Low-code mobile development tools

Review: Alpha Anywhere aces offline mobile apps

Database-oriented rapid app development tool shines at creating Web and hybrid mobile apps that work offline

Hands holding a pair of aces at poker table
At a Glance

One of the defining characteristics of mobile devices is that you can't count on them being online all the time, but you still need them and want to use them when they are offline. Native mobile apps can often deal with offline operation gracefully; for mobile Web and hybrid mobile apps, offline operation can be a bit more difficult. Things get even hairier when the app connects to a remote database, which is often the case with business apps. Triple the hairiness if the user needs to edit data offline and later synch with the remote database, opening up the potential for data update conflicts.

Along with going offline at unpredictable times, mobile devices run on batteries, which can run low without much in the way of warning. Mobile devices can also reboot unexpectedly -- often at the worst possible time. If the device is a phone, an incoming call can interrupt the user's data entry session, potentially causing a browser-based app to refresh its page and lose unsaved data when the user returns from the call.

Not too many mobile development tools have dealt with these problems well. All too often, the tool vendors will tell you that it's the programmer's responsibility to deal with all of those issues. Considering what mobile developers in businesses already have on their plate -- way too many apps wanted for way too little budget in way too little time -- I have to think that it would be much better for the vendor to offer a solution.

Alpha Anywhere 3 does in fact address all of these issues for mobile Web and hybrid mobile apps. And it does this in the context of a RAD (rapid application development) tool that allows developers to build good apps quickly, with surprisingly good performance and native-like look and feel.

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