Monday, February 6, 2012

Mobile APEX Apps – Next Steps

It's been a few weeks since my last Blog posting on mobile development, or any topic for that matter. I've been busy doing Cloud development and talking about it at UKOUG and NYOUG. Then there's the ongoing work on APEX 4.1.1, which actually won't ship with jQuery Mobile bundled in, mainly due to jQuery Mobile's minimum requirement of jQuery 1.6.4 while APEX 4.1 includes jQuery 1.6.2, and a patch release won't be the right time to move that up. But as my previous mobile samples and especially the mobile version of the Oracle Learning Library show, it's certainly possible to use jQuery Mobile in APEX 4.1 today. So the full integration of jQuery Mobile with APEX, incl. declarative / wizard-driven support for building mobile web applications is currently planned for APEX 4.2, which actually was the subject of some recent meetings in Vienna, Austria.

While we wait for (and work on) APEX 4.2, I'm planning to continue blogging about what can be done with jQuery Mobile and APEX today, publish some ideas and gather feedback from our users on what they'd like to see in terms of mobile support in APEX 4.2. And one area that I found increasingly cumbersome in my mobile development efforts was to quickly try out my latest mobile creations on my iPhone and iPad. I kept sending emails to myself with the URL to my mobile APEX apps, bookmarked those URLs, but then ended up constantly creating new apps, requiring new boomarks. I also tried to just cloud-sync my bookmarks between my MacBook and mobile devices, but that wasn't ideal either.

Then I thought if I have these difficulties while developing, end users might have similar issues. For example, some of our new Cloud-based productivity applications will have a link that takes the user to the mobile version of a page or app. And that's great if they're already on a mobile device, but what if for example, a users sits at his desks, runs some analysis, and then needs to run to a meeting and he wants to take the results with him on his mobile device? Well, one possibility would be to just display a QR code on the desktop version of his report, and then allow him to scan that QR Code with his mobile device, which would then take him straight to the mobile version of that report.

Sounds like a good idea? Here's how this could look like, just open the following page on your desktop or laptop:


It's a very simple Interactive Report on the EMP table, and right next to it, in the sidebar, I show a QR code, which can be scanned with one of the many bar-code readers available for smartphones, like RedLaser.

Once scanned, you will typically be prompted by your smartphone whether you want to go to the URL, and if you proceed, your mobile browser opens and takes you to this page:


To generate the QR Code I wrote a very simple QR Code Generator APEX Region Plug-In that takes in the text your want to encode, and the width and height of the QR Code image and then calls out to Google to have the actual image generated.

If you would like to take a look at the app, see how it's done and use some ideas for your own apps, you can download the application here:



3 comments:

  1. Marc,

    Great idea, I love the lateral thinking on this.

    John.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Marc,

    Great post!
    I proposed the same way of working to a few colleagues a week or 2 ago.
    This plug-in would really speed things up.

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Bart

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Marc,

    How do we use a bar code scanner app on the mobile device from Apex Mobile Application. I see that you are generating QR Code. However my requirement is to use a scanner app and get the input to the Apex Mobile App.
    Is that possible ?
    Thanks
    Sukarna

    ReplyDelete