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Be Your Own Enterprise Mobile Apps Powerhouse with HTML5

Most enterprise or business apps are content or data-driven

ReadWriteWeb published SAP Plans to Dominate Enterprise Mobile Apps with HTML5 and New Partnerships article a few days ago. SAP acquired a mobile development firm Syclo and also announced important partnerships with Appcelertaor, Adobe (PhoneGap) and Sencha to become “…most powerful enterprise mobile developers in the world”.

Dan Rowinksi makes a number of very good points.

Enterprise mobile development is different from its consumer counterparts. The objectives of enterprise apps often have less to do with mobile device performance and more to do with functionality. Consumer app development often centers on games and location, testing how well an app can perform within the bounds of a mobile device’s hardware. While location is an increasingly important feature for many enterprises, communication, data management and collaboration are the real drivers in enterprise mobility.

Most enterprise or business apps are content or data-driven. More and more enterprise expose their data, content and resources via REST API services and these apps consume that data. This is the next evolution of client/server architecture or more precise, the new mobile-cloud shift. Basicially, you got a mobile app talking connected to cloud-based REST API resources. HTML5 or hybrid (PhoneGap) mobile apps are the perfect fit here.

In this type of environment, strict native applications are not always the most cost-efficient solution.

Natively supporting iOS, Android, and at least another platform Windows Phone or BlackBerry is simply a challenge and very expensive for most organizations. It’s not uncommon for a company first to release the iOS app, then after some time followed by Android, followed by mobile web and maybe Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Maintaining and updating these apps is a challenge and different versions usually have different features, with iOS version having the most features.

While it is nice to have a mobile development guru on staff that can create an app for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone, those types of people are hard to find and may not be attracted to enterprise development work.

We (Exadel) have a large number of enterprise customers, and that’s exactly the problem they are facing today. Finding qualified mobile developers for different platforms is difficult.

Three companies, three strengths

SAP wants to be the mobile powerhouse by partnering with Sencha, PhoneGap (Adobe) and Appcelerator.

Sencha is the “…leading HTML5 development frameworks and can create hybrid apps for both iOS and Android. PhoneGap (Adobe) is hybrid mobile framework that makes it very easy to packaqe mobile apps as native (hybrid) apps and also gives you access to native device features. Appcelerator’s, Titanium SDK leverages JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS to create native apps with Web-based software. Note: I’m not aware of any Web-based development tools provided by Appcelerator.

Your own mobile powerhouse

But, you don’t have to be SAP to be a mobile powerhouse, there are cloud tools that make it very simple and easy to build HTML5 and hybrid (PhoneGap) apps connected to REST API services.

Cloud-based mobile app builder, with jQuery Mobile

Tiggzi is a cloud-based mobile app builder. Because it’s running in the cloud there is nothing to install or download (as opposed to Appcelerator tools which are more traditional tools and need to be installed and configured). It’s very easy to get started. It comes with a visual, drag-and-drop builder for building the UI, with jQuery Mobile and HTML5 components.

Because the builder is running the cloud, trying or testing the app is super easy. With a single click, you can open the app in browser (desktop) or on the actual device.

Hybrid apps with PhoneGap

Tiggzi also uses the simple and powerful PhoneGap framework to create hybrid apps. First, any HTML5 mobile app can be exported as PhoneGap app (iOS, Android). This this allow you to put the app into the app market. Second, in addition to just putting the app inside a native wrapper you can also invoke any of the PhoneGap’s native API. Lastly, Tiggzi comes with Android and iOS binary build (similar to PhoneGap Build). Can’t get any simpler. Build the app in Tiggzi, get iOS or Android app in seconds.

Service APIs

Enterprises have vast amount of resources exposed as REST API. Mobile apps created in Tiggzi can quickly and easily connect and consume any cloud-based REST API’s. Tiggzi comes with a powerful REST services editor where the service can be defined, tested (similar to apigee.com test console) and even its JSON response structure created automatically. Once the service is created, it is mapped to mobile UI using a visual mapper:

Mobile back-end services

If you need to create your own mobile back-end services, there are powerful and easy easy to use cloud-services such as StackMob and Parse. Anything you create in these services is instantly exposed as REST services which in turn can be consumed inside a mobile app (built in Tiggzi).

As you can see, you can easily have your own mobile powerhouse, in the cloud with Tiggzi app builder, HTML5, jQuery Mobile, PhoneGap, REST API’s and mobile back-end services.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Max Katz

Max Katz is a Senior Systems Engineer at Exadel. He has been helping customers jump-start their RIA development as well as providing mentoring, consulting, and training. Max is a recognized subject matter expert in the JSF developer community. He has provided JSF/RichFaces training for the past four years, presented at many conferences, and written several published articles on JSF-related topics. Max also leads Exadel's RIA strategy and writes about RIA technologies in his blog, http://mkblog.exadel.com. He is an author of "Practical RichFaces" book (Apress). Max holds a BS in computer science from the University of California, Davis.