The standalone and offline operation mode is a unique feature of this catalog app. It is not a browser-based frontend to a web server and does not demand continuous network connectivity.
The fact that the app is native and standalone, gives nearly instantaneous free-text searching, browsing, filtering, and sorting on catalogs with hundreds of thousands of products. This is achievable on mid-range phones or tablets without excessive memory consumption.
The offline operation of the app obviously requires that the catalog data is resident on the device. How this accomplished can be configured in multiple ways. The catalog data can be included in the app install or downloaded after installation directly to the SD-card for minimum internal storage footprint. A new catalog can be downloaded on-demand by the user without needing to upgrade the app to a new version. The size of the text data of the catalog is not an issue in practice, because of the use of efficient compression and indexing methods. Images can also be stored locally, but here storage size will be an issue for large catalogs. Therefore it is configurable per user which types of images, thumbnails and logos will be included in the local catalog and which will be fetched from the network.
Multiple orders can be queued in the app and are synced to the back-end when a connection becomes available. For optimal use of battery and network the synchronization uses the standard Android sync adapter framework. The synchronization of order data is two-way and the app user can be notified when the status of the order is changed in the backend system.
The app and associated backend system is primarily envisioned as an enabler of business-to-business (B2B) transactions. It will also be useful as a tool internally in an organization for users like traveling or exhibition sales representatives. There is no iOS version of the app, so it might not be ideal for targeting general consumers.
The app is supported by a comprehensive web server application that is used for administration and integration to other backend systems.
The web user interface allows an administrator to handle tasks like managing user accounts, importing catalog data, or processing of orders.
By default users must be registered to download catalogs and submit orders. The user account includes settings for personalization of the catalog. A subset of products can be specified by selecting a predefined assortment. Assortments are configured by individual SKU, categories, suppliers, etc. Pictures to be included can be selected to manage the size of the download. If the catalog data is multilingual the user can select the language to use.
Catalog data must be imported from an external source like an ERP system or a catalog management system. The default catalog file format is Icecat XML but it is easy to accommodate other XML and JSON formats because of the technologies used to implement the system. Product files can be uploaded to the administration web site in zipped bundles. All catalog base data, products and images can be inspected in the web interface.
This app with accompanying backend system will need to be extended to be deployed in a specific usage scenario. For example, an ERP system will typically be used for pricing and order handling. Such integration and customization tasks are facilitated by the use of popular and modern open source technologies for the server, like Java, MongoDB, Node.js, Express.js, Backbone.js, Bootstrap, etc.
Please email [email protected] for more information about how to customize or in-house this application for use in your organization.
Copyright 2015 Bracht Consulting, Copenhagen, Denmark.
All rights reserved. Bracht Consulting accepts no liability for any damage incurred from use of this software.