Atlassian is streamlining the process for the development of third-party apps with its launch of Forge – a technology that combines a serverless FaaS platform, a UI declarative language, and DevOps toolchain. It's currently in closed beta testing with a waitlist in effect for the next rollout and will help developers solve a lot of the real-world problems that come with building cloud-based apps.
The technology is comprised of three different elements, including a serverless functions-as-a-service (FaaS) hosted platform with Atlassian-operated compute. The firm is also introducing Forge UI, an adaptable declarative user interface language that allows for third-party app development using only a few lines of code. Finally, there is a cutting-edge DevOps toolchain powered by a command-line interface for managing apps.
In short, Forge empowers programmers with powerful app-building capabilities within an environment that abstracts away much of the cloud-based complexity. For example, Forge UI developers and app-users can be assured that built-in security options will provide the protection necessary for safe use of these offerings. This is done by automating the update process for Atlaskit, Atlassian’s official UI library, which means that when users update it, it won’t break and disrupt system operations.
Forge UI will also have cross-platform functionality so developers can write the code once and be confident it will run everywhere. Also, Atlassian states that because Forge UI is a declarative language, it is easier to build native, adaptable, and trusted user interfaces for apps. It’s designed to save developers from having to navigate entire infrastructures often associated with launching applications.
“The app works cleanly on the web and on mobile, and it avoids them having to author things in iframes,” said Mike Tria, Atlassian’s head of platform. “It’s faster, way faster, apps run smoothly, and they feel like an Atlassian product running with Atlassian.”
For teams comprised of both programmers and IT staff (DevOps), the Forge ILS tool offers intuitive command-line capabilities for managing apps. The firm plans to release resources such as built-in onboarding, easy-to-use commands, and templates that can be accessed by anyone.
Interestingly, the inspiration for the formation of Forge did not come about from the most conventional of places. Tria described how he sent six of his developers to Australia and isolated them from the rest of the organization for three months. While he may not have drawn inspiration from reality television show Survivor, there were parallels between the two – both asked individual participants to engage in challenges without access to everyday solutions that would make the problems easy to overcome.
“We told them no OKRs, no project tickets, nothing – design the ecosystem that you would want to build apps on and design the best one in the world,” Tria said.
It was a bet that paid off big. He told the developers that his experiment wasn’t about building something that would necessarily be taken to market, it was about doing the best they could and learning from that experience. Tria believes that innovation doesn’t have to be a top-down process and he’s excited by that potential. Nonetheless, the end result was the beginning of Forge. Sequestering the developers helped them take more risks and accelerated the process of bringing the tech to market.
Atlassian's ecosystem currently boasts 25,000 members, and the launch of Forge will build on that base. "More than 60 percent of our customers have an app; it's a huge deal. And our largest ones, 80 percent of them have an app," Tria said. "Very soon, we're going to cross the $1 billion threshold for lifetime sales through this marketplace."