Category Archives: Blog

Showing Uniface’s Mobile Capabilities at Mobile World in Barcelona

When you think of enterprise mobile apps, what is the first type of app that comes to mind? That’s actually a more difficult question than we thought when we first started off creating a mobile app demo to showcase at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. We decided on an insurance policies app, which we will show on both iOS and Android devices. The event is already taking place next week, and luckily all of our preparations and hard work are falling into place.

Uniface will participate as an exhibitor in the App Planet Exhibition Area (stand number: 8.1K79) at the event. Here we will demo the power of Uniface Mobile to create cross platform mobile applications and showcase how we can address the current opportunities and challenges of developing apps for enterprise mobility.

When building a demo app specifically for an event, it’s important to be able to show someone quickly the power of your solution.  With Uniface, this is no different, however while we can (also) make flashy front-ends, the back-end integration of a mobile app is where you see the real benefits.

Preparing the Uniface demo for Mobile World Congress
Preparing the Uniface demo for Mobile World Congress

So take an insurance app that allows a user to view their various policies on their mobile, be able to submit a claim to their insurance company with all the relevant information and accompanying photos—and all of this seamlessly integrating into the back-end system. Take that same app and add a piece of business functionality which would normally lead to lengthy change management and development time, and see how Uniface can build a component in minutes. That is the power of the Uniface mobile solution, and what we are looking forward to showing at MWC in Barcelona.

Over the course of four days, 2-5 March 2015, 85,000 delegates will hear from thought leaders from the most important companies in mobile and adjacent industries. They will be able to see the newest technologies and most innovative products available in a cutting-edge Exhibition featuring more than 1,900 exhibitors, and participate in App Planet where more than 200 app-focused cutting edge exhibitors, including Uniface, will showcase the newest apps, gadgets, devices, and technology in the mobile ecosystem.

If you’ll be in Barcelona for MWC 2015, contact us to arrange a meeting or drop by our booth in the App Planet Exhibition Area. In the mean time, visit go.uniface.com/mobile to learn more about Uniface Mobile.

How Uniface Harnesses Diversity to Drive Innovation

Author: Andrea Chatterson, Human Resources Business Partner, Uniface

Last year, I had the opportunity to join Uniface and further my career with a dynamic, successful company.  During my first year with Uniface, I’ve often been asked what attracted me to the company?

What I found was a combination of a highly skilled workforce and a company culture which fosters an open and innovative environment for employees to collaborate and express ideas.  Being a HR Business partner, I have a unique insight into what sets Uniface apart from other companies and what makes it an exciting and motivating place to work: diversity, empowerment and emotional intelligence. The Uniface approach is refreshing,  because it taps into key drivers of innovation and individual empowerment.

Workplace Diversity

At Uniface, diversity in cultural experience is a key element of our work culture: currently we have over 32 different nationalities working across 14 countries. Forbes has recognized that diversity breeds business innovation and is essential to the growth and prosperity of any company. This includes, diversity of perspectives, experiences, cultures, genders, and age.

As a result, we pride ourselves on developing this intercultural approach to recruitment and have learned to recognise the value it has brought to the company. This diversity within the organisation has created an openness to new ideas, and made people highly receptive to solving problems in new ways.

Compelling evidence from the Harvard Business Review shows that diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth. Six of these behaviours have been found to unlock innovation across the board:

  • Ensuring that everyone is heard
  • Making it safe to propose novel ideas
  • Giving team members decision-making authority
  • Sharing credit for success
  • Giving actionable feedback
  • Implementing feedback from the team.

At Uniface, we’ve worked really hard to establish a culture in which all employees feel free to contribute ideas and share in the success of those ideas.

Empowerment and Collaboration

One way in which we promote our open culture is through scrum methodology and a monthly sprint pitch, which is all about collaboration. We achieve collaboration by engaging each and every member of the team.

This has the additional benefit of being a trusted forum with a free format so individuals get to gain visibility on how they fit into the process of reaching targets while practicing skills we value. Forbes research shows that a diverse and inclusive workforce is critical to driving the creation and execution of new products, services, and business processes. At Uniface, we harness diversity to give us a competitive advantage in the market place.

Emotional Intelligence

At Uniface, it’s not just about hiring the “smartest” people. We know we can do that. So, we also look for what Daniel Goleman has described as ‘emotional intelligence’ and in particular, we look for people who can demonstrate proficiency in managing relationships and building networks. This includes an ability to find common ground and build rapport with others. In fact, this is probably what separates life at Uniface from other companies I’ve worked in.

So at Uniface, building a uniquely motivating and empowering workplace culture comes as a result of the type of employee we actively look to recruit and the type of workplace environment we co-create.

If you think you’d like to join us here at Uniface, you can always check our job listings at https://uniface.has-jobs.com/  – we’d love to have you become a successful part of our global team.

What’s your experience of working in diverse teams? Has it been positive? Let me know what you think supports an open and innovative culture. We’re always looking for ways to improve.

There may be trouble ahead for mobile commerce; Part 2

By Clive Howard, Principal AnalystCreative Intellect Consulting

Read Part 1 of this blog post here

Payments made easier and more secure with a good mobile wallet

Once again the most likely solution to this issue is mobile wallets. By using a mobile wallet the customer does not have to enter any payment information. This greatly reduces the work that they have to do to make a payment. The customer is simply passed into the mobile wallet which already has their payment information, they complete the transaction and are then handed back to the website or app.

A further benefit to this approach is that the actual payment element of the process has been both optimised by a third party payments specialist and tested by them as well. This removes two major burdens from the development team.

Mobile wallets are therefore the answer to the two top reasons why consumers are reluctant to make payments on a mobile device. If this mobile wallet is provided by a bank or credit card provider then people are more likely to try it. This should be good news for any organisation looking to increase revenue from mobile consumers. Especially when one considers that eMarketer has found that there is a desire to buy via mobile, particularly in the younger age groups. 48% of 18-34 year olds said that they would like to pay this way.

Mobile payments present new opportunities

Within the many different markets with an interest in mobile commerce one of particular note would be travel and transportation. This market has been working with different ways to incorporate mobile into a customer’s experience across the end to end lifespan of a journey. An example is the number of airlines that now offer mobile boarding passes. A further example would be the use of the mobile device as a ticket using NFC such as on buses. With many journeys having multiple stages that may involve different modes of transport from a variety of providers a single form of fast payment is obviously interesting.

Imagine taking a journey and being able to both use the mobile device for payment and as a ticket to travel throughout. This is not just in the context of transport itself (trains, buses, aeroplanes and so on) but other stages of the journey like paying for car parking, hotel accommodation or purchasing refreshments.

There are a number of challenges to this vision of the future. Many of them are physical and cost based such as the price of installing NFC enabled equipment into the transport network. However it will still require customers to want to use their mobile and that means addressing the concerns of security and user experience that have already been discussed.

What this brief look at a particular industry does however, is to highlight the new possibilities that mobile presents in the field of payments. For many organisations it may simply be that they want to take a traditional sales process and mobile enable it, such as purchasing an item of clothing from a retailer’s website. For others though it might present all new customer experiences and revenue opportunities.

Developers: be armed with the right approach

What we see in the m-commerce market is a history of solid growth and desire amongst consumers to buy via mobile. But we also see challenges ahead in the form of security concerns and the poor experience that many customers are currently receiving. Mobile wallets address these concerns and customers are prepared to try them as long as they are provided by organisations that they trust such as banks and credit card companies.

Development teams working on mobile projects, whether websites or apps, should begin looking into how they can integrate with mobile wallets. Coupled with the importance of having in place a good mobile wallet strategy, is the support of a robust testing strategy. This will mean looking for accessible tools and services that can address any performance challenges that might present themselves as a result of network traffic. The latter will be one for future blog discussions.

Crucially, the potential for m-commerce goes beyond the type of retail experiences that many of us are used to but it is one that opens up a future of new possibilities as well. So, while there may be trouble ahead for Mobile commerce in the future, there are strategies and tools in play today to enable you to buck the trend going forward.

Structs: More than just an easy way to process XML streams

Struct

During the sixties of the previous century IBM’s Charles Goldfarb et al. developed, what can be considered now, as the first Markup Language. From his Generalized Markup Language (GML) the more generally known Standard Generalized Markup Language SGML was developed.  Several criteria were defined for this SGML. One of these criteria is that SGML should describe a structure and attributes. By describing it this way it was (and is) much more likely that data can be processed, using (future) information technologies. SGML was designed to process huge documents, initially used by the US government. SGML was often experienced as quite complex and the advent of XML-structured data made it possible to use the concept of structured data for smaller documents as well.

Nowadays XML is indispensable in information technology. XML (and its “mutants” like JSON) can be considered as the “de facto” standard for data communication between applications, using web services and more. In multi-tiered architectures XML should be used for data communication. Each development tool must be able to process XML-like data streams as efficient as possible. Considering XML strings as a “simple” string data type is far too easy to process XML streams in a fast and development-friendly way.

Initially Uniface defined scripting code (formerly known as Proc) that was geared towards the processing of XML. Scripting commands like XMLsave(to place component data in an XML stream) and XMLload (to load data from an XML stream into a component)  are good examples of this kind of scripting code. With the fact that the “data world” was getting more and more complex, these simple statements no longer covered the need for efficient coding. Many Uniface developers used string manipulation coding to process more complex data structures like XML and JSON.

A new paradigm was needed for Uniface to process XML, to stay on top of being (and staying) the number one productivity development tool. With Uniface 9.5 and 9.6 the implementation of the Struct datatype, in combination with the development of scripting code to manipulate Struct datatype variables and parameters (ie “Struct”), was the answer.  A Struct can be defined as a tree-like data structure, kept in memory, that is used to dynamically manipulate complex data and transform it from or to XML or Uniface component data. Variables of type struct are used to access the Struct. Scripting code commands, access operators, and information functions enables the developers to create, build, and manipulate the Struct.

The application of Struct, initially designed to process complex and structured data, has many more options. The creativity of the Uniface software developer is the limit for the application of Structs.  Here is a short list of applications for Struct. The list is just a limited one and without any doubt there are many more applications for Structs.

  • There is complex parameter support of web services and transformations of SOAP messages. All XML strings can, with only one statement, being transformed into a Struct. Struct can be transformed into component data, after some manipulation, if needed.
  • The processing of entities and multiple occurrences has been made much easier and faster. Component data can be transformed into Struct with one command. Because Struct is kept in memory manipulation of is very fast.
  • Software development according to the “multi-tier” paradigm is more straight-forward now. In a well-developed software application communication between the different tiers will be handled using XML, JSON or another XML-like data format. The transformation from component data into Struct is a very simple one.
  • Exchange of JavaScript objects is no longer a serious issue. Uniface has a JavaScript API to enable the development of client-side code for web-deployed applications. JavaScript uses JSON strings for data exchange a lot. Uniface supports the transformation between JSON and Struct. Easy to apply this on communication between a browser-based presentation tier and its server-based back end.
  • Uniface lists can be replaced by the use of Structs. Uniface developers that have developed Uniface list into list (into lists into lists… and so on) know that it can be very complicated and hazardous, using “goldkey ;” and goldkey !” for the lists inside lists definitions. Structs make live much easier.
  • Complex data exchange between entries, operations, and components can be implemented. Both parameters and variables are supported by the struct datatype. Using parameters makes it possible to exchange Struct to-and-from entries, local operations and public operations.

 

This was only a limited bulleted list of possibilities that the newly developed Struct data type offers the Uniface developer with Uniface 9.6. I am very convinced that there are many more creative applications for Structs, please show me!

Using Standard Deployment for your Uniface Applications

Author: Michel van den Berg, Uniface Software Architect

Deploying your Uniface applications with standard deployment is a methodology that can perhaps make your life easier. With the classic style of deployment, rolling out your application is not always that straight forward. The following graphic shows this, .dol and .urr files are shared over the components, making it difficult to structure.

Classic Style

With Uniface Standard Deployment, the runtime environment will be different, all objects are delivered in single or a small set of  archives.  This of course brings many benefits, such as easier application distribution, updates and partitioning. No more .dol’s or .urr’s files getting mixed together over applications.

USD

To help you get started with using Standard Deployment for your Uniface applications, join this online seminar that will show you the overview of the functionality so you can learn how to move from classic to standardized deployment style.  Registration is open, hope to see you there on January 7th.