Oct 18

Offline Mobile Application Development

While low-code platforms have the ability to build complex mobile applications for various business needs, the use cases continue to grow and get more challenging. Most businesses who rely on their workforce being on the field, demand information to be updated via their mobile devices on the go. This can pose a complex problem especially in areas where there is a lack of connectivity. In other words, low-code application platforms are pushed out of their comfort zone to help create applications to meet business requirements while running offline.

This takes us back to building apps the old way as it was done in the 1990s – a time before stable network connectivity. Well, sort of,  the ideology remains the same as the application now needs to run on data not acquired from the network but locally from the mobile device.

A traditional offline use case

Let’s consider a use case where a list of tasks is given to field officer operating a service app on their mobile device from a remote location without network connectivity. Operating the application requires the field officer to update their task progress on the mobile app which is recorded on the local mobile database. When they reconnect with a mobile network, the databases get auto-synced with the database on the server and data gets updated automatically. This enables real-time tracking of the field officers and their progress. Building this in an app can be quite challenging.

Planning and offline storage
Based on the use case, the offline requirements need to be planned well in advance to assess what parts of the database is required to be stored locally. You also need to take into account the lightness of the database, for it to work well with the application and its impact on the mobile device such as its processor workload, battery usage etc.

The offline data stored locally needs to sync with the server when the network connection is re-established. What aspects of the database needs to be synced and is there a specific trigger for the data sync? Is it user controlled or app controlled? Is this the same for all operators of the app? These are critical points that need to be assessed before building the app.

Leaping over technical hurdles
Once you have determined the business planning and the data sync of the application, there is the herculean task of building the application and making sure that the low-code platform can handle the technical hurdles of the application.

WaveMaker is a low-code application development platform that incorporates the above offline mobile features to help enterprises create future-ready mobile and web applications that meet complex business needs while increasing productivity at minimal cost.

Create flexible and scalable mobile apps with WaveMaker

Mobile apps developed on WaveMaker are created using open standards-based front end infrastructure (Angular, Bootstrap, and HTML5) which allows easy user interaction and provides a rich user experience. On the backend, it provides the flexibility with its unique API-based microservices architecture where it can integrate with data models optimized for mobile apps, services (scalable) and host of security options. WaveMaker uses Cordova which allows the application to leverage the device features like camera, network, and storage. It also helps bridge the gap to enable the application to be available on popular mobile operating systems.

Making your mobile apps work offline in WaveMaker

WaveMaker offline mobile app support extends to how the mobile application responds to the user when the application is offline or not connected to the database on the server. WaveMaker mobile apps have offline database support which utilizes the storage of the local device. It uses an SQLite database that is optimized for mobile workloads.

This can be configured while building the mobile application in the WaveMaker platform and is part of the out-of-the-box features provided by the platform. When the user is offline and running operations on the app, the data is stored on the local database offline and it syncs to the database on the server when the user is back online recording the changes.

You also have the ability to customize certain aspects of application behavior. As per requirements, the data sync from online-offline or vice-versa may require either an automatic data sync or manual sync by clicking a button on the app. The WaveMaker platform allows you database level customization options for each entry which controls the data pull-push in both offline and online modes as per the app needs.

Vanenburg Software- a WaveMaker certified premier EU partner using the WaveMaker platform’s offline capability digitized the on-field process of NRD (Natural Resources Development S.A.) working in the remotes parts of the African subcontinent to enable sustainable forestry. Read the case study.

Read documentation of WaveMaker Offline data support.

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