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Release Note - MiniApp Platform 3.0.0 (Self Service Mini App)

Hello MiniApp Community!

Today we are pleased to announce the upcoming release to the Platform, version 3.0.0. We have some very exciting changes coming that follow our recent changes in version 2.4.

Most of you have been interacting with the platform via the Mini App Console to manage the versions and publishing of your MiniApp. Today we're introducing Mini App Management. Unlike the console, MiniApp Management is chiefly for Host Applications. However, there are plenty of very important changes for the console as well.

 


Changes to the Publishing Process

The publishing process has been greatly simplified. As current users know, you needed to request the support of the MAP team directly to ensure your published versions appeared in Host Apps such as Link. With the new process, this step is removed. Instead, you will go through a two step process of submitting your version for approval by the Host App, followed by self-publishing at your discretion.

Old MiniApp Publishing Process

product_flow_chart_1.jpeg

New MiniApp Publishing Process

 

flow_chart2.jpeg


 

What's new in the MiniApp Console

You will notice several changes to the MiniApp Console. For a start, in the upper right corner of the panel, you will find a prompt to select your Host App. 

 

3.0_1.png

 

Select the Host App you wish to publish to from the drop down and click Save, and then confirm.

Be sure to select the correct Host App. You may not change this once it is set. If you need to publish to a new Host App, please create a MiniApp.


3.02.png

 

When your version is ready to review by a Host App, you may submit it to the Host App. At this point, the Host App may preview your MiniApp using the changes introduced in our previous update. Once the Host App has reviewed your MiniApp, they will either approve or reject the version, and the state for your version will update to reflect that decision.

If you wish to cancel your submission before it is reviewed, you may do so by clicking cancel.

For approved versions, you may now publish the version. Published versions will be available to the Host App directly without any additional intervention. 

 

Along with these changes, there are several other things of which you should take note.

  1. We no longer support republishing of versions that have been unpublished. A version may be published once. To republish the same codebase, it must be resubmitted and approved by the Host App. 
  2. Host Apps may now remove your published application. These will appear in your list as "Unpublished by host admin"
  3. Host Apps may revoke approval before you publish your version after approval is given. These will appear in your list as "Revoked"
  4. You may only have one version submitted for approval at a time. If you submit a new version, the previously submitted version will appear in your list as "Abandoned"
  5. You may only have one approved version at a time. If another version is approved before you publish a previously approved version, it will appear in your list as "Abandoned"

 


3.0_3.png

 


 

Mini App Management

To support the self-service and approval flow outlined in the diagrams above, we are introducing MiniApp Management. MiniApp Management can be found in each project in Rakuten App Studio. With this new feature, Host Apps can see the MiniApps that are linked to their Host App. Host Apps can filter by state, approve or deny publishing requests, cancel approvals, and even remove currently published MiniApps if needed. 

To start using MiniApp Management as a new Host, you must register to be a Host App within RAS. Each registered Host App will be available to MiniApps as a target Host App.

As a Host App, you can using the previewing feature from our previous update to preview versions that have been submitted for approval, have been approved, or are currently published.

 

3.04.png

The MiniApp Management feature is available for all Projects in RAS. When you open your project in RAS, you will find the feature in the left navigation just above the list of Applications.


3.05.png

Note: Final version will not include "(DEV)"

 


 

What's next?

 

For MiniApp Management

  • Improvements to Host App registration, including custom names.
  • UI Updates to MiniApp Management to reflect more states & simplify navigation
  • Totals for each state in MiniApp Management to make it clearer how many actions you need to take
  • Email notifications for new MiniApp approval requests to all Project Admins & Editors

For MiniApp Console

  • Improved MiniApp Creation
  • Draft & Editable MiniApps
  • Archiving old versions

If you have questions or feedback

We are happy to assist you! Please visit Zendesk to ask your questions.

Please note that during the release of platform v3.0.0, the MAP UI in RAS will be unavailable for up to 2 hours.

Release Note - MiniApp Platform Product Update #3

Hello MiniApp Community!

Hisashiburi. It's been a while since our last update and we have made some great strides since. Most of our services are in production as of yesterday and we'll be updating our documentation to reflect the changes soon.

Platform


Mini App Versioning & Publishing Management 

Note: Renamed to "Mini App Console" 

Recent Progress

Production Launch

We've launched to production! Oh, but this is exciting. It was a long journey to get here. Now that we are, we will be accelerating development on features that have been on hold while we have been preparing for this release. 

As a part of this, we also completed our Security Audit as well. Look for the feature in RAS later today.

Coming Soon

Performance & Bug Fixes

We are looking at various ways of improving the upload experience to prevent intermittent failures in MiniApps that contain hundreds or thousands of files while still keeping upload times to a reasonable level. 

UI Updates

A fresh new style guide will be implemented in the coming weeks. We hope this will make the platform even easier to use.

Mobile Feature Support

Our next major feature will enable a variety of control mechanisms for mobile apps that host MiniApps. We will probably release this in several batches over the next couple months as there is a lot we want to do.

Mini App Editor

Recent Progress

Themes & Templates

Since our last update, two themes and two templates have been implemented. Each theme is a distinct color set for the MiniApp, which you can switch at any time during editing. Changing a theme will update the styles across the app except where you have modified the styles manually. For templates, you can choose from a blank template or a blog template that is built with article content in mind. 

Coming Soon

Production Launch

This is our last major component that's pending release. We're currently working to make sure the proper operations tooling and monitoring is in place to support the tool in production. Once that is complete, we'll launch. Fingers crossed, very soon.

Page Duplication

We have been listening intently to the early adopters and looking at ways to make the editor easier to use. Very soon we will introduce the ability to duplicate pages so once you've got your perfect layout, you don't need to build it again.

Mobile SDKs & Mobile Demo/Testing Apps


Recent Progress

Production Launch

Both iOS and Android SDK version 1.0.0 have been released to production. 

Unique ID

Unique ID integration and examples have been implemented and are ready for an upcoming release.

Coming Soon

External Resources & APIs

In the last two weeks, a lot of progress has been made on this front. We've been handling a number of use cases involving images, fonts, iFrames, and APIs. With APIs often come cross domain restrictions (CORS) that are a special case for MiniApps. Because MiniApps are hosted on the device similar to a website, they are affected by these rules the same way a website is. We're putting together guidance for making sure your APIs and MiniApps can talk freely as well as instructions for a proxy setup when they don't. Look for this in Confluence soon!

Testing Updates

At the moment, the mobile demos show published MiniApps. We will be updating the demos to show both published and testing MiniApps. This will give you more power before your apps are published.

Permissions

In order to support data sharing, we strongly believe in giving the user control over data sharing. Permissions will enable the user to grant and revoke access to data and for mobile apps to define what data they are able to share.

JavaScript SDK & MiniApp Demo Application


Recent Progress

Production Launch

JS SDK version 1.0.0 has been released with support for Unique ID calls. 

Unique ID

The Unique ID integration in the JS SDK has been completed and is included in the first release. This ID can serve a number of purposes, but we recommend using it as a cross-reference between the mobile app, the user, and the MiniApp.

Coming Soon

Permissions

This and the Mobile SDK permission feature go hand-in-hand to provide the request & response process for permissions.

User Data Requests

As a follow on to permissions, we will be demonstrating how to share data between mobile apps and MiniApps.

The Last Word


For those of you using the mobile demo application distributions found in App Center (with links in Confluence), please note that we'll be updating those to provide you with versions that link to production. We will be phasing out guidance on the usage of Staging over the next week in our documentation, so please transition to using production ASAP. Please find the link to the production version of RAS here: https://mobile-sdk-portal.public.rakuten-it.com

Oh, and there have been a lot of other changes in our documentation as well. We have started documenting specific use cases, such as Google Maps in a MiniApps, or using Rakuten Pay Online in your MiniApp. Check out the latest updates in confluence!

 

Thank you,

Clayton & The MiniApp Platform Team

Release Note - MiniApp Platform Product Update #2

Hello MiniApp Community!

This is our second update on the MiniApp Platform. We are pleased to share that we've made great strides in the past couple weeks and we are excited to tell you all about them The platform as a whole is getting closer and closer to a production release and we are laser focused to make that happen. Hopefully, our next update to you all will include that news to share. In the meantime, let's dig in!

Platform


Mini App Versioning & Publishing Management

Recent Progress

Security Audit

We're kicking off our pre-launch security audit in the next few days. This is a key step for us and is taking much of the team's focus. But, we are very excited to get past this hurdle so we can push to production.

Staging Version

As mentioned in our last update, the version hosted on RAS through today has been our Development environment. While that's given you a taste of what we're working on, it is a volatile environment. To prepare for our Security Audit & for Production release, we've created and provisioned our staging and production environments. Pending the results of our security audit, we've launched our staging version to RAS.

Coming Soon

Production Version

After we complete our audit and address any necessary changes, we'll initiate the production release process. Once we do this, we will update much of our documentation (available here) or in PDF form (by request). We will be removing guidance and advice on the use of the staging environments, so please prepare accordingly. 

Publishing / Testing Targets

As you may recall from the last update, this covers the ability to specify a target mobile application for publishing or testing. We are still pre-validating some aspects of the implementation, but initial feedback has been great so far.

Mini App Editor

Recent Progress

UI/UX Updates

The menu system has been greatly simplified and the UI is much clearer. Many more components have been added, including a variety of text types, and the component menu has been grouped by type to keep the organization clear. We encourage you to share your feedback here for the latest changes to the Editor. If you want to see the latest sprint demo for the Editor, check out the video on box.

Image & Asset Uploads

You can now upload image assets to the Editor that will be packaged with your MiniApp build. Previously, only externally hosted images were supported. 

Coming Soon

Themes

In this case, specifically a One App theme. While you can edit and modify many aspects of the styling in the Editor, we wanted to give you an optional baseline. To address this, we're introducing the concept of themes. Themes allow you to specify default styling for elements so that they are consistent without the need to edit the styling each time.

Mobile SDKs & Mobile Demo/Testing Apps


Recent Progress

iOS - Local Storage

Isolated Local Storage for iOS will be released shortly. This covers a variety of web browser storage capabilities, including Web SQL, cookie store, and more.

Testing Mobile Builds

We now have builds available to share with developers for our SDK Mobile Apps. Packaged with the iOS and Android SDK are also mobile applications with example integrations. We know that not everyone is comfortable producing and configuring a build on their own. These builds are available from App Center for supported devices & links are be available on the developer guides in confluence.

Coming Soon

Remote API & Asset Access

As of today, access for MiniApps to data and resources (such as images or APIs) outside of the MiniApp are restricted. We know this is a critical feature for most MiniApp use cases and we have it as a top priority. We will be implementing secure ways to connect to remote images and APIs shortly.

JavaScript SDK & MiniApp Demo Application


About the SDK

The JavaScript SDK is the second half of the communication bridge between your MiniApp and the Mobile App. The Native SDKs are the counterpart in the Mobile Application. With the release of the JavaScript SDK will come the ability to request a unique identifier. We'll be regularly updating this to satisfy common use cases such as sharing, permissions, user info, and much more. 

About the MiniApp Demo

Along with the SDK we are producing examples of each function and integration. This will be an example MiniApp that demonstrates the implementation of various SDK features, and can be used to prove and validate the integration within a Mobile App.

 

The Last Word


Remember, you can find resources to assist in development on our Customer Portal. Please reach out to the team if you need help, support, or have some great ideas! "OK" ideas are "great" too!

 

Thank you,

Clayton & The MiniApp Platform Team

Release Note - MiniApp Platform Product Update #1

Hello MiniApp Community!

As a part of our efforts to keep you all updated, we are iterating on how we communicate as well. Today we'll be covering some recent achievements from the team and sharing some of the items we're working on next.

All features are currently in pre-production or experimental mode on RAS's staging portal.

Platform

Mini App Versioning & Publishing Management

Recent Progress

API Updates & Security

Our team is working feverishly to update the APIs to meet the high security standards needed to launch a Rakuten brand product into public production. This will ensure that your MiniApp versions & source code are properly secured when the platform is open to the public. Don't worry, your current work is still secure; everything you're interacting with now is only available to Rakuten Employees and Partners over whitelisted IPs. 

Coming Soon

Publishing / Testing Targets

This covers the ability to specify a target mobile application for the build or test. A user can specify a build from the current project, or another project. This allows a user to request publishing to One App, but also keep testing isolated to specific builds, or specific testing Mobile Apps (such as our Mobile Demo Apps). We should be introducing the MiniApp feature for Mobile apps as well.

Staging Version

We've been sharing our development version with you to play around with and for our demos. However, since we're updating it so rapidly, we'll be adding a new feature in RAS specifically for development. When this happens, you'll see a refreshed and stable UI for a week or more at a time. Your data from our development environment will not be retained. 

Mini App Editor

Recent Progress

Editor Launched into RAS's Staging Environment

We recently added the MiniApp Editor feature to the navigation in RAS's staging environment. This new feature enables you to create and layout MiniApps in the browser. We encourage you to play around with it and provide feedback. Please keep in mind that this Editor is in experimental mode and is being updated as we continue iterating.

UI/UX Updates

A variety of UI updates have been applied to remove some of the menu complexity. Overall, we feel this makes the Editor much easier to use. 

Coming Soon

Image & Asset Uploads

During development, we encountered some challenges with asset uploads. As a result, we're working to ensure that when you add images and other content, that it is properly saved and exported.

Themes

In this case, specifically a One App theme. While you can edit and modify many aspects of the styling in the Editor, we wanted to give you an optional baseline. So we're introducing the concept of themes. These allow you to specify default styling for elements so that they are consistent.

Mobile SDKs & Mobile Demo/Testing Apps

Recent Progress

Android - Local Storage

We've now implemented isolated local storage for MiniApps. This covers a variety of web browser storage capabilities, including Web SQL, cookie store, and more.

Android & iOS - Runtime Configurations

We're not adding the ability to configure a build of the Demo Mobile App at runtime. Previously, to set a subscription ID, or other configuration parameters, you would need to do so at build time. This removes the need for a Mobile Build pipeline for testing MiniApps.

Coming Soon

iOS - Local Storage

Isolated Local Storage. This covers a variety of web browser storage capabilities, including Web SQL, cookie store, and more.

Testing Mobile Builds

This week we plan to have builds available to share with developers for our SDK Mobile Apps. Packaged with the iOS and Android SDK are also mobile applications with example integrations. We know that not everyone is comfortable producing and configuring a build on their own. These builds will be available to download soon & links will be available on the developer guides in confluence.

The Last Word

Finally, I would like to thank all of you for believing in the promise of the platform. You can find resources to assist in development on our Customer Portal. Please reach out to the team if you need help, support, or have some great ideas! "OK" ideas are "great" too!

 

Thank you,

Clayton & The MiniApp Platform Team

Release Note - MiniApp Platform 2.4.0

Hello MiniApp Community,

We are proud to introduce several major changes to the MiniApp Platform & SDKs over the coming weeks.

These changes will enable an entirely user-driven publishing process, including updates to 

  • Previewing MiniApps
  • Linking your MiniApp to a Host App such as Rakuten Link
  • Submitting versions for approval by a Host App
  • Approving/Denying versions as a Host App

Introducing MiniApp Previewing

In this article, we will focus on Previewing MiniApps, the changes brought by the Platform release 2.4.0, and the updates from the SDK Demo Apps that we distribute through App Center.

With this change, MiniApps may now be previewed without publishing. Previewing is limited to your project and to your targeted Host Apps. The SDK Demo Apps will be updated to include both a "Preview Mode" and a "Host Mode" option, which can be configured from settings. The preview mode will display versions in all states, while the host mode will display only published versions.

When are we making this change?

We expect to launch these changes as a part of the releases for Platform v2.4.0, iOS SDK v2.6.0, and Android SDK v2.6.0. These changes are targeted to be released the week of November 24th.

Why are we making this change? 

Host App Admins may preview MiniApps without affecting the MiniApps available to your customers. MiniApp Developers will no longer need to publish in order to preview in an SDK Demo App. To enable a fully user-driven management process in upcoming releases.

To put the change in context, let's compare the current experience with that after the update.

Today:

As a Mini App Developer, you must "publish" your MiniApp and then open a version of the SDK Demo apps with the app ID and subscription key from any project. You can then see all MiniApps currently published, including your own.

After the Update:

As a Mini App Developer, you will open your properly configured SDK Demo App to see all unpublished & published versions of your MiniApp. You will no longer see MiniApps from other projects while using the SDK Demo Apps. 

As a Mobile App Developer integrating the SDK, you will have the ability to configure the SDK to use either preview mode or host mode. In preview mode, you will be able to see all MiniApp versions that are in the same project or have targeted your Host App. 

As a reviewer, you may configure the SDK Demo App to quickly preview MiniApps that are targeting your Host App. Of course, your Host App's features won't all be available, so we recommend you engage your development team to provide a build of your Host App that can display MiniApps available for preview.

Using the SDK Demo Apps to preview your own MiniApp.

When you download the SDK Demo App builds from App Center, it comes pre-configured with a project key and subscription key. After the update, you must follow the instructions for setting up the SDK Demo App for your project. To use the SDK Demo App, please do the following.

  1. Go to App Center on your device and download the latest version of the SDK Demo App.
  2. Open the SDK Demo App and select the settings icon.
  3. Enter the Project ID from RAS that contains the MiniApp you wish to preview.
  4. Enter the subscription key from the same Project.
  5. Ensure the toggle for preview is set to "On"
  6. Save settings

You can find more detailed instructions with screenshots here: Testing your MiniApp in the Demo Mobile apps

Using the SDK Demo Apps to preview MiniApps published to your Host App.

A Host App can preview all MiniApps versions that target the Host App.

  1. Go to App Center on your device and download the latest version of the SDK Demo App.
  2. Open the SDK Demo App and select the settings icon.
  3. Enter the Project ID from RAS of your Host App.
  4. Enter the subscription key from the same Project.
  5. Ensure the toggle for preview is set to "On"
  6. Save settings

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this break my current SDK integration in my host app?

No. The existing published endpoint will function just as it does now. However, the use of the App ID instead of the Project ID is deprecated. Attempting to use a new App ID that isn't currently used for this purpose will not work; you must use the Project ID instead.

Does my configuration of the SDK Demo App stay the same?

NoIMPORTANT: Previously we instructed you to use the App ID of a Mobile App in RAS. This instruction has changed and we now ask that you update the Host App ID in the SDK Demo App to use the Project ID instead.

Do I need to update the SDK Demo App for this change?

Yes. If you don't update, preview won't be available and you will not be able to see your MiniApp versions in the Demo App. 

I'm using the Demo Apps and I don't see my MiniApp versions!

Please make sure you are using at least version 2.6.0 of the iOS and Android SDK Demo Apps and that you are using the Project ID and Subscription Key from the project that contains your MiniApp in settings.

How do I use this for previewing as a Host App?

For now, we recommend your development team produces a build of your native apps configured for this purpose that uses "Preview Mode." This will allow you to see preview MiniApp versions and test them at your leisure. 

Will preview versions be available to end-users of my Host App?

No. If your production instance uses the Host Mode setting & endpoint, your end users will only see approved, published MiniApps.

If I poll the MiniApp API from my server instead of directly from the SDK, will I need to make changes for production?

No. For Rakuten Link, the existing endpoint will function just as it is. However, we recommend updating the Host App ID with the Project ID as soon as possible to ensure it remains backwards compatible. IMPORTANT: For all other apps, the project ID must be used.

If I poll MiniApps from my server instead of directly from the App, how do I take advantage of previewing?

Since this method is not officially supported, we can only provide general guidance. Here are some ideas:

  • Your team could setup a separate endpoint & cache for previewing that your preview build uses. 
  • You could using a staging configuration pointing to the preview endpoints.
  • You could preview with versions of your Host App that don't rely on this method, and instead use the SDK's fully supported methods. 

How many versions can I preview?

All uploaded versions can be previewed. This means any newly uploaded versions and any versions that are currently published. 

What if I have another question?

You may reach us via Zendesk at: https://developers.rakuten.net/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=360005566674

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