Thoughts on the mobile enterprise #3

In a series of posts I will elaborate on how enterprise applications can embrace mobile devices.

Part 3: Logical units

I concluded part 2 by saying that the business logic must be accessible from the outside world through some remote interface. What outside world really means, remains to be defined in a future post. For now it shall suffice to say accessible by a remote front end. This interface must reflect the whole functionality of the application. If it does, we meet the prerequisites I posted in part 2.

Applications need to be distributed.

If we have a remote user interface layer... Check.

Applications need to be properly layered.

You might frown upon this one. At this point I merely mean that the data access layer is properly separated from the business layer, which in turn is properly separated from the user interface layer. And the ui layer does not have direct access to the database layer (and vice versa). Nothing extraordinary, just well-behaved architecture. If this is something we see often, is, of course, another story...

Functionality must be accessible individually.

What does this mean? How do you structure an application in blocks or parts or components or services in a way that makes sense? Fortunately it is not up to me to answer these questions. I am in the comfortable position to just demand that these building blocks be there. ;-) To identify them, you can take a look at the use cases of an app (as a first step). Send a message. Dial a number. Send an email. Such simple sentences describe what an actor does to achieve something with or within a system.

Android uses this concept as one of the main building blocks for its applications. An activity is an action (for example, play a song) combined with a particular user interface (what the user sees on screen while the song is playing). If an activity wants to initiate another action it sends so-called intents. Hence, the action (play song) is the business logic (playing a song) combined with what the user sees on the display while the action takes place.

Another way to find individually accessible parts may be to look at business processes. Each step may be a candidate for a building block, especially if the step is reused among multiple business processes.

Let us stop here for now.

Imagine, your enterprise application is well structured. It consists of several components that implement the business logic. They can be accessed through some remote interface. The ui layer is implemented as an individual program running on a pc. It could call the business components through some remote procedure call mechanism. Should it?

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