looksoftware Updates Server for Web and Mobile Interfaces
October 1, 2013 Dan Burger
What do you want out of your Web and mobile applications? The answer to that is different for each company and each individual. Some want basic information all the time and anywhere they travel, and some want interactive capability on par with the best user experience technology can offer. All these things were on the mind of developers at looksoftware as they created lookserver 10, which becomes generally available October 10.
The delivery of lookserver 10 will be the final piece that aligns all the looksoftware products on the version 10 plateau. It serves Web and mobile applications to any browser, be it desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Those applications would be created with newlook, the company’s design tool and development environment that was moved to the version 10 level in August.
Applications that are well-behaved in this variety of settings are part of the great expectations that come with modern computing.
Eamon Musallam, product marketing manager at looksoftware, told me in an interview last week that the availability of lookserver 10 shows that the IBM midrange ISV is “responding to customer needs to support multiple devices” and those needs have changed during the past few years and will change even more dramatically in the next couple of years.
“There’s a change taking place,” he noted in response to my question about mobile applications and devices. “Initially companies were supporting one device. Now it’s going more in the direction of support for multiple devices, typically three or four.”
Companies typically struggle a bit with device selection. Support for multiple devices and multiple screen sizes requires testing each device to make sure the result is what is expected.
“I tell companies to buy one of each device that is being considered and test it with users to find out which they are most comfortable with,” Musallam says. Phones are good for accessing company data and it is in your pocket at all times, which is very convenient, but it is not convenient for looking up inventory and product info because of its small screen.
“Things are different than they were two or three years ago and are impossible to predict what they will be two or three years in the future,” he says. “Expectations are much higher now. Apps have to be more intuitive and responsive. They have to go beyond just replicating data. Basic access is a big boost in productivity, but pretty quickly users want more and new requests for functionality start coming in.”
Improved user experience is driving a lot of mobile development. Although a pretty face helps, functionality and performance are what makes a difference.
But what we’re talking about is really application development at a high level. Most companies are not trying to create apps with this level of richness. It’s like buying a car to get the groceries and haul the kids compared to buying a car that is faster, handles better, and provides the driving experience and performance that creates advantages while also being safer and more secure.
There is still a gap between Web apps and native apps, but it is closing. And Web development is still the preferred method–the most-used method–for covering many options with a single development effort. Companies deploying to a single device may find developing a native app a greater advantage.
Skins are–to my way of thinking–the same as templates in that they are there to reduce complexity by developing shortcuts around manual coding and the complexity and learning curve that goes with new languages. This is all about the user interface, of course, and has nothing to do with the underlying, core-business code.
Although comparisons are often made to the native apps designed for mobile devices, there is another point of comparison worth noting: the screen-scraped apps, also known as refaced apps.
Refaced apps are quick and easy and for that reason are popular when speed of deployment is the highest priority. It skips development that requires more development skills. Rich applications are the focus of looksoftware and its design tool and server. The idea is to achieve better results than screen scraping with less complexity and with the capability to grow and extend applications that is absent in screen scraping.
Corresponding the October 10 GA date for lookserver 10 is a webinar hosted by looksoftware, which will describe and demonstrate the new server’s capabilities. To register for the online presentation, go to www.looksoftware.com.