Mobile application development is getting competitive with lots of new products and platforms. What makes it more competitive is that the client stresses on aggressive timelines. Most of the customers expect their mobile application to come live in weeks rather than months, as they know that delay of each day means their competitor will be catching up. Therefore, the customers would prefer a rapid mobile application development, which, at same time, do not compromise on security and features. And hence, the mobile solution vendors and developers are looking for ways to accelerate the mobile application design and development to meet the aggressive timelines.
This paper explains how Oracle MAF and Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, the two latest Oracle technologies, help in accelerating mobile application development. It focuses on how RapidValue has implemented mobile applications using the Oracle Mobile Application Framework (MAF).
Oracle Mobile Application Framework (MAF): The Complete Development Framework from Oracle Mobile Application Suite
When it comes to mobilizing enterprise systems, there are several factors or challenges that need to be addressed. Mobile development technologies, existing enterprise security, leveraging existing skills, BYOD, integration concerns and performance are few to mention. Addressing all these, using different pieces make the entire mobile solution framework difficult. This is where the Oracle Mobile Application Suite provides an end-to-end platform for enterprise mobility.
Oracle MAF is Oracle’s hybrid mobile application development framework that can be used to develop both iOS and Android apps with a single source code. MAF is Oracle’s strategic mobile application development platform.
Oracle MAF has a MVC framework and uses declarative components for User Interface development. This increases the developers’ productivity. Oracle’s MAF assists in accessing device features like camera, contacts, GPS etc. using inbuilt Cordova Plugin. MAF is available as a plugin for both JDeveloper 12.1.3 and Eclipse IDEs. MAF also supports development of applications that can work in offline mode. Using local SQLite database, the mobile app can work in offline mode by accessing data from the encrypted local database. Another feature of Offline functionality is ability to store user credentials in SQLite database in encrypted manner in order to enable offline authentication to enterprise applications.
How to Mobilize Your Oracle ERP Modules using eQuipMeTM Oracle Mobile Framework
RapidValue’s eQuipMeTM Oracle Mobile Framework comprises over 200 ‘Pre-Built’ modules, Built-in connectors, and over 30 ‘Pre-built’ mobile applications developed, using Oracle MAF, Native and Cross-platform technologies.
Pre-built eQuipMeTM Oracle Connectors
eQuipMeTM mobile applications includes seeded and custom Oracle APIs for specific mobile application functionality. The Oracle Integration Repository or Integrated SOA gateway is used for publishing the Oracle EBS PL/SQL packages and generating the web services for external communication. The eQuipMeTM connectors forms the core of the integration initiation from Oracle EBS to mobile.
Oracle Mobile Integration Components
Oracle FMW and SOA is the integration technology middleware, recommended by Oracle for robust integration with third-party systems and mobile devices. Mobile applications communicate with enterprise systems using web-services. One of the major advantages of using Oracle Mobile Platform is that it enables to extend backend data to a preferred format for communication with mobile applications using standard FMW technologies. Oracle SOA Suite and OSB components can be used for generating webservices from enterprise systems and creating RESTful APIs which is more mobile friendly. The SOA suite also enables web service orchestration for complex web services and multi-system integration. The OSB is a powerful tool for service mediation and transformation.
Oracle Mobile Security Components
Oracle Mobile Security components help the organizations to enable Mobile application security and also leverage the enterprise security strategy without making changes in existing security infrastructure. Oracle Access Manager (OAM) components and Oracle Identity manager (OIM) provides mechanism for extending the corporate role based authentications, authorizations and security policies to mobile applications. OIM can be used to integrate with Active Directory and Single Sign On (SSO), if an enterprise wishes to do so. Also, most of the enterprises want to isolate the corporate infrastructure from outside and Oracle API gateway provides a DMZ which controls how corporate systems and applications are exposed outside to mobile and cloud. In addition, the Oracle Mobile Development framework provides feature-wise and user role based security.
eQuipMeTM Mobile Applications
The mobile applications are developed using Oracle Mobile Application Framework (MAF) Cross-platform technology for running in iOS and Android mobiles The mobile applications are completely modularized and can be integrated with Oracle ERP (Oracle E-Business Suite, JDE, People soft ); as well as legacy systems. The modularized design helps in re-usability of the components for faster development. One major advantage is that the mobile applications can be customized to fit in the enhancements.
Key Benefits of eQuipMeTM Oracle Mobile Framework
- Seamless Integration - With pre-built components and in-built connectors, ready framework enables rapid mobile enablement of your Oracle backend systems.
- Quicker Time to Market - Reduces the development life cycle by using pre-built components for individual modules and modularized designs. This enables your business to market quickly and helps to gain a competitive advantage.
- Protects Current Enterprise Technologies - Extends current enterprise security policies and leverages existing Java/HTML/JS skill sets using Oracle Mobile Application Suite.
- Multi-Device Accessibility - The mobile app, to access data from your ERPs, can be built using any of the technology options – Mobile Web, Native application, Hybrid application or Oracle MAF. Therefore, the staff gets access to remote data on any of the devices.
- Lower TCO - Achieve reduced TCO by having lower procurement, implementation and operational cost. Choose your preferred mobile platform technology, implement mobile security and MDM/MAM functionality from the same solution provider.
- Customized Solution - Your ERP modules and mobile application can be customized as per your business requirements, without the need to make any changes to your core enterprise systems.
Oracle MAF enabled us to extend Oracle EBS and other enterprise systems to mobile by delivering the mobile applications to Android and iOS phones, using cross-platform development framework. The declarative development components, built in security, code re-usability and quick integration frameworks helped us to accelerate the mobile application development. Now, we are going to the next level by leveraging the Oracle Mobile Cloud Services which siphons off the backend functionality coding, thereby, further accelerating the mobile development.
– Abhijit Ramachandran, Product Manager, RapidValue Solutions
eQuipMeTM Oracle Mobile Application Suite
Some of the mobile applications built by RapidValue using the Oracle Mobile Platform are:
Field Service Management
RapidValue’s FSM is a ready-to-run mobile application that integrates with your existing IT systems, to extend field service processes and deliver optimized workflows across mobile channels. The application allows field service technicians to view daily tasks lists, schedule customer appointments, view customer/ product & service details, real-time reporting of charges, optimize customer visits, based on location through maps, etc., while on the move.
HRMS Mobile Application
RapidValue’s HRMS application integrates with your existing HR systems, enabling employees to access and update key HR data from anywhere, anytime. The application allows employees to create a profile and manage information like education, competency details, job history, access employee directory, upload files, view & download paystubs and manage leaves. The mobile application also allows managers to approve leave requests, view team calendar and access other useful data of the employees.
Approval Management Mobile Application
RapidValue's Approval mobile application allows users to manage approvals for sales orders, invoices, leave requests, purchase orders, purchase requisitions, view approval history etc. This application enables business approvals, anytime, from any device, facilitating faster decision making for the CXOs and senior executives. Thus, the staff productivity becomes better.
Procurement Management Mobile Application
RapidValue's procurement mobile application helps to streamline your workflow and business processes. The procurement management application enables users to create and view PO, manage purchase requisitions, check order status, add line items, view receipts etc., from anywhere, and in a secure manner.
Order Management Mobile Application
RapidValue’s Order management application allows sales executives to create sales orders, view customer details, calculate the pricing and quotations, check status of order and work in the pipeline, access inventory availability, generate invoices etc. This application aids the sales executives in closing sales deals quickly.
Inventory Management Mobile Application
The Inventory & PO receipt management application ensures that the store managers (in retail) and enterprises are well aware of the status of the goods that are being obtained and also, which are being sold/ shipped. The application has various privileges which have been allotted to each of the users. The users can access PO, Line items, create and place orders, scan barcodes, check order status, look up for SKU’s etc.
Expense Management Mobile Application
The expense management application helps employees, who are travelling and not often near their desktop, to submit travel related expenses for reimbursements through the mobile. The employees can also scan and upload receipts and documents from the mobile application. It also facilitates the managers to approve the expense report, using the mobile application.
The Next Leap : Oracle Mobile Cloud Service (MCS)
Oracle Mobile Cloud Service provides features and capabilities that make mobile application development simpler and faster. It focuses to do away with the technicalities of mobile app development, which means even a business functional user can develop basic mobile applications. What it means for a developer is that he can concentrate more on the coding part rather than the operational and deployment tasks. There are many platforms or solutions which enable this in the market by different names like Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) or Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP). Oracle Mobile Cloud Service provides methods to simplify the enterprise mobile application development, using its strategic Mobile cloud components. Mobile Cloud Services provides an ‘Accelerator platform’ which reduces the mobile application time frame by providing out of the box back end functionalities (like Push Notification), provides enterprise scale API connectors for secure integration to backend systems and easy to deploy mobile security.
Siphon the Complex Backend Requirements and Functionalities using Oracle MCS
If you ask an enterprise mobile application developer, they will say that almost 50% of their efforts are spent on developing and deploying backend functionalities. An Oracle mobile developer will be coming across several backend requirements like Push Notifications, Offline data sync, User and Device Management, Enterprise integration etc. Oracle MCS has implemented various Mobile Application development accelerator features, listed below, in order to reduce the complexities of coding backend functions.
- Mobile services like Push Notifications and Messaging such as email, SMS, Voice mail
- User Management and Device Management functionalities
- Offline behavior and data sync
Simplify Enterprise Integration using Oracle MCS Connectors
Oracle Mobile Cloud Services provide an API catalog which consists of pre-built cloud API connectors for major enterprise systems like Oracle E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, Sales force, SAP etc. And also exposes the APIs developed by service providers in the API catalog. In fact, it exposes the APIs to leverage the out-of-the-box connectors to access the enterprise backend. It also facilitates simple generation of APIs, if pre-built APIs do not exist. It provides a web interface for the API development team to configure and create APIs by providing cloud based connectors to access the enterprise backend system and expose the underlying business objects and tables for API creation. The API is, then, coupled with an OAuth security token. MCS also provides facility to test the APIs, using the MCS test screen and real-time data from the backend, or using mock up data, in case real APIs are not in production.
Simplified Security and Identity Management Services
Oracle MCS helps mobile developers to secure APIs and services, using OAuth security tokens, which are returned after successful authentications to a system. The security token is embedded in the APIs in the API calls and are secured. MCS also provides Identity Management (IDM) services on the cloud and it enables to extend the existing Identity management services and security policies to mobile applications.
Mobile Application Accelerator (MAX) – Power to Develop Mobile Apps for Functional Users
Oracle MCS includes Mobile Application Accelerator which accelerates the Mobile application development. MAX is a cloud based service that provides mobile application development capabilities to business users and functional users, with no development experience. It provides a web-based UI for functional users to develop a MAF based application using pre-built components. These components are available Out-of-the-box as pre-built templates or developed by MAF developers. The mobile apps can be developed using any web browser, without the need to install any mobile development environments or IDEs. The developers can see an instant preview, without the need to deploy the application. It largely simplifies and speeds up mobile application development; and what is commendable is that any mobile application developed using MAX can be extended using Oracle MAF for any enhancements.
Conclusion: The Way Ahead
Oracle MAF is Oracle’s strategic platform for cross-platform mobile application development. MAF can be used to develop iOS and Android mobile, as well as tablet applications using a single source code. The declarative components and quick integration mechanisms help developers to quickly develop mobile applications. The development framework along with Oracle Mobile Service Integration and Oracle Mobile Security provides a comprehensive mobile suite for extending enterprise systems to mobile, without compromising on security. Enterprises can extend their corporate security strategy using the Oracle Mobile Application Suite.
Furthermore, with the launch of Oracle Mobile Cloud Service and Mobile Application Accelerator empower the developers and business users to rapidly create mobile applications. It eliminates several complexities of backend functionalities and the developer can concentrate more on client application development and coding. It provides enhanced security and enterprise integration by simplified Oracle Mobile Cloud Services. Using Oracle MCS, the mobile application vendors can reduce the turnaround time and improve the productivity and customer satisfaction.
If you need more information, you can please write to the authors, Abhijit Ramachandran, Product Manager & Consultant - Enterprise Mobility at firstname.lastname@example.org and Kavyanidhi Narayan, Sr. Manager - Marketing at email@example.com
RapidValue has a team of domain experts and mobility consultants to help you build innovative and comprehensive mobile applications for your enterprise. If you need guidance on building your first mobile application, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, we’ll be happy to hear from you.