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IBM Connections application development state of the union - part 2

Part 1 was about API's and SPI's - this part will be about widgets or apps as IBM likes to call them now. There are big differences between how widgets / apps works for on-premises, cloud and on Mobile. Let us starts with Mobile as it's the quickest one to address but also the most depressing...

Besides adding menu items to the IBM Connections mobile app menu (the one that slides in from the left) and having the content load in an embedded browser control there is no support for widgets / apps on Mobile. None. Zero. Given that IBM Connections always has been marketed as social software that focus on the individual and where all content and data is tied to the user it has always been surprising to me how little focus IBM has put on Mobile from the ISV perspective in this regard. From my perspective as an ISV it would be obvious that ISV's would want to pivot of a profile, a file, a community etc. and launch into a custom app supplying that context.

I have always been a big advocate for adding widgets / apps / actions to IBM Connections Mobile. And yes I know that adding custom content to an iOS or Android app is hard and there are security implications but there are ways around it. Simply supporting declarative actions using URL token replacements would go a long way (on-premises they could be loaded from mobile-config.xml). Allow me add an action specifying the feature it should go into (Profiles, Communities, Files etc.) and allow me to add a URL pattern to it. The URL pattern should be able to take URL token replacements so my URL could be something like https://myapp.example.com/people/%uid% or https://myapp.example.com/people/%email% or https://myapp.example.com/files/%fileid%. Once activated the app could grab til touch action, replace the tokens in the URL based on the current record and load it in the browser control it uses for those aforementioned left menu shortcuts.

Obviously I'm always way too optimistic but how hard could that be? And I think it would add a ton of options to customers and ISV's for pivoting off content in IBM Connections and go into custom apps.

Thinking further about it - what if a native app for the data was present on the device and a registered URL scheme was used it would probably automatically launch into that app carrying the context along. Maybe even sending along some credentials to make this app switch transparent to the user - how cool would that be. But even it that wasn't the case (I know iOS added restrictions as to what and how many URL schemes an app could query) and I would end up in a web app it would still be a great improvement.

Avatar: Paul Withers

Re: IBM Connections application development state of the union - part 2

The idea of a custom URL to launch the app with context is a sensible one, but IBM aren't the only ones to fail there. I have given up on the LinkedIn mobile application, because clicking on links in emails go to the web rather than LinkedIn's mobile app that I installed. Still, at least it's better than what used to happen, which is that it went to a page encouraging me to install the mobile app which I already had installed!

Avatar: Gayathri Viswanathan

Re: IBM Connections application development state of the union - part 2

It would be great to have such a feature in mobile apps but I think we are a little away from that yet.

Paul, There are now many instances of apps behaving this way and the reverse as well. I have been to a flight booking site from my mobile web browser and it would not allow me to search for flights unless I downloaded the app (I took my custom to a differnet aggregator :I)

I have found it easier to use the browser version of the IBM Connnections Cloud rather than the mobile app.  

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