Be Your Own Enterprise Mobile Apps Powerhouse with HTML5

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 API’s

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.

Mapping the Tools in the Mobile Development Ecosystem – And How Tiggzi Mobile App Builder Fits In

ReadWriteMobile has posted an interesting Infographic created by Kinvey mapping the current mobile ecosystem (click on image to view larger version):

(Image source: http://kinvey.com/images/kinvey_backend-as-a-service_mobileecosystem_2100px.png)

First of all thanks to Kinvey for creating this wonderful map and including Tiggzi in it (blue Mobile SDK line). Tiggzi could actually span 3 different lines: BaaS, Mobile SDK and Mobile API. Tiggzi is a cloud-based HTML5 mobile app builder, so it’s not exactly a mobile SDK. In fact, the technology under the hood is HTML, JavaScript and jQuery Mobile. For hybrid apps, the app can be wrapped in PhoneGap, which also provides access to native device features. So, there is no really “custom” SDK.

Second, from the builder it’s incredibly easy to consume any REST API (yellow Mobile API line). Tiggzi comes with a pretty nice REST services console where any service can be tested. From the same console, the REST service response (structure) can be automatically created. Once the service is defined, it is mapped to jQuery Mobile UI using a visual mapper (UI to service input, service output to UI).

Thirdly, as most BaaS services (orange line) are exposed as REST, HTML5 mobile app built in Tiggzi, can easily connect and use those services.

Lastly, and maybe the most important point is how incredibly fast you can build apps. It sort of all makes sense.. you got cloud-based mobile backend (exposed as REST) and cloud-based app builder to build the apps. It sounds simple.. but a really elegant picture.

This perfectly describes Tiggzi. Tiggzi is cloud-based builder for creating HTML5, jQuery Mobile, PhoneGap, and RESTful mobile apps.

Webinar: Learn How to Build Mobile Apps in the Cloud with HTML5, jQuery Mobile, REST, and PhoneGap

In this fas­ci­nating hands-on we­binar, a real mo­bile app will be built, con­nected to a REST ser­vice, and tested. Attendees will be be able to test the app as it’s being built. Beyond that, we will also cover some of the ex­citing fea­tures of the new ver­sion of Tiggr that will have been re­leased by then (under a new name…).

Learn How to Build Mobile Apps in the Cloud with HTML5, jQuery Mobile, REST, and PhoneGap
January 19, Thursday
11am US Pacific Time
Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/486123896

Pretty Darn Good Tools – Building a Mobile App With Tiggr and Parse

I’m not sure whether there is any other way to describe it but building a mobile app in Tiggr Mobile Apps Builder and connecting to Parse mobile back end is super easy and fast!

Here is how the app look in design time in Tiggr:

There are three REST services on the right which connect to Parse mobile back end. The services are for loading the current list items, creating new list item and deleting a list item. For example, this is how the service URL to get all List items looks:


https://{username}:{password}@api.parse.com/1/classes/List

List – is a class I created in Parse.

This is how the service URL looks for deleting an item:


https://{username}:{password}@api.parse.com/1/classes/List/{objectId}

objectId – is the class Id to delete.

Parse mobile back end is very easy to use and is very elegant.

Here is how the actual app look when running:

I’ll publishing the actual tutorial on how to build this app.

It’s almost funny how fast a mobile app can be build using Tiggr and Parse. The app was built in about 30 minutes, with nothing to download or install, all the tools are in the cloud.

Happy New Year!

Building Mobile Apps in the Cloud with Tiggr and PhoneGap

Tiggr – the easiest platform for building mobile apps in the cloud

Tiggr is a cloud-based mobile apps builder. It lets developers build HTML5/JavaScript and native apps very quickly, entirely in the cloud. There is nothing to download, nothing to install, and nothing to configure. Just create a new project, and you are ready to start building your mobile app with HTML5/JavaScript and PhoneGap.

Building mobile UI with jQuery Mobile

To build the mobile UI, there is a visual editor and jQuery Mobile components, as shown below. You simply drag and drop components into the phone area.

You can create multiple screens, navigate between screens, store data in Local Storage, and write custom JavaScript. This means you can create the complete UI for your mobile app and also test in a Web browser.

Testing the mobile app

Testing is one of the most innovative features in Tiggr. There is a big Test button at the top. Clicking that button opens up a browser window with the mobile app in it. Need to test the app on the actual device? Scan the QR code, and e-mail the URL to your device. Don’t forget to make the app public. (More about testing native apps a little bit later.)

Consuming any cloud service

Once the UI is ready, the next step is connecting to cloud services. In Tiggr, you can connect to any cloud REST service. Below is an example of using the service editor to define a connection to Twitter’s search REST service:

Once the service is defined, it is mapped to the UI. A service usually has inputs and outputs. Mapping specifies how different UI components are related to different service parameters for input and output. There is even a visual data mapping editor available (service output is shown on the left, screen components are shown on the right:

The JavaScript column (on the left) allows you to write custom JavaScript to give you more power and flexibility when mapping service to UI (custom JavaScript is also available when mapping UI to service).

One last step is adding an event to invoke the service. For example, on a specific button click (HTML click event) the service could be invoked. You can of course use any other HTML events. With Tiggr this is easy.

Native apps with PhoneGap

PhoneGap is an awesome mobile app platform. It takes advantage of Web technologies developers already know: HTML and JavaScript. PhoneGap makes it super easy to wrap any mobile Web app as native, but also provide access to device native features via its elegant and easy-to-use API.

Exporting native app

Every app (native) in Tiggr comes with PhoneGap installed. To export the app as native is as simple as clicking the big Export button:

If you are targeting for Android, then you can download Android Release binary (.apk). This file is ready for the Android Market. Tiggr has a Android .apk file editor for you to enter all the necessary information.

If you are targeting iOS, then export iOS xCode project (Eclipse). You can then build the app on your machine or use cloud-based PhoneGap Build service to build for iOS.

As an alternative, for both Android, iOS or any other platform you can download the mobile Web version (Web resources, HTML/CSS/JS) and use PhoneGap Build service to build for the platform.

For example, if you need to build for BlackBerry, then simply download the mobile Web version and upload to PhoneGap Build. It’s that simple.

Using PhoneGap API

What if you need to invoke PhoneGap API to access device features? Well, that’s very simple too. Tiggr comes with Run Custom JavaScript action, which can be invoked on any HTML event.
As an example, we will implement a Vibrate button.

First, we add the click HTML event to the button:

Add an action – Run Custom JavaScript:

and finally add the PhoneGap JavaScript call:

Another option is to create a JavaScript file (Project > JavaScript), write all the custom code in functions in the file, and then invoke any function via the Run Custom JavaScript action.

Note that you can also import an existing JavaScript file (from a URL or via uploading).

Invoking a function from the custom JavaScript file is done via Run Custom JavaScript action:

Testing native apps

Once you use a native API, testing in Web browser is no longer as useful. To test native apps, you can use Tiggr Mobile Tester. It’s a native app (Android, iOS) that lists all your mobile app in Tiggr. You simply tap any app in the list to launch the native app for testing. It’s the easiest and fasted way to test a native app without having to install it. The tester app looks like this:

Device components

Being able to invoke custom JavaScript (and PhoneGap API) almost from anywhere makes Tiggr and PhoneGap so powerful. But, that’s not all. Tiggr now has components in the Device palette which are based on PhoneGap API:

This is even simpler than using the API. More components are planned to be added such as Camera and others.

Tiggr and PhoneGap – The ULTIMATE mobile app development combo?

We think so.

You have Tiggr, a cloud-based mobile apps builder. There is nothing to install or configure. Tiggr uses jQuery Mobile, HTML5, JavaScript and CSS to build mobile apps. The app’s UI is built inside a visual editor, the app can easily be connected to any cloud service, and the app can be tested at any point in a browser or on a device. At the end, you can export the app source.

Then, you have PhoneGap, a powerful framework that uses HTML5 and JavaScript to build native mobile apps and makes it super easy to access native features in an app, such as contacts and camera. PhoneGap’s cloud-based build service allows you to build quickly for multiple platforms.

When you combine the two, Tiggr and PhoneGap, you get powerful cloud-based HTML5 mobile apps builder with an easy way to incorporate native device features and build for multiple mobile platforms.

Sign up for Tiggr and build your mobile app today.

Originally posted on PhoneGap blog: http://phonegap.com/2011/12/15/building-mobile-apps-in-the-cloud-with-tiggr-and-phonegap/

Visual Mapper: jQuery Mobile to REST Services

Mapping mobile UI to service is one of the most basic tasks in any mobile app (or a standard Web application). Input data entered by the user is sent to the service (input), the service is invoked, returns data (result) is sent back to the app for displaying results. Tiggr Mobile Apps Builder makes it super easy to map UI to service. Let’s look at an example.

REST service settings:

REST service input parameters:

REST service output parameters:

To open the standard mapping editor, there are two buttons in properties for a service:

Mapping UI to service look like this:

The service input parameters are on the left and are mapped to input components and properties on the right.

Mapping service back to UI for displaying the result looks like this:

The service output parameters are on the left and are mapped to output components and properties on the right.

Now there is even a more visual way to do the same. There is a new Data Mapping tab in the main editor, clicking the tab will open a visual data mapping editor:

That’s a pretty cool way to do mobile UI to REST service mapping.