H3 Solutions (news, site) has announced the second major release of their SharePoint mobile application framework, Mobile Entrée, and it's packed with business intelligence, dashboards and custom theming.
Working from your Smartphone
A lot of people use their smartphones for business, which is why vendors are offering mobile features as add-ons to their full web-based solutions. But H3 Solutions just doesn't provide mobile add-ons, they provide a mobile framework that bolts tightly onto to SharePoint (2007 or 2010) and let's organizations easily offer their own mobile capabilities to their SharePoint environment.
CMSWire spoke with Mike Herres, President and CEO and Joe Herres, Executive VP, Product of H3 Solutions about the latest version of Mobile Entrée and their view that "mobility is for everyone".
A Quick Recap on Mobile Entrée
Mobile Entrée is a browser-based, cross platform solution for the deskless worker all the way up to the executive suite. The platform is based on two key concepts: that mobile is process oriented, not app oriented and that it's about the data not the device.
Mobile Entrée and any third party vendor application built on the platform is accessible across most of the popular smartphone devices today including the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Symbian S60, WebOS and Windows Phone.
This is not a replacement for the desktop, it is complimentary, providing the ability to keep business processes and decision making moving regardless of where a person is at the time.
Mobile Entrée is an extension of the SharePoint platform model that provides the ability to access SharePoint data via mobile devices. It's a server-side solution (installed as a Feature), managed, secured and scalable within SharePoint itself.
Mobile Entrée 2.0 Pillars
Mobile Entrée 2.0 has some great new capabilities for business intelligence on the go. The core is the Application Platform upon which other vendors can build their mobile solutions and on which H3 Solutions has built their new capabilities.
Also, out of the box, Mobile Entrée provides access to all the core SharePoint functionality such as lists and libraries, workflow and KPI lists, managed content types and more.
Here's a look at what's new:
Themes allow developers to design and develop a repeatable branded interface for your mobile applications. Themes are similar to SharePoint master pages. Themes are packaged within Visual Studio as Features you then install on SharePoint.
Here's a video from H3 Solutions new education website on how to build a custom theme. Theming can be deployed at the web or site collection level.
Enable Excel Business Intelligence
If you have the enterprise version of SharePoint, then you have Excel Services. Microsoft has provided a lot of new functionality within Excel Services for SharePoint 2010, including the new Pivot Tables.
Mobile Entree BI Using Excel Services
Mobile Entrée 2.0 take the Excel Services Add-On and allows you create mobile views of your data. With a few clicks of the mouse (and I saw this in action), you can quickly and easily select portions of your spreadsheet to be mobile enabled. This includes creating mobile views of charts, pivot-tables, sparklines and other spreadsheet data.
This capability does work with SharePoint 2007 as well, but you are limited to mobile views of Excel tables only.
Mobile Entree Excel BI
Mobile Dashboards provide the ability to surface your data to the home page of your mobile application instead of requiring users to drill down into the application to see the information they want.
All information displayed on the home screen can be reordered and renamed within an administration interface within SharePoint itself. Developers can expand this interface using the ME API.
A New Educational Website
A long with a new version of Mobile Entrée, H3 Solutions has also released a new educational website called itsbestwith.me, free to everyone who wants to learn about how to leverage the Mobile Entrée platform for their SharePoint mobile apps.
There's a introduction to Mobile Entrée 2.0 and a number of videos that walk you through the installation and usage of the platform.
Taking SharePoint Mobile
H3 Solutions started developing a mobile platform for SharePoint back in 2006 starting with SharePoint 2003. With the release of the Feature architecture with SharePoint 2007, Mobile Entrée really opened up the world of mobile applications for SharePoint by allowing the company to rely on SharePoint's own provisioning capabilities letting them focus on functionality needed.
With the popularity of SharePoint in the workplace, it is surprising there are not more vendors out there providing mobile frameworks like Mobile Entrée.
There are companies, like CorasWorks, that are working via OEM agreement with H3 Solutions and using the Mobile Entrée platform to mobile-enable their own applications. They've also worked closely with Microsoft Consulting and business groups, so you know they've got a good platform to build on.