Modern Mobility

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Application refactoring helps legacy apps go mobile

The application refactoring market is still fairly young, but the companies that are vying for attention all do refactoring differently.

There's a pesky problem with desktop virtualization on smartphones and tablets: Desktop applications were never meant for mobile use.

Legacy applications, built for a PC with a physical keyboard and mouse, are still critical to today's businesses. The experience of using them on a touchscreen device, however tends to be extremely clunky. Application refactoring attempts to solve that problem by reformatting and optimizing desktop apps for mobile.

Refactoring should be a familiar term to those in the developer community; it refers to the process of improving software coding and design without changing its intended functions. The new stock of application refactoring vendors -- which includes Capriza, PowWow, Reddo Mobility and StarMobile -- takes that concept and applies it to legacy software running on modern endpoints.

As an added bonus, application refactoring usually doesn't require any manual coding, scripting or application development. But with only a few companies vying for attention in the app refactoring market, there's still a surprising number of different approaches.

Reddo Mobility lets IT pros (or even power users) launch a Windows application and select which of its layouts, buttons and menus to display in an HTML5 Web app with a mobile look and feel.

Capriza, founded in 2011, has been in the game longer than most. It only transforms Web applications, using browser virtualization to deliver the app through its cloud service.

PowWow, which launched in 2014, uses a combination of HTML5 and Remote Desktop Protocol to deliver apps to the client. A collaboration option allows multiple users to connect to the same session and interact with shared documents, similar to Google Docs.

StarMobile, a cloud-based service, uses its own protocol to abstract a desktop application's underlying user interface data and render it in a mobile-friendly manner on a client device.

Network latency can slow streaming in some cases of application refactoring, and it often depends on the product's protocol quality and specific rendering process. Most of these vendors tout the fact that users don't need app development experience, but some products offer simpler designer interfaces than others. One nice benefit is that some offerings also integrate with existing virtual desktop infrastructure deployments and/or enterprise mobility suites.

Overall, there's a good smattering of tools that cover just about any app, whether it's cloud-based, Web-based or on-premises. As enterprise mobility grows, there are sure to be even more solutions to the problem of modernizing Windows apps.

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