Can you guys build a bespoke application? APPsolutely we can! :D

560 315 Studio You London

Can you guys build a bespoke application? APPsolutely we can! 😀

The application design and development of a bespoke Proof of Delivery (POD) system has been the biggest and most exciting challenge yet for our developers! Affectionately named JITPOD this application has now become an integral part of day-to-day operations for our client. The hybrid application, optimised for handheld barcode scanning devices running Android, had many key requirements to ensure success. The application would need to work with large periods without a data connection (rural delivery routes), feature a very intuitive UI for users who aren’t as tech savvy; be suitable for night driving; seamlessly utilise Google maps API to display drop destinations and routes; and even feature a bespoke messaging system.

We’re immensely proud of the process we devised and the output of this Studio You ‘Originals’ project. The project required extensive collaboration with the client team’s own in-house IT department, who wrote an API for their pre-existing database for the first time. We provided API consultancy along the way and became a trusted extension of their own team’s output and skillsbase.

The twelve month process started with a discovery phase – whereby we immersed ourselves with operations and business logic on-site. The wireframes in the graphic above are just a small cross-section of the envisioning we carried out in this phase. We started with rough UI mockups to map out all aspects of the App including a robust user journey, required fields and validation needed. This process culminated into an interactive design demo using the application Marvel. Using Marvel designers can link exported jpgs of the evolving UI together using hotspots to provide a clear picture of how the app will work. During reviews the client and even end-users can then more comprehensively engage with the substance of the app so any pitfalls and opportunities in the user journey can be identified even before anything is build! Such an approach can really help keep dev costs down.

Upon design sign-off, and with Gannt Charts in hand – our front-end and back-end developments embarked on the six month development period for this ‘hybrid’ app. HTML5 is quickly becoming the standard for developing cross-platform web and mobile apps. Many companies favour web and mobile applications using HTML5 as it takes advantage of widely known/understood cross-platform web technologies eliminating problems with creating multi-platform native apps by speeding up the development process and reducing costs for developing multiple native apps.

HTML5 is better positioned for change and some believe that native apps are simply a bridging solution while web technologies catch up and are able to provide the rich user experience demanded on new platforms, although where deeper integration with the hardware or super fast performance is required then native should always be considered. For this project however we recommended that HTML5 was, marginally, the way to go. We built using the Apache Cordova framework. Cordova is a mobile application development framework which enables us to wrap a HTML/JavaScript app into a native container which can access the device functions of several platforms. These functions are exposed via a unified JavaScript API, allowing us to easily write one set of code to target nearly every phone or tablet on the market today and publish to their app stores. This opens up the open source options, in most cases, to integrate available plugin solutions which will help keep costs down and speed up the development process.

Twelve months on since project inception and the app is out in the field! Our team have even been out on overnight delivery drops with the client to see the app in action and to help capture areas for continued development. The current build features a ‘take a break’ timer for drivers to assist with legal obligations around driver breaks; a full inventory of all items on the truck; a check-in and check-out system for all items; a fuel tracker to help with accounts and reducing paperwork; distinction between deliveries and returns items. We’re very excited to see where we can take the application next with the client, with what we hope to be the start of a long-lasting partnership 🙂