Mobile app development has changed a lot in the past couple of years. The usage of complicated programming languages and automated features which are falling into the big world of Machine and Deep Learning have definitely impacted the way many people are approaching the topic. The usage of PWA(Progressive Web Applications) and other forms of simplified architectures within mobile app development has been the first step in using server-oriented applications, a matter that, in a cloud-oriented development world, has definitely changed the game recently. Let's dissect this in more detail.
What's A Server-Ready App?
A server-ready application normally refers to an application which instantly communicates with a server without going through external server requests. In modern development, especially when on mobile, it's pretty common to use CDN-based libraries to speed up their usage whilst coding the actual application. This, topped by the fact that assets like videos, images and other forms of graphics-related features are adding more and more server requests, could slow down the application massively. Having all these assets internally hosted on your native server would be the first step in creating a server-ready app.
Is It A Native Development Route?
Absolutely not. Creating server-ready apps is a form of optimisation which can be done anytime before the launch of the actual piece of software/native web application. As listed above, the first step would be internally hosting all the resources on a dedicated internal server, which may sound like a relatively simple thing to do, but companies like Riot Games (which is a billion-dollar worth game studio) had its own game assets hosted on Activision Servers before 2015. Doing server-related migrations on websites and apps mainly requires Node, Java and Ruby, therefore it can potentially only be done by a senior developer, but it will definitely be quite worth the investment. Many app developers in the UK are implementing server ready apps as we speak.
Theoretically speaking, the idea of a perfectly working server-ready application is pretty appealing, but at the same time, the world of development is forced to confront business departments in order to make this happen. Well, companies like Amazon, Facebook and TESLA's recent remote control application are all internally operating on dedicated servers. These are titans who put their cloud optimisation at the top priority within their Agile (mainly) projects. TESLA's application is a great example, in particular, since it combines multiple server-provided libraries (SLAM-related ones in particular) into one single hosting, therefore doing internal-CDN hosting.
Server-Ready Apps and Data
If there's a trend which has recently contaminated a lot of different business sectors, that'd definitely be the usage of data. With libraries like Tensorflow.js and NumPy, it has become quite easy to implement data gathering related features even in web applications. The problem with such features is the fact that data is stored on external servers from the app's itself. This leads to occasional data loss, lack of precision and many more small and big problems. The usage of a server-ready app for data could also be extremely important if the data gathered from those very apps could be used within other applicational functions, i.e.web personalization and other automated features. The execution of such features, within a development environment that isn't particularly fast when it comes to server requests, could be slow as well.
Timeframes and Effectiveness
Once again, this may sound great on paper but it must be combined to a precise workflow and, if applied to an already existing application, it must follow certain Agile-related procedures in order to work properly. Reshaping an app for server-related features could take a couple of hours if the application is simple, as it will basically be revolving around re-listing the assets internally instead than using CDNs. The usage of Agile, opposite to waterfall, is mandatory compared to Waterfall and other forms of development routes, as it gives chances to check if every individual asset is performing (fast) via server.
The Evolution Of Server Apps and PWAs
Server-related applications will definitely become even more prominent in the nearest future, especially now that mobile apps like Whatsapp, Facebook and Tinder are moving towards a PWA approach to translate their features from mobile to desktop. Progressive web applications are definitely going to become the future of server-ready websites and applications, with an estimated market value within app development companies of $100 million. Google has heavily invested in server ready PWA when they moved all their Rest APIs on an internal server which serves, in fact, all the flagship applications (Maps, Search and so on).
It may seem like going back to internal server hosting for app resources will be a downgrade, after all the work which was done for CDN-based resources but, ultimately, and most importantly given the power of Node in today's server development, this will result in far bigger results, especially for graphics-heavy pieces of application.