m-Power Gets Responsive with Screen Design
December 10, 2013 Alex Woodie
As a high-powered business executive, you expect to access the same application from multiple devices without any issues. However, requiring developers to maintain multiple versions of an application for PCs, Web browsers, smartphones, and tablets would be a giant waste of your awesome powers. With the latest release of its m-Power application development tool, mrc adopted the concept of responsive design, enabling the same GUI to automatically adapt to all of your varied devices.
From the perspective of a master of the universe, the concept of responsive design is a no-brainer. Of course the screen will automatically adapt when you continuously rotate your iPad from portrait to landscape modes, over and over and over again. Of course you won’t be required to resize, pan, and scroll the screen to view the contents of your super-important application. Of course the application will automatically hide the least important parts of an app when you access it from an iPhone, and automatically show more details when you log on from the pair of 42-inch plasmas that serve as your PC displays from your sumptuously appointed corner suite.
The mobile revolution has changed the ways in which people work with applications and changed what we expect from the software we use. While the user demands are clear–we want everything to look pixel-perfect, all the time–the reality of delivering this level of responsive design is complex, and requires forethought into application composition, including client and server components.
The folks at mrc say they have taken a bunch of the responsive design work out of the picture with the latest release of its m-Power application development tool. The software, which automatically generates the Java code to run Web applications on IBM i and other servers, has supported the creation of user interfaces for mobile devices for some time. But the level of automation has gone up considerably with the latest release.
With the new responsive design features in m-Power, the application will automatically resize the buttons and adjusts the layout for maximum usability across different devices. So when a user accesses an application from a small, touch-based smartphone, he will see an interface that’s optimized for that particular screen. And when he logs into the same app from Internet Explorer running on Windows 8, he will see another.
“Users now expect software that works on any device and is instantly understandable,” says mrc’s manager of software development Tyler Wassell. “Rebuilding the interface addresses these two realities perfectly: It gives users a completely intuitive interface and positions m-Power for the new, mobile-focused world of the future.”
The new version of m-Power (mrc doesn’t use version or release numbers anymore) brings several other enhancements, including a new “guided build-process.” The software has always used wizards. But now mrc includes a nifty “build process navigation bar” directly into the development tool, thereby giving developers a better idea of exactly where they stand in the development process. The bar also makes it easier to go back to previous steps, if needed.
Finally, m-Power also now gets a new “slide-up help” function. On every page of the development process, with a simple flick of the cursor, a user can easily pull up help contents that are specific to the functions accessible on that particular page, rather than forcing them to search through the main index.
That feature will be very useful for beginners who need help getting started. But the hand-holding actually starts at the beginning now, thanks to a new on-screen m-Power tour that greets users when they first sign on, and guides them through a sample build process.
The new release of m-Power is available now. One-year subscriptions go for around $18,000. Perpetual licenses are more. For more information and trial downloads, see www.mrc-productivity.com.