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Twitter Launches Fabric Kits for Mobile App Developers

Finally catching up with social media giants like Facebook Inc. and Google Inc., Twitter Inc. today unveiled its own mobile app developer platform.

To fight what it called "SDK bloat," Twitter combined its seven SDKs into one offering called Twitter Fabric.

The modular platform organizes those seven SDKs into three "kits" designed to address problems faced by mobile developers everywhere: stability, distribution, revenue and identity.

"Over the last several years, we've witnessed an explosion of mobile SDKs -- each with the goal of solving a specific problem," the company said on its developer page. "While this [has given] developers more solutions and choices to tackle individual challenges, a new problem has emerged: Installing and managing a wide range of SDKs can be cumbersome and complex."

Elsewhere on the site, the company states, "Our passion is building tools that make developers' lives easier," a statement that might be deemed ironic by some considering the brouhaha Twitter caused a couple years ago when, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, "Twitter irked developers with stricter rules around applications that plug into the social-media service."

Now, being all about helping developers out, Twitter is providing the following SDK kits in Apple iOS and Google Android editions: the Crashlytics Kit for better app stability; the Twitter Kit for distribution; and the MobPub Kit for generating revenue from mobile apps. As part of the Twitter Kit, the company introduced Digits to solve the identity problem with SMS-based authentication, described as "sign-in with phone number done right."

The Crashlytics Kit helps developers more quickly detect, access and fix bugs so they can code more and debug less. Twitter said the kit has identified more than 5.5 billion crashes in the past month, even isolating a problem to a specific line of code.

Usability is another concern addressed by the kit, which includes "Beta by Crashlytics" to get pre-production user feedback and "Answers by Crashlytics" for analyzing and optimizing apps in real time.

The Twitter Kit, meanwhile, will help developers get noticed. Native Tweet lets developers use just a few lines of code to put tweets in their apps and style them to match a theme. Tweet Composer can help users share their information -- such as a newly discovered song or the outcome of a football game, for example -- directly from within an app. The kit also simplifies user authentication with "Sign in with Twitter."

To make money, the MoPub Kit provides a monetization platform to help quickly integrate ads into apps and use native location control to specify where ads appear and how often.

Developers can use Fabric with major IDEs such as Apple Xcode for coding iOS apps with Objective-C or Swift, and Eclipse, Android Studio and IntelliJ for coding Android apps with Java.

Twitter announced the news at its Flight developer conference and said all attendees will get immediate access to Fabric. Others will get access "soon" and are invited to apply to get on the list.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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