Alpha Software Blog

Mobile's Dirty Little Secret: Solving Offline Access

Offline Mobile Web Application Development Solution Mobile apps often assume that we live in a world where online access is not merely widely available, but ubiquitous. Turn on your smartphone or tablet, the thinking goes, and a 3G or 4G connection or else a nice fat-bandwidth Wi-Fi network is right there waiting for you, ready to do your app's bidding. Wouldn't it be nice to live in that world? A world in which there are no 3G or 4G deadspots, in which Wi-Fi networks reach every square inch of a company's offices or a person's home, even a basement, somehow. A world in which Wi-Fi networks never go down. A world in which you're never on an airplane that doesn't have WiFi.  The always-on wireless nirvana. I don't live there. Do you? I thought not. Neither do company's workforces. We all struggle with getting work done when there's no Internet access, with trying to sync data before and after we know we're going to go dark. With clueless apps that can't handle caching and syncing properly. With data conflicts because of those problems.

Removing Complexity in Offline Mobile Web Application Development

Businesses know this problem first-hand because of the difficulties their workforces face for getting work done when offline — notably sales forces who need to take orders, check inventory, book orders, and so on. That's why a recent survey by mobile app platform provider Verivo found that 78% of enterprise architects have plans to build apps that require offline support or data caching. But wanting to build apps that do that is one thing, and actually doing it is another. The typical way that apps handle offline access is unnecessarily complex, expensive and time-consuming— it can more than triple the complexity of building the app. It needn't be that way, though. When mobile apps are properly written from the ground up with offline access in mind — and when the apps themselves handle offline data access, rather than third-party databases — development can be swift and simple. There's a lot to keep in mind when developing offline-aware mobile apps. If it's something you're interested in, I suggest you read Alpha CTO Dan Bricklin's useful article, "Dealing with Disconnected Operation in a Mobile Business Application: Issues and Techniques for Supporting Offline Usage." It'll give you much to think about. But better yet, it will help solve your problems with developing offline-aware mobile apps.
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About Author

Dion McCormick
Dion McCormick

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.

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.