IBM Maximo Everyplace Debuts on an iPad
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Today's blog entry comes from Lori Landesman, Architect for IBM Maximo Everyplace.
Last week marked the official opening of IBM's Massachusetts Lab here in Littleton, MA. This is the largest software-development lab in North America and, more important to me, the place where my desk is. As if that – and the accompanying ice cream social -- weren't enough to get me involved in the festivities, the grand opening also offered an opportunity for IBM to showcase the work that employees are doing in the mobile space. Because my team has been working to make Maximo available on smartphones via a product called IBM Maximo Everyplace, I had a chance to demo our work at the event.
Haven't heard of Maximo Everyplace yet? It may be because it's only available in limited release right now, but it is available. It's an add-on to Maximo that helps you design screens specifically for use on an iPhone or an iPod touch. The product adds some special functionality to the Maximo Application Designer that lets you see the amount of screen real-estate available on the device you're targeting and use a different style sheet (or “skin”) that's specifically designed to make Maximo easy to use on a small touchscreen device. That's important because you need bigger buttons when you're using an iPhone; your finger is not nearly as fine a pointing device as a mouse pointer.
With these new App Designer features, you can take any existing Maximo application and make it smartphone friendly. As a result, Maximo users who are more likely to be on their feet, in a vehicle or on a plane than at a desk can still access Maximo and make updates that hit the database in real time via the device's browser. All they need is an iPhone or iTouch, connectivity, and IBM Maximo Asset Management 184.108.40.206 or later.
Not everyone has an iPhone or iTouch, though. Because user access is entirely through the device's browser, there should be no limits. The main issue is that the native browsers on smartphones currently on the market vary in their maturity. Some of them simply don't handle Maximo well. Our investigations have led us to conclude that mobile browsers using the webkit engine tend to be furthest along, so that's where we've been putting most of our development effort. Blackberry doesn't offer a webkit-based browser yet, but they've announced that they'll be putting one out later this year. As soon as we get a copy, we'll start testing Maximo Everyplace with it. Until then, we know that Maximo Everyplace works well on the iPhone and iTouch, and our testing indicates that iPads and Android devices are the likely next targets.
Speaking of which, I gave the iPad a trial run at the Mass Lab launch event during my Maximo Everyplace demos. We even have a picture of me demonstrating Maximo Everyplace on an iPad. Because there usually aren't photographers on hand when I do demos, I should point out that in this case I was demoing to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, while IBM's Software Group Senior Vice President Steve Mills was looking over my shoulder. Suffice it to say that these guys don't stop by my cubicle regularly, and I wouldn't have tried the demo on the iPad if it wasn't working well and showing the product at its best.
Another visitor at my demo station was Roger Kay, who published his thoughts on the event, and Maximo Everyplace, in Forbes. Take a look here.
If you're curious to see what it's like to use Maximo on a smartphone, take a look at this video demonstration that walks through a typical Maximo Everyplace scenario. Click here to register & view.