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Mobile App Development: A User Story


Ahh spring! Birds singing, flowers blooming, and the sun rises earlier and sets later. All that extra daylight gives solar power generation systems more hours to make electricity. As the summer solstice approaches, solar generation systems enter their most productive time of year.

Owners of rooftop solar systems can be passionate about tracking their productivity. The actor and comedian John Hodgman even moderated a disagreement over obsessive monitoring of solar production. My friend Kasey is also enthusiastic about solar power. Whenever I see Kasey, she reports her latest kilowatt-hours stats. Kasey’s home is in a warm, sunny climate where air conditioning is her biggest electricity demand. She installed solar panels on the roof of her house at the end of last June and her system raced to generate enough power during long summer days to offset her air conditioning.

After receiving the electric bill for August, Kasey called her solar installer to report success – her home’s electricity consumption for the month was zero. “I have to confess, I read my meters every single day to see how the system is doing,” Kasey told the installer.

“Everybody does it,” the installer replied. “Some users even tell me they check the meters three times a day!”

Kasey asked me if a mobile phone application built with MobileTogether might make a good reporting tool for her solar power system. “I could enter the meter readings into my phone,” she said. “I can do it every day when I take the dog out before breakfast.”

That’s how our mobile app development collaboration began. The result is the MobileTogether app we call Solar Power Tool.

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Developing and Debugging User Functions in Mobile Apps


Recently I came across this note in a senior developer’s code review of a colleague’s work: “Slightly revised the user function to work correctly when languages other than English are used.” This was a surprising comment–the code is the code and it shouldn’t make a difference what language the developer or the end user speaks! A user function is simply an expression that may accept input parameters and returns a result.

Altova MobileTogether supports user functions in a cross-platform mobile development framework that combines drag-and-drop UI design and standardized functional programming for data selection and processing. Several MobileTogether demo applications are highly dependent on user functions and the MobileTogether Designer includes features that greatly assist creating and validating user functions.

Let’s take a look at user functions in mobile apps by examining one of these demo apps.

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Create Mobile Apps that Automatically Support Dark Theme


Android and Apple mobile devices support a display option called Dark Theme, which you can think of as  almost a negative image of the normal screen display. In Dark Theme white is black, black is white, and color intensity in general is adjusted. Dark Theme reduces power requirements, which can extend runtime for a battery charge, and can be easier to view in low light.

Altova MobileTogether includes features to let developers create mobile apps that automatically support Dark Theme by detecting the user setting when the app is launched.

Let’s look at an example:

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Mobile App Debugging


MobileTogether is a tool for building highly complex, elegant, cross-platform solutions. Developers need mobile app debugging tools to troubleshoot during development and understand app behavior. The MobileTogether Designer offers full-featured debugging of app execution flow inside action trees and debugging of XPath/XQuery functions. These features are provided in two mobile app debugging views integrated into a single tool.

The Actions Debugger view allows developers to debug the Actions of a Control event or a Page event. This view is available when an Action that has been selected for debugging is encountered during processing. The XPath Debugger view opens the XPath/XQuery evaluator window for in-depth tracing and debugging of expressions.

Developers can set breakpoints at various locations and the app, then execute one step at a time, pausing in either view to allow examination of the complete execution environment.

Let’s see mobile app debugging in action:

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Design Templates for Mobile Apps


In an earlier post we wrote about using software design templates for mobile apps to facilitate design reuse and make it easy to build efficient, flexible options for various app requirements. We described an example of a Control Template designed to present multiple levels of hierarchical data based on user selection at runtime.

Our example was built using MobileTogether, Altova’s RMAD (Rapid Mobile App Development) tool to help developers build cross-platform apps that deliver dynamic, sophisticated app performance that delights end users.

You can also build Control Templates for cross-platform mobile apps by combining multiple controls into a larger unit, like a complex sub-assembly built from individual parts. This creates design templates for mobile apps that can easily be dropped in anywhere, speeding development and ensuring consistency.

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Programming Techniques for Mobile Development


MobileTogether is an easy to use, low-code app development framework that lets you create sophisticated apps for all platforms from a single design.

Low-code doesn’t mean no code. A database specialist might start with a few SQL queries and use the MobileTogether drag and drop interface to create an app with elegant tables and graphs to report up-to-the-minute enterprise data, while experienced developers often use familiar programming techniques in mobile development to build highly complex, elegant MobileTogether solutions.

Developers define user functions, parameters, variables, loops, or a complex data structure when that’s the right tool for the job. MobileTogether makes it fast and easy to control all the features in the device – camera, microphone, GPS, SMS, handwriting capture, and more. MobileTogether helps you achieve your vision fast and build really cool mobile apps with charisma enough to go viral.

MobileTogether is about getting the work done efficiently, not limiting how you do it. Let’s check out a couple examples of programming techniques in MobileTogether apps.

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