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The Unlock Codes for MultiValue Mobile Computing

Mar 29

Written by: Robert Houben, CTO
3/29/2011 7:13 AM  RssIcon

Extending the Reach

According to Gartner and other analysts, the number of smartphone and other mobile computing devices will soon exceed desktop and notebook systems.  At times it feels like we are already there.

The power, versatility and consumer acceptance of mobile devices is such that you ignore them at your peril.

In this installment, we will look at the Unlock Codes that FusionWare provides that enable you to extend your reach to mobile devices.

The Emergence of Mobile Computing

It used to be that you could create a web site, test it with Internet Explorer (IE), and the world would come to your door.  More and more, we are finding that customers are using Non-IE browsers, devices that don’t support Flash, and smaller form factors.  These users will browse to a web site occasionally, but they really get excited when they find a well-designed app made just for their device.  The value in reaching this rapidly growing demographic is great.

The Challenges of Mobile Computing

Unfortunately, development for these devices is not without its challenges.

When you look at traditional web sites, they simply aren’t easily viewable on the smaller form-factor of much of these devices. Furthermore, any pages that have a big block of Flash are a problem for the large and rapidly growing iPhone/iPod/iPad community.

Worse, we find that these mobile devices all have their own programming environments, and these environments are incompatible, and in some cases are a throwback to programming as it was 10-15 years ago.

As a result of this, we have a very alluring opportunity that feels like it’s just out of reach. If you do a mobile version of your web site, the user’s experience is going to be quite limited.  But if you want to give them an experience designed for their device, you have to choose which device to do first.  The prospect of having one version for desktop systems, one for Windows Phone, one for iPhone, one for iPad, one for Blackberry and one for each version of the Android O/S that’s out there in numbers is a daunting one.

If you try to accommodate all of them, you could have 6 or more versions of the application with close to zero reusability of code.

The competitive landscape is such that we don’t see this changing any time soon.

That said, there are many vendors who are coming out with innovative solutions to enable you to serve up powerful mobile solutions that support multiple mobile devices.

One of the more unusual examples is a product called MonoTouch. “MonoTouch from Novell allows developers to create C# and .NET based applications that run on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices, while taking advantage of the iPhone APIs and reusing both code and libraries that have been built for .NET, as well as existing skills.”

http://monotouch.net

There are also powerful offerings from MicroStrategy and SQLAnywhere that enable BI applications on iPhone, Blackberry and other platforms.

FusionWare Lowers the Bar

While we can’t resolve all of these issues, we can ease the connectivity issues that you will face.  As you choose how to move ahead, and what platforms to access, there are some simple approaches that you can take that will help ease your efforts.

Using Standards

Web Services

You have two approaches you can take. Most platforms will support web services quite easily, and where they are available we strongly recommend them. 

In other blog posts we have documented how to rapidly create a DAL with .NET and then wrap it with a web service.

The same approach can be taken with non-Windows MultiValue environments, using the mvLynx Java Data Adapter, or the mvLynx Connect MV/BASIC Edition.

FusionWare makes it easy to rapidly create mobile-friendly web services, using either ASP.NET with mvLynx Managed Provider, Apache Glassfish (or other Java-based web service platforms) with the mvLynx Java Data Adapter, or mvLynx Connect MV/BASIC Edition.

RESTful Services

In addition to web services, Representational State Transfer (REST) is a very popular approach.  It is much easier to implement on most mobile devices, and has lower overhead than full web services.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representational_State_Transfer

The same FusionWare products that enable rapid web service creation also enable rapid provisioning of RESTful services.  We will be providing blog posts that show how to build RESTful services.

SSL

We also recommend using SSL for the communications.  Better to have a secure channel from the beginning than to discover that users were transmitting sensitive information and someone sniffed it.  You’ll look bad, even if it was the customer’s fault, so we recommend that you use a secure channel.

Summary

While we cannot remove all of the pain of managing and supporting multiple mobile platforms, we can ease the development of the interfaces to your MultiValue data and application logic that your mobile applications will depend on.

In our next installment we will look at the Unlock Codes for Integrating MultiValue with Clould Computing.

For more information see the mvLynx MultiValue products page.

Copyright ©2011 FusionWare Integration Corp.

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