by Geoff Somner

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It was in last year’s ‘Moving into Mobile‘ Insight article that we first talked about Accent’s move into mobile app development and as it has become such a major part of life in the studio over the past year, I thought that an update was in order.

We have stuck by our decision to use the Xamarin framework for developing apps across iOS and Android platforms and have completed three substantial apps using it this year.

The SignMaster Operators App, developed for long-standing clients Agency Express, spent a bit longer in beta testing than expected, but was finally released to all operators and has been very well received.

The Forum Hub App for (also longstanding) clients Worldwide Events was designed for delegates attending international Forums and allows them to view their individual diaries of meetings and details about the delegates they will be meeting; message other delegates through the app; make notes and view notes from previous forums; rate meetings and view live ‘leader boards’; and view and book on activities. The app ties in with an API developed alongside the app and synchronises data so that the app can be used offline – and with up to 600 delegates, help to reduce the strain on the venue’s Wi-Fi! The messaging system even includes push notifications to alert delegates to new messages when they are not using the app.

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Accent have a great understanding of business requirements and make quality suggestions to improve our solutions. Geoff and the team always make themselves available to discuss ideas and requirements, producing high quality and reliable design and builds.

Emma Fress – Worldwide Events

Our third Xamarin app this year was for Hydratech Engineering, a relatively new client, who installs and maintains hydraulic and pneumatic systems for a range of companies across East Anglia. The app is actually part of a complete asset management system that consists of a web-based interface and API, built using Python, and the app itself. The web-based interface is used to define clients, sites, assets and the maintenance tasks and checks to be completed, whilst the app is used by the engineers when on site to tell them what tasks and checks to perform, allows scanning of RFID tags to ensure that the correct assets are tracked, to record readings, notes and photos and to produce maintenance reports which can be reviewed and automatically sent to the end clients. So what’s next? Whilst we are more than happy with the Xamarin framework and plan to continue its use, we are also looking ahead to other technologies, such as React Native.

App Development Continued....

Without getting too technical, React is a popular Javascript library developed by Facebook and Instagram, which is great for developing websites with rich user interfaces (UI). React Native is a framework that is built on, and extends React, for building mobile apps.

For a team of developers who build websites and mobile apps with rich user interfaces, React would seem like the logical next step for Accent. We are not expecting it to replace Xamarin and it will not be suitable for all projects, but it is something that we think we need to keep abreast of and as such, have already used it to write a cross-platform news app for another long-standing client, Property118.

We are not sure what 2018 is going to bring, but one thing that we can be sure of, is that mobile app development is going to feature heavily!

Geoff Somner

A Computer Science graduate way back when, Geoff is an experienced programmer utilising his system analysis and interface design skills to enable the team to build effective applications.

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