Omnichannel Experience

Develop once for ALL devices - Windows Universal apps

The Windows platform may not be top of mind when contemplating consumer mobile apps, but in an enterprise setting, Windows devices have the potential to truly stand out.

The set of enhanced enterprise functionalities, extensive security and policy control, and the merge of development platforms across Microsoft platforms (Windows Universal Apps) address a series of concerns in the enterprise architect’s mind.

Develop once for all devices

With its Surface line already being used not only as a seamless extension of the desktop but even as a desktop replacement, this becomes a relevant option for the CIO that wants to empower their workforce, and a serious target in the list of devices you need to support, especially in enterprise-focused mobile apps.

Platform 9 Amsterdam includes a Windows Universal app version of OutSystems Now (the mobile native shell for all your hybrid apps) that runs across the multiple devices and form factors - Windows smartphones, Surface devices, and even Windows 8.1+ desktops. This allows you to, from a single visual codebase, target all major mobile platforms and make use of device native capabilities through widgets that can be used in the visual development environment.  

Learn more about OutSystems Now support for Windows Universal apps

Codeless mobile and responsive UIs

The mobile revolution keeps raising the stakes on the user experience that software should provide. Developing good user experiences is challenging and requires significant proficiency in front-end development languages, like CSS or JS. To make this task easier, a myriad of front-end frameworks appeared and some of them thrived considerably. But these still rely on a deep understanding of the mentioned languages, the frameworks themselves, and become a maintenance nightmare whenever your application grows beyond a simple set of screens.

Creating beautiful UI that works on all devices, mobile architectures and platforms used to be painful. OutSystems has combined all the best aspects of modern UI frameworks with rapid visual modeling to create Silk UI. This new framework plugs directly into the Platform, enabling the creation of compelling experiences with drag and drop simplicity, while also abstracting away the complexity and change of underlying technologies like Javascript, HTML5 and CSS3.

Codeless

Silk UI is a fully responsive framework, with dozens of ready-to-use patterns, that can be easily dragged-and-dropped to build amazing UI, without any coding. With several developers pointing to CSS as one of the hardest “languages” to master and all the new challenges brought by the wide set of form factors across devices, pushing this complexity away was key to solving this issue.

This codeless approach has proved to boost developer productivity, foster usability through improved quality and consistency, improve look and feel out-of-the-box, and reduce the skillset required for developers to build good UX.

 

Codeless mobile and responsive UIs

Themes

Themes

The framework is provided with four brand new themes - beautiful, customizable and fully responsive. Liverpool and Dublin were built to answer different base layouts, Tokyo is aimed at building great hybrid mobile apps and Vanilla is where you’ll want to start for something completely new that still leverages the provided patterns.

Any of the dozens of patterns work seamlessly in any of the themes and blend into its look and feel. You’ll constantly notice “they just work” and look great across your devices.

Patterns

Dozens of pre-built web blocks extend current OutSystems widgets with exciting new controls and patterns, like button groups, toggle buttons, dropdowns, balloons, carousels and many others, that will make building your applications user interface a breeze.

From patterns to simply display content in modern and easy to model layouts, to a set of new modern controls, data visualization elements, good looking emails and new navigation mechanisms, you’re covered for most patterns your application might need. There are also specific patterns to enable responsive behaviours or designed to craft a mobile experience. These abstract the complexity of working across devices or form factors so that you don’t have to.

All of these patterns have best practices built in to be extremely robust and performant in runtime, while providing the drag-and-drop experience in the visual editor you’re so used to.

Patterns

Responsive framework

In Silk UI everything is responsive - the themes, layouts and patterns. But, instead of using a client-side approach, where all content is always sent to the browser/device which, through CSS, decides what to show to the user, a server-side approach is used. This technique is called RESS (Responsive through Server Side components). By using a server-side approach, content is calculated and optimized at the server before being sent to a particular device. This adapted version of the page improves fit and performance and has multiple advantages over the client-side approach:

Responsive framework
  • only the required content is sent to the browser, because the server is aware of the device in use
  • there are no CSS media-queries, which makes specific device-targeted CSS instructions easier to understand and
  • handle the device context is present on the server, which means different strategies can be used to handle devices

Responsive patterns can be used to define which responsive behavior should occur for each device type, without having to craft a single line of CSS or Javascript. In addition, a number of visual APIs are available which let you run server logic depending on the type of device that is using your app (e.g. only fetch specific data from the database if you’re running on a tablet or desktop, or fetch an optimized version of an image in case you’re running on a smartphone).

Learn more about the Silk UI responsive framework and APIs through the tutorial video and docs.

Sample pages and apps

A set of sample pages and applications are provided to quickly setup your own pages and to allow learning by inspection. We’ve built dozens of responsive and mobile sample pages which will also give a helping hand in imagining and building UI.

Get started with Silk UI quickly by visiting the Silk UI website.

Sample Apps

Performance improvements for mobile apps

Note: Since this change may have side effects in your running applications, you’ll need to opt-in to activate it. This improvement and instructions on how to activate it available here.

Performance improvements for mobile apps

Developing mobile web apps brings new challenges in terms of performance: things that are almost immediate on the desktop can take considerably longer on a mobile device.

A substantial part of the problem is related to the network. In order to minimize this problem, Platform 9 Amsterdam automatically concatenates the CSS files that support your app design.

By substantially reducing the number of CSS files the mobile device needs to fetch, the Platform circumvents latency and processing issues, avoiding page flicker and leads to speed improvements of up to 35%, especially on slow networks.

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