In the past couple of months we had some insightful meetings at MWC, the Games Developers Conference, and the most interesting was a hackathon at the Bergen County Academy in Hakensack, NJ. This hackathon was conceived, organized (including getting sponsors and funding), and completely run by high school students for high school students. They had over 200 students attend from many schools in the area and it was amazing at the skills they have, and the apps, games, and robotics they created in a mere twenty-four hours. Most had started learning programming with Python and Java, but picked up HTML5 very quickly; we were happy that the Intel® XDK could help them learn. Kudos to the Bergen County Academy for offering such a great learning experience for the students. Ok, on to the Intel XDK update...
In this April release of the Intel® XDK, we offer a first cut at what we call "Live Development" - the ability to see your changes rendered simultaneously as you edit them. More about it at the end of this blog. We have a number of other new features and improvements in this release, in addition to many bug-fixes. Here's the full list of what we did in this release:
- Cordova 3.x in the Build System for iOS and Windows* 8 in addition to Android. The Android and Windows 8 targets have the full IntelXDK device APIs supported in addition to the Cordova default device APIs; iOS just has the Cordova base APIs for now.
- A new App Preview is available in the app stores for iOS, Android, and Windows 8. It has some cosmetic changes (new icons and images), and now allows the XDK to push apps to your device (with your permission) for Live Development. More below on how this works.
- A new "Settings" dialog box allow you to set common appearance and file-usage settings throughout the XDK.
- App Starter was updated to support App Framework 2.1. App Framework 2.1 was announced just a couple of weeks ago. Be sure to visit the new App Framework site - new documentation and a new web-site: http://app-framework-software.intel.com
- Some of our customers were giving us feedback that XDK can be slow on big projects. We fixed that - at least we think we did - we've seen a huge improvement with some large projects containing hundreds of files and lots of images. Let us know if you have one that still performs poorly.
- Other key issues customers reported were addressed as well. See the Release Notes for more details.
Now, a bit more on Live Development. There are two parts to it: "Live Preview" - simultaneously rendering your changes in a separate window, and "Preview on Devices" to preview/test your app on a device. Live Preview offers the ability to see your edits simultaneously rendered in a Chrome* browser window as you edit your app. You can find it on the Develop tab in a side-panel to the right of the editor. It greatly improves your ability to test & preview your UI and re-edit as you need. A limitation with it, though, is that it does not work with DOM changes. Thus, we do not have it enabled with the UI Builder tools yet - UI frameworks such as App Framework and Bootstrap* frequently change the DOM. "Preview on Devices", however, a feature for Android* only (for now), works with any app changes since it runs directly on the device. It uses a new App Preview (available in the app stores) that allows the XDK to push the app you are editing to your device connected via USB whenever there is a file-save. Thus, you can edit your app and upon save, have it automatically synced with your device so you can test it. This is different than the on-device testing through App Preview you may be familiar with as the app does not go through our cloud file system - it goes straight to your device.
Again, this Live Development is a preview feature now, and you can see that there are some limitations in its use. We'll keep working on it with your feedback. We are striving to provide you with real simultaneous edit/test functionality to make your app development as efficient as possible. Stay tuned for more!