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Kony Offers Robust Tool Set for Creating Mobile Apps

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Enterprises with numerous or complex apps to translate to mobile devices, or those seeking to create versatile native mobile device apps, can benefit from Kony Mobility Platform's extensive feature set.

If your enterprise is considering a mobile application development platform (MADP) capable of generating large, complex applications, one option to explore is the Kony Mobility Platform. Offering a visual interactive development environment (IDE) that uses a zero-code approach and a single app codebase, strong security options, and a middleware component that simplifies data-transformation and mobile back-end services, Kony's suite helps developers produce apps for smartphones, tablets, desktops, and wearables.

Recognized by several independent sources as an industry leader, Kony Mobility Platform was touted in the August 2016 version of the Gartner Report "Critical Capabilities for Mobile Application Development Platforms" and was named a leader for the fourth year in a row in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for MADPs, as well as getting high marks in the October 2016 "Forrester Wave: Mobile Development Platforms Q4, 2016" report.

 

Kony Mobility Platform consists of two parts. Kony Visualizer Enterprise Edition is the visual application and design IDE, and Kony MobileFabric is a mobile back-end service that supports connectors and technologies for integration with existing apps, mobile content management and data storage, and customizable app analytics and reporting facilities.

Visualizer: The IDE

Kony Visualizer gives developers a single environment for building app UIs, rapid wireframing and native prototyping capabilities that let teams share objects, a unified JavaScript code base of APIs, the capability of importing Adobe Photoshop UI layouts, and the ability to reuse existing web apps with search-engine optimization within a Kony native app. Visual editing tools let programmers build JavaScript-based apps with little or no coding and enable use of app features such as maps, browsers, touch ID, and short message service texting. The IDE includes the Masters Multi-Channel Template Engine, a reusable templating framework feature that lets developers nest UI and action sequences and build a single UI definition for all supported platform form factors. The IDE also lets programmers access a wide array of widgets and use unique IDs for widgets that let a single script test a particular widget across all native channels for automation. The IDE also provides support for use of multiple national languages in apps. In addition, Kony Visualizer includes an abstraction layer for generating layouts across all devices, annotation tools for design projects, containers with property-driven scrolling and paging features, and a library of cross-platform, native, video, and web widgets. A Kony app preview capability lets developers publish partial or finished apps to the cloud for instant sharing and live viewing on mobile devices via Google Play, iTunes, or Windows Store. Visualizer is capable of generating Windows 10 mobile apps that are based on the Universal Windows Platform.

The Adobe Photoshop Extension lets developers convert existing Photoshop designs to Visualizer forms and customize them with global and layer-specific settings during conversion. The extension also helps programmers use automated form and widget-creation utilities, export only visible layers or all layers, and convert layers to graphic features such as buttons and labels.

Application-building facilities include import wizards for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows code, and the ability to use device peripherals, bar codes, signature capture, and Bluetooth in apps. Other capabilities let developers map back-end fields directly into apps, discover services and business objects within third-party enterprise apps, define custom web services fields, use Rich Text data entry, and write Apple Watch apps. Recent API enhancements let developers enable 3D touch features on iOS, enable and disable runtime permissions, disable Android screen captures, and upload and download files using network resources.

It should be noted that Kony Visualizer has so far mostly been aimed at larger enterprises formulating multilayered apps. The Gartner MADP report cautions that "success requires dedicated developer training and, in some cases, professional services support for larger, more complex apps." The Gartner Magic Quadrant report notes Kony Visualizer "requires training for nondevelopers to learn its sophisticated feature set." As a partial answer for smaller enterprises seeking to start out with simpler apps, Kony offers a freeware version called Kony Visualizer Starter Edition, which lets even nontechnical users develop interactive, native apps for devices and share them with other users. However, a Visualizer Enterprise license is required to move such apps to production and connect them to back-end services and APIs.

Kony Visualizer supports iOS 7.0 or higher, Android 4.0 or higher, BlackBerry 10, and Windows 8.0 and 10.0. Currently supported browsers are Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari.

Flexible Middleware: Kony MobileFabric

Kony MobileFabric provides the integration tools that let developed apps talk to the rest of the world. MobileFabric supports JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), Open Data Protocol, Representational State Transfer (REST), SOAP, and XML. It's compatible with other front-end development tools such as Apache Cordova and HTML5, and provides software development kits for iOS, Android, PhoneGap, and Windows. Third-party integration APIs let developed apps connect with Active Directory, Kony's Cloud User Repository, Salesforce, SAP, and other standardized service providers.

MobileFabric's Object Services component lets developers build app data models that are independent of back-end data representations, connect that model to back-end data and services via a mapping and transformation engine, automatically generate client code, offline-enable apps, discover metadata, and reuse data-model objects across apps. There are also facilities for managing APIs, orchestrating multiple APIs with server apps, and accessing back-end storage systems. User engagement services let developers incorporate into their apps customer engagement programs that include multichannel messaging based on campaigns, context, events, and locations.

 

Analytics features offer customizable dashboards that generate reports on app and device usage, policy compliance, and user-journey event tracking. A full-featured enterprise mobility management suite lets designated users control mobile apps, content, and devices, as well as integrate with third-party mobile management suites.

Developers can coordinate services by creating workflows and composite services that incorporate custom logic and data processing on the server side to reduce device workload. Programmers can also build offline apps that synchronize data between devices and back-end server systems. These apps can also include server-side rules and policies for controlling data access, filtering, and conflict resolution.

Additional MobileFabric capabilities include services and support for Internet of Things apps that incorporate native support for the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP), support for the MQ Telemetry Transport/Message Queuing Telemetry Transport ISO standard (MQTT), and the HTTP 1.1 protocol via integration with the Amazon Web Services Gateway.

Strong Security Features

Kony MobileFabric also provides significant security features, including token control and identity authentication. For example, the most recent release includes support for Android's Fingerprint API. Security certifications include that of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), FIPS 140-2, HIPAA, and Security PCI. Cryptography support includes Triple Data Encryption Standard, two-way SSL, white box cryptography, and Password-Based Key Derivation Function 2 (PBKDF2). In addition, MobileFabric supports keyed-hash message authentication code (HMAC) algorithms, which verify both the data integrity and the authentication of any message. MobileFabric also supports enterprise identity controls, encryption, auditing tools, app hardening, code obfuscation, single sign-on, and automated DevOps lifecycle features.

Final Thoughts

While not necessarily a good fit for small businesses with few or simple application sets, Kony's product offering is a strong one for enterprises looking to provide mobile access to extensive server applications and to build versatile mobile apps for multitasking employees.

John Ghrist

John Ghrist has been a journalist, programmer, and systems manager in the computer industry since 1982. He has covered the market for IBM i servers and their predecessor platforms for more than a quarter century and has attended more than 25 COMMON conferences. A former editor-in-chief with Defense Computing and a senior editor with SystemiNEWS, John has written and edited hundreds of articles and blogs for more than a dozen print and electronic publications. You can reach him at ghrist@comcast.net.

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