How FlowVella built Dropbox into their presentation platform
// By Brent Brookler • Nov 29, 2018
FlowVella is an interactive platform for building and viewing presentations on mobile. We met the CEO of FlowVella, Brent Brookler, at a Dropbox Developer Meetup in Seattle and were excited to learn about their integration with Dropbox.
We asked Brent to write a guest post on our developer blog sharing why and how FlowVella integrated with Dropbox on their road to change the presentation landscape. Scroll on to read Brent's contribution.
Genesis of FlowVella
Istartedbuilding software over 20 yearsyears ago, and have beenfortunate to work on projects with massive brandsin content creation and marketing. In my previous company, we powered the American Idol text voting and built the first mobile game version of Family Feud. In my next company, we worked with CBS News and built the mobile versions of 60 Minutes, CBS News, CNET and other CBS News properties. After building dozens of content driven apps,I realized thatthe existing‘presentationsoftware’ hadn’t evolved for the mobile age. We set out to create anew way to share ideas and products in a mobile and touch first way.
FlowVellais a cloud-based interactive presentation platform for creating, publishing, sharing, and viewing presentations. Users canintegrate various content types into one cohesive experienceas FlowVella allows embedding of text, images, PDFs, video and gallery objects in easy linkable screens, defining modern interactive presentations. When viewing a presentation on Flowvella, the audience can take different paths to playvideos,progress throughslides,oropen a PDFbased on the way the conversation and interest flows.
Ourcustomersrangefrom small businesses to largerenterprisesmostlyinmanufacturing, home services, and real estate. With the launch of our kiosk app,Flow Kiosk,in August 2018 we’re seeing a widerrange of usecasesfor trade shows,event booths,retailstores,and museum exhibits.Because FlowVella presentations work without an Internet connection via our iPad/iPhone app, a Mac app, and website, they are ideal for in person sales presentations and as an interactive kiosk.
Integrating with Dropbox
FlowVella and Flow Kiosk usersembed text, images, PDFs, video, sounds, GIFs, and gallery objectsinto theirinteractive presentations, and many users askedus specifically forthe ability toaddcontent directly from their Dropbox folders.Itwas ano brainer to integrate with Dropboxas our first external data source–our customers are Dropbox customers andbuildingthe integrationwasrelatively painless.
While the Dropbox Chooserapplication makes for an easily embedded Dropbox interface to select and upload files into your application,we have our own UI forchoosingcontent andwanted to keep users in the same experience when adding content from any external cloud source.FlowVella is a native iOS app, written inObjective-C, so weusedtheDropbox Objective-C SDKto browse and downloadDropboxcontent into FlowVella presentations.
We usethelistFolderandlistFolderContinuecallsto populate the top levelDropbox folders and files. We also use thegetThumbnailDatacallto populate the lists with proper thumbnailsas many of the files our users are selecting are visual. We useDBFILESMetadatato determinethe file type(e.g..jpeg, .mov) for each piece of content and check if it’s compatible with the specific container format(e.g.image, video) that the user is adding it to within FlowVella.When a user choosesthe contentthey want to add to FlowVella, we usethedownloadDatamethodtopull from Dropbox. The content is thenaddedto the FlowVella canvas.
Reflections on the Dropbox API
The Dropbox API Framework and DBX Platform are easy to use, and the documentation was straightforward and helpful in our original launch.Additionally, because the community of developers building on the platform is so large, finding help and examples isalways really easy.
It took about a week to build and integrate the Dropbox API into our own‘contentselection’ system. We tested extensively, on several devices and every content type to ensure that the whole process worked.And, when it came time to launch our new app this fall, itwas extremely easy to add Flow Kiosk and build out that integration.
Today,Dropbox is one of our most popular integrations and is integral for ourusers’workflows. FlowVellaisn’t done integrating with Dropbox and we’re excited to see where we can expand support for our users next.
We hope you enjoyed this guest blog contribution from Brent Brookler at FlowVella and that it gave you some ideas of how you can build or enhance your own Dropbox integration.
To learn more about FlowVella and to see the Dropbox integration in action, head to flowvella.com. You can also contact Brent and the FlowVella team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was the first of many developer stories to tell. If you’re interested in having your app featured on the Dropbox developer blog,let us know.