Box unveils Developer Edition, new mobile SDKs

Box unveils its latest platform updates, promising developers the tools they need for everything to build for and scale a mobile-first workforce.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO---IT is the driving force behind how business is being turned on its head, transforming how people work from energy to healthcare, argued Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie.

"We're seeing a whole new set of employees enter the workforce. They're not willing to use legacy technology," said Levie at the second annual Box Dev Day on Wednesday.

The problem, according to Levie, is that traditional enterprises aren't equipped to handle or answer these trends.

Since launching roughly a decade ago, Box now has more than 35 million users worldwide. That includes 45,000 paid enterprise customers, spanning 50 percent of the Fortune 500.

A big part of how Box has tried to wrangle those businesses to its cloud storage and collaboration platform is through an industry-specific strategy, providing optimized productivity, security and compliance features tailored to different verticals.

You need security from the ground up if you're going to adopt this technology, Levie insisted, adding that software also needs to be interconnected between networks to link companies and their partners.

This is way easier to do starting from scratch, which is why most of this technology is coming from startups, Levie said. Thus, he continued, this is where the big opportunity is going to be for developers.

"We need new underlying platforms," Levie said. "You have to develop software on more than basic enterprise infrastructures."

Box is promising to equip developers with the capabilities to build sophisticated content management and collaboration services with enterprise-grade security through the platform upgrades unveiled on Wednesday.

Heidi Williams, head of Box's platform engineering team, introduced Box Developer Edition, providing developers with a full Box instance comprised of Box's enterprise app development tools and functionality for content ownership, user controls and security management. A limited beta edition is available now through Box's developer unit.

Honing in on mobile app development, Box is breaking down its own mobile app into "re-usable components" that developers can pick up through four new SDKs divided up between content, browsing, sharing, and previewing functionality.

"We typically see SDKs that are very powerful, but they also tend to be complex to integrate with," lamented Vanessa Larco, group product manager for Box's mobile team. Larco highlighted open source capabilities for additional feature building and integration possibilities.

"With one of line of code, your app can support hundreds of file types," Larco boasted about the Box Preview SDK alone. The Preview SDK isn't live yet, but Content, Browse and Share are all available now.

"Content is everywhere, on all your devices, on apps from dozens of verticals," said Box platform director Ryan Damico, admitting that as a developer, it can be hard to work with all these variables.

Hoping to simplify these problems, Box Content Services was introduced as a collection of technologies wrangled together for managing and organizing "virtually every file type under the sun," as described by Damico. He later narrowed that down to more than 150 file types.

Aside from watermarking tools and enhancements for Box View, Box is already building on its recent acquisition of Verold, integrating the startup's support for rendering 3D objects in web browsers, which could come in handy for customers in education, retail and entertainment.

"It's core to our mission that we want to help you build amazing apps for the digital enterprise," Levie said, but he admitted that great apps aren't enough.

Box is increasingly positioning itself as the one-stop cloud shop and launch pad for new businesses, starting with a new $40 million fund being established with VC partners to fuel companies building on the Box platform. Still in development, the program plans to eventually equip developers and entrepreneuers with technical and go-to-market support as well as access to IT buyers.

See also:Google's Eric Schmidt, Box CEO Aaron Levie discuss future of cloud computing

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