CNX Goes Native with Mobile Framework
November 18, 2014 Alex Woodie
CNX is gearing up to release a native application for smartphones and tablets with the next release of its application development framework for IBM i customers.
With the launch of Valence 4.1, which is slated to become available in mid-November, CNX will, for the first time, offer its mobile portal as a native smartphone app. The company will be targeting iOS first, to be followed by Android support in 2015.
“The big news is that we’re introducing a native iOS portal app for accessing the IBM i server instance,” says Robert Swanson, a senior partner with CNX. “The new native portal makes it possible for users to run mobile IBM i apps on their iPhones or iPads without having to navigate to them through a browser page as they did in prior versions of Valence (i.e., via Safari).”
Having a native app allows Valence to better maintain session state, which is critical when a user leaves the Valence app to pursue other critical business-related activities, such as checking Facebook, liking a tweet, or posting a cat picture on Instagram.
“But most importantly,” Swanson tells IT Jungle, “the new native app provides developers direct access to all of the mobile device’s assets (camera, GPS, contacts, etc.), as well as support for attached peripheral devices, such as laser scanners.”
CNX just completed an engagement with a Missouri manufacturer in which it used a beta version of the native portal to create an inventory picking-and-putaway app that runs on an iPad. The app integrates with an attached laser scanner and will replace a 5250-based app the company used for the past decade.
“We were pleased to see that the iPads were an instant hit with the users trying it out,” Swanson says. “In fact, during live testing they were literally fighting over who got to use them because they liked the iPad app so much more than the green screens. And the beauty is the iPad/laser scanner combos are a fraction of the cost of the hardware they’re replacing.”
CNX first supported mobile apps with the launch of Valence 3.0 back in 2011. With that release, CNX modified its Web portal framework to run on smartphones and tablets. The portal framework provides basic navigation and security capabilities for developing Web or mobile applications.
In addition to improving session management, running the mobile portal as a native app will improve performance, CNX says. The version 4.1 release will also bring improvements to the company’s Nitro AutoCode function that will make it easier for customers to roll out mobile IBM i apps.