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Edster Skelter avatar image
Edster Skelter asked

Updating Packaged web app version

Hi, I submitted a packaged HTML 5 web app to the store. As you may know, these are simply HTML resources (js, css, html, img etc) wrapped in a zip container. And as such there is no "config.xml" or "AppManifest.xml" files. It seems that amazon wraps the provided HTML resource itself to a Cordova Android app once you submit the .zip package. All that is fine, but when it comes to update the app... there is unfortunately no (obvious) way to also provide the update version number. There is no "Version String" field on the submission form and you cannot provide "config.xml" or "AppManifest.xml" files in those packaged zip HTML 5 web apps. As a result, the users keep getting updates but their devices always shows "version 1.0.0". How do I fix this? How to I provided the updated version number to an Amazon packaged web app when submitting an update? Thanks

fire tvsubmission testing distribution
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Levon@Amazon avatar image
Levon@Amazon answered

Hi Edster Skelter,

Thanks for posting! At the moment, regrettably there is no option to manually update the version of your Mobile Web app. The version number is automatically generated when the system repackages your web resources into an Android app using Cordova. I would strongly suggest to package those resources on your side, and then submit your app as an Android app, rather than Mobile Web app. That way you will have more control over metadata and some other aspects of your app. Thanks!

Related:

How can I change the URL of a webapp that has already been approved? https://forums.developer.amazon.com/questions/34408/how-can-i-change-the-url-of-a-webapp-that-has-alre.html

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Jacek avatar image
Jacek answered

Hi Levon,

That question was asked few times already, and it is really lame that for three years (since this one was asked) Amazon didn't add 'App Version' option to 'App File(s) panel.

In my opinion, your suggestion to switch from a web app to either in-house Cordova or Android app (using webView) just to get the version string done right seems to be an overkill.

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You are right Jacek, this feature was requested a while ago, however it hasn't been added yet. When a URL or a ZIP package with web files is submitted, Appstore runs it through Cordova and the end result is an Android app anyways. That option is for people who are not developers. If however you / developers know how to repackage the web files into an Android app, I would strongly suggest to do that. The benefit is not only about controlling the version numbers, but a lot of other things, the most common of which are that further along the way developers decide that they would like to switch from web to Android for one reason or another, and to convert their app, but that scenario is not possible at the moment (Appstore doesn't support automatic change of app types from Mobile Web to Android), so they need to submit a brand new Android app, which breaks the user experience, as their users need to uninstall one app and install a new one. Other things like DIAL, full control over the Manifest, etc are just some of the other benefits. Thanks!

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Jacek avatar image Jacek Levon@Amazon ♦ ·

Hi Levon,

I understand your position, but don't quite agree with that. I think calling web app 'not developers' because they don't do (don't want to do) Cordova/Xamarin is rather a bad call, or misunderstanding of reasoning behind doing that. Some apps require access to native features, better optimization, some apps are just fine working on webkit/JS level without the need for H/W optimized features. It has nothing to do with being a developer or not, but what type of an app is that, what features it requires. I would agree with your position, if you would mention Amazon Creator - no need to be developer, live with whatever Amazon provides; however, I think that you are mistaken using that broad brush.

To put it into perspective, adding version info to Amazon Cordova build would require to inject one more sed command along those that mark that build as in need for IAP, Storage ... Of course, it would also require a small UI change on the App File(s) panel (one label/edit field), plus an extra storage field. So, the worst case that would be a one day job for two software engineers at Amazon. On the other hand, you are asking 50k, maybe more web app developers to switch to their own Cordova wrapping. How many web developers are you going to drop because of limitations like that.

Every so often people write about IAP problems when they do their own Cordova/Xamarin, and support from Amazon is rather mixed. We really want to trust Amazon to do that job (Cordova/Xamarin/whatever), as it doesn't add anything to app features, but further complicates appstore submission process. At the same time, if Amazon would be providing more features for JS, potentially more web app developers would consider Amazon Fire TV as a viable platform.

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Jacek avatar image Jacek Levon@Amazon ♦ ·

cont: 2 (character limit hit)

Using the argument about not being able to xfr an app between web app vs. Cordova/native is just trying to bend over backwards so hard that all your little bones hurt. The original post you replied to is from 2016, I wrote about it in 2017 or so, I saw some other people also writing about it. So, for the past three years Amazon did nothing to make that transitions happen, and you are shifting the blame on developers making bad decision, instead of escalating this issue? C'mon, you know better than that.

One of my recent posts was about our web app not working on the latest Grunding TVs. Amazon test office sent us a letter that our web app is not working on those devices, so we need to fix it. Well, it was Amazon Cordova built that didn't work. (There is still no answer from Amazon support whether that problem got fixed.) So, that is another issue with pushing people into that rabit hole - if Amazon has problems with properly wrapping web apps for Grunding/new devices, you would rather shift that problem to those 50k developers?

I also posted before few times about issues with self Cordova wrapping, but the best answer I got from Amazon/you (if I got one) was that unfortunately, that is Cordova problem, and Amazon has nothing to do with that. If Amazon will fully support Cordova wrapping (have working documentation on the website that can be followed), more people would be willing to go that route.

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Jacek avatar image Jacek Levon@Amazon ♦ ·

cont: 3 (character limit hit)

Lastly, Amazon provides WAT app. I have to say that I love that app, and it helped us here a lot to nail down issues that are particular to Fire TV platform. That app basically does Cordova wrapping on the fly. Why not to improve that app a bit, and add to that app features that are selectable on App File(s) page, and offer a ready to submit apk? I guess, that would kind of bridge the gap between self wrapping, vs submitting zip files (if providing zips is too much for Amazon). Of course, the next step would be to make that app an open source app (so people can see how Cordova is set up), but that potentially is asking for too much. By doing that, it would be up to Amazon, whether to use in WAT Cordova/Xamarin/... whatever at the moment works the best for Fire TV platform. Of course, another possibility would be to add one more tab to the dashboard that would generate those apks. This way, we could test those builds right before submitting them to Amazon.

Thanks, Jacek

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