The new version of Oracle Visual Builder released this month features several key features for developers looking to build mobile applications including support for Progressive Web Apps (PWA) development, pluggable Cordova Plug-ins, and improved device integration capabilities. This release also includes the initial release of our component exchange integration. Here is a quick rundown of the key new features released this month.
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) aim to merge the benefits of on-device mobile applications with the ease of distribution that web applications provide. When you create a PWA you get the benefits of on-device mobile apps such as: native platform look and feel, icon for app invocation on the phone, device integration, and the ability to work offline. But the application doesn't need to be distributed through the app store, and when there is an update to the application, users don't need to download a new version. Instead, you provide a URL to the app and users who access the URL are given an option to add the app to their "homepage". When an update to the application is deployed, the new version will automatically download to the users phone the next time they access the app.
Creating a PWA app in Visual Builder is easy, just pick up any mobile app that you created and switch the PWA enable switch on the setting tab, fill out some setup data and you are done. Now when you build your app we create the PWA packaging for you.
For on-device mobile applications Visual Builder uses a hybrid approach leveraging Apache Cordova to allow you to leverage device features. Visual Builder comes with built-in support for leveraging features such as the device's camera and location, but in some cases you might want to leverage other device capabilities. The new pluggable Cordova plugin support will let you do just that. You can add Cordova plugins to your app and leverage them from our code. Find this under the application setting tab in the "Custom Plugins" section. (P.S. This updated functionality was actually in our February release).
Take photo is one of the built-in device interactions that Visual Builder offers. In the new version this action has been extended from just on-device mobile app support to work also in PWA apps as well as regular web apps. In mobile and PWA apps you'll have access to device camera and to photos in the device gallery. In web apps you'll be able to select images from your client hard-drive and upload them to the app.
We added support for a new app template for your mobile apps. This one implements a collapsible left side navigation panel that allows you to navigate between flows easily without constantly occupying space on the screen.
A new feature in Visual Builder supports optimization of the application for runtime. Using a grunt based build job - that you can invoke as part of a Developer Cloud Service build pipeline, or on your own machine - you can optimize your application and publish it in one step. This enables you to further support a complete CI/CD flow with the combination of Visual Builder and DevCS.
With this release we are also releasing the first iteration of Oracle's Component Exchange - a place where we'll be publishing reusable components that you can easily add to your applications. These components are based on the Oracle JET Web Components architecture and can be further customized in your application. The exchange will also include new templates for applications. This is just the first step in our approach to helping you create and use reusable components in Visual Builder, expect more components to show up frequently, and future version are planned to also allow you to publish your own component exchange.
There are many other enhancements and additions to visual builder in this release. Read about them in the "What's New" document. Keep an eye on our blog for more detailed blog entries that will show you how to use each one of the new features.
If you have any further questions, let us know on our community forum.