Mobile Applications with APEX & jQuery Mobile

Mobile development is not the next big thing anymore, it is THE big thing today. And as you may already know, Oracle APEX is ready to take on the challenge of creating mobile business solutions.

We at iAdvise already started to experiment with mobile application development in APEX 4.0, but off course this was not the ideal environment yet. Since APEX 4.1 you can declaratively create mobile applications with jQuery mobile, and with the latest release (4.2) it’s really starting to lift off. You can even declaratively build responsive applications.

In May 2012 we gave a seminar about mobile development, and since then we successfully developed several mobile solutions for our clients. Below you can find a demo of an application we created for one of our most valued customers, New Holland Tractor Ltd.

New Holland Tractor Ltd

About New Holland: Since 1895, New Holland is committed to providing solutions that improve farming efficiency and productivity.
New Holland offers cash crop producers, livestock farmers, contractors, vineyards and groundcare professionals the largest choice of easy-to-operate tractors, harvesters and material handling equipment.

New Holland complements the widest agricultural equipment offering in the world with efficient Parts and Service support and a range of tailored financial services from a specialist in agriculture. Setting themselves the highest standards in quality and service, is part of the culture of New Holland, part of the DNA of New Holland. The plant in Antwerp (New Holland Tractor Limited) with some 1,000 employees, is a major manufacturing unit of tractor parts such as rear axles and drive systems.

Mobile application

New Holland Tractor requested a mobile solution to let their workers use checklists at the quality gates of the assembly lines in the plant.
In the past they had to manage all these checklists by hand. For each checklist, a paper form had to be filled out after which it had to be processed by hand. This created a lot of overhead and it was very easy to make errors.

The application had to be developed in Oracle APEX 4.1 and had to be super user-friendly. The result is a simple, yet elegant application.

Usability

At iAdvise we invest a lot to make our applications user-friendly. For this project we started off by designing mockups that were used as guidelines during the development phase, those helped us to create a very simple and efficient application.

For the workers of New Holland Tractor, this solution was a huge improvement. Now that the checklists are processed automatically, it’s very easy to analyze the production process and there’s less room for errors, hence it further increased both productivity and efficiency at the assembly lines.

We feel that mobile development with APEX is really kicking off and the APEX development team is on the right track to make APEX a mobile enabled development environment.

Exciting times are coming!

APEX & mobile seminar

On May 12 iAdvise hosted the “APEX and mobile seminar”.
With a turnout of more than 50 customers and interested developers, it indicates that mobile development is a real hype and the demand for mobile applications is rising.

This was the starting point for Stijn who started with an overview of the current situation and evolution of mobile applications.
It became clear that as a developer you can’t ignore mobile devices in the future.
He continued with explaining the challenges in mobile development and which guidelines and strategies could help in choosing the right technology for mobile applications.

Bart took the word and focused on developing web application for mobile devices using APEX.
By combining APEX with JQuery Mobile, HTML5 and CSS3, one could develop a mobile web application rather fast and simple.
Also implementing specific mobile behaviour(eg. “swiping”) and generating extra content on a tablet are rather simple using APEX.

After Bart, Jan showed a demo about the opportunities on offering APEX applications to users as a native app.
This sounds rather strange, but is possible. He had worked out a demo using PhoneGap, a javascript library which create the communication between a web application and the API of the mobile device.
The demo showed how the APEX application from the other demos was wrapped in a native app.
This makes it possible to add a new contact in the contact list of Jan’s IPhone.

After the demos, they gaves us a look at the future of mobile development with APEX, what we could expect in APEX 4.2 and how PhoneGap will take its place in this future.

At the end Johan Byl of Hestia showed us some points which had to be taken in mind when using mobile devices in a company.
This was also very interesting for application developers.
When developing applications, they’re not always keeping in mind that there will be a maintenance phase.
Eg. The support for the application will be allright, but what about the devices itself?
How will we get the application on all the mobile devices of our company?
Can everybody connect to the company network with his or her device?
Or should we prepare a different infrastructure/security?
These and a lot of other questions were explained and answered by Johan and showed us there are a lot of things we have to think over again before putting a mobile application in production.

At the end, a lucky attendee won an IPad3.
For him, iAdvise and regarding the positive feedback for others as well, it was a succesful seminar.

If you missed this seminar, there will another one at the office of our dutch colleagues in Breda, The Netherlands on May 24 2012.

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