What’s New in MobileTogether?

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MobileTogether Version 3.2

Available May 10, 2017 MobileTogether 3.2 introduces over 18 important new features for cross-platform mobile app development. Highlights include support for NFC (near field communication), the ability to access mobile device contacts, text-to-speech functionality, numerous enhancements for table and chart creation, and much more.

 

It's free to update your MobileTogether software to Version 3.2. Read more about all the new features below.

Visit the MobileTogether download page to upgrade to MobileTogether 3.2 now.

If you're not already a customer, get started by downloading MobileTogether Designer for free!

New in MobileTogether 3.2

Near Field Communication:
Support for NFC messages
New Actions:
Ability to access mobile device contacts
Text to speech
Wait cursor
Actions for date and time pickers
Get file info
View an image full-screen
Enhancements to Existing Actions:
Pre-defined sounds for common scenarios
Support for reply-to in emails
Significantly extended scroll-to action
Goto page/subpage via XPath
New Features for Tables:
Dynamic table growth: left to right
On-demand loading of tables
Additional Features:
New predefined button looks
JSON5 support
Numerous chart enhancements
Improvements in Browser execution
Single-thread execution option for MobileTogether Server


Support for NFC messages

NFC (near field communication) is a set of communication protocols that allow two devices to exchange messages when within a few centimeters of proximity. Applications for NFC are many, from the well-known mobile payment systems, to easily sharing links, contacts, and other information with friends, to providing interesting content to visitors as they browse a park, museum, or other attraction equipped with NFC tags. NFC-equipped devices can also act as an electronic identity document or keycard.

MobileTogether now supports pushing and receiving NFC messages including text, URI, MIME media, application records, and more, further broadening the scope of advanced functionality developers can add to their MobileTogether apps.

MobileTogether also now supports Android Beam in Android apps. Android Beam uses NFC to allow users to share their screen content - videos, directions, etc. - by placing their devices back-to-back.

NFC support in MobileTogether is implemented with several NFC design components including actions to start/stop NFC transmission or push a message, a page source tree to be populated when an NFC tag is discovered, and NFC-related events and XPath extension functions. MobileTogether also includes a template for NFC sample files so developers can test their app in the MobileTogether Simulator.

Note: NFC is supported for Android and Windows devices. iOS restricts NFC use to Apple Pay only, so it can’t be used with other kinds of data.

NFC support in MobileTogether
 

New Actions

Ability to access mobile device contacts

Apps built in MobileTogether can now access information from the user’s contacts stored on the device, which is useful, for example, when a user wants to send something via email or SMS, or place a call from within the app.

When the Read Contacts action is added to a mobile app design, the $MT_CONTACTS data source tree is automatically added to the design file. When the action is triggered, contacts from the device's address book are read and stored in the $MT_CONTACTS tree and become available to the design. As shown on the right, you can specify which fields are stored and whether to read one contact or all contacts.

Read device contacts

Text to speech

Mobile developers can now build apps that include text-to-speech functionality so that the user’s device will read text aloud.

When you include the new Text to Speech action in your app, the specified text is converted to audio via the built-in speech synthesizer provided by the underlying OS and played back to the user. This is extremely useful in developing apps for use-cases where the operator might not be able to look at the screen, such as car-based or warehousing applications.

Enabling text-to-speech

Other new actions

  • Wait cursor - show the OS default cursor and an optional message such as "Loading" or "Working" during long actions
  • Date and time actions - If space on the screen makes it impractical to show the default date picker control, you can instead let the user click a button to bring up the date picker. Coincides with new date and time button-looks described below
  • Get file info - read the information associated with a file including size, file path, creation date, etc.
  • View image as full screen - and easily zoom in/out
 

Enhancements to Existing Actions

Significantly extended scroll-to action

This action has been extended to allow scrolling to very precise locations, including the top or bottom of a page, top or bottom of a table, to a specific row in a table, or even to a specific control. This provides additional flexibility for the developer and a better experience for the user, who can now navigate the app much easier.

Pre-defined sounds for common scenarios

The Audio action in MobileTogether specifies the playback of audio when a condition occurs in an app. MobileTogether now ships with a set of 16 pre-defined sounds you can quickly apply to various app occurrences such as button clicks, message sent, error triggered, and so on.

You can apply a sound by selecting it from the drop-down menu or via an XPath expression.

Pre-defined sounds for use in apps

Got to page/subpage via XPath

It’s now possible to determine which page the user will see next via XPath. For instance, depending on the user’s entered data, tapping a button could either show a confirmation page or a page with more information.

Support for reply-to in emails

MobileTogether supports two ways to send emails: from the email application on the mobile device or automatically via MobileTogether Server to one or more recipients. Now, for those emails sent from the server, the developer can specify a separate reply-to address. This way, if the recipient of the email replies to the message, the reply can be directed somewhere other than to the server that sent it.

Specifying a reply-to email
 

New Features for Tables

Dynamic table growth: left to right

In addition to dynamic rows, tables can now also have dynamic columns, meaning that columns can be added dynamically on the right-hand side of the table to grow the table based on the number of instances an element occurs. For instance, if a table had rows for FIRST, LAST and phone EXT, a new column could be added each time a PERSON element occurred in the source data.

This table definition is shown in the top screenshot to the right, and the resulting scrollable table, which grows from left to right, is shown below it.

The ability to dynamically grow a table from left to right, top to bottom, or both, makes it possible to define tables for virtually any scenario.

Dynamic columns
Dynamic columns
Load table chunks on demand

On-demand loading of tables

This is a great performance-optimizing feature for apps that include large scrollable tables. The app developer can now specify the number of table rows – known as a chunk – that can be loaded at a time. As the user scrolls to the bottom of the first chunk, the next chunk is loaded.

This allows large tables to be displayed to the user seamlessly, but in a fraction of the time.

 

Additional Features

New pre-defined button looks

MobileTogether includes numerous pre-defined, familiar looks for buttons, such as email, share, print, and so on. In the latest release, we’ve added additional options: Import, Export, Calendar, and Time. The Calendar and Time looks can be used with the new actions for date and time pickers described above.

New button looks for calendar and time

JSON5 support

JSON5 is a proposed extension to JSON that makes JSON code easier for humans to read and write. Now, in addition to JSON, MobileTogether supports JSON5 as a data source.

New features for Area, Line, and Candlestick charts

  • Line chart may be used to draw just dots without the connecting lines
  • Y-Axis may be inverted with 0 at the top

New features for Gauge charts

  • Add value label on chart
  • Add text label on chart (e.g., for showing units)

New features for Bar charts

  • Add value labels onto the bars
  • Customize distances between bars within the same series and between series
  • Y-Axis may be inverted with 0 at the top/right
New line chart features
New gauge chart features
New bar chart features

Improvements in Browser execution

Apps built in MobileTogether may be run in a web browser in addition to on iOS, Android, and Windows devices. In this release, we’ve added several enhancements to make the web client even better:

  • New setting makes it optional to show a user a confirmation dialog before closing the web client
  • If a session expires, it can be restarted automatically when a user returns to the solution
  • Scrollable tables are now also supported in the browser client
  • The back button now allows the user to return to the previous sub page

Single-thread execution option for MobileTogether Server

Some customers have requested a single core MobileTogether Server license for internal testing purposes. This requires MobileTogether Server to run in single-thread mode and therefore limits use of an app to one user. For this reason, the option should only be used during initial testing.

 




New Features in the Previous Release

New in MobileTogether 3.0

New Features:
Support for scanning barcodes
Multi-level style sheets - for flexible style application on multiple levels
Automated testing facility - to record and re-run tests in Designer and on clients
A new control to embed video within an app
New action: print to PDF, Word, or RTF from client
Ability to open files (e.g., PDF) on client
Significant speed increase for Windows and Windows Phone client
Completely re-written browser client


Support for Scanning Barcodes

Greatly expanding the power of MobileTogether for industrial applications is support for scanning barcodes in Version 3.0. This action will be immediately familiar to end users, who can now use the camera function of their mobile device to scan a barcode and retrieve the information stored therein.

When the scan is completed, MobileTogether automatically enters the barcode and the corresponding barcode format into two separate XML nodes. For example, if an ISBN barcode is scanned, then the ISBN number and the ISBN barcode format (which is EAN-13) is saved to the two nodes specified in the definition of the action. This barcode information is then available to the design as XML data.

Barcode support is one of the most frequently requested features and immediately makes MobileTogether apps more versatile for a variety of vertical industries.

Supported Barcode Standards

MobileTogether supports numerous popular linear and 2D barcode standards, including:

  • Aztec
  • Codabar
  • Code 39
  • Code 93
  • Code 128
  • Data Matrix
  • EAN-8
  • EAN-13
  • EAN-128
  • ITF
  • PDF 417
  • QR Code
  • RSS-14
  • RSS-Expanded
  • UPC-A
  • UPC-B
Scanning a barcode from a mobile app

Multi-level Style Sheets

App developers now have the option to define global styles that can be applied at the project, page, table, and control level. This provides a one-stop repository of styles that can be used on multiple levels across the project.

Style sheets are created using the Style Sheets dialog, shown below.

There are two types of style sheets. The first is the Project style sheet, which is used if you want to make project-wide changes to the look & feel of all buttons, define the font size for all text items, or control background colors project-wide.

The second type is user-created style sheets, which can be applied as needed to individual pages, tables, and controls.

When defining styles in the right-hand pane of the Style Sheets dialog, you can select or enter a static property value, or you can enter an XPath expression that evaluates to a property value. An example of a dynamic assignment would be to make a property value conditional on some criterion, such as the screen width of the end-user mobile device, or a user-preferences, such as letting the user adjust the font-size with one settings page in your app, and having that font-size applied to all text items.

During app development, applying a user-created style sheet to a design component is as easy as selecting the name of the style sheet in the Styles & Properties window, shown in the right-hand screenshot below.

This functionality not only saves a tremendous amount of time, but it also provides unmatched flexibility for customizing the look and feel of apps across all platforms. For instance, if you need to make all app buttons look the same across iOS, Android, and Windows (i.e., instead of using the native button-looks), you can now define that once per project (or at any granular level, as required).

Configuring Style Sheets in MobileTogether
Selecting a stylesheet for a design element

Automated Testing Facility

MobileTogether 3.0 includes features that greatly enhance the ability to test and debug mobile apps. In the Simulator portion of MobileTogether Designer, it is now possible to record a sequence of user actions, save the sequence in a file, and replay saved user action sets later when the app is modified.

The Designer toolbar now includes convenient buttons to record user actions, play back a set of actions, and manage files containing saved user actions.

Unlike other products, actions may be replayed either in the Simulator window itself, or on a client device that is connected to the Designer for a trial run!

Developers and testers will be able to save entire suites of test scripts to validate apps as they evolve over time.

The Manage Test Cases and Runs dialog lets users manage libraries of test cases for each app, control playback speed, and collect snapshots of client views and page sources after each step.

Users can also select any two cases or test runs and compare results during test runs to identify differences after a change has been made to the app. In the comparison below the value of a page source element changed in a subsequent test run after the actions assigned to a user control were revised.

Execution of saved test scripts allows app developers to:

  • Validate app behavior if underlying data changes, such as the result of database queries or REST web service requests
  • Verify bug fixes by replaying the set of actions that caused the error in a new version of the app that incorporates the fix
  • Ensure no unexpected behaviors are accidentally introduced in new versions of the app
  • Preview how the same sets of user actions look on different mobile client devices

Automated testing in MobileTogether makes it possible to deploy apps to end-users on multiple mobile platforms much more rapidly than other mobile development app tools. Other tools require that modified versions of the app be compiled individually for each mobile operating system, then deployed and tested separately.

Automated app testing
Compare app tests

New Action: Print to PDF, Word, or RTF from Client

Document or report generation directly from a mobile app? It’s now possible with MobileTogether 3.0. This support is enabled through rich synergy with Altova StyleVision for designing multichannel reports and StyleVision Server (version 2017sp1 or later) for generating them on the fly, based on end user data.

StyleVision Server uses a report design created in StyleVision to print the end user's data to PDF, Word, or RTF.

Once a document is generated, it will be saved on the client for further processing. For instance, a PDF file could be emailed as a file attachment. The ability to print to documents in predefined, standardized formats greatly enhances potential applications for MobileTogether in enterprise environments and has been frequently requested by existing users.

Defining print-to-file actions
Printing app data to a file

Ability to Open Files on Client

Now MobileTogether developers can give end users the ability to open files such as PDFs, image files, text files, etc., that are stored on the client device. The file path can be defined in the app design directly or via XPath.

Or, the developer can let the end-user select the file on his/her device, for instance, in a Windows 8 or 10 app. An optional file extension filter lets the developer specify the types of files that are allowed to be opened.

The file will be opened in the device’s default application for that file-type.

Completely Re-written Browser Client

In addition to native apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8/10, MobileTogether generates an HTML5 browser-based client for devices running any other operating system.

For Version 3.0, we have completely re-written the MobileTogether browser client to deliver higher performance. The new version transfers significantly less data between server and browser, which reduces data traffic, and apps running in the browser are generally smoother and faster.

Internal tests, especially via the 3G network, result in page rendering speeds up to 10 times* faster.

Significant Speed Increase for Windows Devices

Page rendering speeds on Windows Phone and Windows 8 and 10 apps built in MobileTogether are now up to 5 times* faster.

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*Based on internal tests. Your results may vary.