Mobile WebViews Close the Performance Gap with Native Apps

Chattanooga Skyline

New WebViews with the same performance as mobile browsers mean web skills are finally viable for building fast, cross-platform hybrid apps.

Back in 2012, Mark Zuckerberg admitted Facebook’s mobile strategy relied too much on HTML5 rather than native apps. While it was a great way to target multiple platforms from a single codebase, Facebook’s hybrid app suffered from poor performance. They used a WebView which is a web browser encapsulated in a software component that can be added to a native app. This allows HTML, JavaScript and CSS to run inside a native app container with access to platform APIs that browser-based apps don’t get, like the camera or push notifications. The problem was these WebViews didn’t share all the features or performance of the full web browsers.

Today, iOS 8+ includes a WKWebView API with access to the Nitro JavaScript JIT compiler and rendering performance equivalent to the Apple Safari browser. The Chromium WebView introduced in Android 4.4 KitKat takes advantage of the Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine for dramatic gains. On Windows 10, the WebView based on the Edge browser is the ticket. All these WebView controls offer enhanced HTML5 and CSS3 feature support and significantly better performance to close the gap with native apps. If your corporate designers and developers have web skills, consider using Apache Cordova/PhoneGap or Kaonsoft to rapidly target multiple mobile platforms with a single codebase.

Reduce development expenses by building apps for all mobile platforms with a single codebase by a smaller development team using widely-available web skills that gets your apps to market more quickly and pervasively. Does your company have a hybrid web app strategy to reach more customers faster?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Give Smartphone Users Mobile Web Apps or Else!

Jacksonville

Replace heavyweight, desktop focused, bandwidth eating, Web 1.0 sites with lightweight Mobile Web apps using responsive web design.

Just like their native counterparts, many Web 1.0 apps were built with a particular screen resolution in mind where bigger was better on an endlessly scrolling screen. As time progressed throughout the late 90s, poor performing dial-up modems running at 28.8 kb/s gave way to 56 kb/s modems, followed by 128 kb/s ISDN and then true broadband with the introduction of digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable modem technologies. Web designers kept pace with this trend by loading up web pages with heavy graphics leading to slower load times and average page sizes of 2 MB.

Web apps must be designed for mobile first. This means they must load quickly, be cached for performance and use smaller JavaScript libraries and minimal graphics. Amazon says a 100ms increase in load time equates to 1% reduction in sales. Remember, nine out of ten mobile shoppers use the mobile web while in-store and 51% of that research has led to a purchase. Follow responsive web design (RWD) principles via CSS media queries to adapt to the screen size of any device. Hide navigation menus to keep layouts simple and don’t make users pinch, zoom or pan. Google reports over 70% of consumers access websites from their mobile devices while only 20% of companies have optimized their sites for mobile. Clearly, you can increase your company’s engagement with customers and employees alike via the mobile web that’s already in their hands.

Boost user productivity and revenue by delivering a fast web site that adapts itself to the device users are carrying allowing employees to complete tasks and customers to make purchasing decisions. Is your company doing everything it can to reach mobile users?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Web 1.0 Server Round-Trips are Like Watching Paint Dry

Milwaukee

Replace wasteful, server round-trip Web 1.0 sites built with Cold Fusion, CGI, ASP, Servlets, Perl and Livewire with AJAX empowered web apps.

The 90s web moved from online brochures to a technology that could be used for actual apps through the clever use of the HTTP verb called POST. A web page with text boxes, radio buttons, lists and check boxes full of data could POST information to a special web server directory containing something called a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) script. This would insert data into a database and build dynamic web pages. The notion of POSTing data and having servers do all the heavy lifting of executing code, connecting to databases and building new web pages made a lot of sense in a world of browsers with minimal capabilities. That said, users didn’t like the way their web pages disappeared and new pages were loaded and sent to their browser.

Things got a more interesting when asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) came along allowing a page to send and receive data from a server without refreshing. They just updated the page’s document object model (DOM) ushering in Web 2.0. Modern web apps use this technology to call web APIs using JSON instead of XML for data. Powerful HTML5 browsers with fast rendering plus just in time (JIT) compiled JavaScript facilitate advanced UI and JavaScript frameworks as well as the notion of single page apps. This is the web your employees want.

Deliver web apps that respond quickly to user commands and behave like a native mobile apps to improve the productivity of your employees. What steps has your organization taken to boost the responsiveness of its mobile web apps?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Get with the Program and Migrate those Web 1.0 Intranet Apps to HTML5

toronto

Migrate Web 1.0 Intranet apps built for Netscape + Internet Explorer 3 to HTML5, CSS3 & ECMAScript5 for modern browsers.

The web really exploded in the commercial space during the second half of the 90s. Tim Berners-Lee’s HTML 3.2 specification received W3C recommendation in 1997. Netscape submitted its JavaScript language to ECMA and got its specification published in 1998. Cascading style sheets (CSS) received their first W3C recommendation in 1996. The problem with all of this was that Netscape and Microsoft were in a browser war where both pushed their own standards on web designers and developers to try and gain an edge in the market. In an attempt to avoid incompatibilities between browsers, most websites built in the 90s targeted the lowest common denominator.

Modern mobile browsers can now render the app-like web provided by HTML5, CSS3 and ECMAScript5 (JavaScript). You get all the cross-platform development benefits plus a deployment model that bypasses app stores. This new breed of web app supports offline operation, multithreading, the ability to call web APIs and take data offline via local data stores. Most enterprise solutions require these features and Web 1.0 apps can be migrated to get this functionality.

Since existing HTML 3.2/4.0 still renders properly, just enable the new features of existing HTML tags and add new tags where appropriate. Add new JavaScript functions to empower your web app with modern capabilities. Update and add new CSS to give your web app the look and feel of a native mobile app.

Improve user productivity by delivering the feature-rich HTML5 web apps that modern, mobile browsers are designed to work with. Has your company updated all it’s Intranet web apps from the 1990s yet?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Business Risk by Migrating your Legacy Software to Modern, Secure Platforms and Programming Languages

St Louis

Businesses drag their feet when mobilizing line of business apps via legacy software migration thinking it’s cheaper to maintain a codebase than to rewrite.

I get it. Migrating all those apps to mobile seems like eating the proverbial elephant. They cost a lot of money to build, the highly-skilled developers needed to rewrite the code are harder to find than ever, the code isn’t commented and there aren’t any docs. This often leads to IT decision makers putting off these projects, perhaps until it’s not their problem anymore. So why do it?

For starters, your employees will be significantly more productive running your apps on the mobile devices they actually use. Since work is not a place to go but a thing to do, employees can get their jobs done from anywhere. Millennials won’t be chained to a desk and they’re going to use the devices they like best. Face it, those Win32 apps are never going to run on someone’s iPhone and your new generation of employees haven’t ever heard of Windows 95. Not changing is a non-starter as you’ll just miss out on younger talent entirely.

Another good reason migrate all these apps and systems is because they’re running on outdated hardware and software. It goes without saying that this infrastructure has far surpassed its end of life (EOL) and there is absolutely no support coming from the original vendors of the computers, operating systems, software and development tools. I’m actually not 100% correct on this point. There are some giant technology vendors that charge tens of millions of dollars per year to support old systems that reached EOL without migrating. In the end, migrating is significantly cheaper and it rescues your valuable intellectual property from fragile, unsupported, failing systems.

There’s a more ominous reason to migrate your apps. Most data breaches are due to running unpatched, out-of-date, and therefore unprotected software. This includes:

  • Software written before PCs were pervasively open to Internet attacks.
  • Apps that don’t require authentication.
  • Apps that don’t encrypt data at-rest or data in-transit.
  • Apps written before established secure development lifecycle procedures.
  • Un-patched software.
  • Software oblivious to buffer overflows or SQL injection attacks.
  • Software and services built with the assumption that they would always be “inside the firewall” and therefore protected.
  • Apps that don’t follow “least privilege” principles.
  • Apps that don’t work with modern sandboxed operating systems.

This older and often unattended software is putting your company at risk. Individual and state-sponsored hackers are attacking the software of companies all over the world. Valuable intellectual property and sensitive customer data is being stolen daily. Company executives are getting fired. You absolutely don’t want this to be your priceless intellectual property or your customer data. This is a fast ticket to losing your competitive advantage as well as the trust of your customers. Oh, and you might be looking for a new CEO and CIO.

So what’s the game plan?

  • Catalog all your Win32 and Web 1.0 apps and assemble a v-team to take ownership of them.
  • Send out surveys to all your employees to find out who’s still using which apps.
  • Utilize asset management discovery software that scans the company network searching for apps running on Windows, Macs and servers.
  • Pull the plug on apps that don’t show up in a survey or via asset management scanning.
  • Listen carefully for screaming employees and turn those apps back on. I expect you’ll find a good percentage of those apps aren’t used anymore.
  • Eliminate the next chunk of apps by seeing if employees can use a new or different process to accomplish certain tasks. Your business and processes may have changed so much over the years that some of these apps aren’t relevant.

When rewriting the remaining apps, focus less on the code and more on data sources, workflows, user interfaces, performance and latency. I’ll talk later about new ways to connect to data and build new apps. It’s more important to reverse-engineer the way employees perceive these apps to work than how the existing code actually makes them work. This provides a good opportunity to stealthily update business cases.

Reduce risk to your company by migrating unsafe, unsupported, end of life software to modern, secure platforms and programming languages. How rapidly is your company de-risking its exposure to legacy business applications?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Improve Employee Productivity by Moving your Win32 and Web 1.0 Apps to Mobile

Pittsburgh

It’s time to migrate the millions of Win32 and Web 1.0 apps that currently run global business to mobile.

Global businesses are run primarily by Windows applications built in the 90s. While apps were created for DOS, the Apple II, OS/2, Sun Workstations, Win16, NeXT, SGI and the Mac in the 80s and early 90s, most were migrated after Windows NT/95 arrived. Y2K taught us COBOL on mainframes are still around. The larger mega-trend stemmed from low-cost PCs coupled to a graphical operating system working with minimal RAM and slow processors. Combined with drag and drop GUI development tools, a perfect storm took over the world of business. The resulting Win32 apps drove a tidal wave of productivity and innovation. Companies still have thousands of them in use today.

Something else happened in the 1990s. A giant network of networks called the Internet, combined with Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, to create the next technology revolution. Web servers arrived and businesses created static web pages to establish a presence on the web and start marketing to customers. The Intranet was born with internal-facing web pages used to disseminate information to employees. Server-side data processing gave rise to Web 1.0 apps that didn’t have to be deployed to employee desktops the way Windows apps did.

The Win32 and Web 1.0 apps are still with us and must urgently evolve to fit in a world where untethered people expect to flexibly work anytime, from anywhere with mobile devices instead of desktops.

Improve user productivity by migrating legacy apps and websites to the mobile devices employees and customers actually use. What is your organization doing to unchain its employees from desktop apps?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Improve Productivity by Publishing Services to Mobile Employees via a Web Gateway

Salt Lake City

Rather than extending your entire network out to mobile devices via VPN, publish individual services through a web gateway or the cloud.

Most remote employees gain access to Intranet resources through a virtual private network (VPN). Using 3rd party or built-in software, employees provide credentials and sometimes a smartcard to create a VPN tunnel. Once created, employees can securely exchange data with internal resources. This is anything but seamless and employees find setting up VPN sessions and re-authenticating due to dropped connections to be a hassle. They want to access things the same way they do on the Internet.

Let’s take a look at a better mobile reality. Most companies around the world use Microsoft Exchange for corporate email. For more than a decade, mobile users on virtually every platform have been able to securely sync their email without first creating a cumbersome VPN connection. This was possible because Exchange publishes its Active Sync service through a reverse-proxy over TLS. The email app is responsible for passing credentials to the server. It works the way mobile employees expect all their mobile apps to work.

You can do this too by publishing your internal web sites and REST + JSON APIs on port 443 through a reverse proxy that lives at the network edge. Reverse proxies are appliances or server software that let you create a multi-channel access gateway. Of course, when you move your workloads to the cloud, none of this will be needed anymore.

Improve user productivity by eliminating the need to create cumbersome VPN connections to achieve secure connections. What remote access technology changes are you making at your organization to make life easier for your employees?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Corporate Expenses by Turning your Intranet Inside Out and Sending it to the Cloud

San Francisco

Seriously, get out of the Intranet business and upload it to the cloud.

The advent of local area networks (LANs) and computers acting as server nodes led to the concept of the corporate network. It began with file shares and print servers that everyone on the network could access from their PC. Over time, these servers became adept at running their own applications which took us to the client/server era. When the web exploded in the mid-1990s, these computers hosted web servers and a private version of the Internet was born called the Intranet. Since then, most companies have built out hundreds of internal web sites and portals to serve the needs of their employees. As employees became more mobile, secure remote access technologies were created to allow them to get inside. It’s time to turn things inside out.

Today, your trusted corporate network secured by perimeter devices such as firewalls is no more secure than the cloud. In the cloud, corporate data and applications can be accessed from anywhere on any device based on an employee’s identity. Multifactor authentication against cloud directories layered with secured connections and devices grants employees fine-grained access to different enterprise resources. Along the way it eliminates conventional virtual private network connections into the corporate network. Cloud storage, RAM, and CPU can drive enterprise workloads that would be cost prohibitive and slow to provision on-premises. Purchasing, provisioning, maintaining and securing an Intranet is a thing of the past.

Reduce risk and cut expenses by moving Intranet assets to a secure cloud you no longer have to manage yourself. How much progress has your organization made in migrating to the cloud?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Making 1:1 Computing in Education Real with the Raspberry Pi 3

Raspberry Pi 3

The Raspberry Pi 3 has arrived and comes complete with everything needed to bring economical, 1:1 computing to the students of the poorest and wealthiest school districts alike.

After selling 8 million units over the last four years, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has shipped it’s most powerful and versatile computer yet. Luckily, it’s still only $35 which puts it within reach of almost everyone. Not only is the Raspberry Pi used in schools all over the world, it’s even been used on the International Space Station. Pretty cool!

The Pi 3 comes with a 64-bit, quad-core ARM processor running at 1.2GHz with 1 GB of RAM. For network connectivity, it comes with built-in Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Four USB ports allow you to connect keyboards, mice and other peripherals while the HDMI port displays the screen on a computer monitor or TV. A micro SD card is used for storage and the Pi 3 only needs 5 volts and 2.5 amps of power to run. Since a school full of Raspberry Pi computers only uses a tiny fraction of the power currently consumed by desktop and laptop computers, the monthly electricity bill will be noticeably smaller.

The Raspberry Pi 3 boots into a graphical desktop operating system with a task bar, launch menu and icons that look instantly familiar to users of Windows or the Mac. It comes pre-loaded with office apps (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing, email, database) a web browser, programming tools (Java, Python, Node.js, Scratch) and games like Minecraft. Hundreds more science, business, creative and educational apps are available for download to help round-out a student’s learning experience.

scratch

Students who use Office 365, iCloud or Google Docs will have no problem accessing those apps and storage via the Webkit-based browser. This browser can also work with the programming tools on Code.org (Hour of Code). You’re also good-to-go for online Common Core testing.

Like so many things in life, big decisions come down to money. A small school district with 3,000 students can enact a complete 1:1 program with Raspberry Pi computers for a little over $100,000. All the old, existing monitors, mice and keyboards still hanging around from the Windows XP days can be repurposed. An extra $10,000 will cover a 10% backup supply of Raspberry Pi computers to keep students up and running when devices are lost, stolen or broken. When compared to the millions of dollars it costs to roll out a 1:1 education program with iPads, Chromebooks or other laptops, this is down-right reasonable.

Some of you may remember the United Nation’s One Laptop per Child initiative to help level the playing field for students living in abject poverty in emerging economies around the world. Unfortunately, the XO laptop could never be produced cheaply enough. Combined with a lack of training and curriculum for teachers, this admirable effort failed.

I believe this vision can now be realized with the low-cost Raspberry Pi 3.

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Mobile Strategies for Business is Now Available

Book Cover

I’m pleased to announce that my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform Your Business” is now available.

Mobile Strategies for Business is the first book to clearly explain how executives can digitally transform their organization through a simple, step-by-step process.

The mobile tidal wave has permanently transformed the consumer world and now it’s washing up on the shores of the enterprise. This drives the need for an enterprise mobile strategy to mobilize existing applicationsmodernize infrastructuresbuild new apps for employees and customers, and bring order to your environment via enterprise mobility management. Mobile Strategies for Business guides you through this transformation and drives positive outcomes including reducing expensesimproving employee productivityincreasing revenueboosting user engagement and reducing risk.

Based on the top 50 most important enterprise mobility concepts spanning four major topic areas, Mobile Strategies for Business is the first book to clearly explain how to digitally transform your business through a simple, step-by-step process.

You’ll learn how to address the following organizational challenges:

  • How to transform IT infrastructures that are wholly unprepared to deliver on the promise of Mobile and IoT for employees and customers. Learn how to enhance performance, scalability, bandwidth and security to support today’s mobile and cloud workloads.
  • How to reconcile the convergence of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon and the need to keep corporate data secure. Learn how to support the flexible work styles of your mobile employees while keeping everything safe.
  • How to migrate the millions of out-of-date, insecure and unsupported desktop and Web 1.0 apps that currently run global business to run on modern mobile platforms. Learn how to unchain your line of business apps and web sites from the desktop and move them to the mobile devices your employees actually use.
  • How to rapidly build mobile enterprise apps that run on any platform and work with data from any backend system. Learn how to mobile-enable your existing systems and data to empower your mobile employees and reach out to your mobile customers.

Back Cover

Mobile Strategies for Business is a project plan and an implementation guide allowing your organization to digitally transform so it can ride the mobile wave to employee and customer success. Along the way, it builds a future-looking foundation that prepares your organization for successive technology tidal waves that will impact your business, workforce and customers.

What is your organization doing define and execute on a mobile strategy? It’s time to empower your mobile workforce.

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany