Mobility Is as Much an Enterprise as a Consumer Revolution
Yankee Group's Mobile and Connected Devices Forecast, October 2013, shows the staggering pace at which mobility is growing: There are already more than 195 million smartphones in use in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow to more than 250 million by 2017. This has brought unprecedented device fragmentation and application complexity to the enterprise worsened by legacy technologies making it very difficult to establish effective internal workflows across developers, collateral and content owners, IT, operations and strategy teams. Chris Marsh, Principal Analyst at the Yankee Group explains.
RWD and RESS Emerge To Address Mobile Fragmentation Challenges
Since 2010, a family of responsive approaches to mobilization, including responsive Web design (RWD) and responsive design with server-side components (RESS) has emerged in an attempt to optimize mobile experiences across different device sizes, leveraging existing enterprise Web site assets and digital content.
Beginning in 2012, the underlying principles of RWD were evolved to include server-side components, commonly understood under the umbrella of RESS approaches. RESS utilizes a server sitting between the device and the Web site to send simpler, device-specific Web code bases as the device browser hits the site, improving performance and maintenance. While it improves performance, it may still require additional backend coding, and possibly a frontend rewrite. Nevertheless both RWD and RESS show strong promise in better enabling omni-channel user engagement.
The Responsive Ecosystem Grows
With responsive approaches gaining momentum over the past few years, existing and newly emerging platforms and open-source toolkits are growing the ecosystem around Responsive development. Below are some of the main players:
Independent vendors providing their own proprietary Responsive platforms:
- Moovweb is a San Francisco, California-based company with a product it calls a "Responsive Delivery" platform, which it pitches as the enterprise counterpart to RWD and RESS.
- Trilibis is a San Mateo, California-based mobile solutions provider with a Responsive server-side product called SNOW for front-end designers and developers to create device-aware websites without having to write separate code for device detection or classification.
- WhateverWeb is part of Mobiletech, a Washington DC-based provider of mobile software and services.
With RWD as a basis it provides a range of cloud-based APIs and services to help companies transition from creating desktop online experiences to device-agnostic web solutions.
Open-source front-end toolkits for client-processed RWD sites that can be used in conjunction with device repositories and server-side platforms:
- Bootstrap was created by Twitter developers in order to standardize the usage of front-end library conventions; now a highly popular open-source front-end framework for creating web applications in RWD.
- Much like Bootstrap, Foundation is an open-source framework providing a similar range of capabilities for Responsive sites, built by Zurb, a product design company based in Campbell, California.
- Intention.js was created by Dow Jones as an open-source toolkit leveraging Responsive methods to restructure HTML.
Platform-independent device and browser detection libraries that can be used in conjunction with some of the above toolkit and platform technologies:
- Wireless Universal Resource File (WURFL): Founded back in 2002 WURFL is an open-source global Device Description Repository (DDR) created to help developers deal with growing device fragmentation.
- DeviceAtlas was launched in 2008 and much like WURFL is an open-source repository of device profiles.
Responsive Approaches: Where Now?
Written by Chris Marsh, Principal Analyst, The Yankee Group.