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Automating SDK generation - London Mobile Forum 2.0


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A talk given at London Mobile Form 2.0 on Automating SDK generation.

If you are writing your mobile apps using multiple languages then automating SDK generation using codegen can bridge the gap between the backend and your front end clients; helping you develop your mobile apps far more rapidly. Remote Procedures should not be any harder to call than local calls and your mobile front-end developers should not need to know manually write networking or serialisation code.

By integrating such codegen tools into your automated (CI) development process, the resistance to adding new APIs and features is essentially removed. Your front-end and back-end teams can add features far more rapidly than they could before.

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Automating SDK generation - London Mobile Forum 2.0

  1. 1. Hello Thong (Tum) Nguyen Co-founder, CTO @ 1
  2. 2. • Mobile-first music streaming app • Android, iOS, others coming • Lean development team of 14 • 4 mobile developers • Native apps (Java, Objective-C) • 1 year on > 1 million users in UK 2
  3. 3. How best to help front-end developers consume rapidly evolving backend APIs resulting from rapidly evolving requirements • Most mobile apps talk to backends via HTTP based APIs (aka webservices) • Service-oriented applications generally require new backend APIs for new features • The less painful you make it to add a new API the less painful it will be to add a new feature and the faster and more agile your project will be • A “wrapper” or “internal SDK” for the backend API is required for each mobile client platform 3
  4. 4. Web Service Code Example Backend code [WebInvoke(Method = "GET", UriTemplate = "SearchAlbums?Query={query}&Skip={skip}&Take={take}")] PagedAlbumsResponse SearchTracks(string query, int skip, int take) { return new PagedTracksResponse() { .Count = …, .Tracks = … }; } 4 Objective-C client code [[self->userSession searchService] searchTracks:@"Oasis", 0, 10, ^(PagedTracksResponse* response) { NSLog(@”Track count: %d”, response.count); }]; Java client code this.userSession.searchService.searchTracks("Oasis", 0, 10, new PagedTracksResponseHandler() { void handle(PagedTracksResponse response) { System.out.println(”Track count: %d”, response.getCount()); } };
  5. 5. Strategies for creating client side wrappers from backend APIs 1. Developers manually write wrappers (SDKs) for backend code 1. Bug prone copy/paste networking and serialization code 2. Slow turn-around time creates resistance to adding new APIs 2. Reduce the need to maintain an SDK for each language by writing mobile apps in a single language 1. Phonegap 2. Xamarin/Mono 3. Flex 3. Codegen tools 1. Swagger for REST-like APIs 2. WSDL -> Language generators for SOAP services …eww SOAP 3. Bespoke tools 5 Copyright (c) 2014 Thong Nguyen
  6. 6. solution • In-house codegen tool: dto4lang (2 weeks to write) • Founding principle: Making an RPC call to backend should be as easy as making an in-process method call • HTTP(S) + JSON over the wire • Output languages: C++, Objective-C, Java, JavaScript • Generates: – All networking code – All APIs as simple method calls – Classes for complex types (DTOs) – All serialization and deserialization code 6
  7. 7. solution (cont) • Code is generated directly from backend web service definitions (directly from the C# service interface classes) • Entire process is integrated into Mercurial and CI (TeamCity) • In-team practice is to commit skeleton backend code with dummy response data enabling client side development to begin before backend code has been completed • Turn-around time between commit of backend code and client side SDK generation appearing in repo is < 3 minutes • Compiler time warnings of obsolete, missing features or incompatible changes. 7
  8. 8. solution (diagram) 8 Backend Developer WebService Hg Repo Commits new Web Service code TeamCity kicks off dto4lang Notifies TeamCity dto4lang.exe -lang=objc > TrackInfo.m > TrackInfo.h > SearchService.m > SearchService.h > PagedTrackResponse.m > PagedTrackResponse.h Generate Obj-C iOS App Hg Repo Commit Generated Code dto4lang.exe -lang=java > > > Generate Java Android App Hg Repo Commit Generated Code Happy iOS developer Happy Android Developer
  9. 9. Questions to explore • Why has the industry not sufficiently settled on a standard for API communication so that tools can be standardized (thesis: CORBA, DCOM, SOAP scared everyone off) • Are your teams manually writing wire protocols, networking calls, serialization code? If not, what solutions do you use? • RPC style internal APIs are simpler for mobile apps. Are RESTful style APIs helpful? • How else can codegen help mobile development? e.g. Converting SVG direct to native drawing APIs? • Codegen is useful in multi-platform multi-language situations but when should it be avoided? 9
  10. 10. Thank you Thong (Tum) Nguyen 10 @tumtumtum