The next big trend in business application development

EducationThe next big trend in business application development is driven by a growing reality: Regulating how users access your web applications is quickly becoming impossible. Maybe they’ll use a tablet. Maybe they’ll use a smartphone. Maybe they’ll use a PC. You don’t know, and it’s difficult to control.

This creates something of a problem for developers. While your web app may function perfectly on a PC, it doesn’t work so well on a tablet or smartphone. As tablet and smartphone usage rises, so does the possibility that users will access your applications on a device other than a PC/laptop.

What this means for application development

This growing reality is creating the next big trend in business application development: Applications must adapt to the device on which they’re accessed. In the web design world, this is similar to the concept of “responsive design,” which calls for liquid page layouts that adjust to the user’s screen size. I think it even goes a step beyond that. Applications must not only adjust to the device’s screen size, they must deliver a unique user interface tailored to each device.

For example, if a user accesses a web application on a smartphone, it should deliver an interface tailored for use on a smartphone. The same goes for tablets and PCs. Every application should deliver an experience built for the device on which it’s accessed.

Example

Here’s a good example of this concept. When you visit this demo site on a PC, it delivers an interface tailored for use on a PC. However, it delivers completely different interfaces when accessed on a smartphone or tablet. If you have either device, try it out. If not, you can always switch device types in the top gray panel. It’s important to note that while each application appears different on different devices, there’s only one underlying application.

How does it work?

Each application in that demo site has 3 different presentation layers. Logic placed within the application identifies the device, and displays the appropriate layer. In that way, one application delivers a unique interface tailored specifically to each device type.

If you’d like to learn more about this concept, this page gives a detailed explanation.

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