Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Select Window Component: Addressing the Difference Between Desktop and Mobile Contexts

As is often the case with new technology, we mimic old ways of doing things until we figure out that the new technology is best suited to new ways of working. Case in point, I am writing a blog to communicate with you now when a video would be more effective.

Experienced developers sometimes suffer a disadvantage because these old ways of doing things creep up in new paradigms as old and freshly irrelevant patterns. Such is the case in the numerous differences in best practice between mobile user interfaces and the traditional GUI interaction in desktop software.

With the announcement of Magic xpa Application Platform 2.5, a new Mobile Application Framework was introduced by Magic Software. Let’s take a look at the Select Window Component to see how different mobile GUIs ought to be from traditional applications.
Our example app is a Time Sheet application. In a traditional application where I want to find a particular timesheet, criteria would normally be entered in a multi-field search form, a “Search” button would be pressed and the match or matches would be displayed in a list. In a large screen format this allows me to use human memory to search very specifically. When my memory is faulty, I can search more broadly and then gradually filter the results to get down the actual time sheet I want to see.

A mobile approach will be quite different. My main screen will call out the two categories that I am most likely to use to find a specific project – wither the “Customer” name or the “Project” name. So I might design an interface with just these two menu options. Each will raise an event that gives me more choices.

If I select Customers, I get a list of my Local Customers.

If I select Projects, I get a list of Local Projects.

But if I select customer, and then click on the customer name in the list. I automatically get a list of that Local Customer’s Local projects.

In this example, the projects are simply named by month. Selecting a specific project will then show me the Customer Name, Project Name and my Time Sheets for that project.

To edit a given time sheet, once again I simply select it (by sliding or touching). Setting the time in the report uses features that are “native” or normal for my type of device (Android, Apple, Windows Mobile, etc.) 

The result of setting the new time is a corrected or updated Time Sheet as seen below.

So the flow of the app is something like this:

That is not to say that the old approach wouldn’t work. But good mobile apps strive to leverage the users time and limit typing and button pressing as much as possible. What the user sacrifices in flexibility, they gain ten times in efficiency and overall ease-of-use. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A New Release for the Magic Application Platform

Ready for a Shiny New Magic App?

Magic Software has released Magic xpa 2.5, the new version of the application platform that readers of this blog have known and loved for a long, long time. In addition to the new version, a new Mobile Accelerator Framework has been unveiled.

The mobile accelerator framework includes capabilities for improved user experience design, an application panel for tile-based menus, a log-in screen generator, enhanced charting for mobile, Google maps integration for location based services, and an application audit trail utility.

As announced in today's press release: "The proven, code-free, metadata-based Magic xpa Application Platform provides an easy-to-use, highly-productive and cost-effective development and deployment environment that lets organizations and ISVs quickly create multi-channel mobile and desktop business apps. Mobile enhancements in the Magic xpa 2.5 release include:

Enriched User Experience: New form animation and color options, enhanced navigation features including native tab bars and navigation drawers, support for customized keyboards and additional native controls.

Greater Platform Extensibility: Streamlined integration between the Magic platform and native code lets developers add more native capabilities.

Improved Developer Productivity: Improved native integration environment makes developers more productive.
Push Notifications: Developers can add push notifications across iOS and Android devices.

Support of Additional Databases and Technologies: Compatible with latest database versions (e.g. Oracle 12) and technologies (e.g. message queuing services).

Magic is also introducing its Mobile Accelerator Framework that includes pre-built component-based development modules and best practices. The reusable components speed development and reduce resources required to create multi-platform mobile applications.

Magic Mobile Accelerator Framework contains standard components for a wide variety of important features, including: User Interface and Display, Navigation, Graphs and Charting, Location Services, Synchronization, Device and Application Auditing, and more. More information about Magic’s new Mobile Accelerator Framework can be found on the Magic website."