freshidea - Fotolia
While hybrid development, using both native and HTML5 coding, provides shortcuts to releasing and deploying features, the planning and design phases of the development process demand diligence more than speed, according to Richard Sojka, managing director at Glenfield Digital Group, a software development and systems integration services firm in Australia.
"Spend a great deal of time in the engagement phases before going to development and testing," Sojka said. "Getting your core idea outlined and creating a comprehensive functional specification is essential." Sojka describes Glenfield's recent software development projects, project challenges, tools used, and lessons learned about hybrid development in this Q&A.
Describe Glenfield Digital's recent marine fleet application, Web services and platform development project.
Sojka: We set out to streamline how large marine providers publish their fleet information, substantially decreasing administration time and improving accuracy. We created a system for Bhagwan Marine that helps marine service providers keep their fleet information accurate, highly visual, centralized and published to a wide variety of media, such as Web, mobile app, print and visual displays.
Named Bhagwan Marine (BM) LiveFleet, the app [allows] the Australian enterprise [to give] its customers and staff [the ability] to view BM vessel information and photography, track vessel positioning on maps, and stay informed on company news and information. We also created a mobile application and Web services platform used by BM LiveFleet, which is called the Marine LiveFleet Platform.
What business needs are the BM LiveFleet and Marine LiveFleet Platform fulfilling?
Sojka: We had to fulfill their need to distribute fleet information easily and accurately, adding value with integration to a variety of mapping displays to pinpoint assets, as well as the possibilities of notifications of key data to a number of target devices.
In the planning and design phases of this fleet application project, what best practices did Glenfield's DevOps team use?
Sojka: In terms of design, we were careful not to create one look and feel for all mobile operating systems, but rather adapt the core styling of each mobile OS's user interface, such as menu positioning [and] button and icon layout, for example. This allows the app to take on the design traits of the environment it is deployed to and provides a means for future-proofing newer versions of mobile OS.
Richard Sojkamanaging director, Glenfield Digital Group
Getting the customer on board early with wireframe layouts that depict functionality and design cements the vision for everyone. We were then able to take some of the more difficult elements and create a proof-of-concept alpha app with these aspects to ensure the challenging parts of the project are viable well ahead of time.
Also, a good understanding on app privacy practices is needed to liaise with your customer so they can ensure their legal obligations to their end app user are met. We also found liaising the preparation of legal disclaimers and terms and conditions with the customer could be carried out ahead of development phases, based on the design and functionality documents outlined in the planning phases. This saves on delays [in] waiting for such information before deployment.
Which software development tools were used in this project?
Sojka: Using the Telerik Platform was a key component in the creation of this mobile app. Through the Telerik Platform -- [which includes] Telerik App Builder and Sitefinity -- we were able to build on a solid framework of software and services to flow fleet data to websites and mobile apps; create printable PDF technical data sheets; and integrate data to elaborate visual mapping displays.
Taking vessel AIS [Automatic Identification System] terrestrial and satellite data through a Web service, we were able to bring historical and real-time data to expand traditional methods of reporting, including showing vessel positioning and creating a number of triggered push events or alerts.
What challenges did your team encounter in the marine fleet application project?
Sojka: The largest challenges of the project concerned creating Web services to both relate information to the Telerik Platform and draw in feeds from varied sources. It was also important, in terms of app development, to understand the key deployment principles of both iOS and Android.
With App Builder, we used the ability to take core Web- based technologies, such as HTML5 and CSS [Cascading Style Sheets], and apply these into app building, as well as ease of deployment to iOS, Android and Windows from the one app project. With App Builder, we could easily test the app in multiple environments without the need to load an array of emulators.
It's important to ensure any launch occurs with analytics well in place. In this project, the extensive statistics provided by Telerik helped us fine-tune our app deployment.
About the author:
Jan Stafford plans and oversees strategy and operations for TechTarget's Application Development Media Group. She has covered the computer industry for the last 20-plus years, writing about everything from personal computers to operating systems to server virtualization to application development.