.

5. Changes make your product fantastic

“ Everybody has ideas, however, what really matters is having ideas to solve real problems”
– Orkun Ozbatur

Our ideas and views are so dear to us so much so that we always have a tendency to avoid the actual feedback from the customers. Most of their feedback might not be in align our ideas. This is the prime reason that many products are ended up by using very fewer people apart from us. The thumb rule is that if your product needs to be successful in the market, it must be liked and used by the real customers not us. It’s anytime a good idea to develop one which the customers love and are ready to spend their hard-earned money on it.

This article is written by Manoj Pillai, Head of Delivery at AlignMinds Technologies

Why a Heuristic Evaluation Is Critical for Your App UX

If you want to be a winner, you must have a good user experience for your apps. Major game changers in the field like Facebook, Apple and Google invest a lot of time and energy on user experience and they are very keen on building a UX team. It is their secret mantra for success and brand value.

But, except these powerful companies, many take the least interest in building a good user experience team. It’s because of this reason that the market is flooded with poorly user experienced products and services which are costing trillions of dollars in US e-commerce domain alone.

“88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.”
– Justin Mifsud, Usability Geek

It’s at this point that a well-known usability method called “Heuristic Evaluation” is coming into the picture.

Heuristic Evaluation

Heuristic Evaluation is a stage in the product development process where few usability experts evaluate the usability of the product interface against a checklist of 10 accepted principles called Heuristics. This can be done throughout the product development life cycles to make sure that the designed solution satisfies all the expectations from the real user’s point of view.

After the evaluation is done, the usability experts submit a list of their usability findings to the product development team. The Product manager can then instruct his team to incorporate those suggested recommendations on their product. If properly incorporated, this will resolve around 80% of the usability issues of the product.

Heuristic Evaluation vs usability testing

Please do not confuse Heuristic Evaluation with usability testing. While Heuristic Evaluation is done by product development usability experts with accepted guidelines, usability testing is something that we give a task to the potential user and then observing how he or she is moving around the product with the tasks in hand.

When to do a Heuristic Evaluation?

It’s better to do Heuristic Evaluation at the early stage of the design process of your interface. If you do it early, you will get good usability opinion before the actual users are exposed to it. The more complex the user interface becomes at the later stage, the more difficult it will be to incorporate the feedback. It will also be at the cost of time and money.

If your product team is delivering stuff through SCRUM methodology, Heuristic Evaluation will be very handy for the product owners to design their sprints and prioritize the user stories accordingly. Normally the evaluators present the list of their findings on priority order. This will help the sprint team to get the works done on priority and thereby can reduce the chances of skipping the deadlines.

Why do a Heuristic Evaluation?

Heuristic Evaluation is the most practical and cost-effective usability technique compared to other methodologies which are time-consuming and costly. While developers are busy with developing the product, the experts can evaluate the product at each sprint and give their opinion to the team. Then the team can incorporate the suggested opinions and present back a much better product for review to the usability experts. It goes on until a well-refined product is delivered to the public for their use.

Heuristic Evaluation does not mean that you do usability testing at all! In fact, both can be used in parallel to find out the hidden usability issues which otherwise would not have been possible in the routine development process. You can use various usage reports to evaluate the effectiveness of the Heuristic Evaluation you have implemented on the product. If you can spot some trends on the usage reports, you can concentrate on that part for a Heuristic Evaluation.

Conducting a Heuristic Evaluation

You can select any user interface for a Heuristic Evaluation. Even if it’s a rough sketch, wireframe or a final high-fidelity layout, all these can be used for the evaluation. That is the best part of it. The only condition is that it must somehow showcase the same features and functionalities which you are going to be released to the market. It’s not a one-time evaluation but it’s a continuous iterative process.

It’s always better to use three to five evaluators to do it. This will give you a comprehensive picture of different viewpoints.  Instead of using the product team members, it’s always better to use people from outside the team belonging to different professional backgrounds and age groups. This will give you different feedback from the real customer point of view of using the features which might have been downplayed by its own product teams.

After the selection of evaluators, we can proceed for inspecting the interface. Let each evaluator come up with their own exclusive feedback. In this way, we will be able to a get unique viewpoint of each of them. Observers can be deployed to assist the evaluators in case if they need any clarification about the design. Their evaluation is based on Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design which are regarded as the basics for creating a better product from the usability perspective.

They compare the design against each of these rules and record their findings for future analysis and implementation.

After the evaluation, the evaluators can sit together and discuss their findings. They can reach on some common grounds and the differences can be settled amicably. This will also help them if they had overlooked any functionality or not. They can collect all their findings together and prioritize them. Then the product manager or owner can come to the picture and can discuss those findings along with the evaluators.  This will give valuable information to the product managers on how they can enrich their designs and if they have any questions; they can get it answered from the evaluators on the spot.

“Care for happy customers, and the money will follow.”
– Stefan Freimark, Interactive Tools

If your company is not doing Heuristic Evaluation, it’s high time to do it now as it is very cost-effective and one of the best ways to fix most of the usability issues of your product. It is better late than never! Most of the products we use are built with business goals in mind, forgetting the user’s goals and needs. A minor investment in UX design and evaluation will lead to a massive return for businesses

Are you looking for a heuristic evaluation consultant? Contact us now!

This article is written by Manoj Pillai, Head of Delivery at AlignMinds Technologies

How the App Development Community is gearing up to Fight Covid–19

There’s no stopping Covid-19 now. It’s spreading like wildfire. Any city or country, you name it, and you will find several positive or suspected Covid-19 patients there.  

Speaking to Time magazine, Richard Kuhn, a virologist and professor of science at -Purdue University, informed that if the health officials had taken action earlier and contained the outbreak within Wuhan, things would not have escalated to this level.

So, now the question is how to control this pandemic that threatens to take the whole world under its wraps?

Sure, lockdowns and curfew imposed by many governments are helping us control the viral transmission of this global pandemic, to a very higher degree. But then is this enough?  

Not until the health sector world over starts relying more and more on smartphone apps, data analytics, and artificial intelligence to fight the spread of coronavirus. These technologies are widely being used in a variety of industries, such as retail, banking, and more. High time the health industry takes note of it and starts applying technology to their industry.

Leveraging this technology might help stop the spread of this pandemic right in its track.

Consultancy for Covid-19 through apps

Currently, people who are suffering from fever, cough, and shortness of breath meet the doctor in person. This means, they visit the doctor at a clinic or hospital, and thereby transmits the virus to all those who came in contact with – it could be the doctors, nurses, other patients, and more.

Instead, if such patients stay at home and connect with the doctor via an app, and describe their symptoms, the doctor will be able to treat him accordingly.  Given that the suspected patient doesn’t move out of his house, he is not exposing others to the virus.

Case study

In Singapore, nearly a million people have used the telehealth app called – MaNaDr. About 20% of physicians offer different services via this app. Patients were getting pre-screened on MaNaDr and advised to be at home if the symptoms were not severe. However, the patient reports to the doctor every evening to keep him posted about his condition. If the latter feels that he is getting sicker, then an ambulance is ordered to take him to the hospital. 

This kind of virtual monitoring makes it easier for the doctors to treat patients and also puts less pressure on the hospital that is already facing resource crunch in the wake of Corona spread. More than anything, consultancy apps avoid transmitting the virus to others.

Covid-19: Tracker Apps

Worried that its healthcare system would collapse in the face of coronavirus scare, India has gone on a complete lockdown mode – which is being now termed as World’s Largest Coronavirus Lockdown.  Not surprisingly, the tech community is keeping itself busy in developing different apps that could help control the spread of the pandemic.

CoWin-20

The soon to be launched app, CoWin-20, would most likely help users find if they came in close contact with people infected with the virus. Plus, it would also be able to tell you if you’re in an area with a high number of infected cases.  The app most likely determines this by scanning the database of infected people and checking individuals’ travel history.

Co-Win is currently being tested on both iOS and Android. 

Corona Kavach

This is yet another app being launched by the Indian government. Currently available in beta version, the app, Corona Kavach, would helps users check if they have crossed paths with patients who have tested positive for the virus. Plus, it keeps you posted with the latest details on the community spread of Coronavirus through the user’s location.  

Covid Symptom Tracker app

This new app launched by British researchers of Kings College London will help track the symptoms related to the Virus, allowing people to self-report their condition daily. The app, according to a Techcrunch report, will measure temperature, tiredness, and symptoms such as headaches, breathing problems, coughing, and more. If the user is showing signs of Covid-19, a testing kit will be sent home to understand the symptoms better. Further, it will help parse between mild coronavirus from seasonal coughs and colds, which currently may be making people to self-quarantine unnecessarily, or inadvertently infecting people.

Covid News, Tips and Alerts Apps

WHO MyHealth

With the Covid-19 pandemic taking its toll world over, people are already on their tenterhooks. But what’s making the situation even worse is misinformation being communicated about this virus through Whatsapp forwards and all, creating further panic among people. 

To combat misinformation, the World Health Organization is gearing up to launch an official Android, iOS, and Web app, called WHO MyHealth, for news, tips, alerts, and more to keep you updated about the COVID-19 pandemic.

This article is written by Jennifer Warren, a Content Crafter with  GoodFirms , a research and review platform for service and software companies. The company provides a curated list of top mobile app development companies, top writing service companies among many others.

Latest Trends in POS Software

Whether you’re a retailer or restauranteur, bringing customer experience to the next level is a linchpin when it comes to fostering your company’s growth. This is why implementing a powerful POS is crucial to unlock your business’s full potential.

While there are plenty of tried and tested POS solutions in the market, customer demands constantly change, which prompt developers to incorporate new functions that keep up with the times. Below are some POS software trends that you should watch out for and try yourself:

1. Cloud-based POS

One of the largest developments in pos technology is the ability to host your system via cloud. According to Forbes, cloud-based POS software is amassing the market’s interest and adoption, thanks to significant advantages in expenses, usability, flexibility and performance.

It’s true. A cloud-based POS system offers both mobility and versatility. For instance, you want to find out when your enterprise’s slow season falls. Your POS system can determine the exact dates for you, thanks to past sales reports stored in the cloud.

Because data is also saved online, this enhances your system’s security, making it more robust against the most dangerous mobile security threats. Information is saved efficiently and automatically on the cloud, so you no longer have to break a sweat about back-ups.

2. Integration with other systems

Integrated POS solutions fuse the advantages of a sophisticated cash register and completely combines it with the back-office system. A fully integrated POS system will oversee both transaction and inventory, which means that all related data to client and stock information can be retrieved from a central database, which is run and updated by an enterprise resource planning system.

As stocks are sold, levels are simultaneously updated, which results in more productive stock holding management. This trend also works for organizations with multiple branches. Such grasp over inventory dodges stock shortages, which leads to lost sales and customers. As a bonus, reports and analytics on stock sales can also be released with information regarding bestsellers, seasonal demands as well as other relevant information.

As for customer information, an integrated POS paves way for loyalty programs and special offers to be awarded to particular customers. Everything about POS is centred on enhancing customer relations. Connecting customers in the system also enable enterprises to extract consumer data, which leads to more effective advertising, enhanced company-customer relations, ensured customer satisfaction and customer retention.

3. Strategic staff management

Modern pos systems have cutting-edge features that provide advantageous gains on superintending staff. POS software trends that focus on mobility are vital since mobile apps exist to enhance staff interaction.

Empowering your employees to regulate their shifts and schedule through an easy-to-use platform grants them a better work-life balance. This is especially important since employee loyalty is declining. According to Tiny Pulse, 43% of workers are inclined to leave their jobs for a 10% salary raise, due to feeble company cultures. 

Organizing staff schedules to keep up with peaks and valleys of customer flux will guarantee that you’re fully staffed during busy periods while seeing minimal inactive time during slow periods. This also makes distributing payroll easier and should provide you monitoring capacity to make sure there are no missed hours.

For restauranteurs, modern pos systems can easily integrate production metrics for staff, from working hours in comparison to serviced tables to transactions completed during their shift, which grants you a better grip on staff costs while encouraging them to exert their best performance.

4. Mobile or tablet POS

Of all POS software trends, this rises on top of the list, especially when it comes to restaurants. Driven by an increased motive to enhance customer service, expand sales and cut down costs, restaurateurs are applying mobile or tablet-based pos solutions to broaden service range and upgrade traditional terminals.

The future of POS terminals lies in tablet-based pos. When equipped with these devices, diners’ orders can be swiftly and directly transmitted from table to kitchen. Customers can also use these tablets to review their orders on their tables. Rather than handing their cash or card to a server and going through the front counter, patrons can also relish in the convenience brought by the pos solutions’ pay-at-the-table feature. Servers can also finish transactions tableside or diners can accomplish the task themselves if the tablets are integrated on their tables.

5. Increased control over inventory

One of the most important POS software trends includes inventory management. Most modern POS systems allow users to organize purchase taxes and construct divisions, inventory items, storage points and vendors. They also grant them the power to create and oversee acquisition orders, invoices, transfers, consumption, opening stock, file status as well as stock number. Besides this, stock posting processes and stock modifications can be done with a simple tap of a finger.

Don’t miss out

Old pos models are still useful, but because customer demands change, they can be quite restrictive for your business. Remember that your focus should be creating a unique customer experience so that your enterprise can only go nowhere but up. Make sure you don’t miss any of these trends and that you critically appraise and productively allocate your resources to prepare for them.

Are you looking for a most modern POS software for your restaurant business? Check out IvyPlex, a lightweight, Android POS based on the latest cloud technology and specially designed for restaurants and food courts.

Why It Is Time to Choose IvyPlex POS System for Your Restaurant?

IvyPlex is a complete restaurant POS system developed focusing on mobility and efficiency. This modern, cloud-based, Android POS system helps you with all the functions of running a restaurant business starting from ordering taking, order management, CRM and to billing and inventory management.

IvyPlex is a cloud-enabled Android POS system specially designed for restaurants and food courts.

IvyPlex uses the latest cloud technologies, making it one of the fastest, secure, reliable and affordable restaurant POS systems. Choosing Android as the platform for developing the product has helped us to meet our objective of offering mobility in the restaurant POS industry with a quality that is unmatchable considering the cost and features offered by the solution.

Why IvyPlex?

As a private technology firm that focuses on introducing innovative products in the market, the intention behind the development of IvyPlex or any other product could be profit. However, such product innovations are not driven by profit alone. As a firm that values a human-oriented approach and committed to making a positive impact in the industry, our products always have a touch of “Social Consciousness”.

The detailed study we conducted about the restaurant industry and the challenges faced by small to mid-sized restaurant owners compelled us to develop a comprehensive restaurant solution that focuses on mobility, efficiency, affordability and customer satisfaction.

In the US alone, there are over one million restaurants that are in operation today. While the food and drinks sales of the restaurant industry were somewhere around 42.8 billion in 1970, the figure crossed 745.61 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. The number of consumers who have visited a sit-down restaurant looks more promising and, the figures are close to 200 million in 2018 alone.

The restaurant industry has seen steady growth in recent years and, The Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) sits at 101.6 as of May 2019. Anything over 100 is considered a positive trend. Another study states, 91% of restaurateurs expect profits to increase in 2019.

A detailed study of these trends showed us that there is a growing market existing in the restaurant industry that we can explore. A further study revealed the number of challenges faced by restaurant owners and managers while running the business.

Scalability

Since the restaurant industry is on the path of growth and projected to grow further in the coming years, over 80% of restaurant businesses are adopting technology to accelerate their pace of growth. However, scalability is one of the biggest challenges faced in the restaurant industry.

To help restaurants with this challenge, we decided to leverage the advantages of the latest cloud technologies and develop a restaurant POS system that is scalable, reliable and affordable at the same time. Choosing a cloud server had other benefits like helping us to meet our objective of making the product mobile and secure than any other product currently in the market.

Cost

Some restaurants are still facing difficulties in adopting the latest equipment that will help them with running their business. One of the major reasons is the cost involved in buying new equipment and upgrading the existing equipment to current standards.

A report by Toasttab states, 47% of restaurateurs would repair or update their equipment if they had extra money on hand. Due to the increase in running the business, 16% of restaurant operators have had to halt hiring efforts to lower labour costs. And the higher cost has compelled 65% of restaurants to increase their menu price.

A restaurant solution that is reliable and affordable seemed the need of the hour in the restaurant industry.

Efficiency

A report by ToastTab states, 95% of restaurant owners believe technology improves their business efficiency.  To facility various services and improve their efficiency and service quality, over 80% of restaurants have already started incorporating technology into their operation. Technology helps them to facilitate a wide range of services and functions like online ordering, booking of reservation and inventory management, and report making and analytics.

Such trends and factors prevailing in the market were the major things we took into consideration while developing IvyPlex. Studying such trends and data helped us to brainstorm the features of IvyPlex and enabled us to turn the product into an effective and comprehensive restaurant POS system.

Customer satisfaction

When someone dines out at a restaurant, the person is seeking an experience that he can enjoy the most. A study by Eventbrite states, 78% of Millennials are interested in spending their money on an experience like dining out at a restaurant than buying an item from a store. More and more restaurants are realizing this factor and they have started investing heavily on improving customer experience.

One of the objectives of the IvyPlex is to help such businesses who want to improve customer satisfaction. The mobility, speed and convenience offered by IvyPlex restaurant POS system are unmatchable in the industry. Since this modern POS system is developed focusing on mobility, the quality of customer experience is something that can be guaranteed without a doubt.

Guest experience

There are many ways to improve customer satisfaction.  A study says that server handheld tablets help restaurants to improve the quality of guest experience. Facility for online reservation is another factor that determines the degree of customer experience.

As part of being a complete restaurant POS system, IvyPlex offers the option of a consumer app that helps the customers of a restaurant to reserve tables online, before arrival or on their arrival. The consumer app will feature the list of all services and products available at the restaurant and guests can order them directly from their smartphone.

Customer Relationship management

Studies show that more than 45% of diners eat outside multiple times a week. 20% of diners eat at a restaurant at least once a week. But, this doesn’t mean that people go to the same restaurant every time they decide to dine outside. They want to try out a new dish or enjoy a new experience every time they go outside, and it is for that experience they are spending their hard-earned money. However, there are means for a restaurant to attract repeated customers. Customer relationship management is one of them.

A study by Accenture finds that more than 83% of people are ready to share their personal information if it helped them to get personalized service. IvyPlex restaurant POS system lets restaurants collect personal details like name and contact number and use it to send special offers and discounts to their loyal customer directly from the product interface.

Adoptability

The restaurant industry has one of the highest turnovers. Training the new staffs every time someone leaves is a task that is heavy on resources. A study by Toasttab states that staffing is a major challenge faced by the majority of the restaurant while 35% of restaurants say training staff is a top challenge.

IvyPlex try to solve these challenges through its user-friendly interfaces and a workflow that can be followed by anyone who has read the basic instructions at least once.

Business friendliness

31% of restaurateurs update their menu every month. 24% of restaurants do it seasonally. The business-friendly approach adopted by IvyPlex restaurant POS system makes it easy for any types of restaurants to customize their menu on the go.

Reports generation and analytics

68% of restaurant businesses review sales reports regularly. 45% of them review labour reports regularly and, 32% regularly review menu reports.

The inbuilt features of IvyPlex POS system make it easy for restaurant owners and managers to generate automatic reports on sales, inventory and staff performance during any time of the day.

Other features

Shift details

IvyPlex restaurant POS records the shift details every time a shift commences and closes. The shift details include the amount of cash in the drawer, sales statistics, date and time of the shift and the person in charge of the shift. This innovative feature helps management with accounting and bookkeeping.

Staff perforce report

IvyPlex is an advanced restaurant POS system that can generate real-time reports on staff performance. This helps the restaurant management identify and reward their best performing staffs who are dedicated to their work.

Inventory report

IvyPlex is one of the few restaurant POS systems that come with inbuilt inventory management. This Android POS system keeps a track on inventory all day long. It helps the management to identify the fast-moving items in the menu and restock them before it’s run out of stock.

Sales report

The automatic sales report helps the restaurant management to know much crucial information like real-time data on sales, what times of day they are busy etc. If a business can identify during what time of the day they have a maximum crowd, they can deploy an extra workforce to take care of the extra demand.

Split bills

IvyPlex makes it easy for a restaurant to split bills and improve customer satisfaction. This modern restaurant POS system also has the feature to merge bills. Spilt bills can be paid using different modes of payment, cash for one bill and card for the other.

Different payment modes

Make payments via cash, credit/debit cards and mobile money. In the case of cash, POS staff can enter the amount collected and system prompts the change to be returned to the customer.

Kitchen Display System

IvyPlex is a dedicated restaurant POS system. It features a powerful Kitchen Display System (KDS) that can be used to display customer orders elegantly in the kitchen, bar, or at the location of your choice. This user-friendly KDS system also offers an option to print KOTs (Kitchen Order Tickets), complete orders just with a touch of the finger, and map orders to different stores based on category.

Devidasan S D

Want to know more about this restaurant POS system? Check out IvyPlex product page.

Everything About POS: The All in One Guide

Have you seen cashiers at the supermarket making settlements so precisely at the billing stations?

Have you ever wondered how he does these operations so fast?

How he gets information about each and every item that we buy at the same station?

The answer is simple.

It is all done with the help of Point of Sale systems set up at their counters.

What is a Point of Sale System?

Point of sale system is an ultimate solution for every business owner to know which product sells the most, which customer buy frequently, how much inventory is on hand, what method is preferred by customers when paying (cash, credit card, debit card or mobile money) and how much is actually sell on a particular day.

Any retail-based operations require a Point of Sale (POS) System to record the customer and product activity. The purpose of every point of sale system is to provide this information to the business owner.

History of POS systems

The history of POS systems can be dated back to 1879 when the cash register was invented.

The first POS systems were introduced by IBM in the 1970s.  Two of the early users of POS were the Pathmark supermarket stores in New York and New Jersey and the Dillards department stores in California. But, most retail establishments were still using old fashioned cash registers, or the new electronic cash registers, which were in the form of electric typewriters combined with calculators. In 1986, Gene Mosher explored the technology for his deli with the first graphical point of sale software. His invention featured coloured widgets and a touch screen interface.  The EMV standard was established in Europe in 1993.

The first cloud-based POS system was introduced in the United Kingdom in 2002. In 2003, Mc Donalds, America’s largest restaurant chain, started to accept credit and debit cards.

In 2013, Papa Johns and Dominos pizza attributed over 40% of their sales to orders made online. In 2014, Panera bread allows guests to order through to self-serve kiosk systems. In 2015, the United States introduced EMV chip card technology.

Modern-day POS systems make it possible for businesses to complete and track store transactions.

How is POS set up?

The components of a POS system can be categorized into two.

The first is the hardware. Typically, this includes a cash drawer, a computer, a scanner and a credit card reader.

The second part is the software. The software is programmed to meet respective needs. In general, a database of the inventory is loaded into the software and tell the software the cost per unit and the number of units on hand.

In addition, if there are regular customers, their respective data can be loaded into the software too.

Once the hardware and software are installed and the databases updated, the system is ready to be used.

The Importance of POS

Points of sale are considered as strategic points in a business since it is where consumers make their purchasing decision.

Generally, POSs are set up at store exits to improve sales by persuading the leaving customers to make a purchase. However, marketers can change the location of the POS if they think doing so may attract more sales.

For example, it is usual for department stores to have POSs for individual product groups, such as appliances, electronics, and apparel. The staff at POS can assist the customers to choose the products that fit the customer needs along with helping them to complete the purchase.

Types of POS systems

There is a wide verity of POS system available in the market that varies from small POS units that can be used in a local store to a business that has stores across the country.

Smartphone Point-of-Sale (Mobile POS)

Smartphone POS services are a popular choice for businesses who need to be mobile. Some smartphone POS also offers basic inventory management and collecting customer information. Most of them are compatible with a receipt printer. The receipts can also be mailed directly to the customer.

This form of application can be used by street vendors, fair or event vendors, contract services, farmers market vendors or any other mobile services.

Tablet POS

Android and iPad based point-of-sale systems are increasingly popular since they are more affordable and you can often use a tablet that you have already invested on. When it comes to credit card processing, some tablet POS services offer it for “free” while others require you to pay a low monthly subscription fee. But the latter allows you to choose your own credit card processor. Many support compatible hardware such as bar code readers, cash drawers and tablet stand.

Terminal POS

Terminal point-of-sale systems are one of the most common POS systems. It is widely used by various types of businesses and people are most familiar with it. Even though most of the terminal POS systems use traditional hardware/software, they may still require access to the internet. They can also leverage the advantages of Cloud.

The businesses that use terminal POS mainly include large scale restaurants, retail chains, grocery stores, boutiques, electronic stores, antique stores, bookstores, salons of all kinds, spas etc.

Online Point-of-Sale

The advantage of online POS is that you can use your own hardware. Hardware might be a PC or a tablet. The startup costs are minimal in this case. Online POS is most suitable for businesses that are low-volume and high-ticket-price.

Common users of online POS: small retailers, art galleries, salons, small cafes, pet groomers, consignment stores, high-ticket retailers

Self-Service Kiosk POS

Most kiosk POS systems are designed with a specific purpose and are considered as specialized solutions. Businesses may use such self-service kiosk as a complimentary service to help their customers purchase movie tickets or booking parking space.

Common users of kiosk POS: transportation passes, patient check-ins, grocers, ticket sales, parking, product look-up, human resources

Android POS, IvyPlex

We have developed an app for POS solutions named IvyPlex.

With Ivyplex, we can take orders to tables, takeaway or delivery, and instantly display the orders at Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) or print KOTs (Kitchen Order Tickets) in the kitchen, bar or wherever it needs to be produced. We can also easily handle variations in the ordered items and tables to orders, collect customer details and offer discounts or promotions that drive sales and revenue. IvyPlex also has options to split bills, merge bills and make payments via cash, credit/debit cards and mobile money.  Ivyplex POS system continues running even when the internet connection is down. Data is stored locally, and then automatically synced to the cloud as soon as the connection is online.

This Android POS app can handle operations in large food courts and bars, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops and ice cream parlours.

With the backend website, we can keep up to date by, stock level management, inventory management, and view real-time reports on daily sales and stocks. This Android Point of Sale system keeps a track on all your sales in real-time – so you can see which products are selling, the busiest time of the day, and the best performer among the staffs.

Ivyplex is a POS system which can be used at terminals and in tabs.

Advantages of Modern POS systems

Cloud-based POS systems, also referred to as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or web-based, are Web-hosted solutions that store data on remote servers and make information accessible online. Some of the advantages of such modern POS systems are

1. Integrated Systems

Restaurants etc mostly need integrated POS solutions that can manage everything from online ordering to generating financial reports. Such demands can only be fulfilled by full-featured cloud-based POS system that has the potential to support all components of a business.

Advanced SaaS systems also feature customer relationship management (CRM) for restaurants solutions that allow restaurateurs to record and use the history of customer data to personalize loyalty programs, online ordering, and email marketing.

2. Data Accessibility

SaaS POS systems store data in the cloud. The benefit is that you can access the data and make changes from anywhere with internet access.

The other advantage of SaaS POS systems is that the workforce can be managed more easily. The number of staffs needed to be deployed at a site can be reduced since registers, reports and inventory etc. can be accessed without visiting the site. It also enables real-time viewing of data which means the number of uncertainties in hand is less.

3. Frequent Updates

Legacy POPS systems are updated manually. Since manual updating involves extra labour, the cost of maintenance of legacy POS system is on the higher side. This forces businesses to upgrade POS software only once in a year at best.

SaaS POS systems are hosted centrally. This helps the provider to implement updates remotely with little disruption to the end-user. Cloud-based solutions get bug fixes and updates faster than legacy systems.

4. Cost Efficiency

Web-based POS systems are more affordable and require fewer upfront costs than their legacy counterparts. The less complex installation, remote maintenance, inexpensive hardware etc. have helped to bring the cost to an affordable range.

5. Innovative Hardware

Mobile technology has revolutionized worldwide commerce. Food and service industry is no exception. Mobile POS systems 0pen up possibilities for restaurants and nightclubs to modernize their service. Cloud-based POS systems are more advanced than legacy POS systems as they can support mobile devices to perform more than one task at the same time as sending orders tickets to the kitchen while storing customer information in the cloud.

Future of POS systems

Cloud-based POS systems provide countless advantages over traditional POS systems. An increasing number of retailers are switching to cloud-based mobile point of sale solutions (mPos). These systems are hosted on the internet and have the capability to store all kinds of data. Remote accessibility offered by cloud-based systems helps businesses by managing all their operations from anywhere, at any time. This type of POS software is great for getting instant software upgrades, In-depth data analytics, data consolidation, and it integrates easily with third-party applications.

1. Biometrics

Biometrics are in use for at least a decade now. With the use of biometrics, signing into your bank account and unlocking our phone has become more simple and safe. The retail industry has gone one step ahead by businesses deploying biometrics technology as a way for their employees to logging into the POS system and enable self check-outs for customers.

Biometrics, along with fingerprints, voice recognition, and retinal scans, is becoming increasingly popular as a way to verify identity and confirm transactions in a secure manner.

This advanced technology reduces theft as employees can use only those cash register, they are authorized to access. Any errors or unauthorized access can be traced, and the culprit can be easily punished.

2. Employee Time Management and Payroll Reporting

Modern technology is a powerful tool for workforce management. Using the latest technologies, a business can easily identify the busiest hour of the day and deploy additional manpower if necessary. Similarly, labour costs can also be calculated at the backend, whenever needed. In this day and age, employees can clock in and out with a simple tap on a screen without the need for a punch clock. Payroll reporting is becoming increasingly automated as well.

3. Payment Security

The modern payment terminals have plenty of built-in security features. One of the biggest and most important features in recent years has been EMV card readers. EMV is the acronym for Europay, Mastercard, and Visa and enables safe and secure payments. EMV has become the worldwide standard for cards with computer chips.

The benefit of making payments using chips cards is that every transaction creates a unique transaction code, and these codes can be used to identify transaction/transaction during the event of fraud or theft.

Summary: Point of Sale System

A good POS system provides great information to a business owner. From daily sales volume to inventory information, all this data helps the business owner increase profits and reduce stress. With this information, a business owner receives many benefits including highly specialized intelligence. Along with processing customer transactions, modern POS systems help businesses to build a meaningful relationship with customers and ensure they are happy and loyal.

Nowadays, retail businesses integrate Android Point of Sale with the other technologies, including payment terminals, accounting software, employee scheduling tools, loyalty programs and expands their overall business and consumer relationship. One of the most liked features of POS system is that they help businesses to does away with the need for price tags. Each product will have a product code that is linked with a selling price so that by simply scanning the code, the cashier can help the customers to complete the purchase.

If you are in a search for a modern POS system for your business, check out IvyPlex, a cloud-enabled Android POS system designed and developed by AlignMinds.

Most Dangerous Mobile Security Threats of 2020

Smartphones are widely used across the world today, hence the security threats are also widely spread. Our phones have become the most connected devices, at the same time the least secure. The security threats we face are those which we fail to notice and will be more hazardous in the near future. Let us look at some of the major security threats that every mobile user must be aware of.

Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is defined as the secret use of your smartphone device by the attacker to mine cryptocurrency.

Cryptojacking used to be confined to the victim unknowingly installing a program that secretly mines cryptocurrency.

When using browser there is no need of a separate program to do the In-browser crypto-jacking.

  • The threat actor compromises a website
  • The crypto mining script executes when the user connects to the compromised website.
  • Users unknowingly start mining cryptocurrency on behalf of the threat actor
  • When successfully adding a new block to the blockchain, the threat actor receives a reward in cryptocurrency coins.
    • Insecure communications

      The networks that you use to communicate are never fully foolproof, making your device vulnerable to attacks from malware. There are chances that hackers tend to set-up fake access points when you access Wi-Fi in public places such as coffee shops, airports, etc. The access points are named using nonexclusive names, which can fool even the most brilliant people.

      It is always good to be cautious when connecting to public Wi-Fi. Use public Wi-Fi only if extremely required and never use it to access personal information like bank account access etc.

      Mobile ransomware

      A form of ransomware which affects only mobile devices is called mobile ransomware.

      A cybercriminal uses mobile malware to steal sensitive data from smartphones or attempts to lock a device, before demanding payment to return the data to the user or to unlock the blocked device. Sometimes people may find some innocent content or some software through social networks, which they download accidentally and get tricked into downloading some malicious ransomware.

      After the malware is downloaded onto a device, it will ask the user to pay an amount before encrypting files and locking the phone. After the payment is processed online, often via Bitcoin, the ransomware will send a code to unlock the phone or data.

      While installing any app, make sure the app is downloaded from Google Play or App Store than from any third-party app stores.

      Phishing attacks

      A social engineering attack often used to steal user data, including login credentials and credit card numbers is called Phishing.

      It occurs when an attacker fools the victim into opening an email, instant message, or text message by acting as a trusted entity.

      User can play smart by not clicking any unfamiliar email links. Always enter URLs manually as much as possible.

      SMS–based attacks

      From the email world, the phishing has evolved into the SMS world. You get SMS texts and links that you are asked to open to authenticate certain information. To any novice user, the links and the sender would seem genuine. However, clicking on these links can make your device vulnerable to the attacks, and in turn, give away your confidential information. This is a developing security threat for your mobile device.

      Botnets attack

      A botnet is just a short form for the terms “robot” and “network”.

      A botnet is a number of web-connected devices, each of which is running one or more bots. Botnets can be used to perform distributed refusing of service attack (DDoS attack), send spam, steal data, and allows the attacker to access the device and its connection.

      A botnet attack firstly requires creating numerous botnets or a botnet army. Once the attack is initiated, these botnets are used to send network/Internet-based requests to the target system in a large quantity. These requests can be in the form of bulk email messages to simple ping messages. The attack can slow down the network/server, making it busy or unable for others to access it or temporarily freeze the server.

      Distributed denial of service (DDOS) is a common example of a botnet attack that utilizes a number of botnet devices to send a large number of simultaneous requests/packets to the targeted system.

      Installing effective antivirus/anti-malware software can protect your device from such attacks.

      User & device authentication

      Most mailing apps have provided the user & device authentication, which has allowed the user to store passwords, and their data on the devices. If the device is stolen, your authentication and the data will be at risk. This is one of the major threats to mobile devices, as they contain our valuable personal pieces of information.

      The smartphone is a device that blurs the boundaries between professional and personal life and the users are up to three times more likely to be the victims of mobile threats. Safe browsing, identifying suspicious files or phishing emails, ensuring safe data access at public Wi-Fi networks, safe downloads are some of the important tips that a user must be careful about. Other than these security measures, several mobile security software is available to download from Google Play and App Store to ensure safety in your mobile devices.

      Understanding these common security threats and implementing recommended solutions can help you protect data in your smartphone.

Interactive Data-Driven Visualization Using D3.js

We are always having a massive amount of data to deal with today. A visual representation is more perfect to express the data in a more meaningful way.

D3 is a successor to the earlier Protovis framework by Mike Bostock and team. Rather than any other libraries, D3.js allows great control over the final visual result and hence can be considered as a flexible way for data visualization.

What is D3.js?

Based on the data provided, the JavaScript library D3.js, manipulates documents. D3 stands for Data Driven Document. D3 helps us to bring life to data by using HTML, SVG and CSS.

We can certainly point out that D3 efficiently focuses on interactions, transitions and transformations which are making it more impressive and thus providing some awesome features for interactions and animations.

Why D3.js?

D3 is told to be data driven as it can use static data or can convert and use it from different formats like Arrays, Objects, CSV, JSON, XML etc… so as to produce different types of charts. Document Object Model (DOM) can be manipulated according to our data with D3.

More than 1000 different charts of D3.js are available on this site. You can easily look and use them for the different graphs you required and can also make changes in codes to get desired graphs.

How to work with D3.js?

As D3 is written in JavaScript someone who has experience in basic JavaScript coding can easily understand and learn it.

If you use npm you can install it as, npm install d3

To link directly to the latest release, you can copy this snippet on to your code:

<script src=”https://d3js.org/d3.v5.min.js”></script>

D3.js Examples

1. Creating Hello world using D3.js

A simple ‘Hello World’ can be displayed with the below code.

d3.select(“body”).append(“span”) .text(“Hello, world!”);

2. Creating a pie chart using D3

For creating a pie chart, you can follow the below code referenced from this site .

Create dummy data.

vardata = {a:9, b:20, c:30, d:8, e:12}

Set the colour scale.

varcolor = d3.scaleOrdinal() .domain(data) .range([“#98abc5”, “#8a89a6”, “#7b6888”, “#6b486b”, “#a05d56”])

Compute the position of each group on the pie.

varpie = d3.pie() .value(function(d) {returnd.value; }) vardata_ready = pie(d3.entries(data))

Build the pie chart: Basically, each part of the pie is a path that we build using the arc function.

svg .selectAll(‘whatever’) .data(data_ready) .enter() .append(‘path’) .attr(‘d’, d3.arc() .innerRadius(0) .outerRadius(radius) ) .attr(‘fill’, function(d){ return(color(d.data.key)) }) .attr(“stroke”, “black”) .style(“stroke-width”, “2px”) .style(“opacity”, 0.7)

3. Creating a directive for D3 when working with Angular

If you are working with Angular you can create a directive that generates a graph and call that directive whenever you need a graph.

Let’s create an angular directive which can be used to generate both the pie chart and the donut chart.

Creating a pie chart and donut chart

Import the libraries required.

import { Directive, Input , Output , EventEmitter} from’@angular/core’; import { ElementRef } from’@angular/core’; import*asD3from’d3′;

CSS selector that identifies this directive in a template here let’s use it as ‘appPiechart’.

@Directive({ selector:'[appPiechart]’ }) exportclassPiechartDirective {

Define the input and output properties.

@Input () chartOption : {}; @Output() piechartUpdated = newEventEmitter>();

Create the parameters required.

privatehost: D3.Selection; privatesvg: D3.Selection; privatewidth: number; privateheight: number; privateradius: number; privatehtmlElement: HTMLElement; privatepieData: number[]; privatesum: number; publiccolors:any; constructor(privateel: ElementRef) { this.htmlElement = this.el.nativeElement; this.host = D3.select(this.htmlElement); this.pieData = []; this.sum = 0; } ngOnChanges(){ this.pieData=this.chartOption[‘data’]; this.colors=this.chartOption[‘colors’]; if(this.pieData.length !== 0){ this.setup(); this.buildSVG(); this.buildPie(); }else{ this.host.html(”); } }

Setup the radius, width and height, here we can provide the outer radius from the component HTML so that each pie chart be of the required size.

privatesetup(): void { this.radius = this.chartOption[‘outer_radius’]; this.width = (this.radius *2); this.height = (this.radius *2); }

Create an SVG to show the pie chart.

privatebuildSVG(): void { this.host.html(”); this.svg = this.host.append(‘svg’) .attr(‘height’, this.height+40) .attr(‘width’, this.width+40) .attr(‘viewBox’, ‘0 0 ‘+(this.width+30)+’ ‘+(this.height+30)) .append(‘g’) .attr(‘transform’, `translate(${(this.width / 2)+7},${(this.height / 2)+ 20})`); }

Function to build the pie chart.

privatebuildPie(): void { constpie = D3.pie() .startAngle(1.1*Math.PI) .endAngle(3.1*Math.PI); this.sum = this.pieData.reduce((a, b) =>a + b, 0); constarcSelection = this.svg.selectAll(‘.arc’) .data(pie(this.pieData)) .enter() .append(‘g’) .attr(‘class’, ‘arc’); this.populatePie(arcSelection); }

Function to modify the pie chart as required.

privatepopulatePie(arcSelection: D3.Selection): void {

Inner radius is defined for the donut chart, in case of pie chart the inner radius will be zero.

constinnerRadius = this.chartOption[‘inner_radius’]; constouterRadius = this.radius; constarc = D3.arc() .outerRadius(outerRadius) .innerRadius(innerRadius);

For each of the arc section drawing, we are to give different colours.

arcSelection.append(‘path’) .attr(‘d’, arc) .attr(‘fill’, (datum, index) => { returnthis.colors[index]; })

The transition for each arc is provided so as to get better animations.

.transition().delay(function(d,i) { returni * 10; }).duration(1500) .attrTween(‘d’, function(d) { vari = D3.interpolate(d.startAngle+0.1, d.endAngle); returnfunction(t) { d.endAngle = i(t); returnarc(d) } });

Percentage of the data is shown with the animation on the pie/donut chart for the better understanding.

arcSelection.append(‘text’) .text((datum, index) => { letper = Math.round(this.pieData[index] * 100 / this.sum);return” + per + ‘%’} ) .attr(‘font-size’, 12) .transition() .delay(1000) .attr(‘transform’, (d: any,index) => { d.innerRadius = innerRadius; d.outerRadius = outerRadius / 2; return’translate(‘ + arc.centroid(d) + ‘)’; }) .attr(‘fill’, (datum, index) => { return’white’; } ) .attr(“dy”, “.35em”) .style(‘text-anchor’,(d: any,index) =>{ return”middle”; }); this.piechartUpdated.emit(arcSelection); } }

Now, as we have created the directive let’s call the directive on the component HTML template of angular. We can call the directive name ‘appPiechart’ within division where we require the chart.

Within the input properties ‘chartOption’ we are supposed to provide the data, colour and radius.

For a pie chart give the inner radius as 0

<div class=”pie-container”appPiechart [chartOption]=”{data:pieData, colors:colors, outer_radius:90, inner_radius:0}”id=”c2″></div>

For a donut chart give value to the inner radius.

<div class=”pie-container”appPiechart [chartOption]=”{data:donutData, colors:colors, outer_radius:90, inner_radius:55}”id=”c1″></div>

Conclusion

Easily we could create a pie and donut chart which is animated. Similarly, we can create many more charts with little effort. The wide availability of the different type of animated graph examples of D3 helps to put much effort into creating and modifying for better visualization.

– Anusree P

Are you looking for a D3.js consultant? We have an expert team that can assist you with D3.js and Data Visualizations. Contact us now!

Sustainable Mobile App Development: 7 Factors You Should Take Care

Mobile application development has driven everyone into a state or period of uncontrolled excitement. As mobile phones are an important and obligatory part of daily life, 1000s of new mobile applications are released day by day both in Android and iOS. Yet only a handful will survive. It is not just the development of an application, moreover, it is a business. Let us have a brief study of the important points to remember for successful development and launching of the app.

It is always the vast idea that develops into a mobile application so each and every tiny point has to be focused on the good future of the app. As application development need to infect mobile phones all over the world, the development process has to be very systematic and should focus on various aspects. Here is the list of top 7 factors you should take care of during sustainable mobile app development.

  • Methodology
  • UI & User Experience
  • Functionality Testing
  • API Management
  • Mobile Content Management
  • Connectivity with Users
  • Promoting and Marketing the App

1. Methodologies

In the field of sustainable mobile app development or software engineering in general, methodologies mean a framework that is used by the development team to plan, structure and control the process of developing an information system. It is a process of splitting of development procedure into various phases with the aim of better planning and management.

Common methodologies include waterfall, prototyping, spiral development iterative, incremental development, rapid application development, extreme programming and several other types of agile methodology.

A variety of such frameworks have evolved over the years, each with its own recognized ups and downs. A particular methodology used to develop software is not necessarily suitable for use by all projects. Each of the available methodology frameworks is suitable to specific kinds of projects, each based on various technical, organizational, project and team considerations.

While going through various app development methodologies, it is seen that Agile development methodologies are more popular than other traditional development methodologies and I would like to describe the same over here.

2. Agile development methodology

Agile software development is a primary framework for undertaking software projects including mobile application. There are a number of agile development methodologies like Dynamic Systems Development Model (DSDM), Crystal Method and Scrum.

Most of the agile development methods try to minimize the risk by developing applications in short timeboxes, called ‘iterations’, which commonly last for one-four weeks. Each iteration is like a mini software project and includes all the tasks necessary to release the mini-increment of new functionality: planning, requirements analysis, design, coding, testing, and documentation. While each iteration will not include the functionalities to warrant releasing the product, an agile software project intends to be capable of releasing new product at the end of every iteration. At the end of each iteration, the project team re-evaluates project priorities.

Agile development methodology is a crucial factor in sustainable app development.

Agile development method mainly emphasizes on real-time communication, avoids written documents and prefer face-to-face communication. Most agile teams are located in a bullpen and include necessary manpower necessary to finish the application or software. At a minimum, this includes programmers and the people who define the project such as project managers, business analysts, or even actual customers. The bullpen may also include technical writers, interface designers, testers band management team. Agile methods also highlight working software as the primary measure of progress.

3. UI & User Experience

How to amplify user experience by improving accessibility, usability, and pleasure is what the user experience design tells.

Some of the main factors that influence the quality of user experience are listed below. These factors are also important in the case of sustainable mobile app development.

1. Visual design

The motive of visual design is to use elements like pics, symbols and colours to convey the message of application to users.

2. Information architecture

It is the fine art of organizing and structuring the information related to software product and services by supporting usability and findability.

3. Structuring, organization and labelling

Structuring is the process of relating building units of a mobile application to each other, where each building units contains basic information regarding them. Grouping these units into meaningful and well-defined manner is called organizing. Labelling is the process of using of appropriate wordings to assist easy navigation and findability.

As the mobile app is delivered to the hands of a wide range of users, user experience design plays a very important role as it enhances user satisfaction by improving usability, accessibility and pleasure provided in the interaction between a product and the user.

It is better to start by an MVP (minimum viable product) and test the same in a small circle nearly 500-1000 users depending on our mobile application. Before launching the final product, it is good to have feedback from MVP and small iterations will help to launch the final product.

As mobile app development is not a onetime process, it needs to continue upgradation and improvement. Even if it is a freelancer or a reputed company, a good relationship is very important until the releasing of the app.

Begin it with a brainstorming session of all your plans, ideas, and features and design the mockups of each screen. Mobile applications working on various platforms have different UI, so follow the particular UI guidelines for each platform. Share the demo app with maximum people so we can learn from the feedback and iterate the design till we are satisfied.

4. Functionality testing

Functional testing is a quality assurance (QA) method and a type of black-box testing which is based on various test cases on the specifications of the mobile application under test. Functions are tested by examining the output for various inputs and the thing is that the internal structure of the program is very rarely considered, not like in white-box testing. Functional testing explains what the system does and it tests a slice of the functionality of the whole application.

Don’t consider it as the final testing of the app and it is not the system testing of the same. Functional testing is different from system testing in such a way that functional testing verifies a program by checking it against design document(s) or specification(s), while system testing validates a program by checking it against the published user or system requirements.

Functional testing is of different types and is pointed below;

  • Smoke testing
  • Sanity testing
  • Regression testing
  • Usability testing

The procedure of Functional testing can be briefly concluded in six steps.

  • Realizing the functions that the software is expected to perform
  • Analyzing of input data based on the function’s specifications
  • Analyzing of output based on the function’s specifications
  • Executing all the test cases
  • Comparing actual outputs with the expected outputs
  • Check whether the application meets customer requirements.

5. API Management

API Management helps organizations publish APIs to external partner and internal developers to unlock the potential of their data and services. Businesses everywhere are looking to extend their operations as a digital platform, creating new channels, finding new customers and driving deeper engagement with existing ones. API Management provides the core competencies to ensure a successful API program through developer engagement, business insights, analytics, security and protection.

6. Connectivity with users, Promotion and Marketing the App

1. Customers are our press

End users are the backbone of any business and due to them, application developers enjoy continues rewards.

2. Leverage your mobile website

If we have a mobile website that attracts heavy traffic, it can be used for marketing and promotion of the app and also many other advantages in excess. These people are the ‘targeted group’ who will be happy to accept the app from birth. It is the one way to make the app spot to users.

3. Feature the App in an official blog

Writing a blog will be very useful to make the customers know about the whole story of the application. Tell them about the plus points and how it helps them make thing easier. Including pp links, videos and images will help to provide a good idea of the application.

4. Focus on emails

91% of people check their emails regularly. Take this chance by incorporating our app links into newsletters, customer service mails and it is better to use it in email signatures.

5. Consider alternative app stores

Do not depend only on google play store and app store for marketing our app, there are many other online market where we can upload our app. The study has revealed that if the app is submitted on other relatively less popular stores, it will increase expected downloads 200 percentage more compared to google play store.

There are few app stores that can be considered for marketing like,

  • GetJar
  • SlideMe
  • Opera Mobile Store
  • AppsLib
  • Amazon Appstore
  • AppBrain

6. SEO matters if you aim for sustainable mobile app development

Identify the best-targeted keywords that can rank for. Also, analyses which keyword your app is currently ranking on. Build some high-quality link accordingly to increase the rankings.

7. Join Entrepreneurs & Developers group on Social Medias

Let’s try to increase our visibility in communities like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and various other Media to become better known among entrepreneurs, app developers and users. We can build a correlation among them by discussing features, bug fixes, future updates etc. It allows an opportunity to boost our apps without spending a cent. It is also important to know about App Store Optimization (ASO) which also work similarly based on search relevance, keyword relevancy and keyword density.

The mobile application market is exponentially evolving along with the invention of new technologies, so it is important and inevitable to follow the path of sustainable mobile app development in order to deliver productive outcomes to the end-users including businesses and costumers.

– Jerin Johny

Are you looking for a reputed mobile application development company to implement your next project? AlignMinds is an award-winning company with more than 10 years of success in the field. Contact us now!.

Rapid Mobile Application Development (RMAD): 5 Strategic Advantages

Rapid Mobile Application Development (RMAD) was introduced by the analyst firm Gartner which allows the business professionals to build and deliver cross-platform business apps quickly and easily increase efficiency and time. It is the mobile equivalent of Rapid Application Model (RAD) which is based on the concept that high-quality software can be built faster through much convenient process such as early prototyping, reusing the software components etc.

5 Advantages of Rapid Mobile Application Development Model (RMAD)

1. Speedy delivery of apps

Over the past 5 years, we have seen a drastic increase in the number of apps along with growing demand for quicker and more efficient apps. With the growing demands and building the apps in a short time, we have seen the failure rate has also increased throughout the creation, deployment and management of mobile applications.

Most of the companies increased spending time and resources for the development of the mobile applications, however in many cases after spending a lot of time and resources for building an app, there is no guarantee that it will be used by more users. In addition to this, new technologies are introduced at a lightning speed, forcing business to introduce them to remain in the market.

Under these circumstances, many of the companies have come forward with Rapid Mobile App Development.

2. No code or development with little code

The main problem of the app development was the time taken and the resources needed for the creation of the app.

Rapid Mobile App Development eliminates most if not all coding when comes to the creation of an app. This codeless platform makes it possible for everyone, whether they have experience with coding or not, to build an app in a simple platform. Thus, the severity involved in creating an app that would have taken months for completion has been reduced to mere minutes. That’s why the name RMAD, in which a non-developer can also create and deploy the app quickly and in a short time.

3. Organizational Benefits

Once a company knows how to handle different projects created with RMAD platforms they can truly experience some of the best benefits. It is said that about 94 per cent of the project either fail or the budget may be high, behind schedule or behind expectation. RMAD can help IT departments to meet their required quality and meet the project deadlines.

Also, it creates a common language between the IT department executives which increases the co-operation among the employees which can boost the company in their process.

4. Better Software development

One of the benefits of RMAD is better software development since it can make use of the readily available software components. The prototype development which starts in the early phase acts as a framework and the same can be set up on existing projects or parts of the projects. This reduces the time for the creation of the app from scratch which reduces the cost and time.

Rapid Mobile Application Development allows the developers to follow the Rapid prototyping model, in which a prototype is created with minimum requirement analysis and once the actual requirements are clearly understood the prototype is discarded and actual system is developed with a clear understanding.

5. Management of apps created in RMAD

We have seen above that RMDB increases productivity and build the apps quicker than earlier. If an organization uses the RMDB to create few apps, managing the whole apps is not a big challenge, but if a company creates numerous apps with a short time, suddenly they get piled up and it will be very difficult to manage. Business who use RMDB should keep in mind about this problem, and the solution for this is an enterprise mobile application management platform.

With this platform, a business can easily manage and keep track of all their apps, who should use and when it should be used. With these benefits, it will lead more people to use the apps and will have better investment in return.

 – Ebin J Sebastian

Are you looking for a reputed mobile application development company to implement your next project? AlignMinds is an award-winning company with more than 10 years of success in the field. Contact us now!.

5 Trending React Native UI Components in 2020

Every software companies always tend to have an increasing interest in cross-platform applications since they have dramatically reduced the amount of resources required to build mobile apps.

React Native applications stands at the top when comes to cross-platform apps.

React Native has tremendous possibilities in designing the user interface of an application.

The main time-consuming process for building an app is its user interface. Many third-party libraries and UI toolkits are now available to help you build next level React Native application.

Let’s see some possibilities of React Native UI designs.

1. NativeBase

NativeBase is the most popular and widely used library. It provides a wide range of cross-platform UI components for React Native.

Nativebase is 100% open source.

One of our main goal with NativeBase 2.0 is to make it easy to theme the components with very little changes to the components themselves.

Nativebase is built with blocks called components. The Components are constructed in pure React Native platform along with some JavaScript functionality with a rich set of customizable properties. They are constructed in pure React Native platform along with some JavaScript functionality with a rich set of customizable properties. These components allow you to quickly build the perfect user interface.

Building a button using normal React Native code on left and with NativeBase on right

NativeBase includes components such as anatomy of your app screens, header, input, buttons, badges, icon, form, checkbox, radio-button, list, card, actionsheet, picker, segment, swipe-able list, tabs, toast, drawer, thumbnail, spinner, layout, search bar etc.

Each of these components in NativeBase is made with a better version of the same component in its native part.

After finding out about NativeBase we found ourselves using it in every app we develop.

For example, we used it in various screens in Referr app, a mobile application that helps users to win points and gift cards by recommending local businesses to their friends and family. Titles of every screen were made with NativeBase  { Header, Title }. This helped us in saving a lot of time and effort.

We use NativeBase Header component in Referr to make a better feel in UI and to reduce time and effort.

2. React Native Elements

React Native Elements is another cross-platform React Native UI toolkit. It is completely built-in JavaScript and is very much easy to use. React Native Elements also supports Expo. Every component in React Native elements is customizable. You can change the basic colour, size, fonts etc. for each component.

With React Native Elements, coding becomes much simpler. If you want to create a button component, it is as easy as the below code.

import { Button } from’react-native-elements’;

React Native Elements also gives a wide collection of icons. It has all the social icons that a developer needs in the current scenario.

3. React Native Material UI

React Native Material UI provides highly customizable material design components for React Native. To make more customized components, React Native Material UI is using a single JS object the uiTheme. By default, it is a light theme that can be changed easily.

Installing React-native-vector-icons helps to unveil the full potential of React Native Material UI.  React-native-vector-icons has wide support for icons. It helps to easily change the primary colour of the application.

4. UI Kitten

React Native UI Kitten is a mobile framework with a set of easily customizable elements. Despite there are a lot of standalone react-native components nowadays, there are not so many frameworks that offer you a wide set of commonly used components as a single dependency with similar UI design.

For instance, in Web Development there are CSS frameworks like Bootstrap that allows you to add dozens of nice-looking elements. You can also style them according to your corporate guidelines by just changing variables.

UI Kitten framework attempts to fill this gap.

All components are flexible and can be customized. It aims at boosting your mobile application development and allows you to focus on business logic instead of view composition. It helps you to bring your MVP to life in a shorter period of time.

Using React Native UI Kitten you will be able to create style configurations of components that you use the most (buttons, inputs etc.). These styles can be reused then in the process of development. Configure them once and use anywhere!

For example, below code showcases how to build a button using UI kitten.

import{RkButton }from’react-native-ui-kitten’; render( ) { return( Click me! ) }

5. Nachos UI

Nachos UI is a React Native component library. It has almost 30 customizable UI components. Nachos UI Kit is coded with Avocode which is a fully-featured tool to share, hand-off and inspect Photoshop and Sketch designs.

Nachos UI also works on the web with the help of React Native Web. It also has Prettier which is an opinionated JavaScript formatter. It also uses Jest Snapshot Testing. Nachos UI is so easy to use. For example, let’s look into an example of building a simple slider.

import { Slider } from ‘nachos-ui’ const Example = ({ value, handleOnChange }) => { return ( ) }

Conclusion

For every developer, his main aim is to build his application with impressive UI in a limited time frame. When I stepped into React Native, a most difficult milestone for me to pass was to build the user interface for an application. Because this took me a lot of time and effort to offer my client an effective solution with a mind-blowing interface. But now, with these predefined and customizable UI components, the styling of the user interface is made a lot easier. I suggest you should try at least one of these UI components in your next project.

– Sharoon Shaji

Are you looking for a reputed application development company to implement your next project? AlignMinds is an award-winning company with more than 10 years of success in developing disruptive applications for multiple verticals. Contact us now!.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): What to Expect?

Accelerated Mobile Pages is an Open Source Initiative to overcome the slow and frustrating experience of web pages and to provide fast mobile experience. Google together with other publishers and technology companies found this solution – AMP Project to bring the whole internet to your mobile really fast – be it images or videos. AMP is a fantastic approach to make the mobile web faster.

How does Accelerated Mobile Pages work?

AMP basically has three components

1. AMP HTML

These are a subset of HTML designed to create “reading” contents than interactive contents. This strips out most of the elements that make the app pages load slowly in mobile devices.

2. AMP JS

It strips down third-party JavaScript and manages resource handling and asynchronous loading.

3. AMP CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Cache and optimize AMP-enabled pages for better performance.

Pros and Cons of AMP

Pros of AMP

  • Instant speed
  • Increased performance and reliability
  • Increased customer visits
  • Excellent support for ads
  • Improved ranking

Cons of AMP

  • Rewrite your template to accommodate the restrictions (like, CSS must be inline and less than 50 KB).
  • A custom amp-imp element must be used for images and width and height must be included explicitly.
  • Custom tag amp-video must be used to embed videos via HTML 5. Amp-YouTube must be used to embed YouTube videos.

Is using Accelerated Mobile Pages good or bad?

Performance is crucial for a website to be successful. If the web pages cannot load fast, the user will simply leave your website and try somewhere else.

AMP provides the free flow of information and works faster and better for everyone and everywhere. However, it comes with the cost of removing sometimes your most desired piece of code because AMP does not allow some form elements and third-party JavaScript as they really slow down your pages.

Therefore, for the developers who are interested in exposing their website features to the fullest, rather than relying on a stripped-down version of their code, there are so many performance gauging tools available online that provide recommendations on how to improve performance. It provides you with a list of blocking JavaScript files, large-sized images, resources requesting for an HTTPS connection, the order of display of items in your web page and every other information that is required to improve your website’s performance.

Instead of using AMP to shorten your piece of code, focus on finding slow areas that affect your app performance and think of ways to fine-tune and optimize your code. You won’t end up displaying the stripped-down version of your code and can utilize the power of your website to its fullest. In other words, AMP is not of much importance for developers who aim for code optimization and for those who are not interested in integrating a third-party concept to their code.

– Susan B. John

What’s So Special About Google Fuchsia?

Not a long time ago, Google had only two operating systems.

  • Android OS
  • Chrome OS.

Later, Google developed a new operating system called ‘Fuchsia’.

What is Fuchsia?

Fuchsia is a cross-device, cross-platform and open-source operating system from Google. The Android and Chrome OS are based on Linux kernel, whereas Fuchsia is based on a new microkernel called ‘Zircon’(derived from operating system ‘Little Kernel’). Zircon is previously known as Magenta. Fuchsia is written in the mix of languages C, C++, Dart, Go, Python, Rust, Shell and Swift. The initial release was on 15 August 2016 on GitHub.

Advanatages of Fuchsia

1. Free and open source

Fuchsia is developed as an open source program. Which means that the licesnse is available for free to developers.

2. Graphical User Interface

Fuchsia currently provides two different layouts, mobile design called ‘Armadillo’ and the traditional desktop design known as ‘Capybara’. The mobile design will drop the App Drawer and a shortcut model for a combined view of all recent apps, quick settings, Google Feed etc. The desktop design is still work in progress, using a taskbar that contains only time at right side, a placeholder for quick setting, and something like the start button at left side.

3. Cross-device OS

In today’s world, almost everyone has multiple devices like phone, desktop, laptop, tablet etc., Google is attempting to run Fuchsia in all devices simultaneously. Maintaining progress and context are some of the challenges with this implementation. If you have signed in with your Google Account on Fuchsia, then your applications get saved automatically across all the devices that are signed in with the same account. In Fuchsia, Google uses ledger as distributed storage, and everything is stored in cloud.

4. Split-Screen Mode

Fuchsia provides another new feature called ‘Split-screen mode’. Split-screen mode occurs when we drag one app onto another app, then we will enter split-screen mode with those all merged apps by taking up the top and bottom portions as per our linking takes place. We can add any number of apps into this group in order to use them all at once.

5. Security

Fuchsia provides more security than Android as encrypted user keys are built into the software to ensure that the information is protected every time there is an update in the software.

Armadillo – Mobile layout

Capybara – Desktop layout

In short, Fuchsia is Google’s attempt to unite the entire digital world under a single operating system. Not only it will look the same across a range of devices like various digital gadgets, PC, mobile phones etc., it is also designed to better accommodate voice interactions and provide more frequent security updates. We have to wait and watch to see whether Fuchsia would replace Android and Chrome OS or it would just become a part of them.

Aswin Sasi

Top 7 UI Trends in 2020 That Will Make Users Fall in Love with Your App

In today’s digital world, it is essential to create websites and mobile apps that enhance your brand identity, boost customer engagement and drives more traffic for your business. The customers expect a lot many things from brands and one of them is great user experience. We need to understand the customer’s preferences before we start designing our product.

The product should be user-friendly, easy-to-use and efficient. It should be neat and interactive. Your page design, logo design, navigation, and colour selection should be well researched and user engaging.

It’s important to leverage the UI designing trends that keep changing at frequent intervals. The competition bar has raised and mere updating your apps and websites bi-annually will not take you to a favourable position.

So, here are some latest trends for designing the UI that you can follow to remain ahead in the race.

Top 7 UI Trends in 2020

1. Gradients

We can see them everywhere; in illustrations, UI elements, and text. We love gradients because they add realism and depth to the platform, the way we see everything in real life. That probably explains why elements with gradients feel more natural.

The gradient designs also provide scope for performing creative colour experiments on the layout of the mobile apps, in an attempt to make them vibrant and eye-catching. Next year will probably bring us many more apps and websites with bold colours and gradients mixed with transparency.

2. Typography

Typography is one important factor that helps us to make the best UI. There is a trend of using big “headings” with gigantic fonts in combination with a little bit of smooth animation. Even if there is only a little content, it will catch the attention of eyes.

Today, UI designs for mobile apps seem to be incomplete without adding some bold typography as it is a key factor that contributes to holding the users’ attention. The typography trend works great with creative experiments that require a mix of elegant fonts with catchy taglines. Here are some examples of the same:

  • Text content that is visually integrated into creative images.
  • Addition of animated typographic elements.
  • Using interfaces based on typography as the core visual elements of a UI design.

3. Illustration and animated graphics

Illustrations are one of the most powerful tools in a designer’s toolbox. Well-crafted illustrations allow designers to convey pretty complex ideas without using too many words. So, when users see illustration, they can understand the concept in a glance.

An enjoyable illustration can give websites or mobile apps their own personality, thus making them more memorable.

Micro-animations help customers distinguish elements on the screens they are going to interact with. After an event takes place, feedback performs an important task in assuring the user that the intended action has actually happened.

This, in turn, brings users a better experience. Additionally, to make these pages stand out, these illustrations often come to life with complex motions.

4. Augmented Reality (AR)

In 2020, web design trends will all involve thinking outside the box, or rather, the grid. We need to forget UI fixed to screens. Instead, we should emphasise interactions which feel like they take place within the real-world environment. Google and Apple have already introduced their own AR development platforms, ARCore and AEKit, that blend the physical and digital worlds.

Designers will need to go beyond screen-only interfaces to include physical interactions. Augmented Reality has ushered a new era in user interface design, a new way of thinking.

Augmented Reality (AR) has become one of the top UI trends in the year 2020.

5. Voice User Interface

The popularity of Alexa and Google Home can’t be undermined. They are the new norm, as they become users’ go-to medium to seek nifty information, get entertained and even control their routine tasks. The navigation-less, button-less and menu-less experience seems so intuitive to a user that 40% of adults now use voice search once per day!

This makes it clear — voice search is not the future. It’s already here and will only become more prevalent in 2020. Voice interactions are slowly but fundamentally changing the way we interact with interfaces.  Instead of relying on touchscreens, mice and keyboards, users are steadily accepting the hands-free way of doing their everyday tasks.

Smart home speakers have already found their place in the hospitality industry, automobiles and large enterprises. The convenience of having an always-on machine that helps you do your digital tasks will not only aid the visually impaired but also introduce a unique way for illiterate users to access the web, in years ahead.

6. Parallax Scrolling & Fixed Navigation Bar

Parallax scrolling is a website trend where the background content is moved at a different speed than the foreground content while scrolling. Parallax Design is a newer element which is being used by several designers in their designs. It involves creating a visual setting in which the object appears moving, or it appears different when viewed from different angles. This type of design is even possible with video and multi-layered parallax.

Fixed Navigation is helpful for users. When they scroll down a website, the navigation bar will be still visible to users and, it will help them to move to another webpage if they like to.

7. 3D graphics

The mass-market currently has little demand for this technology and 3D graphics seems a bit unusual for websites. Nonetheless, 3D elements rendered specifically for a platform get a place in this year’s UI trend list.

It is added at the end of the list because, the production cost of 3D elements is not only higher, they take a longer time to load on a screen.

Nobody loves waiting. Users expect platforms to load in an instant. Any element that adds more time to the user journey meets with frustration.

The good news is, we don’t have to give up entirely on 3D elements. Faux-3D lets objects look three-dimensional. The downside is, they are not completely convincing regarding light and shadow.

The change in the design-first approach

The design-first approach for digital products became a primary attribute this year.

Why?

These designs should improve people’s lives and help businesses to meet their goals.

Most phones have lost their borders and have rounded edges, bezel-less displays or notch displays. That changes their interface quite a bit. It will pose challenges for designers to use sharp-edged elements in their mobile UI and app design.

In 2020, the trends prioritise speed, simple page designs with asymmetrical layouts, and most importantly, a mobile-first approach.

It is more likely that these trends will also change in the coming years as the main platform(mobiles) will be having major changes in layout and sizes.

Vishnu Anilkumar

Whats Makes DApps So Interesting?

Has anyone ever heard of DApps? Decentralized App in short for DApps is a storm of change in the tech world.

Let’s see what DApp is.

What is DApps?

By definition,

“DApp is an open source application that operates autonomously on a decentralized public blockchain. It cannot be controlled by a single entity, and it generates and uses tokens by following a standard cryptographic algorithm.” 

Let’s analyze the criteria that make an app DApp:

1. Open Source and Autonomous

DApp is open source, means, it is available for every one from anywhere without any restrictions. It has the freedom to govern itself or control its own activities. Since the code is open source and managed autonomously, it is available for everyone for checking out. The changes are decided by all or the majority of the users.

2. Public blockchain

The underlying technology behind a DApp is BLOCKCHAIN (we will discuss in detail below), which should be public.

3. Cannot be controlled by a single entity

Single entities can be interpreted as an operational unit. DApp, as the name indicates, is decentralized. Its control is spread all over the world. They do not come under the influence of a person or an organization. DApps are free from control and interference from any single authority.

4. Generate and use tokens following a standard cryptographic algorithm

DApps generate and use tokens from every single entity it is performing. These tokens are encrypted using a standard cryptographic algorithm for security. If an app doesn’t meet all these criteria, then it is not a DApp. Based on the above definition, the first DApp ever built was Bitcoin. Bitcoin is an implemented blockchain solution that arose from problems revolving around centralization. One can say Bitcoin is a self-sustaining public ledger that allows efficient transactions without intermediaries and centralized authorities.

Blockchain is the underlying technology behind DApp. Now let us look into the basics of blockchains for a better understanding of DApps.

What is Blockchain and how it works?

Blockchain is the technology that enables moving coins or assets from one individual to another. Always understand that Bitcoin ≠ Blockchain. The main use of blockchain is faster and reliable money transfer without a centralized third-party.

Let’s take the above example. Suppose a Person A in America wants to send $10 to a person B in India, A is dependent on a trusted 3rd party for the process. However, the process takes time, about 3 days for the trusted 3rd party to find the correct Person B in India and pay him the money. They will also charge B an amount as their service amount which means person B receives only $8.5 after 3 days.

If this same process is done with the help of blockchain, there won’t be a third party. Also, you can send your money directly to the person without any delay and approximately no service charge. Blockchain technology, made possible to dis-intermediate third-party operators to exchange value online. This decentralized trust.

Why use DApps?

Here is the list of the top reasons why you should use DApps.

1. Own your Data

The best advantage of DApps is that you can own your own data. Your data is the most valued possession in this digital era. Anybody can access your data and you can earn with this concept.

2. Increased data reliability

Since DApps is decentralized, there won’t be any central server which stores every data. Data will be distributed everywhere so that there won’t be any broken links or 404 not found.

3. Faster data transfer

Since data is distributed across the world, the number of peers will be more. Therefore, we can access data from the nearest peer. The download speed will be so fast as the number of peers increases.

4. Cannot be shut down

There are cases where some website, links or apps are not accessible for a person, region or country. For example, China blocked Facebook in 2009 June to stop a riot since Facebook was the main source of communication for the activists. Such cases won’t happen if DApps was in the scenario.

Sneha Mohan

The Fundamentals of Machine Learning

Have you ever wondered what machine learning is?

Even I had no idea about machine learning a few months ago. My interest in machine learning developed when I saw a documentary on the latest trends in robotics. Ever after, my idea of machine learning keeps on getting simpler.

What is Machine learning?

Wikipedia says

“Machine learning is the ability of a computer to learn and act accordingly without being explicitly programmed”.

Well, that is just the technical explanation of machine learning.

Let’s investigate a much simpler one.

Humans learn everything from their past experiences whereas computers follow instructions for doing the same task. For a computer to acquire such instructions a human should have knowledge about the same. Think about a situation where computers can also learn from past experiences and act faster!!! This precisely is called machine learning.

Machine learning is an application of Artificial Intelligence. Machine learning concentrates on the development of computer programs that can teach themselves to grow and change when exposed to new data. Since we are living in a technically emerged era, there are plenty of examples of machine learning in our daily life.

For example, let’s take the case of Google Maps. Google maps help you to analyse the time required to reach your destination based on current traffic. Also, in case of heavy traffic, Google Maps redirects you through another route which helps you to reach your destination at lesser time. This can be considered as the best example of machine learning. Let’s have look at how machine learning works with google map.

Google maps use a combination of people currently using the app, historical data of the route collected over time and a few other tricks. Everyone using maps is providing their location, the average speed and the route in which they are travelling which in turn helps Google collect massive data of traffic which helps them predict the upcoming traffic and adjust your route accordingly.

Above depicted is a graph which is plotted based on the number of users at a location versus speed of the user. When the number of users using maps are on one specific location and the speed of the user is slow, we can conclude for heavy traffic and redirects another route. Google maps keep on analysing such situations and keeps on improving their data.

Types of Machine learning

Machine learning can be mainly categorized into three different types.

Supervised Learning

Supervised learning is the simplest form of machine learning.

Supervised learning uses labelled data to train the modal. This type of learning always has an input variable X and an output variable Y. We figure out an algorithm to get a  mapping function from the input to output. In simple words, y = f(x)

Whenever you get a new input data x, the machine can easily predict the output y for the data. The result of supervised learning can be continuously predicted by the machine.

For example, let’s take Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant. Each one of these is a voice automated system which collects your voice and starts working based on this collected data.

Biometric attendance is another common example of supervised data from our day to day life. Here, the system first collects data of our fingerprints, retina scan or even face recognition and trains the machine with this data. And hence, it will validate our biometrics.

Unsupervised Learning

Unsupervised learning always has input X but we cannot directly predict the output Y.

They have unlabelled data for output calculation. They are important because they allow the machine to self-analyse and develop an output from the collected bulk data.

Unsupervised learning clusters input data into classes of statistical properties. Clustering and Association are the two most important concepts in unsupervised learning.

For example, consider cases of online shopping sites like Amazon, Myntra or Flipkart. When we add an item like mobile to their cart, they will suggest products people brought together with that mobile and also its similar product recommendations. This is possible by continuous observing of order details of customers and clustering such data.

Another example of unsupervised learning is Google maps which we already discussed earlier. Google maps also form two clusters where one is with high traffic and other normal traffic.

Reinforcement Learning

Reinforcement Learning works on the principle of feedback. This type of learning is all about taking decisions sequentially. There should be an initial state of input which leads to output and the next input depends on the output of the previous input.

Google Survey in Google Photos is the best example of Reinforcement Learning. Google photos identify a face and groups all photos of that same face together. For this, Google photos first collect all of the images of that face and ask the user if they are all of the same people. Thus, it gets into a conclusion and groups all photos with the same face.

Summary

Machine learning is now the hottest trend. This will provide enormous hopes for building Artificial Intelligence. Sophia, the first social humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong is one of the first major achievements of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Hopes everyone had a good time reading this blog and have figured out more about machine learning.

Sharoon Shaji

Solutions: Most Dangerous Mobile Security Threats of 2020

Prevention of mobile security threats helps organizations and individuals to protect their devices, apps, users and content from malicious attacks. Security teams can prevent these threats by using an app that scans devices and configurations within the network, or by setting up security protocols in case malware is present on the network.

1. Cryptojacking attacks

Check these steps to minimize the risk of your organization falling into a trap

Install an ad-blocking or anti-crypto mining extension on web browsers.

Since crypto jacking scripts are often delivered through web ads, installing an ad blocker can be an effective means of stopping them. Using ad blockers like the Ad Blocker Plus can easily detect crypto mining scripts. Experts recommend extensions like No Coin and MinerBlock, which are designed to detect and block crypto mining scripts.

Keep your web filtering tools up to date.

If you identify a web page that is delivering crypto jacking scripts, make sure your users are blocked from accessing it again.

Maintain browser extensions.

Browser extensions are meant to make our tasks simpler. But, some of them could be a trap set by an attacker to execute crypto mining scripts.

Use mobile device management (MDM) solution to better control users’ devices.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies for preventing illicit crypto mining. An MDM solution can help to manage apps and extensions on users’ devices. MDM solutions tend to be geared toward larger enterprises, and smaller companies that often can’t afford them. However, experts note that mobile devices are not as at risk as desktop computers and servers. Because they tend to have less processing power, they do not produce a great deal of profit for hackers.

2. Insecure communications

Here is a list of few best practices to be used for Android phones which may bring down risks related to insecure communication.

Understand that the network layer is highly capable of eavesdropping, thus making it insecure.

  • It is important to apply SSL/TLS to transport channels used by the mobile app to transmit sensitive pieces of information, session tokens, or other sensitive data to a backend API or web service.
  • When an application runs a routine via the browser/WebKit, using outside entities for third-party analytics companies and social networks could be more secure. Mixed SSL sessions should be avoided as they could expose the user’s session ID.
  • Always use a strong, standard cipher suites with suitable key lengths.
  • Use certificates signed by a trusted CA provider.
  • Do not pin certificate for security conscious applications and never allow using self-signed certificates.
  • Always require SSL (Secure Socket Layer) chain verification.
  • Always establish a secure connection with trusted certificates from keychain after verifying the identity of the endpoint server.
  • Build a UI that alerts users when a mobile app detects an invalid certificate.
  • Avoid sending sensitive data over alternate channels (e.g, SMS, MMS, or notifications).
  • Apply a separate layer of encryption to any sensitive data before it is given to the SSL channel. In the event of a possible vulnerability in the SSL implementation, the encrypted data will provide a secondary defence against confidentiality violation.

3. Mobile ransomware

  • Only install applications from authorized stores like Google Play or AppStore. To be sure that no application makes its way onto your device from an untrusted source, go to Android settings, choose Security, and make sure that the “Unknown Sources” box is not checked.
  • Regularly check updates for your installed applications and your device OS. You can choose to update all installed apps automatically. It’s better to do update the system to the latest version as soon as an over-the-air (OTA) update arrives.
  • Install a strong security solution. Downloading apps from only the official stores and updating them regularly alone will not promise maximum security. Malware can lurk into even Google Play and, can also spread by means of exploit kits using yet-unknown vulnerabilities.

4. Phishing attacks

  • Think Before You Click!
  • Keep Your Browser Up to Date
  • Keep Informed About Phishing Techniques
  • Check Your Online Accounts Regularly
  • Use Firewalls

5. SMS–based attacks

  • Think before you click a link from SMS
  • Do not open spam messages
  • Keep informed about phishing techniques

6. Botnets attack

To avoid system compromises, it is advised to use only licensed and genuine software. Keep your mobile updated with latest security patches. Install anti-malware solution and update it regularly. Disable Autoplay /Autorun for removable drives.

Always protect your device from Trojans and other threats by using effective anti-malware software.

7. User & device authentication

  • Think before allowing store passwords, and your data in mailing apps and browsers

Remember there is no single fool-proof way to avoid mobile security threats.

– Habeeb Rahman

References

Top 10 Vulnerabilities in Web Applications and How to Tackle Them

Before we begin with the vulnerabilities in web applications, it is good to know there are several open communities like OWASP that are always looking out for vulnerabilities and are dedicated to resolving these vulnerabilities. Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is an open community dedicated to enabling organizations to develop, purchase, and maintain web applications and APIs that can be trusted.

Now let us check the top 10 vulnerabilities in web applications and how to tackle these vulnerabilities.

1. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

It is a very common application-layer web attack. XSS targets scripts embedded in webpages that are executed on the client side (i.e., the scripts run on the user’s web browser). XSS is a threat for client-side scripting languages like HTML & JavaScript. It works by controlling the client side to work as desired by the attacker. Such an attack may, for example, use a script to run every time page reloads or on any other events.

XSS is mainly used for tampering and stealing user sensitive data. XSS usually targets the user and not the application.

We can prevent XSS by separating untrusted data from active browser content. We can also use frameworks like React JS or Ruby on Rails that automatically escape XSS by design.

2. SQL Injection

It’s an application security weakness that allows the attackers to alter the data in the database or just read confidential data such as a password. The vulnerability occurs when we enter untrusted data to the database from web forms or when it is part of a SQL query.

Web applications use SQL query to communicate with the database. SQL injections occur when the application fails to validate the data in a SQL query (from web forms) and hence, an attacker can trick the database to execute unexpected commands.

Using LIMIT and other SQL controls within queries are a way of tackling injections.

3. LDAP Injection

This is similar to SQL injection. Here also, the attacker place codes in user input fields to gain unlimited access. It may lead to information theft, browser or session hijacking, defacement of the website or even other problems.

LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) injections work by inserting harmful codes to client provided data in LDAP statements. If a web application does not properly validate the input fields, attackers can construct LDAP statements which execute with user permission. Such queries can modify or delete anything in the LDAP tree and cause disastrous results.

To handle these injections, it is advised to use safe API, that avoids interpreter entirely and provides a parameterized interface, migrates to use Object Relational Mapping Tools (ORMs).

4. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)

Usually, a website sends an application a request that a user is authenticated from another website. An attacker can use this to access data and functionalities of the web application as the browser is already authenticated using the user’s credentials. Attackers may use XSS to defeat CSRF defence the application might employ. So, avoiding XSS will prevent these types of attack to some extent.

5. Insecure cryptographic storage

It occurs when sensitive data is not stored securely. Make sure all sensitive data are encrypted while storing & secured key management must be adopted.

Use a good encryption algorithm.

Make sure you do not use cryptography of your own since you can never predict whether it is secure or not. Do not ship or deploy with any default credentials, particularly for admin users.

6. Broken Authentication

Broken authentication happens when application functions related to authentication and session management are often implemented incorrectly, allowing attackers to compromise passwords, keys, or session tokens, or to exploit other implementation flaws to assume other users’ identities temporarily or permanently.

Practice implementing multi-factor authentication for web applications to prevent automated, credential stuffing, brute force, and stolen credential re-use attacks.

7. Sensitive Data Exposure

Many web applications and APIs do not properly protect sensitive data such as financial, healthcare, and PII (Personally Identifiable Information). Attackers may steal or modify such weakly protected data to conduct credit card fraud, identity theft, or other crimes. Sensitive data may be compromised without extra protection such as encryption at rest or in transit and requires special precautions when exchanged between browser and server.

We can prevent such situations by applying controls as per classification. Classify data stored processed and transmitted by an application.

Don’t store sensitive data unnecessarily. Discard it as soon as possible or use PCI DSS compliant tokenization or even truncation. Remember, data that is not retained cannot be stolen.

8. XML External Entities (XXE)

Many older or poorly configured XML processors evaluate external entity references within XML documents. External entities can be used to disclose internal files using the file URI handler, internal file shares, internal port scanning, remote code execution, and denial of service attacks.

Points to keep in mind are, whenever possible, use less complex data formats such as JSON and avoid serialization of sensitive data.

Also, patch or upgrade all XML processors and libraries in use by web applications or on the underlying operating system. Use dependency checkers. Update SOAP to SOAP 1.2 or higher.

9. Broken Access Control

Restrictions on the privileges of authenticated users are often not properly enforced. Attackers can exploit these flaws to access unauthorized functionality and/or data, access other users’ accounts, view sensitive files, modify other users’ data, change access rights, etc.

The possible solution to overcome this problem is to implement access control mechanisms once and reuse them throughout the application. Also, Minimize the use of CORS.

10. Security Misconfiguration

Security misconfiguration is the most commonly seen issue. This is commonly a result of insecure default configurations, incomplete or ad hoc configurations, open cloud storage, misconfigured HTTP headers, and verbose error messages containing sensitive information. Not only all operating systems, frameworks, libraries, and applications should be securely configured but also, they must be patched and upgraded in a timely fashion.

We can avoid this by checking none of the default accounts credentials is the same.

The aim of this article is to give a good insight into common flaws that can lead to modern data breaches and could make web applications vulnerable to various attacks.

As the saying goes “Prevention is better than cure”, proactive and defensive security steps must be adopted beforehand than making it a practice only after a security breach.

Bharath Varma

What Makes Katalon a Fantastic Tool for Test Automation

Today there are many test automation tools available in the market.

But, why do we need an automation tool for testing at all?

What makes use of automation tool a “must-have” in the Software development industry?

In today’s software world, demand for high-quality apps and products within very tight deadlines gives very less time for testers to perform quality testing. It is just impossible to test the complete application/product manually every time there is a bug fix or new releases.

Also, when it comes to testing scenarios like a large number of users access the website or an application simultaneously, it leaves no choice for an organization than to hire several hundred thousand testers (and test machines too) to do a manual test.

However, these challenges can be overcome by a tester or an organization if they choose an appropriate automation tool that fits their testing requirement. Choosing the right automation tool helps in saving resources, time, effort and cost. It can also help in effective testing delivering a high-quality product meeting the deadline and thereby increasing organization revenue and achieving customer satisfaction.

Katalon Studio is one such test automation tool that provides advanced test generation capabilities, faster execution and excellent reporting features. With the evolving features, leveraging in-built features and templates, Katalon is becoming tester’s favourite automation testing tool.

What is Katalon?

Katalon is a free-license automation solution for testing web and mobile application. It is developed by Katalon LLC. Katalon’s first release to the public was in September 2016.

Katalon Studio is built on the open-source automation framework Selenium and Appium. It is a very user-friendly and simple tool with an intuitive interface. Katalon is becoming the number one testing tool in the software testing field. While with other test automation tools, it takes weeks to automate test scripts, Katalon Studio requires just a few hours to achieve the same.

Why Katalon?

What makes Katalon so powerful and unique in comparison to other test automation tools?

The main advantage of Katalon over other automation tools is that it requires very little coding experience.

While several other test automation tools require testers to have technical skills to design test scripts, Katalon Studio’s specialized IDE and simple interface make it very user-friendly for testers who have no prior coding experience. Testers with some development knowledge can use the advanced features of this tool for the automation purpose. Even a black box tester can use this tool efficiently for the automated testing of web and mobile applications.

The time and efforts required to design test scripts are greatly reduced using this tool. Reusability/ scalability aspects are some other major features of Katalon Studio. Katalon makes use of several of Selenium features, you can still leverage the features in Katalon Studio to build your own scripts.

Highlights/Features of Katalon

  • Katalon Studio plays an important role in DevOps toolchain. Tests can be easily integrated with CI tools like Jenkins and TeamCity using Console Mode Execution or non-GUI mode in Katalon studio. One can make avail of command-line mode execution by installing the Katalon Studio plugins using Katalon Store’s API keys. This is a very powerful feature supported by Katalon.
  • Katalon Studio supports dual scripting interface. The black box testers with limited or no coding experience can use its simple interface to create test scripts. The tool has record and playback and manual mode for non-programmers. Katalon Recorder records the test actions, captures the web elements and plays the recorded steps. Testers can play their recorded scripts as many times as they want for their testing. The learning curve is very less as testers do not essentially need any coding experience in this case.
  • Testers with an advanced level of coding experience can use the scripting mode for test script creation. Those who have knowledge in Groovy can easily edit the test scripts in scripting mode. Katalon Studio allows reuse of these automated test scripts.
  • The tests recorded in Katalon Studio in one browser can be executed on multiple browsers (in parallel or sequential) speeding up the test cycle thus improving test coverage.
  • Using its well-structured framework and leveraging built-in features, Katalon Studio enables to provide high-quality applications. For example, Katalon supports parametrizing test objects dynamically which means users can control the object dynamically (sometimes the properties of an object might change due to business rules). The Test Objects can be handled in both manual modes and in script mode. Katalon provides systematic and neat UI with menus, tree views and tables so that one can organize well their test cases, objects and data files. This makes Katalon well-structured framework.
  • Features like Spy web utility is a great add-on in Katalon Studio. Using Spy web utility, object properties and locating method can be defined by the user themselves. This makes Katalon an intelligent tool.
  • While we must use other third-party libraries to generate reports in other automation tools, Katalon provides reports in graphical format. Also, it generates reports in HTML, CSV or PDF format.
  • Failures are reported with screenshots and logs.
  • Script creation time is very less when compared to other test automation tools.
  • Katalon Studio can be launched on Windows, Linux and Mac OS.

Cons of Katalon Studio

  • Katalon Studio supports only Apache Groovy for test script creation. However, it supports Java libraries and Java-compatible languages for test script execution.
  • Katalon is not open source, it has closed source code leaving no option to the community to customize or use community-built packages.
  • Katalon Studio does not support distributed testing currently.
  • Katalon Studio is more focused on functionality testing and does not support any load or performance testing.
  • Katalon Studio supports only web, mobile and API testing and does not support automating desktop application.
  • Sometimes the tool just slows down and freezes, mobile automation testing takes even more time to record scripts.

Choosing a test automation tool depends on the testing requirement of an organization. If the organization is looking for a tool to test the functionality of their web/mobile applications, Katalon would be the right decision. Katalon Studio mainly focusses on functionality testing, but with very little focus on testing of design aspects like screen size, orientation etc.

Katalon: The future

As the tool is new and in early stages in the market and the features are still evolving, it sometimes throws some bugs and just gets stuck during test script execution. More updates and bug fix releases are expected in future to make it more stable and smooth-running tool.

Also, support to more scripting languages for test script creation would be a great plus.

However, with all the great benefits provided by the tool and with its simple UI, the tool has already won the hearts of testing engineers. In spite of the drawbacks, Katalon Studio is becoming an emerging tool for test automation and is gaining popularity in the software development industry. Overall Katalon is an amazing tool and has a great future.

Susan

What Are The Advantages of Kotlin Over Java?

Kotlin vs Java has been one of the hot topics of debate for the last few years.

Ever since Kotlin was released in February 2016 programmers have been having doubts about which language to use for Android development.

Java has been around for a very long time. It is being used by millions of programmers worldwide but had some minor drawbacks. Then Google introduces a new language specifically for android which is said to be better than Java.

Last year, Kotlin has been made a ‘first class’ language for Android development by Google in addition to existing support for Java and C++. The impact of Google’s decisions for adopting Kotlin can be seen from GitHub’s findings.

The number of GitHub notes and contributors using Kotlin for projects has more than doubled over the last couple of years.

I’ve been making android apps using Java for about 4 years now and, I learned Kotlin just three months ago. While making an app in Kotlin, I quickly understood that there are many advantages of using Kotlin over Java.

Advantages of Kotlin over Java

1. Readability

Comparing to Java, Kotlin has more readable and precise code which makes it easier to understand the program. After a small learning curve, a Java developer can easily understand how to write Kotlin very quickly.

After learning Kotlin I observed that it needed much less code than Java as shown below

Java

Kotlin

As we can see, Kotlin reduces boilerplate as compared to java. Now, boilerplate refers to those codes which must repeat lots and lots of times and which do not serve any purpose to the functionality of the application. Kotlin has been designed in a way that it eliminates the need for boilerplate code.

Kotlin requires fewer lines of code as compared to java.

In Java, we must create references for views using findViewById. In Kotlin, that is taken care of automatically, therefore, reducing the lines of code drastically. That makes it easier for a beginner to learn Kotlin.

2. Null-Safe

Null pointer exceptions also referred to as “The billion-dollar mistake”, is one of the most common errors that cause apps to crash if you are using Java.

Kotlin is null-safe by default. It does not allow variables to be assigned with a null value. But in Java, we can assign null values to variables and, it may lead to null pointer exception that may crash the application.

3. Using Getters and Setters

In Java, we have to use getter and setter functions for receiving data from variables in the modal classes. Model classes are just used for holding data. We can use the getters and setters for accessing the data from model classes.

In Kotlin we don’t need all those getter and setter functions. We can access all the data’s using the variable name itself. See the example below.

This modal class in Kotlin only has to define the variables instead of also defining the getter and setter methods. While comparing the above two images, we can clearly see that Kotlin uses less code as compared to java.

4. Interoperability

Kotlin language is interoperable. This means that both Java and Kotlin are somewhat similar and we can use java commands and Java libraries in a Kotlin project.

Since Java is still being used by most programmers, Kotlin has been made to be interoperable. It can be used with existing Java classes and won’t cause any errors. The compiler will allow the code containing the Java and Kotlin classes to work flawlessly.

Because of this feature, developers can transition from Java to Android with ease.

5. Immutability

An immutable object is an object whose state cannot be changed once it is created.

In Kotlin variables are defined using val or var to help developers easily understand which values can be reassigned.

Using val in our code makes it super clean and will be able to safely assume that the properties will never be changed and that they will not be null. The benefit is that it allows you to just get on with the project at hand.

Conclusion

I can confidently say, Kotlin language is far better than Java for Android development as it takes care of the drawbacks Java has. Moreover, the transition from Java to Kotlin is easy and anyone who is interested in programming can make good progress within a short span of time.

– Benedict Thomas

What Makes Kotlin The Fastest Growing Programming Language?

Kotlin is one of the fastest growing programming languages in the world. It is open-source, statically typed language primarily developed by JetBrains programmers based in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Statically typed programming language means Kotlin performs type checking at compile-time as opposed to run-time.

Java was once among the most popular, most favourite programming languages. However, looking at the limitations and errors caused by Java, developers required a desperate rescue. That’s when the JetBrains developers created Kotlin which proved to be much more efficient than Java.

Kotlin has advanced benefits in terms of reliability, efficiency, runtime performance and maintenance when compared to Java, yet fully interoperable with Java. It provides seamless integration with Java frameworks and libraries and supports backward compatibility. Kotlin also boasts about the fact that fewer lines of code are required to solve a problem resulting in clean, concise, easy to write and understand the code.

Kotlin is developed just recently and is already gaining popularity among developers. Kotlin is becoming a strong competition to Java. The common issues that are a cause of frustration to Java developers are well covered in this young rival.

In May 2017, Kotlin was named as the official language of Android by Google. The team just decided to name it after an island and that’s why the name Kotlin (from Kotlin Island, near St. Petersburg).

Stack Overflow says that Kotlin is becoming developer’s favourite programming language and is outranking languages like Python and JavaScript. According to some survey reports, around 80% of Kotlin developers are using Kotlin as a programming language. Around 30% use it for Backend/server-side applications and another 30% use it for SDK/libraries.

Coursera, Atlassian, Basecamp, Pinterest, Keepsafe are already using Kotlin in their mobile applications.

What makes Kotlin the fastest growing language?

Concise

This is the biggest advantage of Kotlin over other programming languages that you can solve the same kind of problem using fewer lines of code with a reduced number of bugs and crashes. Also, it makes the code more readable, easy to make changes and to maintain.

Safe

Kotlin helps developers write robust and stable code. Kotlin’s smarter and safer compiler detect errors at compile itself and perform lots of compile-time checks reducing runtime errors.

Interoperable

Kotlin is fully interoperable with Java. The existing codebase can interact with Kotlin and all existing libraries in Android can be used in Kotlin as well.

Better productivity

As it requires lesser lines of code, results in better productivity.

There are other lots of features in Kotlin that will speed up the daily development tasks.

Conclusion

Kotlin has undoubtedly won the heart of developers and has become a highly competing programming language. As it is open source and bring all advantages of a modern programming language into the Android platform, it is a great fit for Android developers.

Migrating to Kotlin will really be a piece of cake for them. With all the cool features of functional programming, Kotlin is only getting brighter and better in the Android community.

However, only time can tell whether the popularity achieved by Kotlin in the Android community can be achieved in other communities.

– Susan B John

Progressive Web Apps: The Future

What are Progressive Web Apps? 

As the name suggests, Progressive Web App is a combination of features of web and app.  It uses the modern capabilities of web and app making it very powerful, providing a user-friendly experience. Progressive Web Apps can be accessed via URL, are fully responsive and secure.

Image Courtesy: https://developers.google.com

Why Progressive Web Apps? 

Native apps are rich in user experience, but they must be deployed through app stores. The Web apps – easy to access, but as it runs over the internet and if the internet is not available, these cannot be accessed. Even though there were attempts to implement offline web apps, the attempts failed to provide solutions for complex offline app scenarios. However, the setbacks of Native and Web Apps were overcome by the introduction of “Service Workers” in Progressive Web Apps that could handle every network request even when the user is offline and provide a rich user experience. Rapid growth has now taken place in browsers.

The biggest gain of Progressive Web App is that if the mobile browser does not support the features of the web app, just nothing happens!! It will ignore the features of a Web app and it will behave like a regular app and will redirect it to Play Store to download the app – elegant fallback, isn’t it?

Features of Progressive Web Apps

1. Feel like an app

App-style interactions and navigation are provided as it’s built on app shell model.

2. Responsive

Desktop, mobile, tablet – works well in all of these.

3. Easy installation

Appstore is not required anymore to download the app. You just open the app via browser, and you get the feature “Add to Home Screen” that adds an icon to the home screen of your device.

4. Offline mode

Use of Service Worker code in Progressive web apps enables the web app to be used in offline mode or over low-quality networks.

5. Push Notifications

Push capabilities in these web apps provide native-like experience to the users.

What is required for Web Apps?

For a web app to be “progressive”, the browser must implement these three things:

1. Register a Service Worker

Service Worker is a powerful API that helps developer build site to work offline or help speed up by obstructing the network requests to deliver cached responses. Service Workers are currently supported by Chrome and Firefox. Safari does not support Service Worker code though.

2. Run on HTTPS

This is mandatory for Progressive Web Apps to prevent third-party attacks.

3. Create App Manifest file

JSON file where a developer can specify attributes like name of the app, display (full screen, browser), orientation (portrait or landscape) etc. to display the app to the outside world.

Future of Progressive Web Apps

Will Progressive Web App gain popularity and be the king in this mobile age?

This is still in question since this will have a considerable impact on the app business market and even the Google Store due to its hybrid features. Another setback is if your requirement needs access to hardware capabilities of the device and if the mobile browser does not support those features, in that case, you don’t have a choice than have to build a native/hybrid app anyway.

Also, time and amount of work needed to implement progressive web apps are quite high – due to the requirement of HTTPS in the API. However, since it bridges the gap between the performance of web and apps, it can still provide a better solution that is fast and reliable in the modern technology world and meet user expectations.

Susan B. John

Broadcast Announcements & Broadcast Receiver in Android

Android Broadcast Receiver is a component that responds to the system’s wide broadcast announcements. It can be registered for various system or application events. Whenever those events occur the system notifies all the registered broadcast receivers and then the desired action is being done. Broadcast originates from the system as well as applications. Like the alarm notification, low battery notification etc. are the example of broadcast originating from the system. While getting the push notifications for desired application describes the example for broadcast originating from the application. 

How to make BroadcastReceiver works for the system broadcasted intents?

There are mainly two steps to make BroadcastReceiver works for the system broadcasted intents

  • Creating a Broadcast Receiver
  • Register Broadcast Receiver

1. Creating a Broadcast Receiver

public class MyBroadcastReceiver extends BroadcastReceiver {public MyBroadcastReceiver () { }@Overridepublic void onReceive(Context context, Intent intent) {

This method is called when this BroadcastReceiver receives an Intent broadcast.

Toast.makeText(context, “Action: ” + intent.getAction(), Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show();}}

Consider a receiver class named as MyBroadcastReceiver implemented as the subclass of BroadcastReceiever class which overrides the onReceive() method. Whenever an event occurs Android calls the onReceive() method on all registered broadcast receivers. In the above code, the Intent object is passed with all the additional information required and also you have got the Context object in order to do other tasks like maybe start a service (context.startService(new Intent(this, TestService.class))

Register the Broadcast Receiver

There are two ways to register the broadcast receiver:

  • Static way (in manifest file).
  • Dynamic way (in code).

Static way

In static way, the broadcast receiver is registered in an android application via AndroidManifest.xml file.  Consider, here we are going to register MyBroadcstReceiver for system-generated event ACTION_BATTERY_LOW which is fired by the system once the android system encounters the battery low.

<applicationandroid:icon=”@drawable/ic_launcher”android:label=
”@string/app_name”android:theme=”@style/AppTheme”><receiverandroid:name=”MyBroadcastReceiver”><intent-filter><actionandroid:name=”android.intent.action.BATTERY_LOW”></action></intent-filter></receiver></application>

Now, whenever your android device will encounter battery low problem it will trigger the BroadcastReceiver, MyBroadcastReceiver and the desired action mentioned inside onReceive() method will be executed. Like, if you look into your android device you gets a dialogue message warning you that the battery is low so put it in charge.

Some other important system events are as follows:

Event Constant Description
android.intent.action.BATTERY_CHANGED Sticky broadcast containing the charging state, level, and other information about the battery.
android.intent.action.BATTERY_LOW Indicates low battery condition on the device.
android.intent.action.BATTERY_OKAY Indicates the battery is now okay after being low.
android.intent.action.BOOT_COMPLETED
This is broadcasted once, after the system has finished booting.
android.intent.action.BUG_REPORT Show activity for reporting a bug.
android.intent.action.CALL Perform a call to someone specified by the data.
android.intent.action.CALL_BUTTON The user pressed the “call” button to go to the dialer or other appropriate UI for placing a call.
android.intent.action.DATE_CHANGED The date has changed.
android.intent.action.REBOOT Have the device reboot.

Dynamic way

In dynamic way, we use Context.registerReceiver() method. Dynamically registered broadcast receivers can be unregistered using Context.unregisterReceiver() method.

BroadcastReceivermReceiver=newMyBroadcastReceiver();
registerReceiver(this.myReceiver,newIntentFilter(“MyBroadcast”));

IntentFilter object that specifies which event/intent our receiver will listen to. In this case, it’s broadcast. This action name is used while sending a broadcast that will be handled by this receiver.

@Overrideprotected void onPause() {unregisterReceiver(mReceiver);super.onPause(); }

Once the component that had made the registerReceiver() call is destroyed sendBroadcast() will also stop working, hence the receiver won’t receive anymore be it an event generated from an app or the system. Whereas with the previous method where we registered via the manifest file, this is not the case.

Dynamically registered receivers are called on the UI thread. Dynamically registered receivers block any UI handling and thus the onReceive() method should be as fast as possible. The application may become sluggish of an “Application Not Responding” error is the worst.

Which Method to Use When for Registration

The type of preference among the two approaches is determined by the motive. Suppose you want to do some changes right on the screen (home screen, launcher, status bar, etc.) By showing up some notification or some indicator in the status bar by listening to system-wide events or maybe those sent by other apps, then it makes sense to use statically registered broadcast receivers. Whereas based on similar events you want to do changes right in your app when the user is using it or maybe it’s put in the background, then it makes sense to use dynamically registered receivers which last till the registering components are destroyed.

In fact, there are certain events like Intent.ACTION_TIME_TICK that cannot be registered in the manifest but only via registerReceiver() to prevent battery drainage.

Broadcasting Custom Intents

If one wants that the application itself should generate and send custom intents then one will have to create and send those intents by using the sendBroadcast() method inside the activity class. If one uses the sendStickyBroadcast(Intent) method, the Intent is sticky, meaning the Intent you are sending stays around after the broadcast is complete.

public void broadcastIntent(View view){Intent intent = new Intent();intent.setAction(“com.example.broadcastreceiverdemo“);
sendBroadcast(intent);}

This intent com.example.broadcastreceiverdemo can also be registered in a similar way as we have registered system-generated intent.

<applicationandroid:icon=”@drawable/ic_launcher”android:label=
”@string/app_name”android:theme=”@style/AppTheme”><receiver android:name=”MyReceiver”><intent-filter><action android:name=” com.example.broadcastreceiverdemo“></action></intent-filter></receiver></application>

You can see a working example by visiting this link.

– Deepika Bisht

Why Testing with Jasmine is Fun?

What is Jasmine?

Jasmine is a behaviour-driven development framework, used for testing JavaScript code. To know about behaviour-driven development, we must know about test-driven development.

Test-driven development, as per definition, is a software development process that relies on the repetition of a very short development cycle: first, the developer writes an automated test case that defines a desired improvement or new function, then produces a minimum amount of code to pass that test, and finally refactors the new code to acceptable standards.

Behaviour-driven development, on the other hand, is a software development process that is emerged from test-driven development. The behaviour-driven development process can be called as a combination of general techniques and principles of test-driven development.

Why use Jasmine for testing?

Jasmine is an independent software as it does not depend on any other software development frameworks. It does not require a Document Object Model (DOM). A basic advantage that can be called of Jasmine is that its syntax is so obvious that it’s easy to understand. It also helps you to write your tests easily.

Working with Jasmine

Function

Let’s start with an example code that you want to test using Jasmine. We all know, in every programming language, we start with a Hello World program. Here also, let’s begin with a helloworld.js. A JavaScript function that returns “Hello World”.

Spec

Initially, you need to grab the latest standalone version of Jasmine on your computer. They are easily available on Google. All you need to do is search for it and download it. Unzip the downloaded file. The /src and /spec directories will have many files in it. You’ll have to empty them out as they are just examples which you probably won’t require.

Now, the function or let’s call the helloworld.js file should be put into the /src directory. We now have created the src. What we must do next is to create the spec.

The code has two parts.

The ‘describe’ part and the ‘it’ part. The ‘describe’ part will contain the main codes or functions that do the tests. ‘Describe’ is followed by the suite, which is just the English language and not any code, which helps to understand what it describes. Inside of ‘describe’, you have the ‘it’ part of the code. ‘It’ part is generally called as a ‘spec’.

The whole code might look like classes written in a function. ‘It’ describes what the code must do in general English language and in JavaScript code. You can have any number of specs in a suite.

Matchers

When a code is needed to be tested, you will definitely require a matcher. A matcher is something that will do the checking whether your code provides the required output. For beginners, we can use expect() and toEqual() as matchers. In our Hello World example program, we need the code to return the expected output – “Hello World”.

To test this, the matchers will run as expect (helloworld()).toEqual(“Hello World”); If that comes true, the program is successfully tested with no errors reported. There are many other matchers too. Matchers are selected according to the requirement of what is to be tested and what should be returned. In addition to this, you can make your own matchers too.

Example code

describe(“The ‘toEqual’ matcher”, function() { it(“works for simple literals and variables”, function() { var a = 12; expect(a).toEqual(12); }); it(“should work for objects”, function() { var foo = { a: 12, b: 34 }; var bar = { a: 12, b: 34 }; expect(foo).toEqual(bar); }); }); it(“The ‘toMatch’ matcher is for regular expressions”, function() { var message = “foo bar baz”; expect(message).toMatch(/bar/); expect(message).toMatch(“bar”); expect(message).not.toMatch(/quux/); }); it(“The ‘toBeDefined’ matcher compares against `undefined`”, function() { var a = { foo: “foo” }; expect(a.foo).toBeDefined(); expect(a.bar).not.toBeDefined(); }); it(“The `toBeUndefined` matcher compares against `undefined`”, function() { var a = { foo: “foo” }; expect(a.foo).not.toBeUndefined(); expect(a.bar).toBeUndefined(); }); it(“The ‘toBeNull’ matcher compares against null”, function() { var a = null; var foo = “foo”; expect(null).toBeNull(); expect(a).toBeNull(); expect(foo).not.toBeNull(); }); it(“The ‘toBeTruthy’ matcher is for boolean casting testing”, function() { var a, foo = “foo”; expect(foo).toBeTruthy(); expect(a).not.toBeTruthy(); }); it(“The ‘toBeFalsy’ matcher is for boolean casting testing”, function() { var a, foo = “foo”; expect(a).toBeFalsy(); expect(foo).not.toBeFalsy(); }); it(“The ‘toContain’ matcher is for finding an item in an Array”, function() { var a = [“foo”, “bar”, “baz”]; expect(a).toContain(“bar”); expect(a).not.toContain(“quux”); }); it(“The ‘toBeLessThan’ matcher is for mathematical comparisons”, function() { var pi = 3.1415926, e = 2.78; expect(e).toBeLessThan(pi); expect(pi).not.toBeLessThan(e); }); it(“The ‘toBeGreaterThan’ matcher is for mathematical comparisons”, function() { var pi = 3.1415926, e = 2.78; expect(pi).toBeGreaterThan(e); expect(e).not.toBeGreaterThan(pi); }); it(“The ‘toBeCloseTo’ matcher is for precision math comparison”, function() { var pi = 3.1415926, e = 2.78; expect(pi).not.toBeCloseTo(e, 2); expect(pi).toBeCloseTo(e, 0); }); it(“The ‘toThrow’ matcher is for testing if a function throws an exception”, function() { var foo = function() { return1 + 2; }; var bar = function() { return a + 1; }; expect(foo).not.toThrow(); expect(bar).toThrow(); }); it(“The ‘toThrowError’ matcher is for testing a specific thrown exception”, function() { var foo = function() { thrownew TypeError(“foo bar baz”); }; expect(foo).toThrowError(“foo bar baz”); expect(foo).toThrowError(/bar/); expect(foo).toThrowError(TypeError); expect(foo).toThrowError(TypeError, “foo bar baz”); }); });

(Code was taken from http://jasmine.github.io/2.0/introduction.html)

Some advantages of using Jasmine

  • Jasmine is independent. It does not depend on any other JavaScript frameworks.
  • It does not require a DOM.
  • It has a clean, obvious syntax.
  • Help maintainers understand the intention behind the code.
  • Brings validation and proper data handling concerns to the forefront.

Conclusion

There is plenty more you can do with Jasmine. Overall, Jasmine makes your testing fun. So, if you’re not yet into testing, now is an excellent time to start your JavaScript testing. It makes your testing pretty simple with Jasmine’s fast and simple syntax.

– Shekhar R

App Store Optimization (ASO): 5 Key Considerations

App Store optimization is the process of improving the visibility of an App in an App store.

We know more than one million apps exist in the Apple Store and Google Play Store together. Making visible our app to the external world among this huge collection is not a simple task. I’m here to discuss some of the App Store Optimization techniques which can be used for the better recognition of our App. Here are some of the App optimization techniques for better visibility of the App in the store.

5 Ways to optimize your app for app stores

1. App Icons

App icons are the first impression that a user has about an app. In general, app icons should be eye-catching such that user has to either download or make him go through the description and screenshots of the app. An app icon should convey what the app is all about to the user.

Some of the best practices that can be followed for an app design are:

  • Avoid using words in the app icon.
  • The design of your icon should be consistent with your app design.
  • It is always better to add a margin to your icon so that it will look great in all backgrounds.
  • Also, research for various designs to stand unique in the crowd.

2. App Name

App name is the second thing after App icon that a user sees when he searches for something in the Store. Make sure your app name itself gives a complete description of your app and is unique. Sometimes we might have come across certain app names which not at all suits them. Always it is better if the name you put in there acts like a keyword. Avoid changing your app name often, that is stick on to one name even if there are multiple updates for your app. Finally make sure the name you selected for your app is short, attractive and catchy for all age group users.

3. Keywords

Keywords are one of the most important factors for app visibility in Store. When a user doesn’t know the exact name of the app, the search will be based on certain keywords associated with the app he/she searches for.

iTunes gives an option to enter the keywords with a 100 character limit which can be separated by commas whereas Play Store takes the keywords from the App description which has a 4,000 character limit. The Keywords should appear 5 times in the app description in the Google Play Store.

App names with keywords also have a better impact on the recognition of the app. In iTunes the character limit for App name is 255 words and if there is space left make sure you enter additional keywords which are relevant. But in case of Google play the character limit for App name is 30 and choosing the right keyword is so important.

4. Description

We all know, once the user clicks on our App on a desktop, iPhone/iPad or Android device only the first three lines of our App with App icon is visible. In all the cases the user has to click on the “more” link to read the description completely.

Always make sure to put the most important information in the first three lines, which gives the user a clear idea of what your App does and why is it different from others.

Also make sure you have included a Call to Action sentence in the App description which actually invite the users to download, like “Download AA to enjoy BB now”.

Avoid using a technical sentence in the App description, let every user understand what is the app for and why it should be used.

In the Google Play store, the word which is entered a minimum 5 times in the Description will be considered as Keywords. Always make sure proper repetition of the words which can be a Key for the users.

5. Screenshots

Screenshots are one of the first visual element that is visible to the user when viewing an App.

If adding a screenshot, make sure the first two images in the screenshots convey what the app is for and why it should be used. It’s not on the number of screens you have added but the information about the app in a few screens.

Always make sure there is some description of the screens you have added. Ensure the images used for this purpose are of the same size, attractive and clearly visible to the user.

Also, it is advised to add genuine videos that describe how the interface will look like and help the potential user to get an idea of the app even before downloading it.

There are more things that are to be kept in mind while uploading an App to the App Store for better visibility of the App. The points discussed here are some of them, which are to be followed in common. So, let’s together follow these simple techniques mentioned here for better recognition.

–  Ebin J Sebastian

Principles of Writing SOLID Code: A Guide for Beginners

This blog post will help you to understand the basic principles of writing solid code.

Key principles of writing SOLID code

  • Single Responsibility Principle
  • Open/Closed Principle
  • Liskov substitution principle
  • Interface Segregation Principle
  • Dependency Inversion Principle

These are general principles that you want to always have in the back of your mind as you design your software. For the obvious reason, the first five are called SOLID. As in “we write SOLID code”. They are not always cut-and-dried; they are rarely 100% achievable. But active awareness of these issues will help you to avoid common coding errors.

1. Single Responsibility Principle

“A class should have a single responsibility”.

I prefer to think of ‘responsibility’ here as ‘purpose’ or ‘job to do’, but it’s called SRP. This is basically just another statement about modularity. Find the logical units and encapsulate them in a class. Don’t take classes that do some of this and some of that. You’ll get greater re-use of the component since the component wasn’t bundled with several other responsibilities the upstream consumer doesn’t want or need;

An alternative conceptualization of the SRP: A class should have a single reason to change.

This principle refers to the impact of a change of requirements on the code. For example, a class should either talk to the database, or format output for the UI, not both. Classes that deal with the database won’t need to be updated if the UI changes, and vice versa. When requirements change, modification is kept to just those spots directly affected, and these changes don’t have unanticipated consequences elsewhere in classes that whose responsibilities have leaked over into ours.

2. Open/Closed Principle

“Software entities (classes, modules, functions, etc.) should be open for extension, but closed for modification.”

Construct your classes so that requirements changes can be managed by adding code, not by modifying existing code. Once you have written code that works, you should ideally never touch it again, because if you don’t touch it, you can’t break it. If you’re writing nice modular code, you probably have objects being used by other objects all over the place (code reuse = good). If you now break that class, you break everybody who is using it (==bad).

This is a very simple little pizza ordering app. There is a TPizza class with an addTopping method and a computeCost method in this application. In this example, we’re interested in the TPizza class itself.

private void button1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e) {TPizza currPizza = new TPizza(); if (ckOlives.Checked)currPizza.addTopping(ETopping.Olives); if (ckPepperoni.Checked)currPizza.addTopping(ETopping.Pepperoni); if (ckMushrooms.Checked)currPizza.addTopping(ETopping.Mushrooms); int pizzaCost = currPizza.computeCost();lblCost.Text = pizzaCost.ToString();}

Here is the button code. Again, we’re not interested in the interface code, so this is just to show how TPizza is used. So, all very straightforward. Now, let’s look at TPizza class.

enum ETopping { Olives, Pepperoni, Mushrooms } class TPizza{ETopping[] toppingArray; int nToppings; public TPizza(){toppingArray = new ETopping[10]; nToppings = 0; } public void addTopping(ETopping newTopping){toppingArray[nToppings] = newTopping;nToppings++; }

So, it’s got a nice enum type and a nice array of toppings and an addTopping method and all is good.

Here is computeCost method.

public int computeCost() { int totalCost = 15; for (int i = 0; i < nToppings; i++) { switch (toppingArray[i]) { case ETopping.Olives: totalCost += 1; break; case ETopping.Pepperoni: totalCost += 2; break; case ETopping.Mushrooms: totalCost += 2; break; } } return totalCost; } }

This works great. But the problem arises when I want to add cheese topping. I can’t add cheese without modifying existing code in the TPizza class. This gives me a chance to break the TPizza class. It could be worse, of course. If there are other places in the class where we have used the same approach (printing out an invoice, sending instructions to the pizza oven, drawing a picture of the pizza) their code will also have to be changed.

How would you have written that architecture so that you could incorporate the change in requirements (adding cheese topping) by adding code, rather than changing existing code? (Answer=> Use a topping class, who knows its cost and type. Or, if you’re really feeling elaborate, a base topping class and descendants). Not that this failure is also a violation of the SRP. It should not be the job of the TPizza to keep track of the cost of individual toppings.

3. Liskov Substitution Principle

Subclasses should be substitutable for their base class. All members of an inheritance hierarchy should fulfil the same behavioural contract. If they don’t then your “is-a” abstraction is probably wrong.

The LSP helps us to avoid misusing inheritance and consequently running into the problems that result when this occurs. A user of a base class should continue to function properly if any derivative of the base class is passed to it. Failure to follow the LSP almost always leads to problems with the OCP, as you wiggle around coding in special cases to your class family.

void runWildLifeSimulator(TDuck d) { d.swim(); d.quack(); d.fly(); }

runWildLifeSimulator is what is called a ‘consumer’ function of TDuck. That is, it uses a TDuck instance. TDuck has made a contract – it will implement swim, quack and fly. Anybody who wants to be a TDuck needs to implement those, and it should make sense.

Surely, a Rubber Duck is a kind of duck. But because a Rubber Duck doesn’t fly and a TDuck does, this isn’t a good class hierarchy. Think about what you would have to do to the consumer function.

void runWildLifeSimulator(TDuck d) { d.swim(); d.quack(); if (TDuck.getType() != TRubberDucky) d.fly(); }

Why should a function that wants a TDuck has to know anything about THE DESCENDENTS of TDuck?  What if there are other violations in the class hierarchy? A switch statement? And of course, what happens if you need to change something about these ducks.

There is a workaround for this, of course. It is? (Let TRubberDuckie override fly to { do nothing }

There are workarounds for all violations of good design. If you hit the peg with a big enough hammer, it will go into the hole.  But these sorts of problems have been showed to produce rigidity and inflexibility and general goofiness in code. Try to avoid them.

4. Interface Segregation Principle

The dependency of one class to another one should depend on the smallest possible interface. Clients should not be forced to depend on methods they do not use. This one is very closely related to the SRP: don’t stuff everything into one big garbage multipurpose class. Changes to code are isolated to those classes that are logically affected.

interface Imessage { public bool SendSms(String message); public bool SendEmail(String message); }

In this case, all the classes that inherit this interface are forced to write methods for sending email and SMS. If some clients are interested only in emails, the issue arises.

The solution is,

interface Isms { public bool SendSms(String message); } interface Iemail { public bool SendEmail(String message); } interface Imessage : Isms { public bool SendSms(String message); }

5. Dependency Inversion Principle

Program to the most abstract class possible. High-level modules should not depend on (concrete) low-level modules.

Consequences of ignoring these core principles

These core OOAD (Object-oriented analysis and design) principles will help you to write SOLID code. But, what are the consequences of ignoring these principles?

As a result of ignoring these principles, the system will be,

1. Rigid

Changing one part of the code causes or requires a change to many other parts of the code.

2. Fragile

Changes in one part of the code break other parts of the code.

3. Immobile

The components/parts of the code cannot be easily reused, because they are tangled.

 –  Albin Antony

My Experience Working with Amazon S3

What is Amazon S3?

The Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is a scalable, high-speed, low-cost Web-based service designed for online backup and archiving of data and application programs.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is simple storage for the Internet. You can configure it very simply and quickly in the AWS console. In S3, there’s no initial charges, zero set-up cost. You only pay for what you utilize. Unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, pay as you use and full control on file privacy are the most key features of S3. Amazon S3 also provides options to host static websites.

Why I find Amazon S3 great?

Most of the Websites are having Dynamic contents which are a collection of many Images, Videos and Audio, etc. These images will be either uploaded by the Users or the Admin of the website. Some websites will be having hundreds or even thousands of images depending on the Market they are focusing on. Storing the whole images inside Server will run out of the disk space and causes server issue. So, it will be good to save it directly in the Amazon S3.

How to Configure Amazon S3?

Amazon S3 is very simple to configure and use. This can be configured from the AWS console.

In S3 you can create Buckets. Buckets are very similar to Folders in our PC. It helps us to organize the files. S3 generates random URLs for each and every file uploaded to it. Each file is objects in S3. These objects can be accessed from the Web. S3 provides you with different policies and permissions to secure the contents stored in it.

Amazon Web Service (AWS) console provides you with the ability to create an IAM user. IAM user this the centralized user account provided by the AWS in order to access the AWS service remotely or through API calls, etc.

When we are using PHP code and if we wanted to access the objects from the S3, we need to use IAM user credentials to get the object from S3 bucket, if public access to the object is not allowed.

How S3 is used with a PHP web application?

As we have already mentioned that the S3 can be used for storing static contents like Pictures, Videos, Audio, etc. Let us see how it work in a real-life scenario.

Source (awsmedia.s3.amazonaws.com)

As the Image displays, when a user is trying to access a Webpage, the requests hit the Webserver. The Webserver sends a request to the Amazon S3 asking for an Image stored in it and the S3 returns the Image that is used in that particular Webpage.

How to set up Amazon S3?

Let us assume that we have a Web server running. We have a PHP site running in it with thousands of images as part of the content in it. We need to make sure there will be no storage issue due to running out of hard drive storage space.

Choose the following steps to mount S3 on an EC2 instance.

  • Create a new directory under that Webroot of the PHP Application where you wanted to mount the static contents.
  • Now you need to download and install s3fs from the source. S3fs is used to mount the S3 bucket to the system.
  • In-order to connect to the Amazon S3 bucket we need to authenticate. For that, we need to create a password inside the user home directory and pass the AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY which we got from the AWS console.
  • Now, after mounting the Drive we can start using it as a local drive that is attached to the PC.

What are the PROS /CONS of using Amazon S3?

We understood Amazon S3 and its features, also how we can configure it. Now let us discuss the Advantage/Disadvantage of using S3, in the perspective of a web application.

PROS

  • S3 is that it can be mounted to an EC2 instance and can act as a local drive attached to a system.
  • S3 can be used as a Backup Volume where we can store the backups. This can save the EBS (Elastic Block Storage) space which is the main storage.
  • S3 can be used for many servers at the same time. Whereas EBS can only be attached to an instance at a time.
  • Highly Available, Redundant. Basically, data loss is not possible (99.999999999% durability, 99.9 uptime SLA).
  • S3 storage provides up to 5TB storage space.

CONS

  • S3 is an object store it is not a file system.
  • Hence S3 is not a file system it does not have file-system permissions.
  • S3 is slower than the EBS volume which is directly connected to the instance. Hence it is good to store static contents like Photos, Videos, etc.

Conclusion

Amazon S3 is the best way to Host web sites cost-effectively. Since the price of physical drives is huge, Amazon S3 will be a good option to store static content.

– Ravi Kiran Varma

Performance Testing Using JMeter

If you’ve ever done performance testing on a website, you know that there is not really an effective way to manually create enough load on that website.

Getting actual users to execute web application operations over and again is nearly impossible. For that, we need virtual users that can open multiple connections in parallel.

When bulk users attempt to access a website (say commercial websites) at the same time, there are high chances that the website suffers slowness and poor usability. Speed is one of the most important attributes of an application. A slow running application will lose many of its potential users.

Performance testing is done to ensure that the web application performs well under their expected workload.

In today’s competitive world, support for features and functionalities are not the only priority, the speed with which the website responds is also of great concern. The goal of performance testing is not to find bugs, but to eliminate the performance bottlenecks. A web application attributes like its response time, reliability, source usage and scalability do matter a lot. So, in order to test different aspects of a web application, we must test it in different ways. Different performance testing types are as follows:

Different Types of Performance Testing

Load

Load testing is performed to determine how a system behaves when multiple users access it simultaneously.

Stress

Stress Testing is done to ensure that the system would not crash in difficult situations.

Endurance

Endurance testing is done to evaluate how the system behaves when a significant load is applied over a long period of time.

Spike

In Spike testing, the web application is tested with extreme increments and decrements in the load.

Volume and scalability

Volume testing describes the ability of an application to handle additional user loads without affecting the performance. Scalability test is done to find the minimum and maximum loads at software, hardware and database levels. This gives the idea that the system is scalable after a load.

There are many robust testing tools available in the market that are capable to handle the various types of performance testing. Few of them have become the industry standard. The recent trend shows that most of the big players in the industry have taken tools like JMeter for all their performance testing needs.

JMeter

Apache JMeter is a load testing tool that is based on Java. This open source software is used for testing the performance of most of the web-based applications. Performance is an inevitable factor for both mobile and web application as the user strength is very huge.

Advantages of JMeter

  • Open source and built-in Java platform. It is highly extensible and platform-independent.
  • User-friendly- JMeter has got comprehensive GUI and it can easily create a test plan and configure the elements.
  • Support- Basically JMeter is designed for performance testing. But it can also be used for non-functional testing such as stress, distributed and web service testing by creating a test plan.

JMeter provides support for protocols such as FTP, SOAP, JDBC, HTTP

  • Documentation- Because of its robust documentation, user can have a clear idea on every step starting from the installation and configuration of test settings and generating the final report.
  • Recording- JMeter allows the user to record HTTP or HTTPS to create test plan using the recording facility. It uses a proxy server that allows JMeter to watch and record user actions while the user browses the web application with any normal browser. Once the recording is complete, we enter the number of threads, time and Start test. It is advisable to use the Non-GUI mode of JMeter if the user count is large.
  • Reporting- JMeter supports dashboard report generation. These reports help the user to understand test execution results.

Installation of JMeter

Before installing JMeter, it is essential to check that Java is installed in the system. JMeter is a pure Java desktop application. It needs fully compliant JVM 6 or higher to perform its tasks. User can download and install the latest version of the Java SE Development Kit.

The latest version of JMeter available is JMeter 5.1

JMeter can be downloaded from the official website Apache.

From this website, user can download JMeter PGP or zip file under the Binaries section and then unzip the zip file into the directory where JMeter is to be installed. JMeter directory structure includes the following directories and files.

  • Bin: holds JMeter script file to start JMeter
  • Docs: holds JMeter documentation files
  • Extras: related extra files
  • Lib: holds the required Java library for JMeter
  • Lib/ext: includes core jar files for JMeter and its protocols

A test plan is stored in XML format.

Elements of JMeter

Thread Group

Thread group is the collection of threads. Each thread represents 1 user using the application under test. Basically, each thread simulates 1 real user request to the server.

Samplers

Samplers indicate which type of request is sent to the server. It can be HTTP, FTP, JDBC requests.

Listeners

Listeners display the result of test execution. It can show the result in different formats such as tree, table, summary report, log files and graphs.

Configuration Elements

Config elements in JMeter are used to configure the sampler requests sent to the server. Commonly used config elements are CSV data set config, HTTP Cookie Manager, Login Config Element HTTP Request Defaults and FTP Request Defaults.

Assertions

It is used to validate the response of the request that the user sent to the server. Here user can verify the expected result with the actual result. If a user wants to check assertion of a sampler, then assertion must be added as child of that sampler. User can view Assertion result by adding Assertion Listener to the thread group.

Testing in non-GUI method

In non-GUI mode, JMeter can handle more requests per second. Increasing threads after a certain limit will result in JMeter crash in GUI mode. The following command is used to run the test plan in non-GUI mode.

jmeter -n -t -l -e -o

Report Generation

A result log file can be generated in CSV or JTL format after running the load test.

Hope this article gave a real insight into the importance of performance testing in today’s web world and how modern testing tools like JMeter helps you to execute performance testing efficiently.

Happy Performance testing!

Sneha Mohan

How to Handle NSOperation in Your Mobile App?

Each day at our work consists of a sequence of tasks that fill our working hours. Same way, when you create an application, all the interface components (table views, UI controls, alerts, etc.) are run inside the main thread of your application. At some point in your application, you will want to populate these views with data. And this data can be retrieved from the disk, the web, a database, etc.

The issue that we face when we want to populate or handle a huge amount of data is

‘How would you efficiently load this data into your application interface while still allowing the user to have control of the application without any disturbance?’

Many applications in the app store simply ‘freeze’ while their application data is loaded. This will disappoint the user interaction. The secret to making apps without this problem is to move the unnecessary work (the activities which can take place without user interaction) to the background as possible.

The iOS developer has two options here.

  • Grand Central Dispatch
  • NSOperation

Let me explain about NSOperation.

NSOperationQueue

NSOperationQueue manages the concurrent execution of code operations in Xcode. It acts as a priority queue because operations are executed in a First-In-First-Out manner, with higher-priority (NSOperation.queuePriority) ones getting to the lower-priority ones.

NSOperation

NSOperation is a single unit of work. It’s an abstract class that provides a useful, thread-safe structure for programming.NSOperation will perform network requests, text processing, or any other repeatable long-running task that produces associated state or data.

There are two different operations you can create, which are prebuilt in once which are NSInvocationOperation and NSBlockOperation.

Priority

All operations may not be equally important. Setting the queuePriority property will promote or defer an operation in an NSOperationQueue according to the following rankings:

NSOperationQueuePriority

typedef enum : NSInteger { NSOperationQueuePriorityVeryLow = -8, NSOperationQueuePriorityLow = -4, NSOperationQueuePriorityNormal = 0, NSOperationQueuePriorityHigh = 4, NSOperationQueuePriorityVeryHigh = 8 } NSOperationQueuePriority;

The following enumerated values are used to denote the priority of operation. Operations are considered based on priority.

NSQualityOfService

typedef enum : NSInteger { NSQualityOfServiceUserInteractive = 0×21, NSQualityOfServiceUserInitiated = 0×19, NSQualityOfServiceUtility = 0×11, NSQualityOfServiceBackground = 0×09, NSQualityOfServiceDefault = -1 } NSQualityOfService;

Implementation

NSBlockOperation always executes a block. NSInvocationOperation executes an NSInvocation ( a method defined by selector, target or object).

NSInvocationOperation

NSOperationQueue *myQueue = [[NSOperationQueue alloc] init]; NSInvocationOperation *operation1 = [[NSInvocationOperation alloc] initWithTarget:self selector:@selector(printNumbers) object:@”operation1″]; operation1.queuePriority = NSOperationQueuePriorityLow; operation1.qualityOfService = NSOperationQualityOfServiceBackground; [myQueue addOperation:operation1]; NSInvocationOperation *operation2 = [[NSInvocationOperation alloc] initWithTarget:self selector:@selector(PrintAlphabets) object:@”operation2″]; operation2.queuePriority = NSOperationQueuePriorityHigh; operation2.qualityOfService = NSOperationQualityOfServiceBackground; [myQueue addOperation:operation2]; -(void)printNumbers { for (int i = 0; i<10; i++) { NSLog(@”%d”,i); } } -(void)PrintAlphabets { for (char a = ‘a’; a <= ‘z’; a++) { NSLog(@”%c”,a); } }

Output

a

0

b

1

c

2

d

3

.

.

NSBlockOperation

NSOperationQueue *myQueue = [[NSOperationQueue alloc] init]; NSBlockOperation *operation1 = [NSBlockOperation blockOperationWithBlock:^(void){ [self PrintAlphabets]; }]; operation1.queuePriority = NSOperationQueuePriorityLow; operation1.qualityOfService = NSOperationQualityOfServiceBackground; [myQueue addOperation:operation1]; NSBlockOperation *operation2 = [NSBlockOperation blockOperationWithBlock:^(void){ [self printNumbers]; }]; operation2.queuePriority = NSOperationQueuePriorityHigh; operation2.qualityOfService = NSOperationQualityOfServiceBackground; [myQueue addOperation:operation2];

Output

a

0

b

1

c

2

d

3

.

.

CompletionBlock

When an NSOperation completes, it will execute its completionBlock only once. This provides a way to customize the behaviour of operation when used in a model or view controller.

NSOperation *operation = …; operation.completionBlock = ^{ NSLog(“Completed”); }; [[NSOperationQueue mainQueue] addOperation:operation];

I hope the above tips shared based on my experience help you when you need to handle NSOperation in your next project.

Happy Coding!

Bibin Binny Mathew

Why Should You Use Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets (SASS)?

Sass is the most mature, stable, and powerful professional CSS extension language in the world initially designed by Hampton Catlin and developed by Natalie Weizenbaum. Sass is completely compatible with all versions of CSS. We take this compatibility so that you can use any available CSS libraries. Sass boasts more features and abilities than any other CSS extension language out there.

There is an endless number of frameworks built with Sass. Compass, Bourbon, and Susy just to name a few.

Sass is an extension of CSS3, adding nested rules, variables, mixins, selector inheritance, and more. It’s translated to well-formatted, standard CSS using the command-line tool or a web-framework plug-in.

SASS Syntaxes

Sass has two syntaxes. The main syntax (as of Sass 3) is known as “SCSS” (for “Sassy CSS”) and is a superset of CSS3’s syntax. This means that every valid CSS3 style sheet is valid SCSS as well. SCSS files use the extension .scss.

The second, older syntax is known as the indented syntax (or just “Sass”). Inspired by Haml’s terseness, it’s intended for people who prefer conciseness over similarity to CSS. Instead of brackets and semicolons, it uses the indentation of lines to specify blocks. Although no longer the primary syntax, the indented syntax will continue to be supported. Files in the indented syntax use the extension .sass.

Pros and Cons of Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets (SASS)

SASS Pros

1. Clean Code

If you are coming from Python, Ruby (you can even write props with symbol-like syntax) or even CoffeeScript world, it will come very natural to you – writing mixins, functions and generally any reusable stuff in sass is much ‘easier’ and readable than in scss(subjective).

2. Shorter Development Time

With Sass, you can save a lot of time if you know how to use it well. In addition to CSS, sass lets you write functions, mixins, you can import styles and many such time-saving bits. With proper naming of classes, you can create your own common styles which can be used whenever you want instead of calling the same styles repeatedly. This saves a lot of time just like bootstrap does when you need a ‘text-centre’ class or a ‘pull-right’ to position your element.

3. Consistency

It is always easier to reuse what we have already written than to write new patterns. Along with the fact that this saves a lot of time, you can also have a consistent pattern throughout your page. You won’t have to scale through each element while continuing through the website development.

4. Reduced HTTP requests

Unlike the regular CSS, Sass lets you to breakdown your style sheet into several bits or parts and can be called using @import keyword. The Sass compiler will then combine your style sheet into a single CSS file, which will not only get your style sheet organized but also will reduce the HTTP requests passed and thus allow it to load much faster.

SASS Cons

1. Space Sensitive

Sass is space sensitive. Sass does not support the use of extra unnecessary spaces. If we, even accidentally leave extra space or forget to include a semi-colon, sass compiler will show an error which sometimes gets really annoying.

For example:On the below image, you can find an error on line 3057 that happened due to missing braces.

An error on line 3057 due to missing braces

2. Need to write all styles initially

One of the advantages of using sass is that we can reuse the same styles more easily. But to do that, we initially need to write up all the necessary styles which are to be later imported or included and which can be considered time-consuming. Nevertheless, it’s worth it.

In general, there are many advantages and disadvantages to using sass. If you know to use it well, you could get the best out of it. Even some of the disadvantages can be considered as an advantage.

Like a small mistake in the syntax will make the compiler to show an error message. This may be annoying but there might come certain situations when this could actually help you to save a lot of time. For example, in CSS, we make a small mistake like forget a space. But we won’t notice it and the compiler will show no error. But we won’t get the expected result either. So, we might actually spend lots of time researching what went wrong until we figure out that it was a small space issue. In sass, the compiler will immediately show the error even if a small space is missing and could be helpful.

Quick Tips

When you’re starting a project and you intend to do it in sass, these tips may come handy:

– Keep your sass style sheet structured so that it will be easy to maintain.

For example,

.logo { Float: left; Width: 240px; img { margin:0; vertical-align:middle; @media (max-width: $x-minimum-width) { width:100%; height:auto; } } @media (max-width: $x-minimum-width) { width:190px; } }

Sass variables must be effectively used. It might look difficult in the beginning but when you get used, it will be really helpful.

For example,

$x-minimum-width:480px; h2 { font-size:24px; @media (max-width: $x-minimum-width) { font-size:18px; } }

Avoid using mixins. Mixins are more like copying and pasting. Not much effective though.

For example,

@mixin transition($property) { transition: $property .3s ease-in; -webkit-transition: $property .3s ease; -moz-transition: $property .3s ease; -o-transition: $property .3s ease; -ms-transition: $property .3s ease; } a { color:$primary-color; cursor:pointer; @include transition(color); &:hover { color:$secondary-color; text-decoration:none; } }

Compiling a SASS file

To create a sass file, first, you need to create a normal CSS file. Save it as ‘file-name’.scss in your CSS directory where your normal CSS files are saved. Also, create a normal CSS file in the same directory. The styles you write in your scss file will be automatically added to your CSS file by the sass compiler.

To compile the sass file, you need to perform the following steps:

Open command prompt

2. Navigate to the location where your CSS files are saved.

For example: cd C:\wamp\www\example\wp-content\themes\example\css

3. Write the SASS command

Write the SASS command to start compiling the SASS file. Command: sass –watch custom.scss:custom.css

– Shekhar R

Stuck In The Middle of A Project? What’s Next?

Do you get stuck with a line of code very often?

Are you someone who always find it difficult to write the next line of code during the development process?

Do you need help in development, designing or coding domains?

How often have you stuck while coding as you have no idea on how to achieve the required function?

I know the answer may be a big ‘Yes’ from so many.

Stuck while coding. It’s the programmer’s worst enemy – it hurts your productivity, your confidence, your happiness and your peace of mind. It doesn’t mean that you are a failure or inefficient. It’s just that the problem you are facing is complicated and you need help. So, take this situation as a learning opportunity.

First, make sure that you do not get angry and frustrated on the situation, these will not guide you to the proper destination. So just take a break or do something else for a while and back with a fresh mind. You can make wonders with fresh eyes and a cool mind.

A good developer comes through proper practice and experience. They utilize all possible resources including Google search, Forums and any other available resources.

Seeking help from other resources doesn’t make anyone a bad or lazy developer. But, a worse developer is one who didn’t know where to look for help for resolving a problem.

There is a wide range of problem-solving tools and Forums available today. The most crucial thing is how we use it once information been found. Ideally, we should avoid copy and pasting and instead we must read and understand the code before incorporating int into the program we are developing. 

Well, let’s see some excellent forums and sites which help to wipes out the obstacles in your work!

Top resources to solve your coding deadlocks

Stack Overflow

If you are a developer or designer, can you imagine days without Stack Overflow? Obviously, it’s difficult, right? If you are getting stuck, the best ever destination will be none other than Stack Overflow. So, this is one of the most active technical Question &Answer sites and it was evoked by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky in 2008.

Today the Stack Overflow can be rated as Programmer’s Heaven with its excellent tips on problem-solving.  There are thousands, if not lakhs, of programmers who can help us to resolve a problem.  

If you are going to ask a question, first, you should do a proper search since a similar question may be answered by someone already on the platform. If you need an answer to something new, then you can ask a question. So, when you get stuck with an error, invest time to convey the question in a proper way. For example, you can post the exact text with the error or post the code you have already tried. Also mention the software version you are using along with the question.

Before going to ask a question, keep on mind about:

  • Invest Time
  • Be on Topic
  • Start questioning yourself
  • Be prepared to communicate

In short, Stack Overflow is extremely helpful, and it’s absolutely fit to be declared as ‘Programmer’s Heaven’.

Quora

Quora is an excellent question/answer (Q&A) forum permitting its members to post questions and answers. Users can also search for questions and answers for a quick fix.

You can get the best code written by the experts on Quora. It’s a huge treasure with millions of fascinating answers on each and every topic that may be interesting to you. Quora can be used as a quick reference for any kind of programming doubts you have in your mind.

One of our team implemented coco3D with guidance from an expert on Quora and we made it a great success. It’s not only used as a helping forum by people, but also it’s a popular platform to share your valuable knowledge. So, get ready to share some of your great ideas. Maybe it would help others who may be looking for an answer or idea that they need in their life.

GitHub

GitHub is awesome for finding info on coding related topics. I’ve used it for a lot of research purposes and got excellent bits of help on many topics. GitHub helps you to find that perfect set of code that will help you to solve the programming problem you are facing.  It provides its users with a platform to discuss the problems that they are trying to solve.

GitHub’s tagging system can be considered as a great advantage. Another advantage is the GitHub repository.   People can surely reap benefits from it. Availability of the complete code is the highlight of this site. In this competitive programming world, GitHub will surely help to win the race.

Creator’s own Forums

Are you a kind of person who likes to seek help from the creator’s domain? Here creator means the expert(s) who is the founder of a technology. I know some of my colleagues who usually choose this path whenever they get into any kind of deadlocks in programming. Finding solutions from the creator’s page will surely outrank the benefits of referring to any other resource.

Be sure to first visit WordPress own forum for any support on WordPress related problems. On this platform, every question are answered quickly. If you are facing any issues related to Android Development, then you must visit Android Support center and for iOS, you can get expert advice from iOS professional support team. So, start referring to Creator’s forum and solve your programming related issues with ease and in the most perfect way.

General Forums

Just like the listed resources above, there are many other knowledge treasures on the web as well.  Let’s have a look at some helpful websites which may help you with solving your programming related queries.

Site Point

Site Point is one among the most popular online forum for developers and designers today. It is recommended as the best place to get expert solution for your problem and it has around 250,000 members.

Digital Point

Digital point is an excellent forum which is professionally managed by experienced technical leaders. It is one of the biggest webmaster communities for web developers and designers.

MacRumors

MacRumors provides the latest news related to Apple along with rumours related to the same topic. It is also an active iPhone and iPad development Forum. Every thread is replied to and there exist a wide variety of topics. It is worth to post your programming related queries there.

Experts Exchange

We can meet thousands of experts on Experts Exchange to answer every technical question, and it contributes to the success of professionals all over the world.

Dynamic Drive Forum

Dynamic Drive Forum is described as the programmers’ favourite place on the web because it helps them to find fault in their code and also the solution for the same.

So, next time you are stuck with an issue during the development of a program, don’t get depressed but explore these resources. You will surely find the light to come out of the cave you are trapped in.

– Jisna Mathew

How to Integrate Google Ads API in .Net

First, let’s take a look at how Google Ads work –

Google Ads in action:

You might see the Ads with the top row results in the Google search. What are they, why they differ from the other results?

Those are Google ads that a company paid for so that people will notice their business whenever they’re searching Google. And, the company only have to pay whenever someone clicks on the ad. This is known as cost-per-click advertising (CPC).

How to show your Ads on Google

Go to  http://tinyurl.com/pevnb3j and create your own Google ads account. Then you can create your Ads with your preferred locations, keywords, etc. For help on creating managing your Google ads account go to http://tinyurl.com/qy6kuq7

Google ads API

The Google ads API allows applications to interact directly with the Google ads platform. You can build applications to more efficiently manage large or complex Google ads accounts. If you want to use Google ads API in your applications, first you will have to create an MCC account.

What is an MCC account?

MCC (My Client Center) Account

An MCC account -manager account- is a Google ads account that lets you easily view and manage multiple Google ads accounts –including other manager accounts– from a single location.

You can create a new MCC account here – http://tinyurl.com/q9n7gsh

Learn more about MCC accounts here – http://tinyurl.com/q9f8tv8

The following information should be submitted for making Google ads API calls,

  • Developer Token,
  • Client Customer ID,
  • oAuth2 Client ID,
  • oAuth2 Client Secret,
  • oAuth2 Refresh Token.

Where do you find all these?

Developer Token

After creating your MCC account successfully, you can see your Developer Token here http://tinyurl.com/pov4xwa

Client Customer ID

Client Customer Id is your Google ads account ID. You can see this on the right-top position in the MCC or Google ads website.

oAuth2 Client ID & oAuth2 Client Secret

Do you already have an account in Google developer console? If yes you can see this information here – http://tinyurl.com/qcunww3

New to Google developer console? learn how to use and manage it here – http://tinyurl.com/kl2vqxo

oAuth2 Refresh Token

You can download the Adwords API libraries with examples in this link – http://tinyurl.com/nntrpyu.

After downloading go to the following path? “..\utilities\OAuthTokenGenerator\bin\Debug\”. There you can see a file named ‘OauthTokenGenerator.exe’. Run the file and you will get the following screen:

Submit Client ID and Client Secret you have handy then click OK, and it will show you the Refresh Token for your account.

Like to know more about Refresh Token? Go to – http://tinyurl.com/noqeloa

Sample Code

Following is a sample code for creating a new AdWords account in our MCC account,

Download “Google.Adwords.dll” and “Google.Ads.Common.dll” from http://tinyurl.com/nntrpyu

Find the .dll files inside – “..\examples\AdWords\CSharp\bin\Debug\”.

Please note: You can use the Developer Token only after your MCC account is verified by Google Team. This process is done by humans and it needs long time so. (sometimes it takes more than two months!)

Want to start coding right away?

MCC test Accounts comes for help.

MCC Test Account

MCC test accounts allow developers to execute AdWords API requests against the production environment for development and testing purposes. The MCC Test Account will not server the Ads on real Google search.

You must use a production (non-test) MCC account’s developer token to make AdWords API calls against a test account. You can use the production developer token against a test account even when the production developer token is pending approval.

You can create a new MCC Test Account here – http://tinyurl.com/nqlaymn

Download AdWords API libraries and sample codes from here – http://tinyurl.com/nntrpyu

– Anver Ali

Working with Apache Solr: A Developer’s Insights

The search module is a vital component in today’s web applications. Its importance, as well as user-friendliness, is very critical in the growth of the business.

Two most important, most discussed, and widely used Search Engines are Apache Solr and Amazon CloudSearch. Both Solr and Amazon CloudSearch are search platforms that enable you to search your data by submitting HTTP requests and receive responses in either XML or JSON.

Apache Solr is open-source software. It is written entirely in Java and uses Lucene as the “engine” but adds full enterprise search server features and capabilities. Highly specialized search solution companies like lucid works, search technologies etc may prefer creating plugins and modules using open source code which gives more flexibility and control. The current, released, stable version of Apache Solr is 3.3.

Why need search engines?

So, why we really need a search engine?

Do the direct search in the database is not enough?

This is the first question that came to my mind when I was about to integrate Solr to one of our projects. I went on with some researches based on these questions.

What the search engines actually do?

Search engines go through each and every data and find a match if exist. If for a small web application direct database search is fine. But for applications with huge data, if we do a direct database search it will be a heavy process to perform a search.

What search engines like Solr do is, they read the data from database and keep a local index with that data. Periodically or when some data update occurs, we update the index also. And, when we perform the search, the search is done in the index and matching results are fetched from the index. Since the index and the code lie on the same location, search becomes tremendously fast and easy.

Courtesy: viblo.asia

Solr setup

First, download the latest version of the Service from the official site. Solr is written in Java so you also need Java Runtime Environment to run it.

$ cd solr-4.1.0/example/
$ java -jar start.jar

Once JRE is installed and started, Solr will be available with a web interface on port 8983. Open a web browser and go to http://localhost:8983/solr/(assuming Solr is installed in your local server). You can see something similar to the following image:

If you look at the left-hand side navigation you will find “collection1″. Collections in Solr are something similar to a database table. You can query it. Click on the collection and choose “query” from the submenu.

The first option is called “Request-Handler (qt)” with default value “/select”. Request handlers are sort of pre-defined queries. Next parameter is a query and its default value “*:*” selects everything. If you execute the query, it will select all data from the index. For now, since the index is empty, it will give zero results.

Now, we need to insert some data to the index from our database, right? First, include the Solr service.php (the config file that reads and writes data to the Solr Index). Now, fetch the current index and save it to a new array say $results_old. So $results_old->response->docs shall contain all the data in the Solr index (if there is some data, for now, no value will be there). Fetch whatever data we want to index from the database and map it to the Solr index fields. Once all data are mapped, write them to the index in a key->value pair format.

If you do a normal select query from the web interface, you will get a result similar to the following:

{ “responseHeader“: { “status“: 0, “QTime“: 1, “params“: { “indent“: “true”, “q“: “*:*”, “_“: “1406616999120″, “wt“: “json”, “rows“: “2″ } }, “response“: { “numFound“: 258, “start“: 0, “docs“: [ { “id”: “1”, “field_a”: “abcd”, “field_b”: “xyzz”, “field_c”: “43234” }, { “id”: “2”, “field_a”: “efgh”, “field_b”: “xyzz”, “field_c”: “76545” } ] } }

Now how to use Solr with your PHP project? You shall be having the PHP library called solr-php-client. It offers an object-oriented interface to Solr, somewhat like the PHP Solr extension. This library is however fully implemented in PHP so it can easily be used on any PHP environment. You may download it from : http://code.google.com/p/solr-php-client/downloads/list .

Once the library is added along with your project files, go to the file SolrPhpClient/Apache/Solr/Service.php . This is the main configuration file.

To connect your project with Solr, include the service.php file in your code. Then you will be able to access the Solr object as:

$solr = new Apache_Solr_Service(SOLRHOST, SOLRPORT, SOLRNAME);

Now, we need to write our data retrieved from the database to the Solr index. First initialize the Solr document as:

$document = new Apache_Solr_Document();

Save each of your data as a key-value pair (if multiple tables, using multidimensional array structure so that, the table names fall on the parent key-value pair.). After adding all your data to the Solr document,

if(!empty($documents))
{
$solr->addDocuments($documents);
$solr->commit4();
$solr->optimize4();
}

You have written your data to the Solr index.

Now simply to retrieve results from Solr,

$results = $solr->search(“*”,0,0);

So, if you need to make a search in your code to Solr, do it like:

$results = $solr->search(your_search_query, start_val, no_of_rows, query_conditions);

These are the basic steps, to integrate Solr with your project. You have connected your project with Solr, added your data to it and performed search too.

Distinctive advantages of Solr in my experience

Solr is one of the most widely used Search Engines in the current world. Here follow the major reasons for why Solr is most opted.

  • Apache Solr has multilingual support. So, you can make it useful for your websites which are not necessarily in English.
  • Faceting is one of the important features used in eCommerce website search modules. Faceting allows you to categorize your results into sub-groups, which can be used as the basis for another search. Solr supports Faceting to a minimal level.
  • When you do a search, as you type you will be able to see suggestions of popular queries in relevance to the input are presented as shown in the following image like what we see in Google Search.

This feature is called Auto Suggest. This feature can be implemented at the Search Engine level or at the Search Application level. Apache Solr has the native support for the autosuggest feature. It can be facilitated in many ways using – NGramFilterFactory, EdgeNGramFilterFactory or TermsComponent. Usually, you can find this feature of Apache Solr is used in conjunction with jQuery for creating powerful auto-suggestion experience in applications.

  • Ecommerce sites can benefit from the “Find Similar” feature as research suggests that users typically compare products before making a transaction and are likely to buy a product which is better. Apache Solr implements the “Find Similar” feature using handlers/components like MoreLikeThisHandler orMoreLikeThisComponent.
  • Sometimes when we type the search term spellings go wrong, then the search engine automatically corrects the spelling and present you with even the search result. This feature of presenting the user with spelling corrected suggestions is called “Did you mean…” feature. Apache Solr implements the “Did you mean…” feature with the Spellcheck search component.
  • Apache Solr has many algorithms including cache implementations such as LRUCache and FastLRUCache. Solr, being open-source, it can be extended by adding your own algorithms.
  • Solr is a free service. All you need to do is install the Solr to your server, add the Solr-php-client library, and write some small codes to connect your project to Solr.

– Radha R Krishnan

Collaborating with Remote Teams: Do’s and Don’ts

Often in our work, we do not get managers, designers, developers, research experts etc. working in the same office premises. To get the right skills and experiences, we must expand our teams beyond within the same premises to locations in different cities, states of the same country and sometimes even to continents.

Managing spread apart teams is a very responsible task and even great managers struggle to establish successful collaboration among remote teams. To develop mutual understanding and trust among teams, to bring all team members to team’s objectives, to keep them stay on track, to give a fair deal to all teams irrespective of their locations etc. is a huge challenge that if not considered carefully can lead to disastrous results. There are some key criteria that need to be practised in order to have a successful set up for remote teams.

Courtesy – architexa.com

Collaborating with a remote team: The Dos

Define the team’s objective

All team members must unite on the team’s objective. Everyone must be clear on the common purpose and the team’s goals.

Team Charter is a great solution to this. Team Charters are documents that describe the team’s goals, resources, roles and responsibilities, deliverables, desired end results etc. Contents of Team Charter might vary from situation to situation, find out the right contents that will help you convey team objectives. This will help teams to stay focused on the right things and in the right direction. It also helps the team to get a big picture of their mission.

Use proper and consistent communication methods

Communication is a key factor in building up successful remote teams. 

Make sure all your team members report their work status regularly, train other team members as needed, share knowledge, inform if they are stuck with their work so that proper guidance can be provided, and goals are met.

50 years back it was almost impossible to think of remote communication, but with all advanced technologies in the market today, remote communication and collaboration have become such an easy task.

There are so many free and paid online tools for chat, calls, video conferencing etc. that can be used efficiently to communicate requirements, discuss, share ideas and see results. Make sure all your teams use a common medium to chat, call, attend meetings etc. Skype, Instant Messenger, Google Hangouts etc. are some good tools to stay connected with the team through text, video and voice chat. Basecamp, Trello, BusyFlow, Asana are some of the good Project/Task Management tools. Dropbox, Google Docs, GlassCubes etc. can be used for File Management/Sharing with the team.

Arrange weekly status calls

Schedule team meetings and 1:1s on a regular basis. Schedule a time that works for everyone. Sometimes it might be difficult to find a common time among people working in different time zones and work schedule, talk to the team and make sure you come up with a time that suits all your team members and everyone attends the status call so that you can ensure tasks set for each milestone is successfully met.

Reward them

Be willing to reward your team for their good work! Before you decide on a perk, understand how your team want to be recognized. Learning how your team want to get recognized for an achievement will help you make sure your efforts to reward them is successful.

For example, married people might want a few days off so that they spend time with their families, tech addicts might be interested in gadgets. Some people might just want a sincere “thank you” note that gives them that feeling of recognition. Understand your team’s interests and reward appropriately. Don’t forget they are the ones who worked sincerely, taking all pressure, keeping aside their families and other priorities and bring your company the success and money you looked for.

Whatever way you do it will only help build up the team and people will remember for a long time thus, strengthening the bond of trust and loyalty.

In-person gatherings

Team retreats may not always be possible especially if the teams are in different cities or continents but if you can make it happen once a while, it will help people know each other, build connections and friendship that would, in turn, help build better and strong teams.

Collaborating with a remote team: Don’ts

Don’t be too bossy

Don’t put strict rules. Managers have to closely monitor work progress, but if you impose strict rules about working hours etc., people maybe not be able to bring desired results. This may demotivate them from their work bringing failure to your project plan.

Trust your team

Best and most productive teams are built from trust. Unified culture and solid trust build understanding among each other.

However, trust is a big problem in many parts of the world. Managers are not sure if they can rely on remote teams to produce results. There is a deep-rooted apprehension that absence in office (and working from home etc.) means neglecting work and becoming less productive.

Trust is a key factor to decide if you want remote teams or not.

Do not be unfair to teams

People get a feel of isolation or being left out or unrecognized if one team gets more appreciation/recognition than other teams. Recognize every team and every individual’s work however small it may be. Tomorrow that team/person may be the one contributing most to your company.

Conclusion

Remote Working – boon or bane is in our hands. Challenges are there for sure in remote working, but with little carefulness, commitment and planning, remote working can become a wonderful thing and I believe you can reap substantial benefits in the long run. Giving the flexibility to work at home or remotely greatly boosts employee morale, increases productivity and help staff retention. Making sure the right processes are in place and the right policies are applied, you can have successful communication and collaboration among remote teams.

– Susan B John

Computing Everywhere: What’s in Store?

Do you remember the dream you had last night?

Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers it. 

You don’t worry about it; the great Computing will help you soon. By scanning brain activity, it is now possible to decode what someone is watching. By 2050 it might be possible to actively monitor or download our dreams that will create some wonder in future!

Every day, the news media is giving more and more visibility to the effects of computing on our daily lives.

Computing is already everywhere. It is not just important; it is crucial and touches the root of civilization. ‘Computing everywhere’ also means connected devices everywhere and it makes the world more special.

Computing technologies accelerate on everything, not only the traditional desktop, portable, and laptop computers, but now also include wearable devices like Google Glass, Agent Smartwatch etc. and consumer goods like a car, washing machine, etc.

Computing everywhere

Journey with Computing

The history of computing can never be written in simple words because it’s the story of the human race as well. Computing is the story of confidence, ambition, passion, invention and creativity against limits of our mind and body.  In short, it is the journey from the Abacus to the iPad, from Gutenberg to Google, from Enigma to GPS.

Computing everywhere refers to Mobility and Multiple screens or Sensors. We have now reached a mobile era that everyone around us has smartphones. “Phones and wearable devices are now part of an expanded computing environment. The mobile devices are just part of a world which reflects computing is everywhere and it is embedded in everyday objects, from our car to appliances and even on clothing. All these indicate that we’ll have new ways to interact with the world.

While promising to add great utility to people’s lives, most technologies depend on direct communication between human and a known device or application. In a real scenario, even at home or outside, people will also need help from services which are unknown to them.  Let’s see some smart inventions from smart computing.

Smart Inventions

If the number of Internet-connected devices was 15 billion in the year 2015, it crossed 26.66 billion last year and predicted to reach 75 billion by 2025 (reference).  Here ‘devices’ refers not only to smartphones, netbooks and tablets but also systems such as smart grids, intelligent transportation, healthcare monitoring, smart manufacturing, and environmental sensors etc.

It is impossible to predict what will be the next move on computing, anyways let us expect another great miracle as usual. We all co-evolved with computing in every aspect. Can you imagine going back to the world without computing? Life would be unthinkable without a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop, because bits are the very oxygen that we breathe now, and we born in this digital world. So computing is the part of our lives; it is the oxygen we breathe, it colours our days and it’s our digital companion.

“The revolution is about to happen and it’s going to happen really fast! Let us continue our journey with this Digital Companion.”

– Jisna Mathew

When to Use Parallax Scrolling in Your UI?

Market research has shown that 95% of users assess the value of your website based on its visual appearance. Websites must be creative and innovative enough to keep users attracted to your website.

When someone visits your website, their first question would be “Why must I access this site when I have other real worth websites? What is so different about this site?” and that’s where your website must stand out from the crowd dominantly, clearly and convincingly answering user’s queries and making them stay on your website.

Parallax Scrolling is one such hot design technique used in most of today’s websites providing its users close interaction with the site and making browsing more interesting. Parallax effect was more popular in 2D video games in earlier days, but with the advancement in JavaScript, one can successfully use effects of Parallax in their website to give completely unique experience.

How Parallax Scrolling works

Parallax scrolling is achieved by having the background image (or elements) move slower than the foreground image giving an impression of 3D depth. Different elements move at a different speed, creating a sense of animation and enhanced interactive user experience. Content is marked up using HTML tags, while jQuery checks how far the user has scrolled and move different elements at a different speed.

The Parallax movement started in the web using two simple layers. Thanks to advancement in JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS3, now foreground and background elements can be grouped into different layers and speed of these elements can be controlled based on their layers.

Pros of Parallax Scrolling

Holding visitor interest

As a user scrolls down the page, he is taken to the next level of information without having the user to click anywhere to see the information. This feature keeps user attracted to your website, stirring their interest and wanting them to view more of the information.

Better product display

Instead of just displaying your product as a static image, Parallax scrolling can help the user explore your product in a totally new and different way. It gives 3D view presentation controlled by their own scrolling behaviour.

Bagigia is a classic website where user gets totally different experience of viewing products. 3D presentation of the product is shown with the user controlling the scrolling behaviour.

Visual narration (Storytelling) made more efficient

Storytelling is the best way to communicate a message to a human mind. A well-designed, one-page website can prove powerful storytelling equipment because scrolling through it will be like reading an interesting book that you cannot put down unless complete.

With the right amount of animation and scrolling, Parallax scrolling can effectively communicate your message about your product, their effects and the audience. Parallax provides a nice overview of your website by letting the user visualize the website through scrolling efforts.

Unique Design

Using the Parallax effect, you can design a website that is visually appealing and user-friendly and make your website more fun place and interactive thus, making it stand out from the crowd.

Cons of Parallax Scrolling

Parallax site takes longer to load

JavaScript/JQuery is used to calculate the position of every element in the page and every time there is a scroll, position of all elements needs to be re-calculated that could slow down page load.

Parallax Scrolling does not always work

Parallax effect does not always work well with mobile technology. You might need to make sure you have a separate mobile-optimized version of your website if your parallax scrolling website does not play well on mobile devices.

Too much scrolling

Too much scrolling may irritate the user that would tempt them to leave the site before viewing the main contents of your website.

Conclusion

Parallax scrolling is just sweeping the entire web community and is expanding across the web. Parallax scrolling websites are the future of tomorrow’s website design. It has become the biggest trend in the design world today and when done right and with the right amount of Parallax scrolling, it can no doubt, put your website ahead of the curve providing that extra edge over your competition.

–  Susan B John

What is Key to an Effective Mobile Device Management (MDM) Strategy?

There are too many devices and applications flooding in the market by different businesses. These businesses need to transmit and access a huge amount of data every day across multiple devices. With the advancement in device technology, we have to make sure that the data transmitted and accessed do not fall into wrong hands.

In order to overcome this fear, most of the companies are using a Mobile Device Management software that helps to keep the data under vigilance. So, in general, Mobile device Management helps organizations to keep control of the various connected devices to avoid any possible security issue and improve better productivity.

Mobile Device Management software are tools that are used for deploying, monitoring, securing and managing the smartphones, tablets and laptops in the workplace that are involved in the distribution of application data and configuration settings.

With the advent of this tool, the main authority of an organization has now complete control over the devices that are connected to the network.

Mobile Device Management applications are either implemented as in-house deployed and managed applications or externally deployed via “SaaS” (cloud-based) or online hosted models.

Some of the Mobile Device Management tools are carrier-specific. Carrier hosted MDM application control only devices offered by the carrier. Most of them are Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) versions of MDM application