Former Salesforce.com Exec John Higgins Joins StrongLoop

SAN MATEO, CA–(Feb 27, 2014) – StrongLoop, the leading provider of products and services powered by Node.js, today announced that John Higgins has been appointed vice president of business development. He brings more than 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and business development in both mature and growth-oriented technology companies. In this new position, Higgins will be responsible for expanding the company’s growing ecosystem of partners and customers.

“John is an experienced business leader with a deep understanding of the software and cloud technology markets,” said Issac Roth, CEO of StrongLoop. “His impressive track record at industry leaders such as Salesforce.com will prove invaluable to growing the StrongLoop ecosystem and expanding our customer base.”

Over the past last 20 years, Higgins has held numerous executive management positions where he was responsible for new business model deployments and dynamic market penetration. Most recently, he served as vice president of business and corporate development at AppFog (now CenturyLink) where he worked closely with partners to create a highly successful bottom up go-to-market strategy prior to the company’s sale to CenturyLink. Previously John was a sales executive at Salesforce.com where he drove software sales strategies and field sales management across multiple industry sectors. Prior to his position at Salesforce.com, Higgins held executive positions at Helpstream, Sigma Dynamics, Siperian and e.Piphany.

“With more than three million developers downloading every new release of Node.js and most of the Fortune 500 exploring mobile and embedded device use cases powered by Node.js, it’s an exciting time to be joining StrongLoop,” said Higgins. “StrongLoops’s approach to delivering the best user experience and most comprehensive operational, analytic and support platform for Node.js makes them stand out in the industry, and I look forward to working with the team to deliver the promise of connecting enterprise data to any device anywhere.”

About StrongLoop, Inc.

StrongLoop Inc. provides enterprises and developers with products and services based on the popular open source Node.js mobile application development technology. Launched in 2013 and based in Silicon Valley, StrongLoop was founded by engineers who have been contributing to the open source Node.js project since 2011. The company is funded by Ignition Partners and Shasta Ventures. In addition to technical support for Node.js, StrongLoop delivers an open source Node.js API framework optimized for mobile and web. The company also offers a performance monitoring and DevOps console for clustering, optimizing and debugging Node applications. StrongLoop runs on all major operating systems and eight clouds including Amazon, Heroku, Rackspace and OpenShift.

For more information, visit http://strongloop.com.

Should My App be Native or Hybrid? Depends on Who is Asking

It is a pretty common occurrence these days that we see news about the current trends of native apps versus HTML5.  Talk about a lot of hand waving and generalities!  Let’s first clarify the categories:

  • Native comprises predominantly iOS and Android apps, but also includes Blackberry and Windows.
  • HTML5 is actually two categories: mobile web (think m.yourcompany.com) and hybrid mobile web apps.

HTML5 is on the decline!

recent InfoWorld article (referencing a Forrester research paper) concludes that HTML5 is “no silver bullet” because, “… HTML5 apps are known to be slower than native mobile apps and take longer to develop and test.”  The InfoWorld article identifies the main culprit as HTML5 support in mobile web browsers due to bugs and slow updates.  The article also cites a slight decline in developer interest in HTML5 from the quarterly Appcelerator / IDC survey of 6,698 developers. The article does acknowledge that HTML5 may be suitable for a subset of apps like “internal lines of business.”

HTML5 is on the rise!

A different article on ReadWrite by Matt Asay concludes just the opposite: developer interest in HTML5 is increasing.  Based on a survey of 7,000 developers (Vision Mobile’s Developer Economics report for Q1 2014), HTML5 mindshare climbed from 52% to 54% while iOS declined from 56% to 52%.  The article does a great job in breaking down the demographics and economic motivational forces at play; such as how iOS apps still drive a bigger share of revenue for developers.

Who to believe?

What to make of all of this?  First, sample set sizes and survey results can widely vary—duh.  One wonders if the 6,698 Titanium developers are losing interest in HTML5 because of their experience with Appcelerator’s toolset? Why this is happening doesn’t have a direct answer, yet. For every report showing one thing, there seems to be another that can show the opposite.

StrongLoop’s position around this dichotomy centers around the following:

  • HTML5 is not a panacea for the cross-platform challenge in mobile and does not fulfill the “one size fits all” dream through responsive web
  • The right “platform” of choice for your individual development effort is totally irrelevant without examining your use cases
  • What is truly important depends on who you are and your mobile strategy and needs

Let’s decide for ourselves

Take a look at this HTML5 compatibility chart for mobile features.  At first glance your initial impression may be how fragmented the features and capabilities are in each of the listed platform.  Lots of checkmarks all over the place.  But then when one runs down the list of HTML5 features you really wonder which are more “mainstream” or foundational features (such as CSS3 support) versus more specific to a use case like for real time communication streaming (such as WebRTC).  Furthemore, are we talking every mobile browser listed?  If not, the cross section that actually matters becomes even smaller.

When deciding on the platform of choice for whether to go native, mobile web or hybrid, taking your use case and cross referencing it against the wide capabilities of the HTML5 feature set geared to mobile probably leads to a much small intersection that what is listed at large especially on a per app basis.  Does your typical consumer mobile banking app from the likes of Wells Fargo require bi-directional support offered by websockets?  How about web audio?  Does your typical consumer web radio app like Spotify?  Your answer and your intersection of use cases to features are going to heavily depend on your intended use cases.

Finally, let’s make the biggest distinction: are we talking about the consumer-facing applications that are used to make money like Angry Birds where the app is the company?  OR are we talking about the enterprises who need to extend their core functionality into mobile, whose mobile strategy is to maintain the same level of user engagement as what they have waning in the web world.

Conclusion

Having gone through the exercise above and absorbing the context of what really matters, it’s clear that it depends on who’s asking and what their use cases are.  At StrongLoop, we believe for most enterprise use cases developing cross-platform hybrid apps provide the greatest flexibility, re-use, and most importantly ability to leverage existing web developer resources and skills.  We’re pushing the envelope for full-stack JavaScript solutions for mobile development with efforts like BACN (Bootstrap, AngularJS, Cordova/PhoneGap and Node), powered by the open source LoopBack API server.

What’s next?

 

 

Beyond Node.js v0.12: Thoughts on a Roadmap for the Future

The StrongLoop team has received a lot of feedback from the community in the past year and we have been giving it a lot of thought lately. We’ve been asking ourselves, “How can we as a company, individual developers, and members of a community best contribute to Node so that it benefits everyone? From individual developers to customers to the ecosystem of vendors offering services and products around Node?”

The result is this post where I’ve collaborated with colleagues both inside and outside of StrongLoop to try and articulate where we think StrongLoop can be of most use in helping the community take Node to the next level.

Of course, we aren’t speaking for the project’s gatekeeper or the community as a whole. We are putting this forward as members of the Node community so that you may better understand where we intend to focus our development efforts in the future.

A future ruled by APIs and JavaScript

As Node’s feature set has evolved over the years and its community has grown, Node has emerged as the prefered technology for the “front-edge.” These front-edge use cases include:

  • Single-page web apps
  • Embedded devices and sensors
  • Apps requiring real-time capabilities
  • API servers – the “glue” that binds devices to backends and services

We think the requirements of these use cases are going to naturally gravitate developers to programming that is ruled by APIs and JavaScript.

Expand to read more about what’s going to keep Node as the go-to technology for the front-edge...
  • The ability to write apps that are isomorphic: JavaScript that runs in the browser, on the device and on server means a greater opportunity to reuse not just code, but also the skill sets of developers. Node means every JavaScript developer has the potential to become a server-side developer. Full-stack JavaScript continues to pick up in popularity with examples in the MEAN and BACN stack.
  • Assume devices will sometimes be offline: Node can help facilitate the syncing of data on devices who aren’t always connected to a backend.
  • Devices talking to devices: As we rapidly approach an era where there will be more devices and sensors passing data between each other than human initiated data exchanges, Node’s evented capabilities shine in helping make things like connected cars and intelligent home automation devices possible.
  • Fully-featured SDKs: Make it easy for developers who are familiar with native platforms like iOS and Android to integrate Node into their applications without forcing them onto a steep learning curve.

What follows are the opportunities and challenges we believe exist for developers and organizations alike, interested in taking Node to the next level.

Read more

What’s New in the node-inspector v0.7 Debugger

The last three months were great for Node Inspector. We have received a number of pull requests from the community, and the list of authors has grown by 50% to 28 people. Thank you!

node-debug replaces slc debug

Do you remember the blog post announcing the first Blink-based version of Node Inspector? It mentioned a handy tool that can set up your debugging session in one command: “slc debug”. We have decided to move the implementation of “slc debug” to Node Inspector and thus make it available to all users (see the pull reqest #305). This move will hopefully improve the unfortunate situation where there are at least three competing modules:

…with each one having it’s own advantages and shortcomings.

Quick Start

First of all, don’t forget to install the latest Node Inspector (v0.7.0 or later):

$ npm install -g node-inspector

Now you can start debugging your app.js script by running

$ node-debug app.js

This is what happens behind the scenes:

  1. Node Inspector is launched in background
  2. Your script is started via node –debug-brk app.js
  3. The Node Inspector page is loaded in your default browser

Please note that node-inspector works in Chrome and Opera only. You have to re-open the inspector page in one of those browsers if another browser is your default web browser (e.g. Safari or Internet Explorer).

Now, let’s take a look at what’s new in this release…

Read more

Improved StrongLoop CLI and node-inspector Integration

The StrongLoop CLI allows command line access to StrongOps and other StrongLoop components like the LoopBack API server and the strong-supervisor module, which helps you manage the stopping and starting of servers.

It’s pretty useful, but when there is a chance to upstream useful features to community projects, we try to make it happen.

The “slc debug” command is a wrapper around the node-inspector debugger that starts node-inspector, starts the application to debug, and opens a Chrome browser window with the debugger running in it. Node-inspector maintainer, Miroslav Bajtos, has now pulled this code out and contributed it to the module. The first pull-request is here for those interested, and it has been published to npmjs.org as node-inspector 0.7.0, check it out!

For people used to calling “slc debug”, don’t worry, it hasn’t gone away. The slc command from strong-cli is becoming more “git like”. Instead of having code in the tool itself, it spawns external tools whenever possible to do its work. In this case, “slc debug” continues to exist, but now works by calling “node-debug”. Yeah!

In the process, the command was improved a bit, it now defaults to breaking on the first line (the old ‘slc debug –suspend’ flag), and a few other changes. Check out the docs for the current command syntax.

Use StrongOps to Monitor Node Apps

Ready to start monitoring event loops, manage Node clusters and chase down memory leaks? We’ve made it easy to get started with StrongOps either locally or on your favorite cloud, with a simple npm install.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 3.25.40 AM

What’s next?

  • Check out Sam Robert’s blog to learn how to debug clustered Node apps using node-inspector
  • Check out Miroslav Bajtos blog to learn about what’s new in the latest release of the node-inspector 0.7 debugging module
  • Ready to develop APIs in Node.js and get them connected to your data? We’ve made it easy to get started with LoopBack either locally or on your favorite cloud, with a simple npm install.