Demystifying Oracle Mobile Application Framework (MAF)

If you have been closely following the evolution of mobile application frameworks, there is a good chance you are already familiar with Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF). ADF is the Java application development framework that allows developers to develop enterprise grade Java web and mobile applications.

In June 2014, Oracle came out with its next generation of mobile application framework, Oracle Mobile Application Framework (MAF). Unlike ADF that needs Web logic server on the back-end, MAF is a completely independent framework that builds significantly richer mobile UI that can be integrated with any back-end system. MAF supports hybrid architecture, letting you rapidly develop applications that will run on both iOS and Android devices from a single version of source code. To understand more about hybrid mobile development refer to this blog post.

High Level Architecture

Intuitive, simple, clean user interface is a basic requirement for a good mobile application. An enterprise mobile application needs to naturally extend your business processes to mobile devices by seamlessly integrating with back-end systems such as an ERP or CRM system. Oracle MAF is equipped to address both front-end and back-end development challenges.

MAF leverages HTML5 & Java script to present the user interface in a browser-like mobile component called Web View. It uses Apache Cordova plug-ins to access device features such as Camera, GPS, Calendar etc. MAF uses Java to run business logic on the device, to connect to a local database or back-end server.

A mobile application built using Oracle MAF can interact with any back-end server via web services. A REST or SOAP web service can be very quickly accessed from a MAF application and data can be displayed on mobile UI with very little custom code. When the mobile application needs to access data from JD Edwards EnterpriseOne the integration becomes much easier. Oracle provides Java client components that let you configure connections to JD Edwards via Application Interface Services (AIS) sever and consume the web services without writing any custom code. AIS server in this case plays the role of a REST web service, which eliminates the requirement of developing complicated back-end logic.

Key Features

Oracle MAF comes with several features that help shift the emphasis from routine development challenges to the actual business problems.

  • Visual & declarative nature of the development enables rapid development
  • 80+ user interface components ranging from basic controls, such as text boxes to advanced data visualization components like charts and gauges
  • Access to back-end web services via drag-and-drop data controls to quickly build forms, lists etc.
  • Access to device features such as camera, phone, SMS, contacts and GPS
  • Support to offline mode enabled by on-device database SQL lite
  • Easy authentication implementation, ability to show/hide features based on user roles
  • Encryption support on device for cached data, SQL Lite database and during data transmission to server

Additional Perks for JD Edwards Users

Oracle MAF with its rich feature set and cross platform capabilities, is one of the top choices for any enterprise. However, if you are a JD Edwards EnterpriseOne customer then Oracle MAF becomes a lot more attractive choice because of the following reasons.

    1. Oracle delivered several JD Edwards mobile applications that are available for free on public app stores. These applications can be used without additional licensing cost. Here is a summary of the number of applications available by each functional area.
    2. Source code of Oracle delivered mobile applications is available for download as mobile application archives (MAA). These applications can be customized and deployed and managed in your local environment or deployed as a re-branded application on a public app store.
    3. Oracle made mobile application development for JD Edwards easier by providing a set of tools referred to as JDE Mobile Helpers. These tools accelerate the development by providing common functions such as login, logout and Java classes needed to call JDE web services.

 

Limitations

Oracle MAF has a few limitations that you should be aware of.

    1. Oracle MAF currently supports only iOS & Android. It does not support Windows OS as of February 2016.
    2. Since hybrid application architecture allows same source code to be deployed to multiple mobile platforms, the user interface on every platform looks very similar. Sometimes users of Android platform may find iOS UI to be difficult to use and vice versa. MAF allows you to override certain style elements based on the target platform. However, it may not be practical to build totally different looking UIs for each target platform.
    3. Oracle MAF applications can be storage intensive because each application comes with its own native wrapper on top of the application.
    4. A key difference between Oracle ADF mobile and MAF is licensing. ADF is licensed as part of Web logic server. MAF is licensed as an independent product and its licensing model is more complex.

Watch Oracle’s video introduction to MAF:

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