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Sitecore Go: Mobile Workflow Management using PhoneGap

Posted 8 March 2012 12:00 PM by Kacper Chomicz

Sitecore and PhoneGap

Have you ever had trouble publishing content on a website through a Content Management System(CMS)?  Ideally you shouldn't have but we understand that sometimes, a new webpage can have a really long way to go before its published. An example of a long workflow could be like this:

1. Content Submitted -> 2. Sanity check and language review -> 3. Marketing review -> 4. Legal review -> 5. Final Sanity check & language review -> 6. Content Published

Now, lets say that members of a certain user group (Marketing for instance) are constantly on the move – in trains, planes, at the airports, in cars, etc. They can’t or don’t want to use theirs laptops all the time but neither do they wish to be considered the bottleneck. Of course, smartphones aren't the rage anymore and is more a norm now so most people prefer to latch on to the intranet through their mobile! Unfortunately, using a built-in mobile browser could be a bit problematic – not all users want to navigate to a web page, authenticate and change the web page size several times to be able to perform operations using the Sitecore backend (and don't forget most users are not allowed to access the backend for obvious reasons).
 
Users seriously prefer simplicity and that’s why we decided to create something simple – a mobile app that works over iPhone, Android and WP7 mobile devices that could offer exactly what we needed – a list of workflows, ability to preview content and execute workflow commands. There was one major problem – limited experience in developing applications for mobile devices…

PhoneGap to the rescue

PhoneGap (http://phonegap.com/) is an HTML5 application platform that allows creation of native applications using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. PhoneGap currently supports iOS, Android, WP7, Blackberry, Symbian and a few other platforms. It’s also possible to extend basic PhoneGap functionality with plugins, such as adding support for a few more platforms like Windows 7 and Mac OS X. Do note that PhoneGap is still available open source under Apache License, Version 2.0. meaning that it can be used to build free, open source and commercial mobile applications even though Adobe has recently acquired PhoneGap's parent company Nitobi.

How does PhoneGap work?

These are the 3 steps to create a native PhoneGap application:
  1. Build the mobile app compliant with web-standards using HTML and JavaScript
  2. Wrap it with PhoneGap using either PhoneGap build service or framework –  this gives access to native APIs
  3. Profit! (Deploy to multiple platforms)

How does PhoneGap work

(image courtesy https://phonegap.com/)

The App

Our application is currently being tested and should be available soon at the Apple App Store, Marketplace and the Android Market. If you'd like to know when it's out, leave a comment and we'll drop you a note when it's available for you to have some fun with! Till then, feast your eyes on some screenshots of the current version.

Login screen:

  SitecoreGo Login Screen

Inbox / startup screen

  SitecoreGo Inbox Screen

Article Preview (top of the page)

  SitecoreGo Article Screen

Article Preview (bottom of the page)

  SitecoreGo Article Screen

Action screen (pushing the workflow to the next state)

SitecoreGo Action Screen

If you can't wait for the official release and need to get your hands on it quicker, let us know as we could be quite kind ;-)

What's next

The world is going mobile and there is no doubt there. Approaches like Mobile First are more popular than ever thanks to some pretty good evangelism from the likes of Google and Adobe and most popular websites have mobile versions. On the other hand, users (and authors!) want to use native mobile apps to access or edit content. Tools like PhoneGap make it easy to develop such applications by giving developers the opportunity to interact with all the platforms in a standard way using HTML5 and JavaScript.
Going mobile with Sitecore workflows through the Sitecore Go mobile app was our solution to help authors and workflow users save a bit of time by simplifying their task. If you have an idea as to what other aspects of a content management system would benefit from having a mobile app, then don't hesitate to let us know through a comment!

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