harmon.ie, the user experience company for the mobile enterprise, provides products that deliver a consistent user experience on mobile devices, the desktop, and the cloud, for a host of social and collaboration platforms from vendors such as Microsoft and IBM. harmon.ie delivers a suite of connected apps bringing Office 365 to iOS, BlackBerry 10 and Android devices. Thousands of businesses including Citi, DuPont and BAE Systems already use harmon.ie. Our 1.5M users come from companies of every size that need fully-featured access to SharePoint and Office 365 from any mobile device. harmon.ie is a Microsoft and BlackBerry premier partner.
Why We Chose Sencha Touch
Building products for the mobile enterprise specifically targeted for BYOD environments, we needed a development infrastructure that would enable us to reuse development investments for the various mobile platforms. Sencha Touch was a natural choice due to its cross-platform capabilities. Moreover, being able to use the rich set of out-of-the-box, high-performance components from Sencha was key to helping harmon.ie deliver a product to market in a timely manner with a great user experience.
First, in order to render thousands of Office 365 and SharePoint documents in our app, we used the Sencha List-Store-Proxy model. By implementing a custom data proxy (which inherits from Ext.data.proxy) with server-side paging against the document repository, we were able to use the out-of-the-box List and ListPaging plugin components to provide high-performance access to Office 365 and SharePoint documents.
Office 365 documents displayed using a Sencha list component in iOS and Android devices
Second, Office 365 and SharePoint also offer methods to classify documents using taxonomy tags (ManagedMetadata). Choosing Sencha’s NestedList component was the perfect solution to provide our users to easily select tags from different levels in the taxonomy hierarchy.
Use of Nested List to Allow Users to Select Taxonomy Tags
Third, with the market release of BlackBerry 10 in early 2013, we used the flexible Sencha theming architecture and the basic BlackBerry 10 theme introduced in Sencha 2.2 to deliver our app to the BlackBerry 10 platform with a native look-and-feel, including Toolbars and Cross-Cuts menus, within months after the BlackBerry release.
harmon.ie app using the BlackBerry 10 theme has a native look-and-feel
Additionally, the fact that Sencha Touch development is based on HTML5 and CSS3 web standards, conformed to our incumbent skill set; so bringing developers up-to-speed with the Sencha development environment was fast and easy.
Business Value of Using Sencha Touch
Sencha provided harmon.ie tremendous business value in the following areas:
- Time-to-market: we released an initial iOS-based product to market within 6 months.
- User experience: we were able to deliver a great user interface using the Sencha Touch out-of-the-box set of UI components and customizable components.
- Development skills: leveraging existing development skills was key to our success. The hiring and training process was easier. Bringing developers (with Java/C# background) up-to-speed with the Sencha Touch framework was a simple matter of 3-4 weeks.
- Cross-platform: supporting multiple platforms is essential in the enterprise market. Our ability to reuse development investments and thus promptly provide apps for the BlackBerry 10 and Android platforms was very important to our customers.
Our Advice to New Developers
Here are a few words of advice:
- Spend some time learning Sencha Touch design patterns, specifically the MVC pattern. Coding according to the right patterns will enable you to maintain your application easily.
- Take advantage of Sencha support: Sencha provides great customer support — so use it!
- Remember there is a difference between a prototype and a fully functional app. Sometimes you’ll have to invest more than you’d expected in getting the app to work exactly as you specced it. * However, investing in the user experience pays off long term.
Don’t be intimidated — dive into the Sencha codebase: understanding the Sencha internal implementation will enable you to code better and implement exceptional solutions.
We are very pleased with our choice of Sencha Touch. The fact that Sencha provides a set of customizable UI components, and most importantly a complete framework (including the data transport layer) for building apps on different mobile platforms, enabled the harmon.ie development team to deliver great business value to customers in a short period of time. We look forward to continuing to use Sencha Touch to expand our mobile offerings and to help our customers maximize their collaboration investments.
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