Come fly with us!
Have you been struggling to get effective beta distribution and feedback for your apps since Apple bought Testflight along with it’s owner Burstly back in early 2014? Ekreative developer Vitaliy Pitvalo wasn’t going to sit on his hands and wait for someone else to help solve the problem, instead he created Testbuild.rocks, a free beta distribution platform that has got us back on course. Functioning well with iOS, Android and more, Testbuild.rocks is proving to be such a helpful tool that we just had to get it out on Github so that more of you could come fly with us!
Cabin crew prepare for take off
Not keeping up? It’s like this: imagine you’re thinking of publishing an app. You have a fantastic, life-changing idea. You’ve got an innovative design and a user friendly interface. The development has gone swimmingly and you feel you’re ready for the users. What’s next? Of course, if you’re going to have any success you need to be able to get your app out there; you need to get it into the marketplace. The App Store is a great platform for developers, allowing each app an equal opportunity to be the next big thing regardless of where it’s come from. Their one-stop-shop means that any iOS user looking for the solution that your app provides, is guaranteed to be able to do so in the App Store. In order to get to the point where your App is available to the public however, it must first meet the standards set out by Apple. As you can see there’s a pretty lengthy list of do’s and don’ts which your app will need to comply to in order to be accepted. On top of this, it’s very unlikely that your app is going to be perfect the first time around. You’ll need to get some feedback about your app from testers, trial users who will tell you what they like about the app, and what turned them off, along with any bugs they encountered. Up until recently we, along with a large chunk of the developer community, used a service called Testflight to do this. Testflight established themselves as the top service for providing beta distributions, so that developers could share their unfinished apps during the course of the development process.
Apple however, acquired Testflight over a year ago now and sadly it’s become a rather poorly functioning shadow of what the service used to be. As well as cutting Android support and other useful functions, the new Apple Testflight has, perhaps unsurprisingly, experienced the full gamut of “technical difficulties” and has left developers looking elsewhere for beta distribution and analytics services. Here at Ekreative, our team have felt this frustration keenly but, being a proactive, kreative bunch, we weren’t content to simply wait quietly for a new solution to the problem, but felt compelled to get up and create one ourselves! Well that’s exactly what Vitaliy, one of our programmers decided to do, and to tremendous effect; we love the beta distribution program he’s written, it fills the gap left by testflight and then some.
Testbuild.rocks provides a platform for us, through our Apple developer enterprise license, to share beta versions of our apps directly with our clients. It’s so simple! We do the programming, we send the client an e-mail containing the URL for the app, and the client can download the updated app directly into the palm of their hands using an onscreen qr code. The beauty of it is that there’s no third party involved. Through the use of Amazon S3 cloud storage, all of the apps and updates are controlled entirely by us and downloaded directly by the client.
If you were sceptical, there are a few other distribution and analytics services available (HockeyApp,TestFairy, Crashlytics) but all these services require subscription and make their money by charging you for each app that you upload to their system. With Testbuild.rocks we have a free distribution service and remain in control of our own apps throughout the development process.
Are we just trying to brag?
Well, yes, a little bit, we’re thrilled with the results and proud of Vitaliy, but we also want to share. Testbuild.rocks was built using a symfony 2 PHP framework and bootstrap design to make it simple and tailorable to each user group. Within the program we have currently established modules for iOS, Android, Versions and User specific areas to provide effective filing of projects. We are so happy with this easy-to-use program that we want to share it freely on GitHub so that you can all contribute to improving it and ensure it serves your own purposes fully. We wish you a pleasant onward journey!