Spar Terminal Application – SparTA

From feasible app development to consistent user experience and smooth operation

Redefining existing processes for further development subsidence –

Transferring the functionality of an Enterprise-Resource-Planning system (ERP) used by SPAR to a mobile application running on scanner devices running WinCE and Android, was the challenge Cloudflight faced.

With sustainability and functionality in mind, Cloudflight developed and implemented a new app, that operates with the same workflow as before. This app allows Spar to not only to extend the life-span of the old hardware but also to reduce the development effort in the future. 

Thomas Reinthaler 
Head of Development | Technical Architect
SparTA by Cloudflight

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Spar stores use the app to collect article data

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users per day

1

unique users in total

Challenge

  • The ERP system had  a web interface that was not convenient to use on mobile devices.
  • For the old scanners there was a .NET based app for the old scanners with numerous functionalities.
  • The new scanners can only be acquired with the Android-OS, which cannot run a .NET based app.
  • For cost and sustainability reasons, the old scanners should remain in operation as long as possible and should only be replaced occasionally, e.g. in case of a hardware failure of an individual device.

Idea

  • Rebuild and improve the existing .NET based app so that the new app works with the same workflow.
  • The UI and functionality will be shared across both versions and must therefore be defined in the backend. 
  • The app will download a definition of the UI and functionality, interpret it, and displays it to the user.

Solution

We implemented server maintained UI definitions that serve as a common ground, both visually and functionally, for any of the operating systems that are running the app. With these UI definitions, we were able to define the UI and its functionality in a reusable way. The two different versions of the app download and interpret the same UI definitions from the backend and interpret it. The user sees the exact same application, no matter if he needs to use the old or the new hardware.

In case of new features or bug fixes, there is no need to deploy new app versions. A new backend version with the correct UI definitions is sufficient to let the app update itself.  On the client side there is no need to update the app. 

The initial implementation of the servering the  UI definitions is more time consuming as you have to implement them specifically for each operating system on which the app runs. Additionally, the UI interpretation and builders need to be implemented, as well.

So, with this new back-end served UI definitions, these efforts pay-off in multiple ways: extending of the life-span of the old hardware, less training since employees have a consistent user experience and less development effort for new features.

In case SPAR wants to integrate an additional scanner platform with another OS in the future, only the server UI definitions need to be implemented, because for this new OS and the scanner hardware users will be presented exactly the same UI as on all the other platforms. In this way, it can be smoothly integrated into the existing process.

We focused on delivering a state-of-the-art backend (REST API), that can support both the old legacy devices and the new devices.

Vision

  • Are you looking for an agile partner to develop a feasible app to avoid client updates?
  • Do you want to develop an app that maps the previous workflow?
  • Contact us and let’s talk!

Thomas Reinthaler 
Head of Development | Technical Architect
SparTA by Cloudflight

Clemens Grabmann 
Project Leader | Software Engineer 
SparTA by Cloudflight

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