Alpha Software Blog

Low-Code/No-Code Software: The Need for Offline Apps

This is the second in a 4-part article series discussing some critical features for enterprise low-code development. Robust offline apps that can work with or without a WiFi or cell connection are a key feature of Alpha Software products, which makes them ideal for enterprise web and mobile app development.

We've all been there: you're working with a smartphone app and suddenly your connection is weak or gone completely. Mobile apps aren't mobile if they don't work offline. Alpha Software offers the best offline mode of any low-code/no-code platform and continues working and synching data even in spotty locations.

offline apps low code no code softwareAs I’ve written in a previous blog post, one of the most important features in a low-code/no-code platform is the ability to write apps that work when offline, not connected to the Internet or a cellphone network.

Why is this so important? Even though it may seem as if connectivity is ubiquitous, many locations are either unconnected or have spotty connections, that work sometimes but not others, notably some rural areas, remote worksites, and even dead spots in big cities.

In this blog post, I’ll delve more into the importance of offline capabilities in low-code/no-code platforms, and explain how Alpha excels at them.

Let’s start with the basics: Any app written by a low-code/no-code platform should work without a network connection. Without offline capabilities, even something as simple as clicking a dropdown that relies on a remote data source won’t work. You’d be surprised how many low-code/no-code platforms won’t let you build apps that can do something that simple.

But offline capabilities need to go well beyond basic operations and handle more challenging scenarios. One of the most difficult of those is when the network connections is spotty, fading in and out. The offline app may be in the middle of an operation, but the connection strengthens and then vanishes, strengthens and vanishes. Sometimes the device thinks it has a connection and it tries to send, but what's actually going out is zero or bytes per second. If not handled properly, this can lead to incomplete data and failed operations. But unlike other low-code/no-code platforms, Alpha handles all without a glitch.

Another scenario is one in which the data is sent to the server, but then the connection is lost. That can lead to the client app never getting a reply that the work was done. If not handled properly, that can lead to many problems, including duplicate sets of data. With Alpha, that never happens.

Also imagine an app on a device that’s offline for eight hours in a warehouse without a network connection as a truck is being unloaded. Once the truck leaves the warehouse and gets connected again, there’s a tremendous amount of data that needs to be uploaded, a complete day’s worth of activity. That can lead to timeouts and other problems unless the app has the right kind of offline capabilities – and typical low-code/no-code platforms can’t handle it properly. It won’t happen with Alpha; our platform has been built with those kinds of use cases in mind.

Alpha Software Offers the Best Offline Capabilities

Few, if any low-code/no-code platforms offer all these capabilities. Alpha had had them all for years and goes beyond them as well. We’ve tested our platform with massive amounts of records in offline mode, and with spotty connection. It works every time and offers the most reliable offline operations, with the most comprehensive feature set of any low-code/no-code platform.

Offline mobile app development capabilities in Alpha Anywhere include:

  • Fine-grained control of write conflicts, beyond a simple "last-in" wins approach;
  • Data synchronization and conflict resolution;
  • Data persistence when the business app is closed or the battery dies, including data not saved to the server;
  • Built-in support for converting SQL data into hierarchical JSON data sets - e.g. customers, their orders, and the order details;
  • 'Offline capable' applications with no additional development time.

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.