No-Code Platforms, Cloud Services Offer Options for Mobile App Dev

With pressure on to deliver more mobile apps, enterprises are looking to codeless environments to empower "citizen developers" while trying out various mobile app dev tools and strategies.

Mobile App Dev 923

As users commonly look to their mobile devices for everything from shopping to closing deals with e-signatures, the need for more and more apps has increased exponentially.

There has been a relentless rise in the use of mobile devices for everything from flight check-ins to viewing bank account statements and scanning social media updates. As a result, the pressure is on for enterprises to deliver apps that match or at least come close to what users want to do in their everyday lives.

Today’s consumer expects quality and secure connectivity at the touch of a fingertip—anytime, anywhere, on any device. That expectation has transferred to the enterprise.

But enterprise application development teams and IT departments, which are already under great pressure to deliver software and services to meet the latest business needs, will be hard pressed to respond to the demand for a new generation of mobile apps.

“The demand for high-velocity app deployment will overwhelm infrastructure and operations teams that are not staffed, budgeted or prepared to handle a rapid scale-up of mobile apps,” wrote Michael Facemire, principal analyst and Jeffrey Hammond, vice president, principal analyst, in a recent Forrester report. “In turn, developers will look for options that light up in hours, scale transparently and just work."

Moreover, driven by both bring-your-own-device trends and enterprise interest in optimizing the productivity of mobile workforces, enterprises are tackling mobile application development more strategically and bringing it in-house, said IDC’s Al Hilwa in his recent report entitled “Negotiating the Mobile Disruption: Approaches for Multiplatform Application Development.”

To get the apps they need, enterprises are taking a variety of approaches. These include acquiring pre-built, customizable apps, using no-code app frameworks to empower “citizen developers;" or implementing native and hybrid app development using HTML5. Another trend is employing developers to use mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs) as well as mobile back end as a service (MBaaS) systems.

In his report, Hilwa said the greatest use of HTML5 technologies in mobile applications will be found in the hybrid app approach. HTML5 will be used for the parts of the application where it is adequately supported by device browser components (WebView), while other technologies will be used for other parts of the application, he said.

"No-code, RAD [Rapid Application Development], 4GL solutions are what we call today model-driven application platforms and they are mostly the domain of business applications," Hilwa told eWEEK. "Many modern development tools utilize visual techniques or model-driven design approaches and these same tools are increasingly targeting mobile platforms natively or through mobile web."

Enterprises are looking into many different services and online tools to rapidly deploy and revise mobile applications.

For example, many enterprises are looking to sources like Canvas Solutions. Canvas is a cloud-based software service that enables businesses to replace paper forms with apps on their smartphones and tablets.

Canvas enables users to collect information using mobile devices, share that information and easily integrate with existing backend systems. Canvas also offers a business-only application store with more than 14,000 pre-built, customizable apps that work on all mobile platforms and serve more than 30 vertical markets.

Canvas apps are customizable by users and can incorporate functionality such as GPS, image capture, dispatch, barcode scanning, electronic signatures, push notifications and access to business data such as parts catalogs, price lists and patient records.

Canvas CEO James Quigley told eWEEK his company offers not only offers its catalog of pre-built, customizable apps, but also an easy-to-use mobile app development platform.