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iOS Enterprise Development

It is the clash of two worlds. The breakneck speed of mobile app delivery and the lumbering speed of enterprise development. Mobile development is a speed boat zipping around obstacles. Enterprise development is cargo ship moving slow and steady but when it moves, it moves with forces. Bridging these two speeds is a monumental challenge.

As of yesterday the customer facing iOS application that we’ve been working on for last 6 months finally made it to the App Store. The project started in May and was finished in 13 two-week sprints. It was a colossal challenge. We needed to integrate to a new API Gateway, which fronted a spider web of Java apps which, accessed data from Oracle, DB2 and the Mainframe (yes, the Mainframe). Pre-prod data was all over the place and very difficult to piece together. The data we did have was inconsistent and we needed to write a ton of “protection” code in Swift to make sure our app was flexible enough to handle it. As one of my fellow developer stated, he had to become a “Data Ninja” 😉. Not to mention a nasty merge bug introduced in Xcode 8 that made code conflict resolution a challenge.

The use of Storyboard references, protocols/delegates and multiple threads made the app technically easier to work on. We had distinct groups for Controllers, Views and Models. The use of SwiftyJSON helped with mapping the data into our model objects. The use of autolayout and some fun UIView animations made the app lively. It always amazes me how quickly an iOS App becomes complicated. In order to simply access a Restful API via URLSession you need to work with completion blocks and multiple threads but, this complication allows for an amazingly dynamic and responsive app. The use of custom protocols, the use of MVC and the creation of a data access layer all helped too.

The app is not perfect. It has bugs but, I’m damn proud of it. The group of developers that I worked with each stepped up to the challenge of creating this app. There were times that we wondered if it was going happen. The APIs were delayed. We did not start “backend-ing” the app until late in the game. The data was not stable. At one point an entire database was dropped. Through it all, they kept slugging away. Each of them playing a critical role in getting this app done.

The higher ups will take credit for having the “vision” but I know who truly made this happen on the iOS side: Kevin, Khalid, Danny and Annie. Thanks for leaving it all the field, and giving it 110% of what you have. You rock!

I can’t wait to do it all over again!

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