Resources to Help You Start Building Offline Mobile Apps Quickly and Easily
Enterprises have finally recognized that a key ingredient of any mobile app is the ability to work well when they're offline and disconnected. That's because we don't live in a truly connected world—cellular access can be flaky, WiFi not always available, and when people travel on airplanes, they're typically not connected. Work still needs to go on when people are offline, for example, when salespeople are away from the office and out of the reach of the Internet or a network. This is where offline application capabilities can really make your app outshine the competition and really mobilize your workforce.
A survey by mobile app platform provider Verivo shows that businesses have finally recognized the important of building offline access into mobile apps: It found that 78% of enterprise architects have plans to build apps that require offline support or data caching.
But building offline mobile apps isn't easy. Even very experienced developers have a tough time of it, notes Ben Nadel, chief technical officer at InVision App, a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers. In a recent blog he concluded, "Offline data synchronization is super complicated….I cannot really think of ways to make offline data synchronization all that much easier."
Forrester Analyst Michael Facemire agrees that the complexity around mobile is significant. He recently said "If you haven't been doing this for years, you won't be able to do it. Period."
The Core of the Offline Problem
What makes offline access so difficult is that most mobile apps aren't architected properly for it. They typically include an on-device database that's a subset of a master corporate database. The application on the device performs its operations against this on-device database, not the master database on the server.
This causes numerous updating and problems. In a worst-case scenario, the application won't know about replication errors or be able to resolve them, and the user running the application will get incorrect information, or the corporate database won't be updated properly -- a potential business disaster.
The Solution for Offline Apps
Alpha Anywhere's new offline capabilities solve the problem. Alpha Anywhere uses a standard HTML5 feature to handle the problems inherent in having an application work when offline --- it caches data in local storage instead of using a replica of a subset of the master database in a local, on-device database.
Handling offline access this way means that you can build an application to work offline in the same way that you would build it to work online. No additional code needs to be written, saving time and money. And synchronization errors are elimited.
For more details, check out these resources:
Dion McCormick, Lead Solutions Engineer at Alpha Software, is a recognized expert on agile application development. He helps enterprise development teams around the world transition from slow legacy approaches to high-performance mobile, web, and desktop development using the Alpha Anywhere platform.
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