Profound Logic Speeds Up Mobile Client
September 1, 2021 Alex Woodie
Organizations that adopt the latest release of Profound Logic’s mobile client for iOS will find it runs significantly faster than older versions — up to 300 percent, the company says. An update to Apple’s newest Web browser rendering engine is the key behind the speedup in Profound UI Mobile Client version 2.8, the company says.
Profound UI Mobile Client is a development tool and client runtime that enables organizations to create native iOS applications. It works with both Profound UI as a front-end for RPG applications (with integration handled via IBM’s RPG Open Access) as well as Profound.js, the company’s Node.js development tool.
Profound Logic has been a big user of Apache Cordova, the open source framework that enables developers to target multiple mobile devices, including Android and iOS, with the same development effort. But on the iOS front, it has also supported additional libraries to render screens correctly.
Previous versions of Profound UI Mobile Client relied on Apple’s UIWebView to securely show HTML content inside of iOS applications. In 2014, with the launch of iOS 8.0, Apple released a successor to that framework called WKWebView. UIWebView has been fully deprecated at this point, and in December 2020, Apple ceased allowing apps with UIWebView to be listed on its App Store.
It took a bit of work to move the Mobile Client to Apple’s new WebKit, but it’s worth it because of the performance increase and access to new features, says Profound Logic CEO Alex Roytman.
“When we created our mobile technology, we were using the predecessor [UIWebView] that didn’t have all of the capabilities,” Roytman tells IT Jungle. “We made the choice that we needed to move on.”
The shift to Apple’s new WebKit under the hood of Mobile Client wasn’t easy, however. “It was a lot of work for us, because we had to rewrite a lot of code and replace a lot of components,” Roytman says.
Profound Logic is seeking to make the transition to WKWebView as easy as possible in Mobile Client 2.8, which is designed to work with Profound UI 6.10 and later.
Some customers won’t notice any difference compared to the old library, except possibly for some slightly different rendering objects on the screen. The company had been forced to do some workarounds to get certain widgets to render correctly, so that will be an improvement.
However, other customers will see some big changes, most notably in performance. “The applications are going to be a lot running a lot faster,” Roytman says. “We have some customers saying it seems like the app takes up too much memory, so all of that is now resolved with this update.”
According to Profound Logic, the JIT compiler is capable of delivering an application speedup of 200 percent to 300 percent in rendering times. In benchmark tests that Profound conducted with Speedometer, WKWebView is responsible for a 50 percent speedup compared to UIWebView running on the same iPhone, the company says.
Companies that have older iOS devices will probably be the biggest beneficiaries of the speedup, Roytman says. “We did have a specific case where we had a customer with older devices where some of the screens were taking a couple seconds” to render, he says. “Now they’re going to be less than a second to render.”
The move to WKWebView also introduces some new features to Profound UI Mobile Client, including voice dictation. Profound Logic has a customer that has been eager to adopt the new release because it will enable them to enable voice dictation with their mobile apps.
Security is another thing that’s been improved with the move to WKWebView. With the older library, cross site sharing could be done without any limitations, Roytman says, but now WKWebView limits that. The new release also fixes some glitches that occurred with iOS 13 and 14 and restores full functionality, the company says.
IBM i shops are eager to modernize their systems at the moment. According to Roytman, the bulk of the work still revolves around moving away from 5250 green screens toward Web interfaces, but mobile app enablement is also increasing.
“In general, there are different ways to approach mobile,” he says. “For some customers, it’s just a matter, OK, I need to access the system so I can just [access my Web applications] from home on a computer or from a tablet. So creating a specialized mobile interface is kind of the next step.”
While the target devices among IBM i shops vary, it seems that more are choosing iOS devices, Roytman says. Exactly what’s driving the affinity between iOS and the i OS server has yet to be demonstrated.