Since the release of the Salesforce Mobile Packs a few weeks ago, we’ve been building out from our initial set of jQuery Mobile, AngularJS and Backbone.js apps for Visualforce, Node.js and PHP. If you’ve been watching the Backbone Mobile Pack on GitHub, you’ll have noticed the recent addition of a couple of XCode projects in the samples directory: BackboneHybrid and BackboneCapture.


The BackboneHybrid sample converts the existing Contact browser sample to a hybrid app running on the Salesforce Mobile SDK (which itself is built on Cordova, aka PhoneGap). It’s interesting to look at the changes required to ‘hybridize’ the sample – they are pretty much restricted to app startup, in particular, obtaining an OAuth access token. The critical code is registered with the Mobile SDK as an event listener for the salesforceSessionRefresh event:

The myapp() function behaves identically to the web-based apps, initializing Backbone.Force with the ForceTK client, creating a Model and Collection for the Contact standard object, setting up Views and a Router, and starting the Backbone app (see the blog entry on the Backbone Mobile Pack for MUCH more detail!). This is a real benefit of using a framework like Backbone.Force built on ForceTK – you can reuse the same application code in many contexts – Visualforce, off-platform web apps, and hybrid mobile apps.


So, you may be asking yourself, “What’s the point of a contact browser as a hybrid app – it just does the same as the web app!”. If so, you have a point – BackboneHybrid is really just to show the code required to get started with Backbone and the Mobile SDK. How about something more interesting – how about capturing photos, audio and video from the phone, uploading the media file to Chatter Files, and posting a Chatter message on a Contact page. That’s exactly what BackboneCapture does; here it is in action at last week’s Ottawa Salesforce Developer User Group meeting:


[The relevant section is at 01:02:38 – you may need to skip to that point if the video doesn’t start in the right place].

Let’s take things step by step. First, how do we capture media on the device? Well, Cordova offers a set of APIs for the purpose. For simplicity and brevity, we’ll look at the code to capture a photo here; capturing audio and video works similarly, but is a little more involved – see the BackboneCapture source for details.

To capture a photo, we call, passing it success and failure callbacks and an options object. Here’s the handler for the ‘Get Picture’ button showing the call:

As you can see, we set up the options object for 50% quality (trading off image quality for a smaller file size), capturing an image from the camera as a data URL – a Base64 encoding of the image data.

On taking a photo and clicking the ‘use’ button, the uploadContent() callback will fire. Here’s take a closer look:

There’s quite a bit of code there – let’s break it down…

First we create a ContentVersion instance. Earlier in the app, we defined a ContentVersion Model:

This is very similar to the Contact Model – we just specify a different type and set of fields. ContentDocumentId is all we need when we fetch a ContentVersion record.

Now, back in uploadContent(), we create a ContentVersion instance:

Luckily, ContentVersion needs the file data in Base64 format, and that’s exactly what getPicture() gives us. Now (skipping over the code to show the jQuery Mobile ‘spinner’) we can save the ContentVersion to

To post the file to a Chatter feed, we actually need the ContentDocumentId for the Chatter File, so we fetch the new ContentVersion to discover this:

ContentDocumentId in hand, we can create the payload for a Chatter post:

And post it to the contact’s Chatter feed:

We use the low-level client.ajax() method here to access the Chatter REST API, since posting to a Chatter feed doesn’t really map into Backbone’s Model/Controller pattern.

As this sample shows, it’s straightforward to use the Backbone Mobile Pack with any standard object (in fact, any object, standard or custom) in, access device functionality via the Cordova APIs, and integrate with any REST-based API via ForceTK.

What functionality are you looking to build in your mobile apps? Let us know what kind of sample code you’d like to see next!

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