Visual LANSA Apps Now Deploy to Mobile Devices
June 7, 2011 Alex Woodie
IBM i and Windows shops that develop with LANSA‘s Visual LANSA environment can now generate client interfaces that deploy to mobile devices, such as the Apple iPad and Android phone. The new capability, which was delivered as an update to the Visual LANSA Framework, is expected to be enthusiastically adopted by LANSA customers that are eager to give their users access to business applications from the latest mobile devices.
As the flagship development environment for LANSA, Visual LANSA has traditionally supported two server platforms, IBM i and Windows, and two types of client user interfaces: Windows-based rich clients and Web browser clients.
While LANSA is not offering native support for specific mobile devices (at least not yet), its improved support for the latest Web browser standards enables Visual LANSA Framework applications to deploy to the latest mobile devices, including all Apple iOS devices, Google Android-based phones and tablets, Microsoft Windows Mobile 7 phones, and any other devices that can run a recent release of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari.
The new software also allows users to size the Visual LANSA screen to fit the particular device, including making icons and buttons bigger and enabling zooming and scrolling functions. That’s all part of being mobile-enabled.
Customers are looking to create mobile interfaces for all types of IBM i applications, including ERP and CRM systems in the manufacturing, hospitality, and insurance industries, Divaker says. Customers can convert existing 5250 green screens into Web or mobile clients using RAMP, the vendor’s modernization offering, which plugs in to the Visual LANSA environment. New development done in Visual LANSA’s template-based application framework can also be configured to work on mobile devices.
While some customers are seeking to make their entire applications work on iPads or Android phones, most are taking a more prudent approach, using incremental steps. “They typically have their backend in place and they’re just Web-enabling pieces that their users are asking to access on the mobile device,” Divaker says. “You don’t have to go and do everything. Use the 80/20 rule. Take 20 percent of the application that people use all the time and enable that for mobile. It’s much easier to get budget approval and gets you a quick win with your customers.”
The power and speed of today’s mobile devices and wireless networks has set the stage for a tremendous surge of interest in mobile computing. Thanks to IBM i’s support for open standards and the fact that the standards are becoming more elegant and powerful, the IBM i the platform is riding along at the head of pack when it comes to mobile computing.
Network speed has a lot to do with the sudden surge in mobile interest. “The fact that now you’ve not only got WiFi access everywhere, and cell phone access everywhere, but the advent of 4G. 4G is now faster than most peoples’ wireless at home,” Divaker says.
“That allows you to make it feature rich. You can actually start doing things like nice graphs and doing dashboards and KPIs. You can actually do that now without worrying about, ‘Oh, what am I sending down the pipe?’ In some cases, you’re actually showing them more information, because you don’t have to worry about that. You can give the users everything they want at their fingertips.”
The Visual LANSA Framework is one component of the Visual LANSA environment. The other three main components include the data services layer, the metadata repository, and the fourth-generation language (4GL), called RDML. The application framework accelerates development efforts by using pre-built and reusable templates that can be quickly customized for particular users. It also implements a security model.
The update to the Visual LANSA Framework brought several other new features. Instance lists, which are search results of sorts used during Visual LANSA development, are now color coded. LANSA has also enhanced the capability for developers to control the position of toolbars and windows. Developers can now encrypt their Visual LANSA business objects, which are saved in MSMXL6, and include Web content on the sign-on screen. Lastly, this release brings new printing capabilities.