Retriever Upgrades Offer Smart Prototyping, Faster Deployment of Mobile Apps
Retriever Communications is expanding capabilities of its Mobile Enterprise
Application Platform (MEAP) to speed up the design and launch of mobile apps. The
company's innovative, code-free prototyping tool that lets business users design how
they’d like their mobile apps to work. IDN speaks with Retriever’s CEO.
“Retriever puts the power to prototype into the hands of the business user, so what gets built is what the users want.rdquo;
Retriever Communications is expanding the capabilities of its Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) to help companies speed up the design and launch of mobile apps. The company is shipping an innovative, code-free prototyping tool that lets business users design how they’d like their mobile apps to work.
“To understand our rationale in making a prototype tool available: The demand for mobile apps is about to hit business like a tsunami and IT shops will struggle to address the demand in any sort of timely fashion – and timely in mobile is months and not the years traditional IT projects have taken,” Retriever CEO Mary Brittain-White told IDN.
“Some vendors are addressing this growing demand for [mobile apps] by giving building blocks to developers, which we believe address the part of the market that likes to build from the ground up,” Brittain-White said. Retriever takes an opposite approach by putting the business user – not IT – at the center of designing the mobile app, she added.
To Britain-White, the reason why the business user -- and not a developer – should be the best person to prototype a mobile app is simple: “Why make IT build some [app] that is really not going to be what the business users want? We put the power to prototype into the hands of the business user, so what gets built is what the users want,” she said.
To empower the business users to design their mobile apps, the Retriever Application Development Environment (RADE) adds some eye-popping capabilities to let a non-technical user create a prototype mobile app, and even take it for a real-world test drive to make sure it will meet user needs before it is sent to developers to be programmed.
The ability to make a prototype is simply a drop-and-drag screen build, the tool then gives you navigation options and the ability to auto populate the prototype with data – thereafter it’s all auto code generation – resulting in a mobile prototype that works on iOS, Android and Windows
Retriever paid special attention to features that help business users create an easy-to-use GUI, quickly tapping into backend data and systems and making sure apps work with a company’s business rules and workflows.
Notable RADE features include:
Drag-and-drop prototyping UI, to support how a mobile app integrates and interacts with business rules, data input and other enterprise resources.
Code-free ways to prototype and define GUI, app navigation, internationalization.
Because RADE splits the prototyping from the scripting of an application within the
same tool, it can help IT break out of the time-consuming “waterfall” development
approach to development for mobile apps. “This new model will allow IT and business
units to get critical business applications out quickly for discussion with almost
no overhead in learning new tools. Combined with our industrial-strength mobile
platform, this approach ensures a user-centric application that guarantees
reliability in the field,” Brittain-White said.
Speedy deployments across a wide range of mobile devices via Retrivers’s “write-once – run anywhere” native mobile apps architecture . This is made possible via Retriever’s innovative virtual machine (VM) architecture, which is optimized for each device. This feature lets IT build a mobile app just one time, and deploy it as a “native” app across Andoid, iOS or Windows devices. As a “native” app it can access to all the device’s functionality, including camera, GPS and more.
“Live app” preview capabilities to let users try prototypes in real situations – and give feedback “This ‘live app’ capability from a prototype is a boon to IT and business productivity,” Brittain-White told IDN. The ability to make changes at the prototype stage, before complex coding begins lets users modify their apps to better support workflows or provide a better GUI without adding significant time or cost to a mobile project, she added.
“RADE’s features look to tackle all the time-consuming pieces [across the mobile lifecycle] of getting the native app to work on a mobile device,” Brittain-White said.
Once all stakeholders try out the prototyped app, and agree it works the way it should, only then is the prototype handed over to IT professionals – on staff or outsourced – to complete all the production-ready steps, she added.
The efficiencies continue thanks to Retriever’s runtime architecture, which includes virtual machines optimized for Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices. “RADE delivers a fully-native app, not HTML5. Once they build an app, it works natively on iOS/Android/Windows. Any changes are to the project and only done once so there is no issue in maintaining multiple platforms,” Brittain-White added.
In one example, RADE was key in providing an app for what will be 2,000 technicians who maintain coffee and drink machines across Thailand. The app includes all the workflows needed by the remote technicians, such as getting their job assignments, reporting on parts used (and requisitioning them as needed), and integrating the two-way dataflows to the customer’s IBM Maximo systems. “Not a single line of code outside of RADE was needed,” Brittain-White said.
In another boon for enterprise mobility, Retriever has newly proven scalability for widely deployed mobile app, she added. Recent independent testing on Retriever’s mobile enterprise server infrastructure was found to support more than 16,000 user data requests per minute. Tests were completed on a single server Amazon AWS cloud. “The mobile market is seeing a huge shift in enterprise adoption. However, as organizations and developers create applications to meet this rising demand their concerns become the corporate must-haves of scalability and security,” she said.