I finally got an email from Twitter giving me the green light to use Fabric. Before I go into the service, I thought I’d share the funny little welcome letter I received.
Not the greatest first impression for a product being released by a multi-billion dollar company. It looks like it was sent to me accidently by a Nigerian businessman looking for someone in America to give his millions to. Luckily the experience improved from there 😉
Fabric attempts to “stitch together” all the components required in building great applications such as crash analytics, managing builds, sign-in, and ads. The latter two obviously tie in directly with Twitter’s business model and exposes what the end-game for this free service is; I don’t think it calls into question the value or like-ability of Fabric. As long as the free service they offer works well, there are no tricky “catches”, and it is doing more to help the developer than pushing Twitter’s agenda I’m happy.
First Take on Using Fabric
I am really digging how well they integrated the service with my Mac and XCode. The guided installation tour was amazingly smooth. Usually, when a tool attempts to integrate multiple platforms locally on a client (e.g. Mac OS, XCode, Fabric, iTunesConnect) the solution must take into account a multitude of unknown variables between them. Managing those variables makes it difficult to create a robust, smooth, experience, but for me it worked seamlessly (no pun intended.)
Fabric comes as an application you install on your machine and (for Mac) it is added to your menu bar alongside other tools like Dropbox, Cloud App, your WiFi indicator and clock.
Once installed Fabric pops open a step-by-step guide detailing what you need to do to integrate the SDK into your project. The built-in guide allows you to select the project you wish to integrate from your project repo along with all the SDK files and lines of code required; it does so elegantly and with minimal clicks. The platform also listens to your XCode build process to make sure you’ve integrated the tool correctly.
After you have successfully integrated the SDK, a dashboard becomes available for your project to monitor your integration.
Another feature I found quite interesting was their beta testing integration. I’ve been using the newly released Apple TestFlight integration which is a major improvement to both Test Flight (a recent Apple acquisition) and Apple’s iTunes connect provisioning service. Fabric has built in their version of a testing platform that allows you to invite beta users to test your app through Crashlitics. I’ll give it a shot, but the new Test Flight and XCode pre-release workflow is pretty damn easy, and Fabrics layer doesn’t seem to be adding much value.
I’ll keep playing with the platform but as of now, with the projects I am working on, the Crashlytics is the only thing I’ll be using from the suite; followed by Twitter login. I am curious to see how much using this SDK will interfere with my usage of the FB login SDK, but I’ll leave that for another post.