TSG has completed our initial development efforts for our High Performance Interface (HPI) Mobile, our specific offering for a variety of devices leveraging HTML5. This post will discuss our approach and rationalization along with links to screencams in our learning zone.
Why does Mobile need to be different?
Often times, clients will ask “Can’t I just us my PC browser application from the browser on my iPad or Android Phone?”. Some of the reason Mobile applications need to different from PC/Web Browser interfaces include:
- Viewing Content – while we have had a ton of success with our client browser interfaces for embedding PDF’s or other images within the browser frame on a PC, that approach doesn’t really work with Mobile or Touch as it is difficult to read on smaller resolutions and the difficulty of zoom/scroll functions. For mobile, it is much cleaner to leverage the device applications for viewing.
- User Interaction – there are subtle differences between mouse actions and touch screen actions. Difference include the inability to hover (mouse action – impossible to do with finger), right button mouse click and overall design that relies on action items being easily accessible via touch.
- Viewing Search Results – given limited resolution, the traditional approach of column based search results doesn’t
make much sense.
In developing our approach, we had a couple of driving goals as it relates to a mobile offering for ECM:
- Consistency – specifically, we wanted to leverage as much as possible of our existing interface configurations as possible. In this manner, the interface could be configured once for both mobile as well as PC browser based solutions.
- Multi-Devices rather than just one – while it was tempting to just develop for the Apple solutions, we really wanted one code base to satisfy a variety of devices to give clients maximum choice. Given consumerization of IT, we thought that it was difficult for us or any client to predict or cost-effectively support a variety of different code bases for the variety of devices that users would
want to leverage.
- Short Release Cycle – Our goal was similar to browser based solutions in that we want to be able to quickly release improvements/enhancements without being tied to the applications stores (iTunes, Android MarketPlace…) or have the user have to download to install.
Our development choice – HTML5 and CSS
Consistent with our approach for Web Development, we decided on a browser approach for clients rather than native applications. HTML5 and CSS are widely supported on tablets and smart phones providing a very rich user interface across multiple devices. The comparison of the major mobile browsers at http://mobilehtml5.org reveals that most of the CSS3 animations and transformations and the HTML5 canvas are supported, providing web applications with the same look and feel as the native mobile applications without the need for any native development or user downloads.
For our infrastructure, we decided to leverage the Sencha touch framework to build applications that support every major mobile browser and even desktop Google Chrome. Sencha Touch builds upon the proven Ext JS framework to provide powerful UI capabilities without spending hours on development of core features.
All of our offerings can also be converted to native applications if we need to access a phone specific feature or an attached device like the camera. Instead of spending all of our time creating an application that only works on your iPhone, we decided to develop a great application for all devices and then, if necessary, specifically port it to the iPhone to add that extra feature to utilize the latest Apple goody.
Utilizing these technologies and the Sencha touch framework, TSG is extending HPI to mobile interfaces to access all of your ECM content on the go.
Our first offering builds on the success and ease of use found in HPI search: HPI Mobile Search. Our offering allows users to search and view the same repositories from your browser with HPI, a tablet or phone. Providing consistency across browser and Mobile offerings, search parameters are configured once for both the standard web browser PC interface as well as mobile device. PDF renditions are also being generated on the fly for optimal viewing in the native applications, providing multi-touch and gestures as well. Main interfaces include:
- Search and Retrieve
- MyDocuments (based on last created documents)
- Inbox (coming soon)
To see a formal demonstration – access our screen cam in our learning zone.
For those considering adding a mobile application to their ECM solution, we think HTML5/CSS is a great approach for avoiding developing a quick, easy to deploy search infrastructure for a variety of devices.