View Full Version : What kind of Tablet App are you Building?


Sarah Mitchell
08-17-2015, 07:05 PM
We would like to know what kind of tablet applications people are building - or would like to build - with the tablet tools. Knowing what kinds of applications you're creating will help guide us in our development efforts as we add new features and transform the tablet tools from their current form (which requires quite a bit of setup and some coding) into a more user-friendly graphical interface that will let you create a tablet application in a few minutes. These changes will be rolled out over the course of the beta, which will undergo three phases, as outlined in our Beta Roadmap (http://www.alphasoftware.com/tablet/beta/roadmap.asp):

Beta 1 is where we are now. This is the initial release of the tablet tools.
In Beta 2, we will provide simple builders that reduce the work necessary to build a tablet application with less work.
Beta 3 will include a graphical form builder that will completely abstract away the the underlying components (even the UX), allowing you to create a tablet app in a matter of minutes.

A recent podcast (http://www.alphasoftware.com/podcast/episode18.asp) provides an overview of the features in Beta 1 and includes discussions about where Alpha plans to go with these tools.

If you're not a Beta User, but would like to provide feedback anyway, please feel free to do so. Our video library has grown over the weekend and now contains several videos (http://www.alphasoftware.com/video-library/?cat=tablet) about the Sample Tablet App (http://www.alphasoftware.com/tablet/beta/sample-app.asp) as well as videos covering the new tablet tools in Alpha Anywhere.

These videos and podcasts are also listed in our Resources Thread (http://www.alphasoftware.com/alphaforum/showthread.php?115093-Tablet-Optimized-Forms-Resources), which is updated regularly.

Share your application ideas here or in new threads. If you can, sharing a video of what you're building would be excellent. Jing (https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html) is a free tool you can use to create screencasts or annotated images.

08-18-2015, 11:39 PM
I will be building an application that is used for field reports for wildlife control / pest control inspections and routine return visits. I will need to capture the usual things. Who what when where and document these things with images where applicable. I think that about sums it up for most field service applications! Perhaps record audio files, and finally accept payment using stripe which btw was an excellent addition to alpha. Whoever brought that onboard needs a raise in my opinion.


08-18-2015, 11:50 PM
In California, Structural Pest Control Wood Destroying Pests and Organisms Prescribed Form Page One is in the State Law and requires a Diagram of the Structure of Structures inspected...it can be a very simple foundation sketch, but I am not comfortable using a simple etch-a-sketch drawing like on my field notes...I have been using iPocketDraw and and other Apps on my iPhone to generate the termite report in the field very successfully. If I could make a tablet app that could include all parts, even the required diagram, by having lines snap to grid or drawing shapes such as rectangles that can be manipulated into the basic outline (bird's eye view) of the perimeter of the structure / foundation sketch, and then add typed things like '1A' '2C' '4F' and such, "annotations" on the JPG or whatever that can be shown on the WDO report (like I do now from iPocketDraw, sending to camera roll...well, I could see myself being able to show this app to various home inspectors, whether WDO or general Home / Property Inspectors...I am already including pics in the report - all from my iPhone...the thing I want to add is the foundation sketch and showing where the reported items are located...then I would have something better to offer than I do now! Will "snap to grid" and "annotating" be made EZ? Somehow, years ago, I got under the hood of Visual Basic enough to create a "Snap To Grid" desktop program that I used for quite a while now...I noticed the ink editor could show a graph that looks like the one I made before. I have every 10th line more prounounced, using each square to represent about 2', sketch facing "front" (the street)...www.kctermite.com

Mike Reed
08-19-2015, 03:07 PM
I will be building an app for tablets and phones to use in the apartment complex maintenance business. The plan is for it to work offline for when the user goes to an apartment complex to a bid for an installation, renovation or rehab project. They should be able to select from an apartment complex that is currently a customer by use of drop down list and (or to add a new customer) to auto fill certain fields for the bid project. They will be able to add a general description for the project and then add one or more lines to cover the scope of work required. In addition, it user should be able to take pictures of work to be completed and add to project file, this is especially important for projects that require clean up of mold or excessive trash, damaged walls, ceilings and the like. Those pictures can be included in the quote form when submitting the pricing to a customer. When all of the items are listed in the scope of work and pictures are taken, then it can be synced with the existing database for pricing out the bid and submission to the customer.

08-19-2015, 10:26 PM
My initial application will be for a simple inspection tool to be used by ship's crews to conduct routine inspections of critical and safety equipment. I also plan to develop a work order tool which can ultimately be bound to various different maintenance management db (I may have to begin by developing my own db first). My background is marine engineering but I have segued into development, implementation and assessment of marine safety management systems (ISM Code), Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001), Occupational Health & Safety systems (OHSAS 18001) and also marine security systems (ISPS code). Both ISM Code and ISPS code are mandatory and so traceability, compliance verification, and correctrive action tracking are important. I have developed some tools in Microsoft Access for these but would like to be able to "mobilize" them to encourage quicker and more diligent adoption and compliance by crews. Ideally this will help shore managers to monitor these activities and ensure compliance and it will also help me to leverage my time and experience so that I can provide my services to more clients.

09-30-2015, 10:47 AM
I have discussed with a family member who is a biologist research head manager at a hospital in France about the use of Tablet Apps at work, and she mentioned that the hospital had acquired one and is using it for doing checklist procedures before surgery. She stressed that one of the key features about this app is its agility to add delete and modify the checklists they were using; so in case their procedures have changed over time (which they do) they make the changes themselves quickly without having to call the company who sold them the Tablet with the app and charge them more for the modifications every time they need to do so.
I think the ability to make the Tablet Optimized Forms more agile by having the possibility for users to make changes to the checklist items would be a great advantage over the competition out there who is offering these types of tablet optimized forms solutions to businesses!

Hope this helps ^^

Pat Bremkamp
10-05-2015, 11:28 AM
Our primary application is very similar to what Maroine needs, and it is different from the typical application in one significant respect. Instead of the checklist items being fields in a record, the checklist items are one per record. We have done over 5000 inspections this way in the last 4 years.

Our application is a safety inspection of equipment in the Canada Oil Patch. We inspect about 20 different types of equipment, but even within each type, the equipment varies. Our solution is to have about 1500 predefined questions with about 15000 predefined answers, help text, problem statements, action items and recommendations. When we start a project, we start with about 200 questions based on a template for that type of equipment, and then can add questions as needed from the predefined list and add new questions, answers, help, etc on the fly, generally resulting in about 300 questions. It is a self learning system because the users can choose to add new questions and answers to the predefined lists as they are created. We have added about 300 questions and over 5000 answers over the last 4 years in this manner.

In the medical example above, they could create a base template for each type of surgery, and add or revise answers as they go without needing programming. I think this pattern works well in medical as well as field inspections.

This use case is why I started talking to Dan at the conference about having the data entry blank and the custom editor in a package. We have identified 15 different types of questions (such as logical, single lookup, multiple lookup, fill in the blank, etc.) and each needs it's own version of entry blanks and editor, but we never know in advance what sequence of questions we will need to ask. As we move from question to question, the editor and entry blanks need to change based on the question type, which is a field in the record.

10-10-2015, 03:08 PM
I am building a number of tablet applications for 2 different clients. Appiphanie http://appiphanie.com/product.a5w will be used by landfills and transfer station disposal facility operators and gate attendants to do various inspections such as Access Route Inspections, Gas Monitoring Inspections, Random Load Inspections, etc. It must work offline/disconnected. For both companies there will be a web application for office staff as well as the tablet application for people in the field. The other application, ARS Risk Reduction Reviews http://arsriskreductionreviews.com/index.a5w is used by many different companies to do DOT, OSHA, ADA and EPA audits. Many aspects of the application must work disconnected. For example, Vehicle Inspections are typically done in the yard where the school or transit but is parked. Or inside a factory or warehouse where they cannot get a connection. Huge portions of the OSHA inspection are done for farm cooperatives for example where they are outdoors or for food manufacturers indoors at their factories. Audits are done by both internal and external auditors and lack of an internet connection is pretty common.

BTW Both web sites are still under construction but give you a feel for what I am doing. Because Appiphanie is much easier to do I'm working on it first so I can win the contest by the new deadline November 20th:grin:.

Sarah Mitchell
10-14-2015, 07:41 PM
Thank you to everyone who has shared what you're building! This is great!

If you're reading this post and haven't shared yet, we'd like to hear from you! Even if you're not a beta users, let us know what kind of tablet applications you need or would like to build.

10-18-2015, 06:19 PM
I am in the early / consulting stage with a client who needs a tablet & smartphone app.
The company checks fire doors in hotels, hospitals, public buildings etc, for regulation compliance. At the end of the inspection they issue a report about what doors need work/repairs/replacement and why.
The app needs the ability to work offline because sometimes - mostly in basements - there is no wifi or mobile data signal. It needs to be able to take pictures, to read QR codes with the tablet or phone camera in order to get to the right door in the database, you should be able to annotate pictures (Thanks for the Ink!) and then produce a report as PDF for the customer. The application will include a Web or Desktop part for the internal use of the company head office.

10-18-2015, 06:24 PM
And at the moment I am building it on a Windows 10 tablet! Using a keyboard and mouse, of course, but it's great to have a tablet so I can see the results on the same type of screen and machine that will use the final app. For testing purposes, even the beta AA server sits on a tablet, connected to my office network (100Mb/s broadband), and it works better or just as good as a basic virtual server.