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Cordova

Providing access to business processes from mobile devices is critical in today’s fast-paced corporate world. In fact, many companies are moving toward a “mobile first” strategy when building applications. The traditional approach to meeting the mobile need has been to develop mobile applications using platform-specific native code. This leads to inefficient development practices entailing duplication of effort to support a variety of devices and platforms, as well as cultivating skill in multiple programming languages. Apache Cordova is an open source mobile development framework that streamlines and simplifies building of mobile applications that target multiple platforms.

Cordova is a set of device APIs that enables the developer to build mobile applications that can take advantage of native device features using web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript). Writing applications with the Cordova APIs doesn’t require knowledge of native code such as Java or Objective-C and enables companies to develop mobile applications in a much more cost-effective manner.  These hybrid mobile applications run locally on the device using the device’s browser engine and use the Cordova APIs to access device functions such as the camera or accelerometer. There are also third-party plugins available to use in Cordova applications to further extend the API functionality. If a plugin isn’t available for a device platform, it can be written using native code; this doesn’t completely eliminate the need for skill in native code, but it does isolate it to just development of plugins.

Since the Cordova JavaScript APIs are consistent across multiple device platforms, the applications can be ported to other platforms with only minimal changes. Because Cordova applications run on the mobile device, access to them can be provided through an app store. JavaScript frameworks such as jQuery Mobile, Dojo Mobile, Sencha Touch and Kendo UI can be easily integrated with Cordova applications to provide a robust set of widgets that will enhance the usability and appearance of hybrid mobile applications.

Hybrid mobile applications are more versatile than native apps in that they are cross-platform. Mobile apps have two advantages over mobile web apps:  they can access device APIs, and they are usable when the device is offline. One limitation of hybrid apps as compared to native apps is that their graphics performance won’t be as fast since the app runs in a container, but this is not a substantial consideration for the majority of business applications.

Apache Cordova development can be performed using IDEs such as Eclipse and Xcode. Use of the Cordova framework has also been integrated into IDEs from major companies. IBM adopted the use of Cordova in their Worklight product which makes use of Cordova to build hybrid mobile applications.  Microsoft announced on May 12, 2014 at their TechEd conference that they’re planning to add support for Apache Cordova to Visual Studio. Telerik’s AppBuilder solution also makes use of Cordova.

Apache Cordova applications are your company’s best option for supporting multiple mobile platforms and leveraging web skills while maintaining a single code base with easy update distribution.

erikafulkCordova
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Elegant Integration of Coach Views and AngularJS

If you have ever created a Coach View, you understand that it’s more difficult to integrate the data and its visual representation than you’d like, and if you have not created any coach views, perhaps for this reason, now’s your chance!  For example, to create a “Are you sure you wish to assign this task to SOMEUSER?” message view, you require the following (or perhaps a strictly JavaScript implementation):

js js1

Some of you are thinking, “So? Easy peasy lemon squeezy!” while others may be thinking “This is my NIGHTMARE!!”  What if you could get away with the following:

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Boom goes the dynamite!  The text automatically updated! Now we’re talking in the realm of AngularJS and Coach View integration with the Apex Coach Views Toolkit.. 2!

“But Kyle! How do I make it show up nice and pretty?  Whenever I create something,  I always have to worry about configuration options for style, format, and the likes!”

ACV2 (Apex Coach Views 2) solves this issue by allowing you to simply add “columns” as a configuration option and you’re done!  Instantly fits perfectly into a responsive layout with Bootstrap CSS!  No extra time in CSS Hell.  (CSS and DOJO Hell are terms coined by Apex consultants before coach view toolkits existed)

Now that you’ve created a dynamic message for your application the client will be very impressed and you can call it a day; however, if you want to ensure a free dinner and drinks outing at the steakhouse by Wednesday night, you’ll have to take advantage of a few more AngularJS features.

Let’s try our hand at a basic Text control:

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The label for a view is now displayed with conditional visibility, and the input not only reflects updated local variable values but also sets the value with each keystroke.  Neato!

Now that we’ve seen interactions with Coach View bound data as well as options, let’s throw in Angular’s handy dandy ‘ng-change’ directive to show some love for the oft forgotten metadata.

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Above we see two of our views exhibiting Bootstrap CSS automatically with the “columns” configuration option.  Due to ng-change, not only is our bound variable updated as we type, but the label is updated with each keystroke as well.  Coach Views + AngularJS + Apex Coach Views 2 = Less Script + More Power + tan(DELTA(time)/resources) <- I don’t even know what that means… and as Will Ferrell would say: “Nobody knows what it means, but it’s provocative!”

Naturally, using Custom HTML blocks is bested by ACV2 patterns for IBM BPM web file templates and Custom Builds, but those adventures are for upcoming posts.

erikafulkElegant Integration of Coach Views and AngularJS
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Apex Firebase Integration Toolkit – Why You Should Use It

The Apex Firebase Integration Toolkit is one of the newest products in the suite of Apex tools.  This toolkit contains a set of coach views and services that allow you to quickly integrate with Firebase and have access to real-time data within your application.  As amazing as this product is, you might be thinking, what in the world would I do with it?  Let’s walk through three scenarios where you might find it helpful to use within your IBM BPM application.

#1 – Real Time Collaboration – Collaboration on a task is common in the business world; however, with workers scattered around the globe, it’s not always easy to make happen online.  In traditional database ways, on-screen data can quickly become stale or require a manual “refresh” to display current data; having real time information to make business decisions is often a critical success factor for an application.  Using the coach views within the Firebase Integration toolkit, you’ll be able to open a connection to Firebase from your coach and any updates to the data (from any user) will be reflected on screen within seconds.

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#2 – Proof of Concept – In a world where a “quick win pilot” is often the path to more funding for your project, you want to be up and running quickly with access to real data.  Screen mock-ups are good, but a running application with real-time data is better.  Firebase is a full backend, so you won’t need to install database servers or write SQL code to create and access your data.  Using coach views and services from the toolkit, you’ll be able to quickly connect your application to Firebase and have data stored and synced within minutes!

#3 – Build Consolidated Views of Data – Finding the most relevant data to display to your user doesn’t always come in a pretty package; often it’s dispersed across multiple tables, databases, and even systems.  Sometimes it’s necessary to bring all this data together into a single view, which can easily be set-up with Firebase.  Displaying task data and business data for a single entity can often be an impressive and helpful view to a business user wanting to see all the activity that has transpired for the entity.

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These are three common scenarios where the Apex Firebase Integration toolkit will help you take your IBM BPM application to the next level.  As illustrated, the capabilities within Firebase combined with Apex Coach Views will help you present rich mash-ups of data to your user to help them work in a very collaborative way.

We can’t wait to see what you’ll build with it!

erikafulkApex Firebase Integration Toolkit – Why You Should Use It
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The Apex Suite – a package of productivity

The Apex suite of products is a package of productivity software designed to maximize your investment in IBM BPM platform.  The Apex suite helps your team stay agile by delivering a wide range of products that enable you to build rich front-end user interfaces along with the powerful back-end integration services. The following is a list of products included in the Apex suite:

 Apex Coach Views are designed to help you quickly deliver powerful coach screens that provide rich human interface to a large number of end-users.  Apex Coach Views enable non-programmers to easily build and package reusable coach views. Key features include:

  • A rich set of easy to configure controls that support a large range of data types.
  • A set of powerful Layout coach views that provide liquid layout supporting a large number of screens on various devices.
  • High performance grids that can be modeled easily using the drag-and-drop column views. Progressive loading of data via an Ajax service provides excellent performance on massive data sets.
  • Method and Event coach views help define behavior for coach views.

Apex Repository is designed to help you build a back-end database integration layer for your IBM BPM process applications. Key features include:

  • Manage Repository wizard uses pre-defined rules to allow you to create new database tables and views based on your IBM BPM business objects.
  • Configuration wizard maps business objects to tables. When underlying business objects or tables change, the configuration wizard identifies the required corresponding changes and allows you to accept or override each suggested change.
  • Apex Repository uses a full set of ready to use database integration services – no development required.
  • Apex Repository also includes a set of integration coach views that retrieve and manage data directly from the client – no Ajax services to build.

Apex Performance Tools help you monitor performance of your business processes. It collects and analyzes performance metrics at key milestones and identifies bottlenecks or performance improvement opportunities in your process applications. Apex performance tools are native IBM BPM tools that are easy to integrate into new or existing process applications and support:

  • Performance Monitoring and Reporting: True end-user response times are captured in database and monitored using the Monitor Performance administration service.
  • Performance Analysis – When you identify a performance issue, a rich stream of performance information is available for interactive drill-down analysis using the Analyze Performance administrator service.

Apex Firebase Integration toolkit includes a set of coach views and services that easily integrate with Firebase to build real-time applications. Firebase takes a NoSQL database and makes it available as a real-time backend service. Key features include:

  • Multiple users opening connection to same back-end Firebase can easily build real time apps. Updates to Firebase by one user are immediately pushed to all other users in real time and at any point all user data always stays in sync with Firebase.
  • Both client side and server side data binding is supported.
  • Allows aggregation of data sources by allowing you to set up a single view for different types of data items populated via different activities.
erikafulkThe Apex Suite – a package of productivity
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Apex Coach Views Release 2

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Apex was one of the first IBM partners to release a Coach Views toolkit for BPM.  Apex Coach Views leverage client-side data patterns to make powerful, intuitive and great-looking UIs.

Apex Coach Views is a library of 90 ready-to-use layouts and controls designed for business technical users. They enable rich user experience with the latest dynamic client-side technologies under the hood and are ideal for both task completion and ad hoc information management user interfaces.

•Powered by AngularJS
•Styled with Bootstrap CSS
•Powerful and Easy to Use
•Fast and Light
•Mobile and Responsive
•Easy to Style and Extend
•Available on 8.0, 8.5 and 8.5.5

If you want to stay up to date with Apex Coach Views 2 please fill out this form.

toolkit

erikafulkApex Coach Views Release 2
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Apex at #IBMImpact 2014

Don’t miss your chance to meet Apex’s own David Knapp at #IBMImpact!

How to Build a Better User Experience with IBM Coach Views – SPD-3304

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Tue, Apr 29,2014: Marcello 4503

The IBM Coach Framework is a key element of the IBM Business Process Management (BPM) product suite. With the IBM Coach Framework, process authors can create and maintain custom web-based user interfaces that are embedded within their business process solutions.Hear the authors of the IBM Redbook ‘Leveraging the IBM BPM Coach Framework in Your Organization’discuss how to take advantage of reusable coach views in your BPM deployment. They also provide practical tips for refactoring existing coaches from earlier versions of IBM BPM.

 

And then once again Tuesday night from 6:45-7:00pm for the IBM Redbook Signing. We were delighted to have a chapter in the IBM Redbook “Leveraging the IBM BPM Coach Framework in Your Organization

This Redbook has just been published on April 16 – which means it has been live for just 1# days now. To date it has been downloaded 2,132 times! If you want to talk more with David about how Apex Coach Views and IBM can help shoot him an email at david.knapp@apexbpm.com and he’ll make time for you during the rest of #IBMImpact

redbook

 

erikafulkApex at #IBMImpact 2014
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App in 60 Minutes – The Build Out

Seeing it all come together…

In this 7th and final video in the “App in 60 Minutes” series, we’ll demonstrate how to build out the contents of the “Cart” tab so that the user can see the items added to his order. To recap, in Video #6, we implemented the mechanics of adding an Order Item to the Store Order. These order items are stored in an Apex Repository managed table.

In this video, we will create a database view, using the Repository Wizard, so that we can easily populate the list of items to show on the “Cart” tab. We’ll also show you how to use Apex Coach Views to add a Grid of Order Items to the Cart tab and how to use List Objects (a Repository coach view) to connect that grid to the data source. Within minutes, your grid will display the contents of the order!

erikafulkApp in 60 Minutes – The Build Out
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App in 60 Minutes – OrderItem Business Object

OrderItem Business Object

In this video, we’ll finish building out the complete functionality of the Order Guide tab.  In our last video, we set up the Store Order object, and now we’ll show how to add items to the order.  Using Apex Coach Views, we will enhance the “Shopping Cart” button so that when clicked, a spinner is shown and the order item is added to the order.  We’ll use another Apex Repository coach view to add the item to the database.  The integration will be done in minutes and we won’t have to write any SQL!

Stay tuned for Video #7 – which will complete our App in 60 Minutes series… We’ll be showing you how to build out Shopping Cart tab so that the user can see the items that he has added to his order.

erikafulkApp in 60 Minutes – OrderItem Business Object
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App in 60 Minutes – Order Buisness Object

Order Business Object

In our last video, we demonstrated how to use Apex Repository to connect to an existing table in an external database to retrieve the store name.  In this video, we’ll continue to build out the Store Order application by creating the Store Order table in the repository and showing how to use the Add Object integration service from the toolkit to create a new row in that table.  Once we have the Store Order object in the database, we’ll then be able to add Order Items to the Order in Video #6 — stay tuned!!

erikafulkApp in 60 Minutes – Order Buisness Object
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