Have you ever wondered how to create a mobile analytics app using data from Salesforce?  What about how to push your mobile app data into Salesforce?  Sure, you may be an expert with Salesforce’s platform, but how do you integrate it with the mobile platforms out there?

A group of senior Software Engineering students from Cal Poly University took on this challenge during this year’s Software Engineering Capstone class taught by Professor David Janzen.  Every year the students take on projects from industry clients.  This year, five teams are developing a three-part project which consists of:

  1. A Software Development Kit (SDK) for Android apps to allow easy tracking of mobile application data in Salesforce

  2. A Force.com package which can be installed into any organization and contains all the necessary Force.com metadata

  3. A mobile dashboard which can be used to view charts and graphs of the data collected

For example, a financial company could integrate the students’ SDK into their mobile application and use the dashboard to view things like whether their most recent marketing campaign targeting younger consumers actually increased the usage of their mobile app among that age group.  As another example, a game company could use the dashboard to see whether the number of females from Italy who have completed at least two levels in the game are increasing or decreasing.

This project has the power to give real insights into your customers and their application usage.  The goal was really about creating something that was plug and play.  Mobile application developers don’t always have time to learn new technologies, so the teams focused on making their tools as easy to use and intuitive as possible.

The teams worked closely with Salesforce technologists from R&D to help with requirements, architecture, and technology choices.  Each team was assigned a Salesforce representative that also happened to be a Cal Poly alumni.  The Capstone project is a great way for students to learn about the software development lifecycle on a real industry project.  It allows students to take chances, reflect on their experiences, and learn from their failures.

Each team created their own architecture and chose different technologies to accomplish similar results. Teams used a variety of technologies including native Android, Visualforce, Apex, Heroku, Force.com, and Google App Engine.

The projects are actively being used to track usage data for a few popular applications in the Google Play market.  Teams are using this real-world experience to tweak performance and metrics tracking.  Eventually, they hope to have a polished final project that any company can use to get the most up-to-the-minute data from their mobile apps.

The teams are receiving glowing reviews from their early adopters.  One of the Google Play app developers using team CALM’s product had this to say:

“I use an analytics tool called Flurry for my iOS apps and this is just as easy to implement and actually provides more helpful data than Flurry does.”

Currently in an Alpha release, we expect the projects to be open-sourced when the teams are finished at the end of the quarter.  In the meantime, you can track their progress at se-capstone.appspot.com.  Using their open sourced projects as a starting point, you can finally create the mobile analytics app you’ve always dreamed about!

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