People sometimes mistakenly think that Gluon is a mobile-only software company – that our core focus is about Java on Android and iOS, that we just enable one application written in Java to work on both iOS and Android devices. This is our fault: we have focused our messaging primarily around the Gluon Mobile offering, but in reality Gluon as a company was founded with a far greater vision. We were founded by experts who together possess Java client and Java enterprise skills, and as we’ve grown as a company we’ve added a number more developers who round out our technical excellence. We wanted to take a moment in this blog post to zoom out and explore the Gluon ‘big picture’ with you. We hope you’ll indulge us 🙂
Today, companies and organisations are facing an increasing demand from their users (customers, partners, employees, etc) to provide the services they offer via mobile channels. For example, travel agencies are asked to make it possible to book or alter a booking via mobile phone, e-commerce sites need to be accessible via tablets, and healthcare organisations want their employees to be able to access patient records from their mobile phones.
In many cases, companies like these have a back-end system that contains their core assets: the business logic and the data they manage. They often provide their services via a web-based front end, and in theory that should work on mobile devices as well, thanks to modern mobile browsers. The problem is that users are demanding more intuitive, and more responsive, user experiences than what a browser-based app can allow. They are conditioned by their own experiences with native applications – they expect greater intuitiveness in their user interfaces, and far greater responsiveness offered by native apps. Because of this, users overwhelmingly prefer to interact using native apps.
To provide for this, companies are required to create mobile applications that interact with their existing backend or cloud systems, and because there are two popular mobile platforms, most applications need to be built to run on Android and iOS devices. Historically, creating native mobile applications (as opposed to web applications) required specific knowledge of both iOS and Android (at the very least, skilled developers in Objective-C and Java). In most cases, development of a mobile application has required skills that are not present in the business, simply because the businesses core focus is on the server-side functionalities, and mobile application development has always historically been something that is outsourced to consultants with these skill sets. This is expensive, and takes away your ability to be agile – if you want to make subsequent changes to your app, you are beholden to the schedules of external consultants.
Gluon has been very clear on the benefits of Gluon Mobile, but we haven’t talked much about Gluon CloudLink. Now we think it is time to make the benefits of Gluon CloudLink clearer. Through the use of these two offerings, Gluon makes it possible to create native mobile applications that connect to existing back-end and cloud systems using only Java. With Gluon Mobile, Java developers can write an application once, and deploy it on desktop, iOS devices, and Android devices — and even on embedded systems. The only thing developers need is a plugin for their favorite IDE. The Gluon Mobile SDK builds on top of standard Java API’s, and Java developers will find it very easy to work with it.
It’s what comes up next that we think stands Gluon above the crowd – Gluon CloudLink makes it trivial to connect those mobile applications with existing back-end and enterprise systems. Gluon CloudLink allows data to be synchronized, made persistent and managed. Gluon CloudLink also allows for a bi-directional interaction with a large number of enterprise and cloud systems. Recently we’ve posted videos showing just how easy it is to make Gluon CloudLink work with REST endpoints and CouchBase. We will have more details about additional connectors coming up in the weeks ahead.
Using Gluon Mobile and Gluon CloudLink, companies and organisations are able to offer their services and data to mobile users via nice-looking, responsive, and performant mobile applications. Those applications need to be written only once, in the Java language, and can then be deployed across desktop, embedded, Android, and iOS devices. That makes them much easier to maintain, and existing Java skills can be reused.
There are many winners in this story: end-users, developers, and companies. End-users get a nice and responsive mobile application. They are happy customers. Developers don’t need to learn a new language, or outsource the mobile development to specific companies working with iOS or Android only. The development team inside a company is in control of the overall architecture and implementation. Companies can save a lot of money by having a single, streamlined development process for enterprise, web and mobile.
We recommend you give Gluon CloudLink a try. We have added a few samples that show how to get started with Gluon CloudLink, and we will add more samples in the near future. As always, please tell us about your specific use case that could leverage Gluon CloudLink and how we can help realizing it.