Salesforce Mobile SDK v5.1 Live – Here’s What You Need To Know!

The Salesforce Mobile SDK team has been working in overdrive mode for the last few months. While I was still catching up on the changes made in 5.0 release (released in December 2016), there has been substantial work done over the last quarter and v5.1 has been released earlier this week.

For someone who’s followed the Mobile SDK since it’s early days, I believe this release is a major milestone and a massive turning point for developers as it brings several features that turn this open-source Github project into an enterprise-grade development kit.  Read on to know more about what’s changed, why and how it impacts you.

How do you upgrade to SDK v5.1?

If you have to upgrade your apps to the latest SDK, I suggest you follow this post from Richard Whitley. Although he wrote this post for upgrading to v5.0.1, I can confirm the process works the same way for v5.1 as well.

API Enhancements

The biggest limitation I’ve faced over the years is the lack of support to batch REST requests. This has often led to performance issues as API calls would still be fired either sequentially or using an async model – neither approach being an optimal solution when compared to the batching strategy that can be implemented on Salesforce side of things. If you do not know how batch REST APIs work, this infographic should help.

Image Courtesy – Salesforce Developers website

Cordova Update

Although I’m an avid supporter of the Apache Cordova framework, every once in a while – the project has a release which is extremely buggy and makes life difficult as a developer. I faced a lot of issues related to performance and camera – not being able to work with certain API versions on Android. The good thing – Mobile SDK v5.1 is tied to the new Cordova release – v6.1.2 which in my testing so far seems a lot more stable and usable.

Updated Toolchain

Of course, if you are still on Mobile SDK 4.x, you also get the benefits of an updated toolchain – regardless of whether you upgrade to 5.0 or 5.1. These include

Android

  • Java JDK 8
  • Gradle 2.14.1
  • Target API version: Android Nougat (API 25)
  • Android Studio 2.2
  • Cordova Android 6.1.0 (hybrid apps)
  • Cordova CLI 6.4.0 (hybrid apps)

iOS

  • iOS 9 (minimum), iOS 10 (fully supported) -> Long due!!
  • Xcode 8
  • CocoaPods 1.10 (minimum)
  • Cordova iOS 4.3.0 (hybrid apps)
  • Cordova CLI 6.4.0 (hybrid apps)

Other Changes

There are several other useful updates and I’d recommend you spend some time going through the release notes to catch up on all of them. I do want to highlight a few more

  • For Android, the SDK can now be pulled as gradle dependency. Read here on how this works. Yeah, I’m equally surprised as you on why this took so long!
  • For iOS, the new SDK finally gets rid of the clumsy calls to CSFNetwork & CSFAction and instead directly uses Simplified native network stack to use NSURLSession & SFNetwork. As they say, KISS IT (Keep it simple – stupid)!

Of course, there would be no denying that considering the scope of changes involved, this would have been a lot of work. My best wishes to the Mobile SDK team on another successful release! You are and will continue to be the unsung heroes of Salesforce mobile development for me!

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