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Create Mobile Applications with IBM Forms for Mobile Devices : Page 3

The power of Web forms has brought no-code solutions to data management applications. Find out how a new preview technology from IBM alphaWorks helps you extend data management apps into the mobile arena.

Intercepting Form Data on the Server
The IBM Forms for Mobile Devices application provides two means of sharing form data with the server:
  • A generic JDBC connection: The client application uses JDBC to communicate with the WebSphere server.
  • Email: Mails form data to a remote address via the WebSphere server. This is accomplished through the two application connectors provided by the software itself.
Many forms applications require integration with legacy applications via HTTP or other protocols, and you can perform this integration by providing your own subclass of IBM's com.idb.forms.appconnector.ApplicationConnector class. This class provides the semantics of sharing data between the client application and server, and consists of a constructor and a submit method (see Listing 2).

Writing a custom application connector isn't hard, because the submit method takes a FormInstance (the model for a completed form) and you can either toss the completed XForms documents back to the legacy server for processing, or parse them directly in your application connector and return the data in a format suitable for the legacy application. For example, you could use the J2SE XML parser to parse the XForms document, obtain the variable values, and convert them to a comma-delimited list to import into a legacy database or append to a log file.

A New Path to Integration
The technology release of IBM Forms for Mobile Devices is interesting for two reasons: if you're one of the many users of IBM's WebSphere Application Studio and DB2 database, the technology release provides a turnkey way to integrate handheld devices within your enterprise. Perhaps more importantly, however, the work done at alphaWorks proves the basic concept that the XForms working group is espousing: the use of XML to encapsulate form and form data transmission between client and server. The overall architecture of the IBM Forms for Mobile Devices application is sound for any kind of distributed client/server system with intermittent network access, and I imagine it's only the first of many open- and closed- systems based on the XForms standard in the future.

Ray Rischpater is the chief architect at Rocket Mobile, Inc., specializing in the design and development of messaging and information access applications for today's wireless devices. Ray is the author of several books on software development including "eBay Application Development" and "Software Development for the QUALCOMM BREW Platform," both available from Apress, and is an active amateur radio operator.
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