This post was originally published at How to Deploy and Manage your Ext JS and Other HTML5 Apps

How to Deploy and Manage your Ext JS and Other HTML5 AppsLast week, we held a webinar on Sencha Space 1.2 to provide an overview of the challenges around application development, deployment, management, and security that developers and IT professionals in the enterprise must address. We demonstrated Sencha Space extensively and showcased one of the marquee features of the latest release: integrated support for desktop applications in our platform — a major step forward in addressing key app development challenges that include:

  • Developing multi-device, cross-platform applications in an efficient, cost-effective way
  • Delivering applications to the right user on the right device at the right time
  • Securing sensitive application data end-to-end
  • Retaining control over applications and data over their lifetime
  • Having to publish enterprise applications through consumer app stores

imageExtJS 5 application deployed and running securely in the Sencha Space desktop client

We explored how current application management and deployment technologies provide only partial solutions and introduce unnecessary cost and complexity into the app development and deployment workflow. For example, native packagers like PhoneGap and Cordova are mobile-only, provide no management or security features, leaving these as additional tasks for individual application teams.

Similarly, Enterprise Mobility Management vendors provide device and application management solutions that are mobile-only; they do not address management, deployment, and security issues for desktop applications. Because the mobile device management (MDM) solutions are focused at the device-level, not on individual apps and data, their enforcement mechanisms are too coarse-grained and heavy-handed for the primary use case for which they were originally intended: BYOD. Many employees will not yield control of their personal phone or tablet to an IT professional due to privacy concerns. For the extended enterprise BYOD use cases — providing app access to partners, contractors, and consultants — these solutions are a total non-starter because a non-employee business collaborator is even less likely to accept MDM solutions on their devices than a full-time employee would be.

These vendors also provide application management features — again for mobile devices only — and enforce policies in a more fine-grained way. These management features revolve around two approaches: app wrapping and native SDKs. Both of these approaches deliver no value without requiring developers at least to rebuild their application. At worst, these solutions require developers to re-code their applications to explicitly insert proprietary management and security hooks into their apps’ source code.

Consumer browsers support smartphones, tablets, and desktops, but provide no management, security, or API access to native OS/hardware capabilities.

Sencha Space addresses all of these challenges by providing a managed runtime environment for HTML5 applications on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. This approach provides the following benefits:

  • Eliminates the need for native packaging, multiple code bases across platforms, and app store deployment
  • Provides a single solution for developing, deploying, and managing multi-device applications on desktops, tablets, and smartphones
  • A consistent, modern, high-performance HTML5 runtime environment and SDK that make it easier to develop rich, secure applications for any supported device

If you weren’t able to attend the live webinar, watch the recording to see these capabilities in action. In addition to doing demos to show how Space can help organizations develop, deploy, and manage applications and users, we showed how you can build an application in Ext JS 5, which supports both tablets and desktops, and use Sencha Space to grant and revoke access to applications instantly over-the-air to any tablet or desktop.

imageAdding an application and deploying to users in Sencha Space is instantaneous.

imageSencha Space provides a complete manifest of users, their group membership, and their devices. It allows administrators to revoke access to apps and data at the user or individual device level.

Using a single code base and without native packaging or app store deployment, Space can instantly deliver your application to the intended end user on their preferred device. In addition, it provides a secure runtime environment that protects your data, enforces your business and access control policies consistently across all devices.

imageA single ExtJS 5 application running unmodified in Sencha Space on both a Windows desktop and iPad.

We also demonstrated extensively the many new APIs we introduced with Sencha Space 1.2 and how they help developers build rich, complex applications. We encourage you to explore the Space APIs more on your own and discover these benefits for yourself.

You can also see how Space can help developers to simplify remote debugging of applications on both iOS and Android with a debug version of our client application that provides real-time introspection of a running applications. Learn more about this powerful developer productivity capability in the Space docs.

imageSencha Space provides a powerful remote debugging capability to help developers quickly troubleshoot apps.

We answered a few audience questions during the webinar, but we wanted to follow up on the rest. I’ve included responses to the remaining questions here.

Q: How does Space facilitate offline applications?

A: Space supports the HTML5 app cache mechanism and provides a rich set of APIs for storing large volumes of sensitive data on devices using strong encryption. Future product enhancements will augment Space’s flexibility to handle offline use cases.

Q: Can Space management restrict an application to only a certain platform/device type? Some apps may run well on the desktop, but not on mobile devices and vice versa.

A: Space currently does not enforce policy to exclude device types or platforms at runtime. However, Space does provide APIs to determine the device type and OS, so developers can add a small piece of code to filter out unsupported devices. Stay tuned for enhancements in this area.

Q: How does Space manage the app development/upgrade process? Can we deploy a version of an app to QA and then move it to production?

A: Yes. Today, you can deploy different versions of your applications inside of Sencha Space and link them to specific users like your QA team. Once they have completed the testing process, you can then deploy that version of your app to your production users. Stay tuned for upcoming enhancements around application versioning and deployment.

Q: Can Sencha Space access my app’s data? For example, if the admin wipes her org’s data from the device, can Space send the data back to the server?

A: No. The application can explicitly synchronize local data back to the server. However, Sencha secure storage is specifically designed, so sensitive data can’t be recovered from a device unless an authorized user specifically accesses the application during a valid session and after a successful PIN challenge. We are researching secure data sync mechanisms for a future release.

Q: How does Space compare to MBaaS such as FeedHenry?

A: Space is not an MBaaS solution. It provides a managed, secure HTML5 environment and client-side SDK. It does not provide back-end capabilities such as cloud storage sync, server-side API management for applications and social media integration. In addition, Space supports desktops, so it bridges the mobile/desktop divide. Space user management integrations and push notification API are features that enable richer and more secure client-side user experiences.

Q: Does using Space for my apps prevent me from using a consumer browser or native packager too?

A: No. We provide an API, so you can develop your app to easily tell whether it’s running in Space or somewhere else and take the appropriate action.

Watch the webcast recording to see the product demos and learn more about the new features. Keep an eye out for details on the next webinar in this series about the exciting new capabilities of Sencha Space.

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This post was originally published at How to Deploy and Manage your Ext JS and Other HTML5 Apps