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Empowering the Mobile Citizen Developer

Build mobile applications with Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator.

By Chris Muir

September/October 2016

IT departments are at the forefront of digital disruption, but arguably they are also the bottleneck at many organizations—overworked, underresourced, and focused on keeping critical systems running. A disruptive technology project such as a mobile application, although important, may be just one item on a long list of to-dos.

This is unfortunate for business staffers who can see the need for simple mobile apps that will make them more productive on the road but might have to wait many months for IT mobile development teams to deliver.

Is there a better way? Surely not all mobile apps require teams of expert mobile programmers for simple mobile use cases such as employee phone books, customer searches, and reporting dashboards? Can business staff members with IT-savvy skills—what Gartner coins “citizen developers”—start building mobile apps, too?

Enter Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator. As an extension to Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator is designed to let the everyday computer user build mobile applications by using a browser and the cloud and without a single line of code.

In this article, you will see how easy it is to use Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator to build a simple employee phone book application.

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Figure 1: Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator designer

Prerequisites

To build an Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator application, you need access to Oracle Mobile Cloud Service. You can request a trial account by clicking the Try It button on Oracle Cloud’s Mobile page and filling out and submitting the trial request details on the subsequent page. When your trial has been approved, watch and follow the instructions in the video on how to set up and provision your Oracle Mobile Cloud Service instance.

To build the application described in this article, you need two team members who will act as your developers: a business developer for Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator and a service developer for Oracle Mobile Cloud Service. You need to create the two team members in your Oracle Cloud domain My Services console via the Users option, as described in the documentation. You can create these team member accounts with any names and account details, but this article refers to the first team member as Bob, the Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator business developer. Bob, the key persona for this article, demonstrates how to build the Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator application. When creating Bob in the Oracle Cloud My Services console, you need to assign Bob the Mobile Environment Service Base Entitlement Administrator, <environment> Mobile Business User, and <environment> Mobile Team Member roles, where <environment> is the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service instance you choose to build this demo.

The article refers to the second Oracle Cloud team member as Jeff. Jeff is the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service service developer who, via Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, develops, imports, manages, and provisions a REST custom API that provides a list of employees to show in the phone book application that Bob will build in Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator. When creating Jeff in the Oracle Cloud domain, you need to assign Jeff the Mobile Environment Service Base Entitlement Administrator, Identity Domain Administrator, and <environment> Mobile Team Member roles as well as all the roles for the “mobile app developer and service developer” in the Development Environment Roles column, as documented in the “Example Team Member Role Assignments” section of Oracle Mobile Cloud Service User Guide.

With these two Oracle Cloud–level team members created, it’s time for Jeff to complete the work of building the API in a few quick steps so the rest of the article can focus on business developer Bob’s application development work with Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator. For the purposes of this article, the code for the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service REST custom API HR Services has been prebuilt and provided as a zip file, which you will now import into Oracle Mobile Cloud Service. To import the prebuilt REST API, follow the steps in the first video.

With the Bob and Jeff users created and Jeff’s successful import of the API, you are now ready to focus on building your Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator app with Bob.

Who Is Bob?

Jeff, the service developer, has completed his part. Now it’s time for Bob, the business developer, to go to work. But who is Bob in the real world?

Bob becomes a business developer when he uses Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator, but he has no interest in writing code. First and foremost, Bob is a key part of the business; extremely qualified and punching above his weight class to drive the business forward. And Bob has great ideas for some easy wins with mobile apps to empower the on-the-road staff. Bob thinks he could build some apps himself, but he has seen mobile application code and how much there is to learn before someone can deliver even the simplest mobile application.

Bob wants to build simple mobile apps and not get bogged down in coding or deploying applications. For Bob, mobile app development has to be easy, it has to provide quick visual feedback, it can’t require installing something called an IDE, and there can’t be any code.

Now put yourself in Bob’s shoes, and let’s see what you can achieve with Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator. Remember, your goal is to build an employee phone book mobile application. The app will include an opening page containing a list of all employees, and when an employee is selected, a second page will display employee details, including options to call and email the selected employee. Let’s see, in the second video, how to use Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator to build that now.

Previewing and Testing Your App

At this point, you’ve built a mobile application with exactly zero lines of code in just 6 minutes and 25 seconds.

Of course, it would be nice to preview and test the application. Watch the third video to see how easy this is.

Conclusion

You won’t use Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator to build the next Candy Crush or Falcon 9 rocket control system. Expert mobile programmers will still be needed for sophisticated applications. But many applications, such as the phone book app explored in this article, are going to be simple extensions of business function. Do you really need to engage the mobile development team for these? Can you better utilize the rest of your business staff for simple mobile apps, just as business staff maintains and extends many websites and applications? Yes, you can, with Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator. Oracle Mobile Application Accelerator empowers the business to deliver mobile applications without always being at the end of a very long IT project list.

Next Steps

TRY Oracle Mobile Cloud Service.

WATCH Oracle Mobile Cloud Service YouTube training.

JOIN the Oracle Mobile LinkedIn community.

DOWNLOAD the custom API for this article.

 

Photography by William Iven, Unsplash