Offline Mobile Application Development- Convert Challenges into Opportunity

Jigar Panchal

In the wake of faster Internet access available on mobile devices, the discussion about offline apps may sound ridiculous for some of you. But, the belief that we are living in a constantly connected world with a permanent mobile network access is not always true as at times, we have to return to the dark offline world where mobile apps get suffocated. Take an example of field service workers for whom the Internet connection is either restricted or unavailable all times. Mobile apps that can run well without the Internet are specifically beneficial for such people.

Here we give some of the challenges in the way of developing offline mobile applications along with the solution:

Data synchronization is everything
When you plan for developing an offline app that can work well without connectivity, you require the data to be stored in a local database runs in the smartphone and tablet. But, the device is not the only place where the data remains; it stays in the back-end as well. In brief, as a developer, you need to sync the data back and forth between the device and the back-end.

It is the main challenge that is complicated further by the fact that your app will run in more than one type of devices with different local databases, and therefore, you require a proper planning along with the offline-first approach.

How to go off the grid in a planned manner
When you do a proper planning about the stuff you want to offer to users on an offline basis, it will save the development time. You can ask yourself the questions that give you the following information:

Features and capabilities
The purpose of an app is very important. Whether it is just for browsing data offline or you want to facilitate users in pushing local changes is necessary to be considered. You need to make features and capabilities available by these considerations.

Local storage
Only a subset of your database is stored on a handheld device. You need to consider the capacity of local databases and device storage. You also need to keep in mind that handheld devices have limitations regarding computing power and battery capacity.

Synchronization conditions
Well, here is one of the most critical decisions you need to take: when would you like to trigger sync between the database and the server? Do you want data synchronization as per the user’s requirements or you want the user to wait for synchronizing all the data later?

Once you are done with the planning, you’re all set to tackle the challenges.

Challenges you have to face
Okay. Your use cases are now ready. You face some technical hurdles while developing an offline application. You need to include all the resources necessary to run your app without any connectivity. You need to design the mobile app’s local database from Database design interface. You can use SQLite Database to store mobile app data on the user’s device without Internet.

You can bank on an online mobile app development platform Configure.IT facilitates you to replicate the entire MySQL database structure into SQLite with a single click to enable you to develop an app that requires online or offline synchronization.

Offline synchronization patterns
You need an in-depth analysis of the use cases for your application to find out the most suitable solution. Here are a few commonly practiced patterns for offline sync:

Read-only Data
When your users only need to read data in an offline mode, you require this simple pattern. Just download all data from the back-end and update the same in the local database.

Read/Write Data (Last Write)
If you want to allow users to change the data in an offline mode, you have to follow this path. Here, in the case of changing the same data by multiple users, you can set as the last change to be synchronized as the final one. However, this method can lead to data loss.

Read/Write Data (Conflict Detection)
If the same data is kept on changing by multiple users when your app is in offline mode, you need to user conflict detection and resolution techniques to avoid any possible data loss. Conflict detection technique facilitates tracking changes and detecting conflicts upon synchronization.

Data synchronization plays a vital role in assuring the success of your offline app, and therefore, you need to put special focus on these patterns depending on the use case.

Offline mobile app development is a bit challenging, but you can get online solutions for it through Configure.IT platform. Remember, your offline app can reach on the smart devices of the users who don’t have the Internet access.

It’s about selecting the right user case and data synchronization method while keeping device limitations in mind for bringing the user-friendly, offline mobile applications.

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