When we talk about the web, we think of tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter that have come to dominate the public web, or the latest breath-takingly valued startups, which are yet to turn a profit but are experiencing triple-digit growth. These companies have hundreds of millions of users and are household names around the globe. As a result of this success and the resources at their disposal, these ventures have made significant contributions to the technology of web development, giving developers excellent tools that are easy to learn, powerful to use and free.
In the enterprise, we are all increasingly moving to web development to take advantage of the no-install deployment model. This approach enables our users to run our apps on a wider range of devices, often with the same code. We use the same browsers as the consumer web and many of us are delighted by the tools and packages available, and the rate at which they are improving. This can blind us to the fact they are created for a very different environment to the enterprise web. In the public web, trust is very hard to establish; any site our users visit could be harbouring malware and the sandbox is therefore vital. The sandbox ensures that code from one site has almost no ability to work with the user’s machine or with other sites the user may be visiting.
In the enterprise, the risks faced by our users are not the same as in the public web. Behind the corporate firewall, our operating environment and deployment processes are (usually) setup around validating our applications, and protecting our users' and the company's data. Despite this level of safety we, as enterprise developers, seem to have internalised the limitations that are appropriate for the public web. We have allowed these limitations to restrict our imagination and the way that we approach both architecture and UX.
However, there are now several technologies that helps us transcend these constraints on development and UX. This exciting new direction for developer software has brought us products that provide an escape from the sandbox. They include HTML Containers such as Electron, OpenFin and numerous in-house desktop containers. These are all offerings that have grown out of the needs and perspectives of developers trying to escape the sandbox.
At Tick42, we find this approach to product development, with its emphasis on freeing our imagination from the sandbox and silos that constrain us, particularly captivating. So much so that we decided to give it a name: UX Integration. In the public web we think about the UX of each application on an individual basis, which makes sense because the sandbox prevents apps from working together. Conversely, in the enterprise we know our users, we have a good idea of what they are doing and what applications they are using. UX Integration asks us to consider the multiple applications a typical user runs to achieve the complex, multifarious tasks they are responsible for and then to integrate these separate user interfaces to deliver a single integrated UX that provides the user with a coherent experience that flows between the applications they are using.
Tick42’s Glue is another product that’s focused on UX integration. It is an application interop product that enables windows from different applications to work together and provides developers with new options for delivery. Glue allows users to work continuously across apps, without having to manually launch applications or transfer data. They can click a button in one app to load data in another. Or click a button that will launch a new window from a second application, setup with the relevant context. No more copy and paste of client names between windows.
For these reasons, we think it’s time that enterprise web developers embraced UX Integration.
Leslie Spiro will be presenting at the Symphony Software Foundation’s Annual Members Meeting. Members can sign up here.