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Mobile App Development Services: 9 Key Questions to Ask Your Potential Provider
Price, level of expertise and estimated time! These are the 3 main criteria that any organization planning to have a mobile app built use to evaluate potential mobile app development services providers, right? And yet, the cost of development sure isn't just about the money. Take time factor and commitment, for instance! They, too, get reflected in your bill. A suspiciously short time estimate might be a signal for you that they'll be skipping a crucial step or two from your app's development process. Also, a “large” team might be a numerous team of enthusiastic and hard-working... junior developers only.  So, how do you properly evaluate your potential mobile app development partner? How do you know for sure whether their services and level of expertise are enough to help them deliver you a mobile app that meets your requirements entirely? Gaining in-depth knowledge about their team members and collecting reviews from former clients are just some of the key steps to take during your “investigation”.  And since no other “evaluation method” could beat an open face-to-face talk, here are 9 essential questions to ask your potential provider:   1. "What's Your Specific Workflow?" In other words: how do they usually approach their mobile app projects? What's their work strategy? What key phases does it include (or exclude)? Everyone's “boasting” with their adoption of the agile development these days, right? Make sure you go beyond the standard talk about the agile approach and ask them to name the specific phases included in their process flow.  A good workflow would need to include at least these 5 crucial steps:   preliminary research on the type of app to be built, along with all its particularities and specific functionalities to be implemented (analyzing the target audience here included) a feasibility study the prototyping phase the UI optimization phase the MVP building phase   Do dare raise an eyebrow if your potential “partner in crime” strives to convince you to go straight to MVP. It's an alarming sign that they're not the professionals that you might want to handle your brilliant app idea.   2. "What Technologies Does Your Team Have a Deep Expertise In?" Another crucial question to dare asking your potential app development services provider whether:   you've already started working on your app and you're now just outsourcing some aspects of your project; it's vital that this team should be proficient in that particular technology that you're currently using in your project   you haven't yet started your project and you haven't yet chosen the mobile app development technology(s) that will be powering it either; it's crucial to know then how easily this team of mobile app developers can adapt to a new technology along the way   3. "How Many “X Technology” Developers Are On Your Team? Juniors or Seniors?" Expertise, hard to quantify, but crucial for ensuring that the resulting app will live up to your standards! Therefore, once you've dug through their never-ending list of technologies that they have a hands-on experience of, go deeper with your “investigations”. Identify just how many developers are familiar with your required technology. Are they mostly junior or experienced developers? And, most of all, do dare to ask for some sort of proof of their seniority levels. Some “blind” CVs or even samples of older code would be perfect.   4. "What Would Be Your Time Estimation on My Project?" And time sure is money! Do keep in mind that the average time invested in a mobile app development process is of 4-6 months. Compare the time estimate that this potential mobile app development services provider gives you with this “average time” for developing an... average mobile app. Next, ponder on their estimate a bit:   if they commit themselves to delivering you your app faster than their competition, then you might want to put their offer on top of your list if their shorter development time is counterbalanced by a higher price, don't rush to take them off your list!   A higher price might as well be a proof of the seniority level in their team. As well as of an efficiency-boosting workflow that they may be leveraging within the company.   5. "Does Your Portfolio Include Any App Development Projects Similar to Mine?" And by “similar” I definitely do not mean “identical”. Are they familiar with your industry? Have they implemented the same functionalities in some of their previous app development projects? Such as integrating a particular payment gateway, for instance? Have they been working mostly with start-ups or enterprises?    6. "Any Former Clients' References for Your Mobile App Development Services?" Why should your “research” be any different than that of a potential customer? Someone looking to make a purchase, who usually conducts a multi-leveled research: forums, customer reviews etc. Therefore, one of the key criteria when evaluating your mobile app development services provider is their former clients' references. Dare to ask for such recommendations and read client reviews on research company sites, such as, for instance. They do a wonderful job combining multiple evaluative metrics for identifying the leading companies in various industries (interviewing former clients being their no.1 research technique)  Ask questions about some of their past projects: the challenges they faced, solutions that they've come up with, time invested in those projects etc.   7. "How Much Will My Project Cost? And What Does The Price Tag Cover?" For putting a price tag on is equally important as knowing from the very beginning precisely what services your “bill” would include. Speaking of which, here are some of the fixed aspects that you should make sure that will get included in that price estimate:   research & preliminary consultancy UX prototypes, mockups design mobile app development project management all infrastructure costs guarantee licenses   Also, a key parameter to use when you're “weighting” their cost estimate is the seniority level of the developers that will be assigned to your project.  Since their proven experience and expertise would automatically influence the price. If the given price is suspiciously low, you might want to question those developers' overall level of expertise. Which, in the end, might lead to longer development times. So “cheaper” might turn out to be... more expensive actually.   8. "What Files Will I Be Given Access to During the Project?" Transparency is a strong indicator that this might just be the mobile app development company that you want to partner with. Don't hesitate to ask about the files that you can access during the project. Wanting to know what's going on, at every stage of your future app's development process, is only legitimate. And speaking of the files that you should be entitled to have easy access to, let me mention just a few:   time reports weekly updated staging and production environment source code test environments/demos the project management's dashboard itself (whether it's Jira, Taiga or maybe Trello that they're using)   The more involved you'll be in the process, the quicker you'll detect issues that you dislike or simply specifications that you'd like to create. And the more chances will be for the final product to meet your requirements entirely!   9. "How Do You Communicate With Your Clients Throughout The Projects?" And probably this is precisely the question that you should be starting your “interview” with. Knowing what:   communication tools they'll be using (Slack, Rocket) what project management boards what time you can contact them at, their overall availability and response times the calls' frequency' how often you'll be getting in touch with the team working on your project … is vital. Zero or poor communication and timeliness risks to turn all expertise, efficiency-enhancing workflow, conveniently low price and short development times into... nothing but “details”. What if you want to make some recommendations? Or to inform the team about some late scope changes? What if the team itself needs further clarifications from you? Now it's the perfect time to express your expectations when it comes to this part of your future collaboration: communication. And also, to have your doubts if the potential app development services provider doesn't seem too open to implementing your suggestions. To committing itself to frequent calls and so on.   The END! These are the 9 crucial questions to ask or the 9 things to look for in a new mobile app developers company that you consider collaborating with. Would you have added a few more? If so, what other questions? What is your own criteria when you're evaluating potential development teams in order to assess if they're the right fit for your app project?  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 10'2018
MuleSoft Alternatives: 7 Other Integration Solutions You Might Want to Consider
Here's where you probably stand now: you need to integrate all your on-premise systems or cloud (or both) applications and to automate them in a perfectly orchestrated infrastructure! And you're asking yourself: “Should I go with Mulesoft's capabilities?” “What if I evaluated other integration solutions, as well?” “What are my other options?” “Which are the Mulesoft alternatives?” Since it's been a while since Mulesoft's Anypoint Platform's been competing with other technologies for users' preference in the enterprise integration software landscape. And competition sure is fierce, and so is your paradox of choice:   each technology comes with its own type of infrastructure  … geared at delivering integration as a service each one's packed with specific capabilities, designed to meet particular integration needs   MuleSoft Anypoint Platform: A Few Words A comprehensive, yet succinct definition would go something like this: MuleSoft provides companies with a next-generation integration platform (Mule ESB & CloudHub) for connecting all their systems (SaaS and enterprise apps) both in the cloud and on-premise. “And how does it work?” “What can you achieve by using it?” You might then ask yourself. Here's my three-version answer to your legitimate questions:   MuleSoft manages and secures the continuous data flow between all the existing systems in your organization it provides your team with self-serve exiting APIs, thus supporting their innovative initiatives it practically unlocks data via APIs, “injecting” it in the indicated external apps and systems from your enterprise infrastructure   Now, if I am to briefly point out some of MuleSoft Anypoint Platform's biggest advantages:   it enables you/your team to deploy your application on cloud with utmost ease it enables your team of developers to easily put together some truly complex orchestration flows: all it takes is some drag & drop on the user-friendly dashboard the containers that it provides and its conveniently simple, user-friendly graphics can only streamline developers' workflow even more it supports interaction with other platforms via web or REST services it complies with all major connection and data representation standards it enables simple and fast APIs exposure    And by far one of the biggest edge that Mulesoft has over its competitors: It's an integration platform that enables different existing apps and systems to connect with each other, acting as a bridge transporting data back and forth between them; and this data flow takes place within your enterprise or across the internet Mule ESB still is one of the most easily (and widely) integrated applications. And now, it would be only fair to point out some of MuleSoft's limitations, as well, right?   it is particularly suitable for complex integration scenarios (since it supports Java code, as well) in short: you'll need to consider having an experienced Mulesoft developer (with some Java background) in your team you might want to be able to interact with MuleSoft support right from the design environment (which is not yet possible) when it comes to dataweave mapping, you'll need to ensure, yourself, that all the fields are mapped, by inserting the right names; you can't rely on some sort of control mechanism to double check that for you instead structuring a process hierarchy is not exactly “piece of cake”, since you'll have to set up flows and sub-flows in the very same XML configuration files   Apigee: One of The Most Popular MuleSoft Alternatives And what makes it such a popular alternative (and implicitly one of MuleSoft's biggest competitors) is the fact that almost all components can be scaled horizontally! But there's more! More reasons why many companies choose Apigee over MuleSoft when looking for the best integration software to “power” their own integration scenarios:   it provides very good documentation (plus a blog), covering all the details of the most “popular” failures and valuable advice on error handling it empowers new users to get started right away, with very little guidance needed: they get to develop a Proxy and APIs right away a conveniently easy to use console   Tibco BusinessWorks Another “rival” that the Anypoint Platform needs to share its worldwide fame with!  Here are some of the strong points that make Tibco BusinessWorks the no.1 choice for plenty of enterprises looking to seamlessly and effectively interconnect all their systems:   it comes “packed” with lots of integration options: you get to test and to troubleshoot the whole process within the designer, you can write (a file activity), then automate a process in just a few hours and to easily deploy it in the Tibco Administrator it's conveniently easy to monitor it handles data manipulation and integration of heterogeneous systems remarkably it makes transforming and analyzing data, as well as managing error cases, ideally quick and simple you get to enable communication between multiple different systems without the need to set up custom APIs short time to market it supports legacy system integration it supports REST services development   JitterBit What is JitterBit's edge over Mulesoft? What convinced me to add it to this list of “MuleSoft alternatives”? It's easy to use! It's a simple way for enterprises to connect all their apps, devices and critical data that they need to get “flowing” for running their business! "Simplicity" and "ease of use" are the 2 keywords to describe this integration solution. And here are some more reasons why JitterBit's on this list:   it's easily customizable it's built to connect a lot of different sources and targets in the “data flow” circuit (SQL  DB, Salesforce, CSV, iSeries, IBM) it enables your team to set up operations (and to apply changes to, when needed) quick and easy, so you can leverage your entire infrastructure within minutes not only that it sync data collected from multiple different systems, but it uses multiple data formats, as well (both for intake and output), which takes the burden of writing custom ETL scrips off your back no steep learning curve   Zapier How can Zapier here, one of the Mulesoft alternatives, meet your integration needs?  It empowers you to automate tasks performed between other online services: Gmail, Salesforce, Basecamp, 249 etc. And here's how Zapier's “arsenal” of features and functionalities looks like; the ones that you get to tap into for connecting and automating all your apps nice and easy:   automated & connect applications automated workflows easy automation developer platform fast build processes    Informatica Cloud Data Integration You sure aren't nickel and dimed in choices when it comes to data integration tools! Informatica Cloud Data Integration is yet another full-featured, complex solution to consider:   it comes with all the capabilities needed for connecting all your on-premise/cloud applications and make them share data no matter what type of apps, since it supports NetSuite integration, Eloqua, Salesforce, Workday, Marketo, SAP, Oracle it enables you to extract data from your ERP systems, to transform it and then to “inject” it into your operational data stores   Oracle Integration Cloud Service As its name “divulges”: it's Oracle's cloud-based integration platform that we're putting into the spotlight here! Similar to the Mule app since it, too, provides a data environment in exchange, Oracle ICS's “job” could be summarized as follows: It provides a user-friendly web-based interface which makes possible for “citizen integrators” to peform basic mapping between the interconnected (cloud) applications. But the 2 key features that turn it into one of the Mulesoft alternatives are: unlike Mule, Oracle provides an enterprise information integration, too (EII) it provides several different adapters, suitable for a wide range of cloud-based business applications Practically, with just a few clicks, you can set up a connection to the Oracle Sales Cloud, SAP, RightNow, Salesforce, Oracle E-Business Suite and the list can go on... And now to mention just a few more of Oracle's strengths:   it's easy to use (and I've just mentioned here its user-friendly web-based UI) it takes just a few clicks to access your integration platform; no need to bring your own servers or software to the table   MuleSoft vs Dell Boomi Not only that it “spoils” its users with an easy to use UI, drag and drop convenience for creating new processes and excellent support, but there's a whole “pile” of other features that make Dell Boomi one of the Mulesoft alternatives:   it provides a multi-purpose PaaS integration cloud  cloud-to-cloud integration B2B integration multiple tenant platform SaaS-to-SaaS integration    Furthermore, if I were to highlight its biggest strengths, I'd pick up 3 main benefits that you can reap from choosing it as your integration solution:   getting a simple integration up and running will only take you about a couple of hours great visual interface that will speed up most of your team's tasks you get out-of-the-box connectors to Taleo, Salesforce, plus many other popular SAAS   But (for there is, indeed, a “but”) there are also 2 discouraging drawbacks that I have to point out to you:   the XML split does cause some irritating issues it's overly “picky” when it comes to the data format and the data type that it accepts   Now, if I am to sum up this “MuleSoft vs Dell Boomi” comparison in just one succinct, yet complete phrase, it would have to be the following: While Dell Boomi's geared at providing you with comprehensive solutions for cloud integration, Mulesoft's “specialized” in API-based integration. This is the key difference between the two integration solutions!   In Conclusion  Determine and evaluate your integration needs first! It all boils down to this... And that way before you jump to weighting each one of these integration technologies' strengths and limitations! For it's only after you've defined your needs that you should start looking for the software capable to meet them. ... Read more
Serge Karpyuk / Mar 05'2018
15 Android App Development Tools Essential for Every Developer's Toolbox
Simplify! This is the right way to go if you're “obsessing” over your productivity as an app developer. Declutter your toolbox and keep only the truly essential Android app development tools in there!   But which are they? What are the tools for developing Android applications that shouldn't miss from any developer's personal “arsenal”?  The most effective ones when it comes to helping you:   become (even) more efficient by improving your workflow and thus speeding up your development process develop higher-quality apps And this is where this blog post here comes to “the rescue”! It's a selection of THE fundamental Android app development tools that you should keep at hand (take it as your productivity-boosting toolkit). Ranging from: IDEs to emulators to design tools to game engines … and geared at streamlining your debugging, your performance-checking, they make the best Android developer tools to rely on in 2018: 1. LeakCanary Stay vigilant and alert for detecting any memory leaks in your Android apps right on the spot! But mind this doesn't take too much of your valuable time! Instead, rely on this powerful tool in your developer's toolbox for identifying them. It will take this time-consuming “burden” off your back and alert you any time it tracks down a memory issue threatening your app.  Moreover, LeakCanary provides you with a full stack trace so you can have those memory leaks fixed right away, too. 2. AIDE You'll have a crush on this tool if: you're a beginner, struggling to get started with that innovative Android app idea of yours (and, hopefully, to turn it into the next big thing in terms of Android app development) you're planning to learn Java and Android SDK: it will practically enable you to follow your favourite tutorials with highlighted code and then to get them tested... in real-time, on the very same device! In short: the irresistible advantage of AIDE and the very reason why it's got included in this selection of essential Android app development tools is that it runs on Android! Just imagine it: You get to develop your Android app on your device, nice and easy, then you get to test it... on that very same device! This is the true “superpower” that this development tool provides you with!  Note: don't expect it to be free, for it isn't, nor to “spoil” you with a full load of features.  3. Vysor The power that you'll unlock by including this tool in your smartphone application development process? It mirrors your real device on your PC. And this does turn into a true power if you're one of those developers who hate building their apps on emulators, yet they crave the advantage of using one. There's more! Vysor will even mirror your live app demos on projectors and big TV screens. So, if you think that this functionality matches your own work style, that it streamlines your workflow and helps you create a better app with greater ease, go for it! 4. Stetho Debugging native Android apps will never be the same again! That if you use this open-source platform wearing Facebook's signature here when you go “bugs hunting”.  And not only that it makes your debugging work so much easier, but it's also geared at landing you a much needed helping hand with your: inspecting the SQLite database checking the View hierarchy monitoring network operations A debugging tool that shouldn't miss from your toolkit! 5. B4A, One of “Speed-Injecting” Android App Development Tools  For “rapid development” is what you'll achieve by leveraging this tool's features. And these are: the ability to develop Android apps using the much simpler BASIC programming language  a visual editor for manipulating your views to your liking wireless debugging In short, B4A (Basic for Android) makes such a convenient IDE and interpreter enabling you to create your app in a simpler procedural programming language. Plus, it comes packed with other advanced features to speed up your development process (as above-mentioned).   6. Android Studio The “Holy Grail” of all Android app development tools! Officially it's the IDE for Android.  But in reality, it's your own “Swiss knife” to use as an Android developer! Since it plays multiple roles crucial for your mobile app development workflow: it's a compiler that you get to leverage to create a file system for arranging your app project, to create multiple APK files it's an editor for the programming language that you'll decide to use in your app's development process (whether it's Java, Kotlin, C++...) it's an XML editor (providing you with a “design view”, as well, that will guide you in displaying your app's elements on the screen; crucial for keeping up with Google's Material design guidelines) it also includes the Android SDK itself (yet, the Java SDK needs to be downloaded separately) In terms of pros and cons, do expect a steep learning curve for developing with Android SDK and Java. But once you've got through it, do expect to gain access to unlimited support, to a whole bundle of advanced features and to unmatched integration functionality. From this standpoint, Android Studio is the “can't live without” tool-set for any developer!  7. Codota Does this scenario sound familiar to you? You hit a dead end down your app development roadmap and you need to go over to Github or StackOverflow and have a quick look at some code examples! Well, Codota enables you to do precisely that, but without having to leave your IDE. Talking about speeding up your development process, right?   8. GenyMotion Far gone are the days when GenyMotion used to be “just” the developers' top choice whenever they wanted to create their apps using an Android emulator. It has now grown into a complete platform whose powers you get to harness for: developing your app testing it deploying it Do consider it as a “candidate” to be included in your own toolbox of Android app development tools essential in your work this year. 9. Visual Studio with Xamarin These days you get Xamarin right out of the box with Visual Studio, Microsoft's IDE. One supporting a whole wide set of languages: JavaScript, C#,, and others, too, via extensions. And what's the “deal” with Xamarin? What makes it “essential” for your toolbox?  it enables you to develop cross-platform apps using C# (have you been “toying” with the thought of developing an app both for Android and iOS using the very same code?) … to test them on different devices that are connected to the cloud A word of caution: accessing and working with Java libraries isn't really “a child's play”, do be prepared for that; also, you need to accept that you'll be losing some of Google's cool integrated features and support. 10. Source Tree It makes any smartphone app developer's trump card making his work on Git as efficient as it can get! Basically, this tool's aimed at making Git cleanly organized so you can visualize all your work there — commits, changes, branches — in the form of an easy-to-navigate-through structure. And all this without the need to use the command-line! One that can only boost your productivity, as it helps you sweep through Git with great ease! 11. Fabric, One Those Powerful Android App Development Tools You Should Be Using And its power lies in all the capabilities that it's been invested with. It provides you with a whole set of features designed to help you: develop deploy extend … your Android apps' functionality fast and easily.   12. Eclipse Once developers' very first choice when they started selecting the Android app development tools to build their toolboxes with. This until it got “dethroned” by Android Studio! And yet, Eclipse should still be part of your toolkit. It's an IDE that supports a wide range of programming languages after all (Java with the Android SDK here included).   Note: still, do not expect it to get you “spoiled” with out-of-the-box support, like Android Studio does, so be ready for some setting up work! 13. InstaBug A tool that takes “bug hunting” to a new level! Practically it empowers users to share video, audio recordings, screenshots, detailed logs whenever they detect anything suspicious in your app. And these user-generated “signals” become priceless in your constant attempt to keep your app bugs-free! 14. Unreal Engine If it's a cross-platform, feature-packed game app that you're planning to build, this game engine might turn out to be your best “ally”! Here's why: it provides easy support for Android it's open source when it comes to graphics, it does have an advantage over its “rival”, Unity   15. Takt Team up with Takt in your major lags and bugs detecting “adventure”!  This library will help you check your app's FPS thoroughly and spot down bugs right in its development phase.  For you don't want them to linger on in there once your app's being used in its production phase, now do you? The END! I know what you might think right now: Each developer's toolbox depends solely on his/her preferences, goals and personal work style. It's perfectly true and I've anticipated this “objection” myself. Therefore, I've grouped here only those truly essential Android app development tools that one should “carry” in his/her toolbox. ... irrespective of his work style and goals set for his/her app. ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Feb 24'2018
When & Why Use RESTful Web Services Instead of The Traditional SOAP-Based Ones?
When to use REST? What are some practical use cases of REST web services? How does it work? What's the “catch”, why has this new architecture for web services had such an impact on the industry? How is it any different/better than SOAP? Why use RESTful web services after all? “Tormented” by all these questions related to the REST approach/alternative to building web services? Relax now, you'll have your answers in a minute (or a few seconds)! For here are the REST-related “enigmas” that I commit myself to solving in today's post:   What is REST and how does it work? Which are the specific use cases for building web services using the REST architecture? What's driving it? Why is this technology increasingly popular? What sets REST apart from the traditional SOAP approach to web services? When NOT to use RESTful web services?   And now... the answers that I promised you:   What Is REST and How Does It Work? Here are some valid answers to all your “What?” questions: “What is REST?”, “What are web services”, “What are RESTful web services?”   REST is the native API of web browsers REST is how one creates web services web services are... the future of everything: creating and publishing APIs that would do CRUD (create, read, update and delete) … thus making machine-to-machine communication possible, making apps' functionality accessible to multiple users and external systems RESTful web services are those resources on the web that can be tapped into for retrieving certain information   “And how does it work?” First of all, we should get one thing straight: REST is not an official standard! It's more of an architectural style, the one organizing a network of systems, where the “systems” are basically servers and clients. Here's how it works: Clients make a request to the web servers; the latter process it and, in response, return the appropriate web pages. And in this request-and-response equation, RESTful web services are the very resources on the web that servers tap into for retrieving the requested data. Does this definition shed any light on your RESTful web services-related questions?    Why Use RESTful Web Services? Here's the actual context where the RESTful web services technology emerged and “grew like a beanstalk”, with a huge impact on the industry: The web “exploded” and, starting with web 2.0, the interaction between websites and client apps, between multiple sites, multiple devices, sites and databases, became increasingly intense. And more and more “demanding”, calling for a new technology that could handle and streamline this communication taking place on the web. And here's where web services and REST, a new way of building them, emerged! The REST architecture is designed to build:   maintainable lightweight scalable    … web services, which make retrieving the data requested and “exposing” all that information far less cumbersome. As compared to the conventional SOAP/XMLRPC web page-scrapping method. Data's being passed on the web, from one website/app/device/database to another, faster than ever these days. Just think about all those websites incorporating Twitter and Facebook content! Or of websites “capturing” data coming from multiple sources: financial information, sales data, online communities... RESTful web services is the technology that streamlines all these intense data “harvesting” processes! This is the answer to your “Why use RESTful web services?” question.   When Should You Use RESTful Web Services? 5 Practical Use Cases There are specific use cases when you should go “the RESTful way”. Adopt this approach to building web services if:   1. In your distributed app it's crucial to keep the coupling between client and server components to a minimum:   you'll need to be able to update your server frequently, without having to update the client software, as well your server's going to be used by multiple clients, yet you don't want them to have control over it   Just make sure you follow all the REST constraints for achieving this kind of basic level of coupling. Maintaining a purely stateless connection will be challenging, but not impossible if you “follow the rules”.   2. It's a custom, on-demand digital product that you're developing Such as an Ubercart or Drupal online store that you're putting together on a remote cloud server:   you set it up create a suitable architecture that would scale the environment if/when this your custom product goes viral   3. You want your game's high scores and user community forums to be displayed both in-game and on the web Let's say that you're a mobile/console game developer facing the above-mentioned “challenge”.  In your practical use case you can:   have your Drupal site publish an API, using Services (thus doing “CRUD” with the data that needs to be “harvested”) leverage a RESTful type of communication with the Drupal site in order to retrieve that data and have it displayed in-game, on mobile/console, too   4. You want to create a user alert system on your e-commerce website One that would alert your customers, via your e-commerce mobile app, whenever a product that they visualized becomes available (or its price drops). Also, you want those alerts to pop up in an iPhone app and on Facebook, too. And the solution is: Your Drupal site (for yes, it's a Drupal site that you own in this scenario) will use Services & a custom module to have the API published. And it's this specific API that the iPhone app and Facebook will use for manipulating that particular content to be shown in the user “alerting” message.   5. You want to provide (paid) access to commercially-controlled data Such as movies, music, stock or trading data. Imagine that you own an event venue and you publish a ticketing API. People (such as ticket brokers) will be charged for gaining access to it. In short: RESTful web services for can be used for all kinds of commercial activities, as well. Just use them to create and to publish the API that will do CRUD with precisely that commercially-controlled data that people are willing to pay for gaining access to!   What Sets REST Apart from the Traditional SOAP Approach to Web Services? Of simply put:  Why use RESTful web services instead of the traditional SOAP-based web services? Here's a list of strong arguments:   with REST, all that intense data interaction is more lightweight; it doesn't weight so heavy on your web server like a SOAP page-scrapping method would with REST, only the specifically requested information gets retrieved, instead of having whole web pages scrapped off the “target” content (like with the SOAP approach) the architecture is way simpler than the SOAP one and it leverages the standards (and protocols) of modern web   And what does this last argument even mean? It means that heavy SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) is shifting to lightweight WOA (Web Oriented Architecture), since these days apps need to tap into a web that's “packed” with REST resources. And so, instead of leveraging a few point SOA services, data gets collected and displayed via millions of granular REST resources. Developing arbitrary apps, that interact over the network, has become conveniently easier. Complex things (systems) get simplified!   When not to Use REST Web Services? There are — as I've just pointed out — use cases when the REST approach is the perfectly suitable one: business-to-consumer apps. But there also are specific cases when RESTful web services don't work so well: B2B apps! Take this practical example here: A bookstore might find it a bit more challenging to make a volume purchase from an online vendor as compared to a regular customer.  It would need to “juggle with” several apps to track shipment, sales, determine re-orders etc. And where do you add that one app might need to be re-entered into other apps, turning the entire process into an overly complex, hard-to-manage one.   The END!  Have I managed to answer your “Why Use RESTful web services?” question or not quite? Or just partially?  Do be honest and, if it's the case, share your other REST inquiries and dilemmas with me! Or point out those use case examples or explanations presented here that you'd like me to shed some more light on. ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Feb 23'2018
Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community: Which One's Best Suited to Your Needs?
So you've made up your mind: it's Magento “fuel” that will be powering your e-commerce website. And now you're facing challenge no. 2: Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community!  Which one of the 2 Magento platform's editions is right for you? What are the key differences after all? Which one's best suited to your current feature needs? And how about your daring goals and growth plans? Which one's scalable enough to accommodate your expansion plans? The quickest/easiest/surest method to “find your match”: confronting your current requirements with each one of the 2 Magento editions' sets of features and functionalities. Note: the method is the same if you're having a Magento vs Drupal Commerce "dilemma" instead, for instance. Then draw the line and just do the math! So, without further ado, let's dig up the:   Magento Enterprise features  Magento Community features  And draw the profile of the “ideal” online store for each one of the 2 Magento editions   1. Is Magento Free? Price Tag vs Value With or without a price tag on. This is the most rudimentary “Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community” comparison that one could make.The first one does come at a price, while the open source version is free to download off the internet and, implicitly, free to use. And now the question that arises is: does the price tag come with added value, as well? Without question! The Magento Commerce edition —  merging, since June 2017, the Enterprise and the Magento Cloud Edition —  comes not with 1, but with 2 price tags on. Along with a heavy load of enterprise-level features and high-end functionalities. And it's your own needs and goals that will tell you whether... it's worth it. Whether a free variant, with basic online selling capabilities or a bulky feature set, with a heftier price tag on, suits you best.   2. Top Magento Open Source Features  The open-source community edition is Magento's downloadable version. And, as you can expect, it provides much of the same functionality, same basic performance and shares the core features with its enterprise counterpart. And here are some of these core features that you can power your e-commerce business plans with and get your functional online store up and running in no time:   modern tech stack regular updates automated code merge payment integrations scalability automated testing flexibility (install the extensions of your choice to ramp up your site's functionality) responsive layout fast product import integrated video & marketing tools integration customizable & mobile-compatible admin dashboard guest checkout registered customers   A word of caution: Determine your site's specific goals and needs right from its planning phases.This because implementing specific functionalities from your “wishlist” might require you to install additional plugins and to craft some custom code.     3. Does Your e-Commerce Business Fit the CE Client Profile? It does if your answer is “Yes” to most of the following questions:   Is it a small-scale e-commerce project that you're starting? Are you planning to keep extension/plugins implementation to a minimum; can you already predict that there will be no need for custom modules in the future? … no need for 3rd party design and web development teams to handle your not so complex site project? Are you looking for an e-commerce platform that should provide you with the basic features needed for getting your store up and running? On a shoestring budget? No plans to grow from a small e-commerce site into an enterprise online store? Or to enter new markets? Is it a versatile platform that you're looking for? One leveraging open source for delivering you a significant load of basic plugins and templates to custom-tune your store with? … and to deliver rich experiences to your customers with?   In short: Magento's open source community edition (CE) is built, from the ground up, with the basic needs of small e-commerce business owners in mind. It's a turnkey solution for small sites. Note: having just a few products doesn't necessarily mean that your site's needs are basic. Therefore, this is no indicator that you should opt for Magento Open Source.   4. Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community: Do You Have Any Expansion Plans? Just think these growth plans through and the sooner the better:   Would you like to enter new markets at some point in the future? Would you like to ramp up and customize your site's current functionality at some point? How much do you want it to grow? Is scalability a critical feature for you?   Do set up your e-commerce goals at this phase of the project! For once you've got your site running on Magento Community (or Open Source), switching to Magento commerce will be more challenging than you expect:   the two editions' code bases are different you'll need to give your website a full redesign the Magento Open Source templates that you will have installed won't work in Magento Commerce   So, take some time to think about the future, your e-Commerce site's future... Since “upgrading” it, later on, to Magento Enterprise, comes with inconveniences and compromises that you'll have to make (e.g. losing some of your team's hard work).   5. Top Magento Enterprise Features  Magento Commerce — the 2-in-1 Enterprise & Cloud edition of the platform — provides you with enterprise-level features right out of the box.  Along with the price tag comes the added value transposed into a set of online selling capabilities that you don't get with its open source counterpart. So, do consider this when you're having a Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community dilemma. Capabilities geared at meeting your enterprise online store's complex demands from an e-Commerce platform. And here are the enterprise edition's top features:   PCI compliance MAP pricing cloud hosting 24/7 technical Magento support, including a dedicated account manager  RMAs visual merchandiser: drag & drop UI and sorting rules for easily organizing your product category pages by variables of your choice (best/newest products, by color etc.) segmentation & targeted promotion features: personalize your customers' shopping experiences full-page caching improved UX: features such as wish lists and gift registry advanced marketing features: it provides you with reward points that you can use for setting up your own customer loyalty programs better performance: expect better page loading times as compared to Magento Open Souce geo-targeting B2B features: create custom catalogs and multiple payment options, set up multiple buyers, create several company accounts etc. content staging enhanced security out-of-the-box: PA-DSS payment bridge, credit card tokenization... separate databases for Product data, Checkout, Order Management: a major performance boost improved tax calculation functionality   In short: Magento Commerce offers you more out-of-the-box functionality as compared to Magento Community, where you'd need to engage in custom coding and extension implementation to have these features “injected” into your site)   6. Go With Magento Commerce If... … you plan to launch a large, enterprise-sized online store or a small-scale one, but you're “nurturing” major expansion plans! In this case, the Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community “dilemma” is an easy one: Magento Commerce (now including the enterprise version, as well) is perfect for you!  For your big, “needy” website site, that you expect to:   accept non-standard forms of payments, too (e.g. check or cash in hand) enrich your customers' shopping experiences with functionalities such as gift registries, wishlists, buy gift cards provide you with advanced inventory management and detailed reporting functionalities, with no need to install any extensions (or to write custom code) for this   … definitely needs a more robust, premium-grade features-packed platform. And Magento Commerce is the one.    The END! So, how about now? Do you find it any easier to decide for one of the 2 Magento editions? Do any of the eCommerce business needs and expectations that I've outlined here match your own? If so, which of the 2 feature sets  —  Magento Enterprise's and Magento Community's — suits them best?       ... Read more
Serge Karpyuk / Feb 22'2018
Which Is The Open Source Document Management System That Best Meets Your Needs?
  The future belongs to those that not only store their heavy load of documents in a conventionally digitized form, but also “maneuver” it with utmost efficiency: have instant access to it, track it, retrieve it, organize it. How? By leveraging the perfectly suited open source document management system! Speaking of which, I'm sure you've already got your “feature wishlist” ready:   it should be easy to learn and to use  it should provide you with version control … with cloud access functionality … with document workflow … with document tagging it should come be equipped with an intuitive, user-friendly interface it should be free   But since it's open-source document management software that I'll introduce you to in this post here, feel free to take this last “wish” off your list! OK, so this is how the ideal, the one-size-fits-all-contexts DMS looks like. But which one's the best for your own business? The one that best meets your specific business needs? Your organization's unique requirements? For narrowing down your choices you should submit yourself to this quick questionnaire:   What type of documents will you be storing through your future DMS? Where will you/your team need to access them? In a single office, across an entire infrastructure of offices scattered around the globe, on mobile devices? Is it a plug & play, a full-featured custom solution that you need, or just the software to meet your needs? Which (your needs) are the “standard” ones, fitting into a particular market. What is your budget?   And while you're still pondering on some of your answers, let me narrow down your choices even more. To a list of 6 document management systems worth your attention:   1. Alfresco, On Top of The List of Any Organization Looking for The Right DMS Geared, from the ground up, to meet the particular requirements of those enterprises having critical documents to store and manage. Therefore, the best answer to your “What Is Alfresco?” question would have to be: "A robust enterprise open source document management system, fueled on open source, powerful enough to automate document-intensive processes within an organization" And here are some of its most “tempting” features:   its complex user role system ensures effective collaboration across large teams/departments robust content repository freedom of customization: feel free to tailor custom workflows and content models to perfectly suit your specific needs its collaboration web interface is geared at boosting team productivity public source code: it leverages core open standards access to a full set of add-ons and community-maintained extensions that you get to extend your DMS's functionality with it seamlessly accommodates any productivity app \that you may want to integrate later on: Google Docs, Microsoft Office etc. Alfresco mobile apps (for Android andiOS)   Should I also point out that NASA and the European Union, themselves, capitalize on Alfresco's:   open standards unparalleled robustness in handling massive amounts of content convenient extensibility unmatched freedom of customization that it “spoils” its users with?   2. LogicalDOC Takes Open Source to a New Level An open-source document management system that comes in two flavors:   Professional Community    A highly versatile one, that can be used in any web browser, perfectly “equipped” to:   handle a significant load of documents boost the team's productivity while enhancing team collaboration, as well   Some of LogicalDoc's top features are:   quick & easy installation and intuitive use  multilingual full-text indexing task manager & events log version control & document searching local file system reporting & statistics task manager & events log Web Services (SOAP & RESTful) import from ZIP archives   And the list is literally an endless one! Do consider this feature-loaded, free open-source document management software when looking for the right DMS to meet your requirements.   3. Seed DMS, A Powerful Open Source Document Management System If for you “the best document management system” means “the most powerful one”, then you might want to take the Seed DMS for a test drive. It's mature enough, so it's already built a strong reputation around it, and it's enterprise-ready. Built to store and share huge loads of documents. And now, here are its other strong points worth your full attention:   real-time collaboration version control  users & groups management HTML documents editing built-in metadata support (author, description, keywords) document review & approval workflow full-text search functionality for creating online presentations  multi-level content directory, which supports +32000 documents    Should I go on? For, the deeper I delve into the pile of Seed DMS features, the more I find. Or even better: how about you give this open-source document management system a chance and see whether these features do meet your organization's particular needs.   4. Feng Office: More Than “Just” a DMS  Why “more”? Because you get so much more than just the “standard” document management and team productivity-enhancing features.  And these additional, beyond the “conventional” functionalities are:   Task management Time tracking Workspace management Knowledge management   Its set of features also include:   automatic alerts & reminders notes calendar timesheet wiki & forum support reports & tags workflow processes task templates   5. OpenKM, A Conveniently Extensible DMS And extensibility, coming from its OpenKM plug-in architecture, is not its only “superpower”. Versatility comes right after since it practically supports:   all web browsers all major DBMS databases all common file types (OpenOffice, PDF, Office, XML, HTML, JPEG etc.)   Moreover, it empowers teams to set their own rules (logic) for automating the documentation process. For example, imagine that you'll need to set up a rule specifically for moving a particular document to a new destination. You can do that with OpenKM! And now, the (almost) full list of features that this open-source document management system has been supercharged with:   workflow OpenMeetings integration document encryption/decryption functionality automatic key extraction antivirus integration web services API OCR integration HTML editor functionality to create new documents leveraging pre-built templates and forms Dropbox integration mobile interface & Google apps synchronization metadata navigator (along with categories, thesaurus, keyword...)   6. Kimios, The Best Alternative to the Heavy Document Management Software If it's an alternative to the robust, heavy “document managing machines” that you're looking for, lightweight Kimios make the perfect fit for your needs. And it's not just its lightness that convinced us to add it to this list of document management systems, but its entirely service-oriented architecture, too (among others). This means that it follows the client-server model: Web client, Kimios for Office, Kimios Explorer, and all the other supported third-parties are connected to the main Kimios server. To its central server, “in change” with exposing the web service layer covering Kimio's features. Speaking of which (this DMS's features):   repository customization using metadata customizable search engine document-centered functionalities: create, delete, update check-in-/out feature version control  user rights management bookmarks documents (along with creating bookmarks and advanced requests functionalities)   And it goes on and on... and on. Note: Kimios does integrate with Microsoft and Windows Desktop environment, but only under commercial license! The END! These are the top 6 open source document management systems that you should consider selecting the right one for you from. And this no matter how your own list of feature needs& specific requirements might look like.  ... Read more
Serge Karpyuk / Feb 17'2018
Mobile App Development Trends in 2018 That Will Redefine the Digital World
That we're witnessing a major shift these days — from web apps' supremacy to mobile apps' domination — is definitely no news. It's been a while since it grew from a trifle into a (digital) world dominating... reality. And so, anticipating which of last year's trends will be growing into “megatrends” and which of the newly emerging ones will be the mobile app development trends in 2018 with the highest impact on the digital landscape … becomes crucial for anyone in the mobile app industry. Should you continue to bid on virtual reality and cloud technology? Is blockchain nothing but a bubble about to burst this year? What place should wearable apps and IoT have in your mobile app development strategy? We've done our research, approached the experts and the authority figures in the mobile app development industry apps and here's what we've come up with: An 8-point list including precisely those high-impact trends to keep an eye on in 2018: 1. Wearable Devices and IoT Are “Exploding”! And So Is Wearable App Development And I'm sure you, yourself, anticipated this: that IoT devices and wearable apps will go from niche to mainstream. With more and more industries adding up to the list of IoT adopters — education, smart health, automotive — and with Apple cutting off the price constraint, it's only reasonable to expect wearable devices/apps explode in 2018. … to expect to see more apps for wearable devices (and not just watches) and an increasingly powerful impact of IoT on mobile app development. Considering that smartphones are needed for controlling IoT devices...   2. Android Instant Apps, One of the Growing Mobile App Development Trends in 2018 It's a fact: Android Instant Apps will be one of those (not so) new trends in mobile app development to be growing like a beanstalk this year! The reasons behind this anticipated growth have a too powerful impact on the users not to turn from a predicted scenario into a... reality of the digital realm:   they're conveniently easy to use: no installation required and yet they're more on the native app's side and they work like websites they use fewer resources they can be accessed from anywhere (WITHOUT installation)   In other words: the border between the realm of apps and the landscape of websites gets even more... blurrier this year.   3. Accelerated Mobile Pages A huge “hit” ever since its “debut”, in 2016, Google's AMP is definitely on the up and up in 2018, too. And no wonder why this open-source initiative — accelerated mobile pages — still “runs the show” and continues to “seduce” mobile app developers: it's a publishing technology (HTML's stripped-down version) geared at boosting mobile pages' performance … practically it injects both sites (on mobile devices) and web apps with high speed … keeping the bouncing rate to a minimum Now, these are strong enough advantages for this trend to be one of the high-impact mobile app development trends in 2018. 4. Predictive Analytics Gains an Increasingly Powerful Influence on Mobile UI/UX What do you think about joining the “gang” of tech giants in the mobile app industry (Google, IBM, Apple, Facebook) and jump on this trend in 2018? Why bother? Well, because: we'll be witnessing a shift from mobile apps as “mere” utilities to apps as integral components of your workflow this advanced software is the “offspring” of AI and machine learning … with a major impact on your customer journey via your mobile app's UI/UX … since it provides valuable predictions related to your business (by leveraging the available data) for you to capitalize on (and to do what it takes to enhance your app users' experience) 5. On-Demand Apps Will Ride The Tide of Popularity How could they not? After all, they're making people's lives easier by simplifying their day-to-day activities, such as: looking for laundry services ordering food looking for cleaning services looking for rideshare and taxi services And not only that on-demand apps will be in... high-demand this year. They'll be one of those mobile app development trends in 2018 expected to “bloom” with new cool features and functionalities: business bots UI/UX enhancements predictive analysis m-commerce facilities 6. Blockchain: Newer Mobile App Development Trends in 2018 With Huge Potential Blockchain has been intriguing, “seducing” and gaining so much good press, that it can't but continue to grow, as a trend, in 2018, too. And it's no surprise why: it provides companies with a shared, unalterable ledger storing their information (transaction histories or bitcoins) presented in the form of blocks … “unalterable” meaning that the info can't be modified unless all the subsequent blocks get modified; which would automatically lead to the entire network's collision A principle of “openness” that continues to “seduce” legit businesses. Businesses that do seize the huge potential of providing transparent access to the blockchain. 7. Dare to/Continue to Bid on Cloud Integration This Year The future of mobile apps and their development is one where the benefits of cloud technology are being (finally) leveraged to their full potential. And here I'm talking about benefits such as: better storage reduced costs in hosting and equipment improved page loading times streamlined operations increased productivity and collaboration And nonetheless: developing mobile apps over the cloud will enable them (the apps) to run seamlessly across multiple platforms. Now that's superpower, don't you think? A huge “leap” into the future of mobile app development software! 8. AR/VR Will Have an Even Higher Impact on App Development Strategies These 2 technologies are already too well rooted in the long-term future of mobile apps that they can't go anywhere else but... UP. AR and VR continued to be developers' trump cards for creating jaw-dropping mobile app experiences. Even so more this year, with all the compatible hardware expected to invade the market. And it's not just the gaming sector that will benefit from augmented reality graphics and videos presented in VR, but others will fall under its “spell”, as well. Here I can only think of the huge potential that these 2 technologies have in the retail sector. Speaking of which, are you think what I'm thinking? About Amazon Go and all the doors that it has opened for other similar apps to steal the spotlight this year? End of the list!  These are, judging by the stats, forecasts, and expert opinions that we've analyzed, the 8 high-impact mobile app development trends in 2018. Also, judging by all the enhancements in hardware: button-less mobile devices more and more powerful chips … and the emergence of a new level of digital speed — 5G — I can't but be certain that these 8 trends here will get turbocharged in 2018. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 05'2018
Docker Image vs Container: Closely Related, But Distinct. What's The Difference?
Welcome to... Dockerland, a place of never-ending confusions! The most frustrating one of them all — for every novice planning to explore Docker — being the “Docker Image vs Container” dilemma. “What, aren't they one and the same concept?” But you know that this is a rhetorical question: you just sense that they're 2 distinct concepts... Yet, you can't really identify the differences: How are Docker containers and images different after all? Now let's clear up the Docker Image vs Container confusion once and for all: First Things First: What's a Docker Image? A file (or file-like... thing) that gets built from a Dockerfile, by running a "build" command.  Moreover — and this is particularly important in defining a Docker image and setting it apart from containers — it's an inert, immutable type of file. A template-like file (you could also imagine it as a snapshot of a container). It's only when started, with the docker command, that a docker image starts producing a container. And since images in Docker tend to grow quite large, they're built on a layered structure (multiple players of other images). This way, only a small “load” of data gets sent when loading images over the network. Wrapping Up:   you can take the docker image as an application that you'd like to run a docker image can't be “running” or be “started”; once the “docker run” command is... run (obviously!), the image grows into a docker container, so... mind the inevitable confusion   Which Leads Us to The Question: “What's a Docker Container Then?” The not 100% accurate, yet generally accepted (even if halfheartedly) definition is:  “A container is a running instance of an image” Now, let me detail... Practically, the very act of running a Docker image produces a Docker container. You won't find a more straightforward explanation than this one! And containers are (or they should be) the very reason why “learning Docker” turned into one of your top resolutions for 2018 in the first place. For they're:   lightweight using fewer resources portable easy-to-be-deployed   … ways of running and managing your applications. If you're fond of analogies, here's one that will undoubtedly help you come up with a clear answer to your “Docker container vs image” dilemma: If a Docker image was a class, then a Docker container would be an instance of a class (a runtime object).  Wrapping up now:   once you start an image in Docker (so once you use the “docker run” command) you basically have a running container of this image in question   a container is created by adding a top writable layer to a Docker image and thus by initializing multiple settings (container name, ID, network ports etc.)   and it's due to that very writable layer, storing all the changes applied, that you can have multiple containers running off the same image; each and every one of them preserving its own distinct data state   Docker Image vs Container: Key Difference Revealed The most significant difference clearing up the confusion is the following: There is a top writable layer setting Docker images and Docker containers apart It's that very layer, storing all write operation corresponding to the containers in question, which:   gets deleted along once/if the container, itself, gets deleted, while the underlying image remains intact   enables multiple containers to share the very same underlying image   Now to better explain the key differences founding this dichotomy, let's reduce everything to a simple, clear-enough (hopefully) formula: a docker image + a docker run command = a docker container (meaning a running instance of the docker image) … a container equipped with its own writable layer and which can get listed via a "docker ps" command Is everything any clearer and simpler to you now?   Or Maybe a Metaphor Example Suits You Best? In addition to my “class vs instance of a class” analogy, let me try now explaining this tricky Docker dichotomy by using a metaphor... or two:   Let's say you have a film and a VHS of (which stands for our “image” in Docker). Then, imagine you'd place that VHS into your “virtual” VCR. In this case, the VCR stands for your Docker container. Better?   Or you could see the Docker image as an executable file on a disk (an app's file); once you run your application, it promptly creates an instance running in its memory. Now that very instance is our metaphorical Docker container.   Have I managed to clear up your confusion or just... deepen it instead?   Docker Image vs Dockerfile: How Do You Set Them Apart in “Dockerland”? Now, let me rewind to the stage where we can't even be talking about containers (not just yet). Where not even Docker images are yet built: the Dockerfile stage. You can take a Dockerfile as a... recipe for creating Docker images. And here's how the “cooking of an image” takes place:   a Docker command is run in that Dockerfile and so an image gets built   Clear as daylight: a Dockerfile is a... file that you create which, in return, creates a Docker image when you run a separate build command.   The END! Do be honest now: have I managed to clear up your “Docker Image vs Container” confusion? If so, then “solving the puzzle” around this dichotomy will make a huge jump start on your Docker learning plan for 2018. Happy learning!             ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jan 23'2018
10 Ecommerce Trends in 2018 To Keep an Eye On, Implement and Capitalize On- PART 1
Ready to.... stare into your crystal ball? To turn your visionary "superpower" on and... get a glimpse of the future of ecommerce? Not the distant future, but the future of 2018. And hopefully, identify the 10 ecommerce trends in 2018 that you should integrate into your digital marketing strategy and start capitalizing on. ASAP, needless to add! Way before they even grow into powerful trends and competition in the digital marketing arena becomes a... throat-cutting one. No need actually! For I've already sneaked a peek into the near future for you (no need to take out your crystal ball anymore, you can jump straight to turning information into gold). And I've identified the trends in the ecommerce industry that will rule in 2018!  Here are your “10 ecommerce commandments”:   1. Unlock Customer Reviews' Full Potential (Even the Negative Ones') Not joking: pushing forward, right into the spotlight, exclusively the positive customer reviews will just lower users' trust in your brand (ironically enough). Perfection generates suspicion, right? So, always “bet on”... transparency. Well, of course, it goes without saying that a significant “load” of honest high scores does have a huge impact on your conversion rate and on your brand's overall reputation.  Now getting back to customer marketing as one of the huge ecommerce trends in 2018: it's a strong proof that you're valuing your users' feedback. Which leads to recurrent shopping and attracts prospects like a magnet: you'll be regarded as a trustworthy, transparency-valuing brand, that does “give ear to” its own customers' feedback. In other words: strive to encourage your customers to review their shopping experiences with you. For instance, a redeemable voucher/discount could make a powerful incentive, don't you think?   2. Add an Augmented Reality Dimension to the Shopping Experience   From a shopping experience to... experiencing shopping. Seize the difference? If the use of VR/AR technology for retail purposes ignited in 2017, it will simply... explode in 2018. It will continue to be one of the most influential ecommerce trends in 2018. So you'd better join brands' “race” for coming up with innovative visual ways of showcasing their products. And, thus, make it possible for your customers to interact with your products while enjoying that true-to-life feeling that... might just turn them into buyers. Whether it's:   a virtual tour of your brick and mortar store a new AR feature integrated into your online store, rivaling Ikea's own “Place” app any other functionality for turning your users' shopping experiences into virtual interactions   … you'd better hurry up and start brainstorming ideas   3. Influencer Marketing Will Only Get More... Influential in 2018 That's right, influencer marketing will continue to dominate the retail landscape this year. It's an increasingly valuable resource for you to tap into. In 2018 even so more, since influencer marketing software comes to streamline your efforts in this direction: it's built to point out to you — the online store owner/digital marketer — precisely the suitable methods to use depending on the specific leads that you're targeting.  Now, this is gold!   4. Community-Led Marketing: One of the Rising Ecommerce Trends in 2018 Watch for the “community-lend brands”! Or, even, better: become one! And it's customers themselves — communities of customers, that start seeing themselves as “brand representatives” — that will be pushing these newly emerging brands right in the very first line this year. How can you, too, capitalize on community-led marketing?  Here are a few sure strategies to turn your customers into your own brand's advocates. Into your marketing strategy's driving force:   set up the perfect contexts on your social media channels for your customers to actually discuss your products   encourage them to share their honest experiences after trying/using your products (user-generated content turned into an incentive for new prospects!)   allow them to actually test your products and let them answer other prospects' questions on your Instagram or Facebook account   A customer-centric approach with a focus on user-generated content! Or valuing user feedback to such extent, that customers eagerly turn into your brand's advocates. This is what community-led marketing comes down to, and this is precisely why it will turn into one of the most powerful online shopping trends in 2018!   5. Don't JUST Be Present on Multiple Channels: Be Consistent! “About 85% of online shoppers start a purchase on one device and finish on another” (Google) Need I add more? Your “cluster” of presences on multiple platforms should turn into ONE consistent presence on them all. Into one seamless visual and UI experience for your customers. And how do you achieve consistency while going omnichannel, omni-device and after you've integrated all your presences on different channels? Here are a few common sense tips and tricks:   from navigation to payment gateways to the design itself to all the branding elements  and social media content   … make sure you stick to the same self-imposed guidelines. It's one and the same entity that your customers should feel like they're interacting with, not one having... multiple personalities.   End of Part 1! Till we meet again to analyze together the other powerful trends identified for you, do take your time to ponder on these first 5 ecommerce trends in 2018.  Have you anticipated them already? Are they relevant enough to your own ecommerce business? Do you find them powerful enough for “fueling” your online marketing strategy this year or are you still a bit skeptical that they're more than just buzzwords?  ... Read more
Serge Karpyuk / Jan 18'2018