App Center: API-First CI/CD for iOS and Android App Development

Visual Studio App Center

It’s common for developers to use Visual Studio App Center alongside all the tools they love and rely on, and respecting those preferences and investments is central to the way we design and think about App Center. We hope to put the power to extend and flex your workflow back in your hands by exposing as much as possible through our public API. In pursuit of this mission, we’ve chosen to release multiple open source contributions, so you get the most out of App Center as we continue to build new and exciting features.

Bitrise, CircleCI, Nevercode, BuddyBuild, and More

The appcenter-cli was built to support your most common scenarios by supporting as many CI offerings as possible with App Center’s Test and Distribution services. Most build systems support installing this as a dependency during build time, so you can authenticate post-build and upload the release for device testing and distribution to a set of App Center testers. Here’s a basic snippet that highlights the commands you’ll use:

``` npm install appcenter-cli –g appcenter login appcenter distribute release -f myapp.apk -r "My First Release" ```

Custom Build Operations

With added support for build scripts, you can run unit tests, make configuration changes or send simple notifications to external services while your build is executing. We started a new repository of house samples to give you a quick start that gets you going with your own custom build process. If you come up with a new idea for an integration, feel free to contribute a custom build script back to the repository so we can share it with the rest of the community.


There’s a plugin available to automatically upload symbols and release artifacts for distribution through App Center for users who prefer to leverage Fastlane’s tools for their iOS or Android apps. You should be able to get up and going in no time with basic knowledge of the configuration options shown.

Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)

App Center tasks are part of the out-of-the-box VSTS experience that makes on-boarding quick and easy. We have open sourced the builds step to ship symbols and releases to our Distribution, Crash, and Test services, along with a wide array of the other steps you see when you start to assemble your build configurations. You can freely browse the source for the default VSTS steps, including the App Center ones here.

App Center SDK

If you decide to integrate our SDK, you’ll notice it was built with modular design in mind. This was intended to leave an opening for you to onboard to various parts of App Center at your own pace without introducing another monolithic library to your project. We have various flavors of our SDK available for you to examine on our open source GitHub repositories.

Powerful Clients

Everything, from our CLI and native tester apps to essentially everything you see and use within the web portal, is powered by our public APIs. In future, it will be possible to create a rich, corporate branded experience for testers within your organization by forking our code for the native tester apps and making the required changes to match the color palette and logos of your company.


We look at our clients, SDKs, and integrations as mechanisms to demonstrate the power of our backend. Over 200 public APIs, available here, power everything covered in this article and more not mentioned. We hope you’re inspired to experiment a little on your own and tell us how we can make your daily experiences and integrations even better. If you’re interested in getting started, sign up today and give App Center a spin.

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Have a suggestion or question? Contact me @lbcpat on Twitter!

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