Mobile Center vs Bitrise

At West Monroe one of the biggest pain points we had with developing mobile applications was we lacked an effective DevOps process. That all changed in April last year when we adopted Bitrise; nothing but smiles for the most part on this end.

One of our early attempts was to use the build engine in Visual Studio Online to carry out builds, but this came with the requirement to host a Mac Build Agent on-prem. To be frank, this was a clusterfuck. During the pilot project I spent as many hours over the first three weeks trying to keep it running as I did actual development work. Eventually, we terminated the pilot and went naked without a build process; our quality suffered. It was towards the end of this project that we brought Bitrise into the fold.

I will save you reading the whole article: Bitrise beats Mobile Center right now. Bearing in mind that Mobile Center is still in Preview this isnt surprising as it lacks any maturity (they just added VSTS support a few days ago). But the direction does look good and it does have managed Mac build agents so that is a huge plus over Visual Studio Online.

From my early experiences using it, this is still very much a work in progress and I am communicating a ton of feedback to the team; I even got early access to the VSTS connector by complaining on Twitter. But the end result is the same: Btirise is leaps and bounds ahead of Mobile Center at the current time. Will Mobile Center get there? Possibly. One of the great strengths of Bitrise is the Step library which has both curated and independently submitted Steps; we use a lot of these on more complex projects.

By contrast, Mobile Center has no flexibility and only a single build path that can be leveraged, little customization. Also, while Bitrise’s dashboard lets you see In Process and past builds, Mobile Center focuses on showing ALL remote branches and bubbling those performing build actions to the top; I find this busy.

However, I see a lot of runway for Mobile Center because of what it offers beyond a simple build engine: integrated analytics, crash reporting, and distribution. No having to use HockeyApp as a separate app. Having everything centralized makes a lot of sense, but if the build processes are not feature rich it wont be worth it; personally given the number of tasks available in VSO its hard to believe this wont change soon.

So, for right now, I would not even consider using Mobile Center for anything but the simplest of projects where the support was limited and the scope diminished. Its not ready to join the big boys….yet.

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2 thoughts on “Mobile Center vs Bitrise

  1. Hey Jason! I am a PM on Mobile Center. First off thank you for all of your feedback on our product and how it relates to other products on the market. Having this feedback and knowing what we can do to make you love our product is essential to use doing so. What I hear from this is you the “Step Library” from Bitrise is really helpful to you and you have a desire to have a more flexible build process. We would love to know more about that (ex: How you use it? What do you like / dislike about it?). In fact, if your next blog post was “What Mobile Center can do to win me over and change the Mobile App development forever” I would very excited and grateful!

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    • Hey Joe,

      Yeah, I actually like what I am seeing from the platform, I think with more maturity it will be a much harder choice. When I say “Step Library” you can think of it as akin to the “tasks” concept from VSO. For example, we have a huge project right now that the build process does a lot of extra integrations, but in particular we have the build engine do versioning.

      I have been communicating a lot with Simina via Twitter on my feedback. Most of it has been around the build screen (covered in my feedback). My next goal will be to spend more time with it, but really right now its just about maturing. I would not advise Mobile Center enforce a non mutable build order, need to let people use tasks.

      Cheers,

      Jason Farrell

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