App Development + Marketing

31 05 2013

For non-jailbroken iOS devices apps can only be purchased and installed via Apple’s App Store which opened on July 10, 2008. Developers forward their products to Apple where they are reviewed first. After a successful approval test Apple releases the app and users can download it from the App Store.

NOTE

iOS jailbreaking is the process of removing the limitations on Apple devices running the iOS operating system through the use of software and hardware exploits – such devices include the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Apple TV. Jailbreaking permits root access to the iOS operating system, allowing the download of additional applications, extensions, and themes that are unavailable through the official Apple App Store. Jailbreaking is a form of privilege escalation, and the term has been used to describe privilege escalation on devices by other manufacturers as well. The name refers to breaking the device out of its ‘jail’, which is a technical term used in Unix-style systems. A jailbroken iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS can still use the App Store, iTunes, and other normal functions, such as making telephone calls. Restoring a device with iTunes removes the jailbreak.
(Wikipedia)

20130329-145322.jpg

Registering as a developer (individual or company) costs 99$ per year.
You have to fill out all the information necessary for the app – icon, description, pricing, assigning of an app category like ‘Utilities’, etc.
Once the forwarded app is approved by Apple and available in the store, you can monitor all the analytics on the back side of it: number of downloads, profit, reviews written by the users, etc.

Apple gets a 30% profit sharing for each purchased app.

With this strategy Apple’s App Store ranks #1 among all stores for mobile devices. The benefit for Apple is an increase in turnover regarding software and as a consequence even hardware.

Links to further information …

Classification of apps …

When we talk about costs of app development we should first classify them.
This article excludes free apps which are almost designed for promoting services or developed by individuals who just like programming or want to carve out a way to success in getting commissional work.

Speaking in broad strokes apps may be classified as follows:

  • Table-Based Apps
    The app allows access to hierarchically organized data. Opening the app displays topics and often a Search-Field where you can enter a term. the app then displays topics matching the term. Tapping on a topic displays related information.
    Examples: dictionary, product description with parts lists
  • App based on Complex Databases
    This type of app is an extension to simple table-based apps with improved features of parsing out content. Often included is an online access that allows updating of the database to always work with actual data managed on a webserver. A simple solution is to download updated on demand and store them permanently in a local folder of the device. So the user is independent of a working internet connection. A more complex solution is the retrieval of updated records when needed.
  • Apps Improving Built-In Features
    iOS provides tons of features developers have access to. But some of Apple’s built-in apps don’t meet the requirements of users. With the camera you can take photos of several pages of a document. You will need an additional app to convert these image files into a single PDF, the scanned document.
    A typical example is Readdle’s app Scanner Pro where scanned documents additionally may be organized in folders.
  • Fully Dynamic Apps
    Similar to the database driven apps, these apps are the kind that rely purely on external information – Apps for social networking like Twitter, Weather Pro, WordPress, etc. usually there is Read-Write access to webservers (read tweets for displaying them, write new tweets).
    Some apps additionally provide encryption when transferring data from or to the device.
  • Apps for Creating Data
    The user enters the content (writes letters, creates spreadsheets, or presentations, annotates PDFs), manages storage places (local folders and cloud storages), uses convert algorithms (Microsoft Word to Apple Pages) and shares documents with other users. Typical apps of this kind are Apple’s iWork suite, Tap Forms Database, iThoughts Mind Mapping, Adobe Reader, etc.
  • Games
    These have the largest range of complexity, starting with something as simple as a PONG type functionality (PONG=one of the earliest video games by Atari) all the way up to a 3D physics engine that does high speed air racing. Scoring points, incorporating the user experience through the physical movement of the device, and hooking into Game Center are all possible.

The programming language …

For iOS apps Apple provides it’s programming language xCode.
For a short impression look at this video.
It explains some lines of programming and the result on the iPhone’s screen.

The costs of development …

There is no trustworthy stats about the absolute cost of an app based on the above mentioned classification. You will find developers doing everything for $1000 and reliable companies offering complex apps for $500,000.

I myself develop complex software for auditors based in Microsoft Access Databases. The experience is: calculating the costs of development is intensely distressing and irritating to the nerves. What you plan is almost always not what you release to the customers. Either features are nice-to-have but go beyond the scope of planned costs or the operating system or external modules don’t support what you have in mind or are buggy, or you are not convinced whether the stability of the system is still guaranteed.

Anyway the reality is: Coding is never ready for prime time.

This pie chart is based on a survey of app developers in Germany (source AppDevice).
When looking on it consider that

  • the values are based on A One-Year Fulfillment of an experienced company with creative, reliable, and topic-involved developers
  • there is already a fully functioning infrastructure regarding organizational workflows, technical equipment, online presence, engagement in social media
  • there are intangible assets not considered in the stats
    For being successful the whole company must have the boundless willingness to develop more reliable and innovative solutions than it’s competitors. Perpetual postgraduate professional education of the staff, risk-taking, and a well-organized, quick-response customer support are the indispensable further requirements.

20130329-134240.jpg

For a well-known app I found detailed information about the costs:

The cost of building an iPad app
Twitterific, the most popular twitter app in the App Store (€2.69 about $3.50), was solely built with sweat equity. Craig Hockenberry, the man behind Twitterific, recently revealed how much work was required to build the app: about 1,100 hours. At $150/hour, Twitterific for iPad costs about $165,000 for the code only (the iPad app also used existing code valued at roughly $20,000). On top of that, the design phase cost was about $34,000. Finally, project management, testing, and other costs were around $16,000.

When you add all these numbers together, the cost to build Twitterific is around $250,000 – note that this app does not even use a backend support system, which would have likely doubled the development costs.

As you can see these costs are in no way comparable to the statistical values reported in the survey. As a consequence it’s obvious that all the single steps in the development process strongly depend on the app itself and all the above mentioned influencing factors.

Based on my personal experiences within 35 years with Microsoft Access applications the estimated costs for coding and after-release tasks are not down-to-earth.

An app that extracts data from a database and displays it in a simple list can be expected to take 4-8 weeks to create at a cost of $25,000 on a single platform.
An app with more complex server-side integration and offline data caching will probably take 8-12 weeks and cost $70,000 to develop for two platforms.
A full-scale enterprise automation app with integration to business processes will take anything from 3-6 months and may cost over $150,000 to develop on three platforms.

The short-term investment in creating those first pristine apps is likely to be the tip of the iceberg in terms of people and capital costs. Whether you’re using internal teams for development or contracting with software companies, you’ll need to make a detailed assessment of the short- and long-term costs of supporting the practice.
An app developed today will need to be updated in the future for changing business processes and for operating system updates. It will need to be ported to any new platforms you want to support. According to MGI Research, most mobile apps will experience at least four major update cycles stemming from operating system and device updates in the 2012-2014 time frame.

Other platforms …

If an app is developed for additional platforms like Android or Windows costs are increased by an average of 25% but the increase of potential buyers is nearly 100%. So it makes sense to develop any mobile app for all leading platforms. It seems to be a good investment when looking on the stats of hardware sales.

(Source Businessinsider)
20130311-082751.jpg

Further stats …

In the draft version of my article I collected many stats from a wide range of sources.
Nearly half a week I compared more than 60 published statistical values which differ from each other massively. Anyway here are some links but it seems to me that the statistical values are hard to validate.

Summarizing some reliable stats …

These values were published by Apple itself and you can find them in several press releases on Apple Press Info

  • Total downloads: 40 billion
  • App Store accounts: 500 million
  • Available apps: 775k
  • Profit of developers: $7 billion
  • Profit for Apple: $3.5 billion (tax included)
  • Number of available App Stores: 155 seperate countries

Usage …

Goldman Sachs stated that there is a strong challenge for Google.
70% of purchased smartphones are running with Google’s Android operating system, but 60% of the mobile web traffic is generated by Apple’s iOS users.

What are Android users doing with there mobile devices?
Are they just making phone calls and play games?

To Android users:

Please accept my apologies in advance. But a blog written by an Apple fan is nothing without some sarcastic remarks.

Thanks for visiting my blog.





Mind Map vs Textual Pages

28 05 2013

In February 1996 Microsoft replaced WinHelp by Compiled HTML Help with the release of Windows 98. This help system is used until today without any major overhaul and the quality is still not conclusive.

Microsoft Compiled HTML Help is a Microsoft proprietary online help format, consisting of a collection of HTML pages, an index and other navigation tools. The files are compressed and deployed in a binary format with the extension .CHM, for Compiled HTML. The format is often used for software documentation.

Admittedly it needs some more effort to implement a really context-sensitive and efficient help system but this is what users need and expect from the leading software companies precisely because they have the knowledge, the techniques, and the creative developers to implement it.

I think you all know the boring question ‘Was this information helpful?‘ within textual-based help systems. Sorry, I always have to say NO.
I’m an old man and after crawling from link to link to link to link, … I sometimes forget my original question. I scan through the text like a hunter trying to spot the most relevant information that is hidden in the endless stream of sentences and paragraphs.
It’s distressing and far away from being effective to follow the motto ‘Read more, learn less‘.

Research tells us that we spend almost 30% of our time searching for relevant information. Of course finding relevant data is critical to our productivity but spending one third of our productive time on searches leaves not much time on the actual creative usage of our findings.
We have the challenges with large data sources and so we need effective tools for search, analysis, and visualization. Concentrate on applying knowledge instead of using the precious time on inefficient searches.

The result …

Clay Shirky in his famous talk at Web 2.0 Expo NY
It’s Not Information Overload.
It’s Filter Failure.

I would like to extend the statement to
It’s Filter and Layout Failure.

So it’s time to replace textual help by a more modern technique as people of the modern era want to be guided by pictograms and other kind of visualized information. An additional benefit of visualization is that nearly everyone keeps the information in his mind for a considerable time.

A simple example …

Every app installed on an iPad should offer an online help.
As an example I looked at the online help of the app Bento (FileMaker Inc., USA). Bento is a mobile app for managing databases.

20130326-214916.jpg

The user has to

  • Tap on the ‘i’ icon
  • Tap on Help
  • Select a Topic
  • Open the Topic
  • Read the help text
  • Go back to application screen

This is the usual way textual based help systems work.

The alternative …

To develop a effective new help system the motto should be:

Make it context sensitive, read less, learn more, keep it in mind for a longer time, minimize the user actions.

Following this motto my suggestion is:

  • Use ‘Tap and Hold’ on the icon you need help for
  • A mind map opens in a popover with the focus on the topic which describes the icon by an appropriate help text.

NOTES

1 As of my limited capabilities the mind map does not contain the icons used in the app. So I trust in your imagination.

2 An app with using mind maps must have an integrated mind map viewer which is available on the market.

3 All images an icons used in the map must be identical to those used in the app to avoid any confusion.

20130326-215806.jpg

NOTE

If you are not familiar with mind maps look at the topic ‘Form View’. The small ‘+’ sign is for expanding the topic to a more detailed description of sub-features.

We are used to looking at information in a linear way.
Mind maps show us an alternative approach to seeking information.

A further example …

We talked about a mind map providing context sensitive help.
Other text oriented help systems are manuals. The design is standardized: a table of contents, page numbers for the details, and a large amount of written text. We all know that relevant portions of information can be gathered by reading just part of the text. That’s what many people do when reading newspapers and manuals.

So it seems natural to kick off most of the text as well as the table of contents and use a well-structured mind map.

20130326-220758.jpg

Like Microsofts old-fashioned HTML help mind maps are searchable as well. Enter a search term, select from the drop-down list and the mind map expands automatically to the branch containing the term.

20130326-225736.jpg

An nice-to-have extension to this text search would be an area-by-area search, that means: all relevant topics of the map related to an umbrella term are highlighted.
For example: After entering the term ‘Security’ it comes to highlighting of all topics regarding security. It’s like a guided tour for users. When asking the system directly it gives us the relevant choices.

It would be a big step into future ways of absorbing information when presenting documentations as mind maps.

Using mind maps for a user help system may have a further benefit for developers. It’s the disclosure of inconsistencies in the UI design. See my mind map about the Security Settings of an iOS device where settings are widely spread over lots of sections in Apple’s settings app.

Download of Apple’s iOS security settings …

If you already use a mind mapping app on your device you may download the mind map about Security Settings on

BIGGERPLATE.com (The mind map library)
Goto Search and enter ‘iNotes4You’ to locate the file and beyond.

or download the mind map here from Dropbox

Application File format
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Thanks for flying with http://iNotes4You.com.





DBMS on iOS-Devices (5)

25 05 2013

There are three apps for managing databases I focussed on in this and my previous articles.

Tap Forms HD (Tap Zapp Software Inc, Canada)
Bento (FileMaker Inc, USA)
Microsoft Access Mobile Database Client (Impathic LLc, USA).

This article is about the features of Bento and contains a final assessment of all three products.

The developers of Tap Forms and Bento use different terms for the same objects.
Here is a translation of the standard terms used by Microsoft:

Standard Tap Forms Bento
Table Forms Library
Query Search Collection

The features …

I took these screenshots to emphasize the highlights of Bento Mobile Database.
The library ‘WordPress’ contains informations about my blog. I manage these informations with my favorite app Tap Forms. In Tap Forms I exported the data as a CSV file and imported the records in Bento. Here are some basic informations about Bento.

All options for viewing the data also allow the editing of records.

20130323-151238.jpg

Additionally to the table view records can be viewed in forms.
Forms can be designed by the user by arranging the fields to the needs.

20130323-151631.jpg

Bento offers no traditional queries (SQL like expressions for selecting data) but a full text search.
This might be a disadvantage if you want to select records e.g. with numerical values less than 500.

20130323-152414.jpg

On the other hand Bento allows concatenating text fields which is not supported by Tap Forms.
So the capabilities of calculated fields leave nothing to be desired.

20130323-152817.jpg

Full feature description of Bento …

20130323-153814.jpg

The mind map created with the app iThoughts for iOS contains all features of the app Bento Mobile Database for iPad. It can be downloaded here:

Bento Mobile Database for iPad

Map as a PDF

Map in ITMZ file format (iThoughts)

Map in MMAP file format (MindManager)

Map in XMIND file format (XMind)

Support …

On my iPhone Bento did THOMAS appear in the apps menu of the ‘Open in’ command. So I contacted Bento’s support and described the problem. Here is the very poor answer:

Discussion Thread
Response Via Email (…) Apr 04, 2013 02:54 AM PDT

Hello Thomas,

Thank you for contacting FileMaker Customer Support.
Regarding your question about Bento, when you open the email with the CSV file attached, does a window open showing Bento as an app when you touch the CSV attachment with your finger for a couple of seconds
If you have any questions, please contact Customer Support on: 0845 603 9100 (United Kingdom) or 01 4073432 (Ireland), Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (excluding holidays)., and reference case number: 130403-000002.
Thank you,
Customer Support

Nothing more to say.

The main problem is that FileMaker provides no other way to fill the database except with a CSV file by using the ‘Open in’ command. This is a definitely poor strategy of a big company!

Summary …

Three competitors …
Tap Forms HD, Bento, Access Mobile Database Client

Two winners …
Tap Forms HD, Bento

It’s not easy to give a final assessment and it’s obviously subjective because different users have different requirements. However, my preferred app is Tap Forms HD by Tap Zapp Software Inc, Canada.

Decisive for me are the following features …

  • Syncing via iCloud across all devices
  • Backup as ZIP file and Restore on other devices
  • Building SQL-like queries
  • Direct Import/Export to Dropbox
  • Perfect, fast, and understandable support

The main disadvantage of Bento is that it solely offers CSV files for transferring data.
This file type, as implemented by FileMaker, is not appropriate for exchanging data between devices. UnlikeTap Forms Bento does not include the field type in it’s CSV file. So relevant information drops away. After importing URLs Bento interprets the contents of this field as simple text and so it’s no longer associated with the functionality of opening a browser when tapping on it.

Note …
In contrast to Bento Tap Forms HD includes field-type tags in the header row to tell an importing app which fields are numbers and which are text, dates, URLs, or other field types.
While backing up Tap Forms creates a ZIP file which consists of a normal CSV file as well as all other ‘not-text’ data like images or audio recordings. Restoring this kind of a CSV file with additional information about filed types enables the importing app to reassign field-type specific functionality.

20130324-154149.jpg

So there is no chance to transfer libraries of Bento from one iOS device to another and to further sync the data. Even File Sharing via iTunes is not offered.

Nevertheless Bento is a serious competitor and offers some impressive features which I miss in Tap Forms HD. These are:

  • Creating of Forms for editing and displaying data
  • Displaying data in spreadsheet-like lists
  • App controlled managing of ‘Date Modified/Created’ fields
  • Calculations can also be done with text fields by concatenating text
  • Useful Help System with short but understandable descriptions

It’s hard to comprehend that features are missing which users perceive within a minute when they start an application the first time. Many longstanding features known of comparable apps for computers are not carried over to iPad. It seems to me that companies developing software for mobile devices are not yet ready to accept the needs of the market. It’s not explicable that, for example, Dropbox in it’s mobile client still doesn’t offer a setting for the sort order of files.

Related Links …

DBMS on iOS devices (1)

DBMS on iOS devices (2)

DBMS on iOS devices (3)

DBMS on iOS devices (4)

DBMS on iOS devices (5)

Importing Data

Form Access To Tap Forms

Databases and Mind Maps

I appreciate your Comments and Likes.
I you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me via comment or contact form on the About page.
Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





DBMS on iOS-Devices (4)

22 05 2013

Microsoft Access is the worldwide most powerful system for developing database applications with forms, reports, queries and VBA modules. An acceptable performance is ensured for databases up to 2 GB and a number of records up to 100,000 per table when using a state-of-the-art PC.

Microsoft Access 2010 Specifications

I myself develop databases in a Frontend-Backend design mainly for auditors since about 25 years with more than 2,500 licensed users. My experiences are that no other system allows you to develop applications, add features, and fix bugs as efficiently as with Microsoft Access.

So let’s have a look at a client which allows to use Microsoft’s proprietary database file format (.accdb or .mdb) on Apple’s iOS devices.

Impathic LLc, USA offers the Microsoft Access Mobile Database Client at Apple’s App Store.

Microsoft Access databases are Stand-Alone Files, and so the database file must be transferred to your iOS device in order to open it in the Access Mobile Database Client. This is in contrast to many other databases, which connect over a network in ‘Client-Server’ mode. While having your database file on your device prevents the ability to work on the data concurrently with other users, it also allows you to work with your database in a disconnected environment, such as on an airplane.

Transfer to an iOS device …

How to transfer a Microsoft Access database to an iOS device …

Transferring an Access Database via iTunes File Sharing

  • (1) On your desktop, locate your “.accdb” or “.mdb” database file.
  • (2) Plug your iOS device into your desktop or laptop using the USB cable and open iTunes.
  • (3) In the left panel of iTunes, locate and click on your iOS device name.
  • (4) At the top of the screen for the device, select the “Apps” tab.
  • (5) Scroll down to the “File Sharing” section at the bottom of the screen.
  • (6) Select “Access” from the list of apps.
  • (7) Drag your Access database from your computer into the file list.
  • (8) When you next launch Access Mobile Database Client, you will see your database in the list of available databases.

You may also transfer a database from a cloud provider offering a client app for iOS devices which supports the ‘Open in’ command or you can send the database as an E-Mail attachment.

Transferring an Access Database from the cloud

  • (1) Sign up for a free account at http://www.dropbox.com if you don’t already have one.
  • (2)Upload your “.mdb” or “.accdb” file to your dropbox account using their desktop integration program.
  • (3) Download the free “Dropbox” app from the Apple iTunes App Store, launch it, and log in.
  • (4) Browse to your database file and tap the forward button , then select “Access” as the application to open the database with.

    Notes
    When you first select your database in Dropbox, the app may say “Unable to view file”, but you should still be able to tap the forward button to open it in Access Mobile Database Client.

    Modifications made to your database will not be saved back to your Dropbox account, but instead will be saved locally on your iOS device. To get your modified database back to your desktop, you need to transfer it back using the iTunes File Sharing method, or by tapping “Edit” from the database list, selecting your database, and then mailing your database back to yourself, or opening it another application (such as the official ‘Dropbox’ app).

Transferring an Access Database via E-Mail attachment

  • (1) Tap on the E-Mail attachment (an accdb or mdb file).
  • (2) From the ‘Open in’ menu choose ‘Access’.

The full feature description …

20130320-171028.jpg

Impressions of the application …

See this annotated slideshow to get an impression of the user interface.

Tap on an image to see the navigation bar.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The pros …

  • Support for Microsoft Access 97, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010
  • Support for relationships between tables
  • Export of tables or queries as CSV file to other apps like Apple’s iWork app ‘Numbers’
  • Ability to adjust the font size for listings
  • Simple UI

The cons …

  • Creation of databases not supported
  • Changing of tables (add fields, etc.) not supported
  • Adjusting the column width not supported
  • Backup and Restore not supported
  • Printing of tables not supported
  • Saving changed databases back to a cloud storage not supported
    iTunes File Sharing is the only way to transfer edited databases back to other devices or cloud storages
  • No integrated browser for opening Hyperlinks
  • Display of images not supported
    Images located in the system table MSysResources or other tables are not displayed.
  • Errors when executing queries with string operations
    Error executing query: Syntax Error: Stopped parse at …
  • No feature updates or bug fixes since 18 months
    This usually is an unmistakable hint for a frozen app.

It’s obvious, and no disadvantage of the app, that

  • linked tables in a Frontend-Backend configuration are not supported
  • sharing the Frontend is a senseless act as forms, reports, and VBA modules are not supported on iOS devices

The test results …

I imported the following databases via iTunes File Sharing

  • My simple WordPress database WordPress.accdb
  • The Microsoft sample database Northwind.accdb
  • A database containing a table with 100,000 and one with 3,666,731 records

Does the client app or the iPad behave disgracefully when using large amount of data?

Here are some stats:

  • Table with 12 fields:
    Number of records = 100,000
    File size on a PC = 320 MB
  • Loading of records into the list view:
    500 records within 11 sec
  • Query with the WHERE condition ‘Begins With’ for a text field and descending sort order:
    215 records selected within 38 sec
  • Full text search over 12 fields:
    448 records selected within 370 sec

Repeating the tests with 3,666,731 records came to a nearly linear increasing processing time.

And … Neither the app nor the iPad crashed!

Summary …

I cannot recommend Microsoft Access Mobile Database Client because of the limited sharing options and missing sync functionalities when using more than one device.
It might be useful for looking up records on an iOS device for databases containing more static content like product lists with stable prices or other tables similar in kind.

The competitors, Tap Forms HD by Tap Zap Software and FileMaker’s Bento, are light years ahead.

Related links …

DBMS on iOS devices (1)

DBMS on iOS devices (2)

DBMS on iOS devices (3)

Importing Data

Databases and Mind Maps

From Access to Tap Forms

I appreciate your Comments and Likes.
I you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me via comment or the contact form on my About page.
Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





DBMS on iOS-Devices (3)

19 05 2013

Using a database is the only appropriate way to store large amount of data.
As tablet and smartphone purchases are booming it stands to reason to have a look at some apps for iOS devices.

Allow me to point out some previous articles about databases here on iNotes4You

DBMS on iOS devices (1)

DBMS on iOS devices (2)

Importing Data

Databases and Mind Maps

From Access to Tap Forms

20130317-125716.jpg

First of all it’s useful to have a look on what customers use databases for:

  • Personal information management
    This field of activity means the “classical” applications for PDA or organizers. Mostly, there is no cooperative work with other users on the same piece of data. The amount of data on the mobile device is usually small, and is at most edited on the mobile device itself. The main challenges for developers of mobile databases for personal information management are

    • Flexibility
      regarding changes of tables and fields
    • Independency
      of stationary devices
    • Easy to use
      even for non-professionals
    • Reliability
      of the developer constantly upgrading and adapting the app to changing operating systems and devices
  • Replication of large databases
    The replication of large databases or parts of them – large in the context of mobile, lightweight appliances, e.g. not more than 2 GB – is characterized by the cooperative use of the same data by numerous users. Data are mainly managed and manipulated by the DBMS on a stationary server, only a few or no changes are performed on the mobile device. Business applications, geographic information systems or multimedia are typical applications. The most important challenges for mobile databases in this field are syncing, performance, storage capacity, and the way to display data on a small screen.

The differences between stationary and mobile devices can be described by the following issues:

  • Amount of data
    Due to the restrictions of CPU performance and storage capacities applications for mobile devices are suitable for about, let me say, 10,000 records. Larger amounts of data cause performance problems when it comes to import, export, and sync data with other devices.
  • Hardware resources
    Stationary devices are customizable for the needs of their applications with a broad range of exchangeable hardware components. In contrast Apple’s mobile devices are not upgradable. So the later usage of the device has already to be considered when it’s purchased.
  • Form factor
    Screen sizes like that of the iPad are not suitable for databases containing tables with a large amount of fields. Even in landscape mode it’s hard to view tables with many fields and different field types. Usually views of tables are not customizable by defining suitable forms, subforms for related tables, data sheets, and reports like it is possible e.g. in Microsoft Access.

As we are talking about applications for the actual iOS devices the key feature list assumes an iPad and an iPhone as mobile devices optionally supported by a Mac as the big brother to do some tasks mobile devices are not designed for.

The key features …

Here are some key features for apps managing databases on mobile devices.
When expanding the branches of this map you will see many details reflecting my comprehensive experiences with database tools.

20130317-154541.jpg

The mind map created with the app iThoughts for iOS contains many detailed informations when expanding the branches. It can be downloaded here:

Key Features of Mobile Databases

Map as a PDF

Map in ITMZ file format (iThoughts)

Map in MMAP file format (MindManager)

Map in XMIND file format (XMind)

Classification of apps …

The apps available at Apple’s App Store I would like to describe are distinguished from each other by

  • Creating and customizing a database on the mobile device
    examples are Tap Forms (Tap Zap Software Inc., Canada) and Bento (FileMaker Inc., USA)
  • Creating the database on a stationary device and editing data on the mobile device
    an example is Microsoft Access Database Client, My SQL Mobile Database Client, (Impathic LLc. USA) and the mobile database clients for Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Sybase, PostGreSQL, and DB2 also developed by Impathic.
  • Access to databases located on webservers
    an example is MySQL Database (Software Solutions + Technologies AG, Switzerland)
    These solutions are not discussed here because of the dependency of an external data source managed on a webserver.

Some features in details …

I want to talk about an appropriate usage of databases on Apple’s iOS devices. So the focus is on private and small business applications, the usage of more than one device without the necessity of a stationary device, and the independency of external data sources.

So the key features are

  • Creating the database on the mobile device
    e.g. On an iPad or by importing a CSV file which automatically generates a table with the correct field types
  • Creating the fields by selecting from various filed types which are particularly useful for mobile devices
    e.g. location data
  • Syncing across multiple devices
    e.g. syncing via Apple’s iCloud
  • Importing data from previous systems
    e.g. via a CSV file from Microsoft Access
  • Exporting data to other apps for further usage
    e.g. to Apple’s spreadsheet app Numbers to create graphs or editing data for print outs or presentations

Please visit iNotes4You to read the upcoming article DBMS on iOS-Devices (4) with a description of the Mobile Microsoft Access Database Client by Impathic LLc, USA.
This article will be published on May 22.

Thanks a lot for visiting iNotes4You.
Comments and Likes are appreciated.





Presenting with iPad (2)

16 05 2013

In ‘Presenting with iPad (1)’ I talked about the possibilities to present any kind of information for an audience using additional hardware.

This article is about an app called ‘Electric Slide’ working with minimal hardware requirements: a screen and a browser.

About
Electric Slide is a product of elucidate llc. We’re a DUMBO (Brooklyn, NY) based business that designs and develops mobile applications for business productivity and healthcare. Elucidate was founded by Angelo Alduino and Jim Phelan in April of 2012. Angelo and Jim are veterans of the web based collaboration field. Electric Slide was borne out of the idea that presenting is an inherently mobile activity trapped in a PC based presenting model, largely due to a lack of appropriate tools.

The app Electric Slide is designed to provide simple wireless presenting by giving each user a unique URL. Upon entering a meeting, a user can simply type their URL into a web browser and begin presenting wirelessly with their device. After uploading the content to a webserver of the company it’s delivered back to the audience controlled by e.g. an iPad, an iPhone or any other mobile device with the app installed on it.

If an internet connection is not available the presentation device can connect directly to a TV using an HDMI/VGA adapter or Apple’s AirPlay. The app also allows multiple devices to pair via Bluetooth.

Electric Slide uses the company’s proprietary technology to convert all content to HTML5. Animations and effects are preserved so that PowerPoint presentations and other documents can be viewed without loss of formatting.

The app is free and the free account offers 50 MB of storage, up to five simultaneous live viewers and presenting videos of a maximum length of one minute. The meeting length is limited to 90 minutes. The PRO account limitations are: 1 GB storage, 50 live viewers, 30 minutes video length

The pros …

  • Present to small groups or remote viewers just using a browser without any setup procedure
  • Optional connection to TV using an HDMI / VGA adapter or AirPlay
  • iPad as the presenting device can be controlled by an iPhone via Bluetooth
  • Live broadcasting of photos

The cons …

  • Right now, Apple’s Keynote presentation files are not supported – though support for them is planned for a future update. This should be added as Keynote is by far the best presentation app right now for the iPad.
    Keynote presentations have to be uploaded as PDFs.

  • Internet Explorer 10 is not supported.
    The viewers have to use Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
  • No audio support
    All viewers must share the same room.

How it works …

  • Register at http://www.electricslide.net
  • Create a ‘Room Name’ that will form part of your custom URL used when you present.
  • Once the file uploads to the Electric Slide’s webserver and gets processed you can broadcast it to your custom URL right away.

20130313-164840.jpg

Look at this image to see the options for controlling the presentation.

20130313-164855.jpg

Summary …

An impressive idea where, I hope, some features will be added in the near future to bridge the gaps.

img_2133.jpg





Presenting with iPad (1)

13 05 2013

With an Apple TV you can use Apple’s AirDisplay feature to display the screen of any iOS device on a TV.

If you don’t need all the further functionalities of Apple TV there is a low cost alternative for e.g. displaying Keynote presentations on a TV or on a wall with the help of a beamer.

To do so you need

  • Apple Digital AV Adapter
    available in the Apple Store for iOS devices with 30-Pin or Lightning adapter
  • HDMI cable
  • HDMI capable TV / Beamer

The connection …

20130126-151920.jpg

The running system …

20130126-151946.jpg

Keynote presentations …

Connect the iPad with a HDMI capable beamer instead of a TV.
The app

Apple Keynote Remote

installed on an iPhone allows you to control Keynote presentations. The iPhone works like a remote control for the iPad, which displays a Keynote presentation. As you may know, you can add notes to each slide of a Keynote presentation. These notes can be displayed on the iPhone while presenting the slides. To change from slide to slide you use the swipe gesture.

20130126-151935.jpg

The Alternative …

A disadvantage of any adapter connected to the iPad is the immobility of the device.
The alternative is an Apple TV connected to a HDMI capable TV and your local WiFi network.

Fo more information see

Apple TV

Keep in mind that if you decide to purchase an Apple TV you may additionally need the Apple Digital AV Adapter to connect to a beamer.








%d bloggers like this: