This content is part of the Essential Guide: Essential guide to application modernisation

How do you modernize legacy apps for mobile devices?

Here are several options for incorporating mobile apps as part of a legacy system modernization effort. Approaches include vendor apps and writing APIs.

If your company is more than 20 years old, you have legacy systems that were not built for mobile. They may not have built for the Web. So what do you do?

To modernize legacy apps for mobile devices, you can apply a number of tools and techniques:

  • Is your back office on SAP? Then you are in luck. SAP has invested heavily in middleware tools such as Work Manager, NetWeaver Gateway and Fiori to make it much easier to integrate Web and mobile applications with your core SAP infrastructure.
  • Are the database and the business logic separate? If the legacy system had the foresight to split the back-end data, you may be able to bypass the green screen and write your own API that connects to the data. Consume the API into your mobile app and you are in business.
  • Use an enterprise service bus to do the heavy integration and expose the data via a REST/JSON, SOAP or ODATA connection.

These tools require some time and investment. There are other approaches you can implement to modernize your apps for mobile devices quickly. For instance, if you have a .Net or JAVA developer on your team, why not have them develop a standalone API that connects to your legacy system? You can even use a COM object and wrap it in a SOAP package. Sometimes a simple approach is all that is needed.

At the end of the day, there are lots of ways to optimize your apps for mobile devices.

If you do not have developers on your team, your luck may be running a little thin. A tool you can use to modernize websites and apps for mobile devices is Capriza. This tool opens up a Web form and lets you click on each form element and convert it into a native app -- and it is easy to use. The catch, however, is that you need a Web form, but you could hire a Web developer to build a very basic form and then use Capriza to make the mobile app.

At the end of the day, there are many ways to optimize your apps for mobile devices. You do, however, still need to keep in mind security, network latency and the power of mobile. For example, don't send packages of data that are gigabytes in size -- your phone will not appreciate it.

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