By 2015, mobile Web technologies will have advanced sufficiently such that half of the applications that today would be written as native apps will be, instead, delivered as Web apps.

Gartner Predications 2010: Web Technologies Will Evolve in Multiple Directions

There are different approaches possible when bringing existing business critical applications to mobile. It is important that the appropriate method be chosen to ensure that the best ROI is got. To determine the best method for you, the following factors need to be considered:

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  • Nature of the Application
  • Usability of the Application
  • Intended functionalities
  • Skill set of Resources
  • Estimated Budget

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  • Estimated Time
  • Amount of back end data
  • Deployment considerations
  • Need for Offline support
  • Support for mobile device features

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If you want to develop an app once that runs on any of the mobile platforms, or for an application which has large back-end operations or one that does not require downloads/upgrade versions and where offline support is not so critical, Mobile Web Application would be the right choice for you. This is a simple and effective approach.

The advantages of this approach are:

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  • Support for multiple mobile platforms
  • Less development effort – Existing web skills would suffice
  • Deployment required only at the server level
  • Larger audience and no entry costs
  • Easy Ongoing maintenance Low Cost per user
  • Superior Agility
  • Tool Vendor risk eliminated
  • Reduced Technical risk

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If a Lotus Domino application has already been web-enabled using XPages, it is easier to extend the existing application to the mobile platform using techniques like DOJO Mobile, Sencha or JQuery Mobile.

The existing XPages applications can be easily extended to mobile using the controls available in XPages Mobile Controls Project from OpenNTF that supports Domino 8.5.2 and based on DOJO 1.6 and XPages Technology. However in Domino 8.5.3, these controls are packaged along with extension library, so that they can be used like any other XPages Controls without the need to having to copy-paste design elements as in the case of openNTF Mobile Controls.

The Sencha Touch is a HTML5 based framework which empowers your team to design, develop, and deploy apps from a single, integrated environment. This allows designers and developers to work in a lock-step arrangement.

JQuery Mobile is a unified, HTML5-based user interface system for all popular mobile device platforms, built on jQuery and jQuery UI foundation.

Dojo Mobile is a HTML5 mobile JavaScript framework that enables rapid development of mobile web applications with a native look and feel on modern webkit-enabled mobile devices.

In the Mobile Web Application approach, the application is executed by the browser like any normal web application.

The challenges faced here are: Less effective UX compared to native apps, Limited offline support and Access to mobile-device features like camera, scanner, Bluetooth not supported.

The table below gives a list of the parameters which could help you decide on the use of Mobile Web approach for your application

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Parameters Mobile Web Approach
Skills/tools needed for cross-platform apps HTML, CSS, JavaScript
Native SDK Required Not required
Development Speed Fast
Performance Fast,but less compared to Native apps
Number of Platforms supported Multiple
Ongoing application maintenance Low
Device Access Partial access: (Access to GPS, gyroscope,
accelerometer, file upload. ONLY)
Offline support Limited offline support
Platform, OS & device changes Will not impact the application
Deployment Server only
App execution Code executed by browser not the OS
Launch Mechanism Typing URL, Clicking Hyperlink or Home Screen shortcuts

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For a more detailed understanding of the various approaches available to port your apps to the Mobile platform, check out the whitepaper that I authored. Click here to download it.