20 06 2015
Apps First: a Breakthrough Method in Application Modeling and Software Engineering
In IT business scenarios, you can see hundreds of thousands of similar applications, that essentially do the same task. For example, there are plenty of CRM systems made by various developers for serving various clients. But the essential, basic functionality of each is going to be the same.
In fact, the whole world would really only require one customer relationship management program, that can be run on different hardware and tailored to fit specific client needs. However, instead of making use of the already existing CRM programs, many organizations build their own CRM systems from scratch, essentially reinventing the wheel is the game running. Why is it that?
The major disadvantage business’s IT sectors suffer now, besides the, enormous cost and time lag in enterprise app development from using conventional application development methods, is the lack of flexible frameworks to promote reusability of programming assets. In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages one can bring into enterprise administration by building portable software with reusable components- and how it can be done.
Portability And Reusability
An enterprise application can be consired as portable if it is significantly easier to modify it, as a whole or in parts, and run on another hardware or operating system inste doing it again from scratch.
On the other hand, reusability refers to being able to use the components of a particular software application to build another product with related or different functionality. Here, the reusable components don’t always need to be a particular module or piece of code. It can be even be a design component, set of data, or business logic.
As we mentioned previously, many conventional programming platforms have a limited scope of reusability. A lot of times, programmers do reinvent the wheel and develop their own custom code to achieve functionality that already exists in the system. Do they realize they are doing this, or just ignore it?
If you have an experienced team professionals who understand architectural and design patterns in depth, then you have a greater chance of reusing software components. Otherwise, only borderline reusability is possible and it is highly likely that you will come across redundant business logic, rules, data representation, and several UI components numerous times in your applications.
Even though reusability has the power of positive pay back in a huge way, it often fails in business IT environments where developers lack enough technical skills or organizations lack in core competencies to create and integrate reusable components in a systematic way. For example, if developers lack knowledge of fundamental design patterns in their specific area, it becomes hard for them to rightly understand how to make and reuse components and frameworks effectively.
Effects Of Redundant Code
Redundant code, data, and data structure are the greatest enemy of business agility and TCO (total cost of ownership). For example, if a minor business change requires you to make the same changes at several places in several apps, you waste a lot of time researching to find out the points of impact. Programming platforms do not offer source code traceability, which further increases the time lag to find in finding the areas to change.
Then, after the code analysis is complete, you have to test it rigorously since the code changes are widely distributed, and testing must be done on every line of code. Altogether, the analysis, fixing, and testing will take a lot of effort and time, causing delays, additional costs, and even adverse impacts on quality. Sometimes, redundant code logic can also create unnecessary dependencies and result in a much more rigid chain of apps.
It is possible to implement a high degree of reusability on the conventional platforms themselves. However, the cost of high-caliber programmers and retaining them in high-pressure environments for building a reuse culture in corporate IT is a major challenge. Fortunately, we have a solution.
Apps First – Reusability As Never Before
Apps First, the innovative enterprise app building platform from Biz First, insightfully identifies reusability as a key competitive advantage of any business.Therefore, each component in Apps First is made reusable. To better understand, let’s consider a classic scenario:
Say you need to place a textbox control on a form, tag its label property as “Zip Code,” and set various zip code validation rules to it. With Apps First, you can simply publish this control to the “control library” so that it can always be reused in any other form. Isn’t that cool? It’s also likely you’ll want to reuse the Zip Code text field or Email Address text control in numerous forms in other apps. For these, you should not be required to rebuild the business logic and UI validation logic each time.
Also, a Zip code text control is a very simplified example, Imagine if all of your address controls or credit card controls could be reused. Apps First allows you to package and publish such complex sets of controls and not just the UI controls.
You can also publish and reuse almost all UI components, business / service / process rules, or end-to-end web design objects on Apps First. This is a very significant feature, as it can drastically increase your business agility and keep the cost of built and TCO on the lower end.
Reusing Components with Apps First
After publishing a component, there are two ways to reuse them.
1. Reference - You simply have to refer to the component to use it. While reference is simple, it does not allow a lot of modifications to the new component. Also, there are some limitations to multi-level references. So, there is the second option:
2. Inheritance – With inheritance, a component can be inherited from another by overriding almost all properties of the new control. Components can be inherited at multiple levels. This is a highly innovative technique in reusability, that eradicates all hindrances, previously present with the reuse of components.
Enterprise apps built on Apps First can isolate the business rules, app security, business process, data components, web design elements, and brand elements from one another in a highly flexible, compartmentalized fashion. This is effectively achieved through highly innovative “Entity Based Modeling.”
With this model, all the components used by a particular use case are registered with its entity. The entity can be simply considered as a centralized holder of overall workflow and behaviors of that particular use case. Certain characteristics of a use case can be quickly enabled or disabled through an entity. For example, if you developed a use case that saves student information to the system, you can easily open the Student entity and disable auditing of student information, or you can open the Student edit form and change certain controls by yourself.
Centrally registered yet loosely connected components offer a very powerful mode of programming by ensuring maximum flexibility. This model can easily accommodate independent changes and improve efficiency and capability to reuse. Working on a particular component may not affect the other related components, as these are loosely connected. Architects and business analysts themselves can directly open an entity and set the major behaviors of an entity up-front or instantly change a behavior of the use case or all related use cases in that entity. The capability of inheritance with Apps First not only ensures that saving of time and cost , it can also increase agility to make your business flexible and adaptable to fast-changing market needs.
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