Offline Capable Cross Platform Delphi 10.2 FireMonkey Client Code For Android, iOS, macOS, And Windows

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The RAD Server Field Service Template provides an end to end field service application template for routing appointments, managing parts, and user administration. It is made up of a REST server module, a desktop client, and a cross platform mobile client. The template can give you a head start in building your own field service solutions. This blog post is about the offline capable mobile client app that comes with the template. You can download the Field Service Template for free from Embarcadero's GetIt.

The Field Service App client project which is built in RAD Studio Delphi using FireMonkey (FMX). The client is targeted for deployment to Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. The offline capabilities are provided by storing the data in IBLite.

InterBase is a full-featured, high performance, zero administration, lightweight, embeddable relational database for software developers. RAD Server uses InterBase for storing it’s users and groups. InterBase also provides an IBLite Edition of InterBase which can be deployed with your apps. This IBLite edition is the version that is demonstrated in the Field Service Template App client. You can find out more about the different editions here:

http://docwiki.embarcadero.com/InterBase/2017/en/Comparing_IBLite,_ToGo,_and_InterBase_Server_Edition


The Field Service App client connects to RAD Server on the backend via a REST API. You should be able to log into the App client by selecting a Branch ID (Tenant ID) plus entering the login and password for a user in the Technicians Group. For this template the default users are technician1 and technician2.

Be sure to configure the EMS_SERVER and EMS_PORT const in uMainForm.pas to point at your development server. The default is localhost 8080.

The Branch ID is stored with each data table so each branch will only see its own set of appointments, parts, and users. Each branch has its own users and groups as well. The Branch system is built on top of the Tenant functionality in RAD Server.

Appointments

Appointments are records that can be viewed in the Field Service App client. When you are logged in as a Technician you will only see appointments assigned to you, marked as pending, and with a date of today. Appointments have various fields like Appointment date and time, customer title, description, address information, phone number, location, photo, status, and notes. You can view a static map of the address of the appointment plus you can press a Locate button to bring up an interactive map of the address. You can also click on the phone number on a mobile device and it will launch the call functionality of the device. Technicians can enter notes about an appointment and mark it as complete. The notes and status change are sent to the server.

History

The Service History list is a view into the Appointments and only shows Appointments that have been their status set to Complete for this technician for today. Newly completed records show up in the History tab even if they have not yet been synced with the server yet.

Parts

Parts are records that can be viewed in the Field Service App client. Parts have various fields like title, description, location, quantity, and photo. Parts are not editable in the Field Service App but the data does get updated when synced from the server.

Profile

The profile section shows the current Technician that is logged into the Field Service App and their various information. You can also choose to disable the local notifications here. Profile information also shows up in the TMultiView menu.

Notify

The notify section shows new appointments that have been downloaded from the server that have not yet been viewed by the current technician. Choosing a notification here will take you to the appointment for that notification. Local notifications are also implemented and when new appointments are received local notifications will be sent to the device. The notification functionality is built so that you can implement your own remote notifications using the same system if needed.

Data Sync

The Data Sync tab in the Field Service App client is where JSON data is downloaded from the Field Service Server REST endpoint and loaded up into the local IBLite database. Data for the Appointments, Parts, and Technician is all downloaded on this tab. You can also request to Refresh the data at any time to get new updates from the server. Additionally, there is a background TTimer which will upload and sync the completed data from the Field Service App automatically on an interval. A cloud icon will appear in the upper left of the Field Service App when there is data to be synced in the queue.

Architecture

The architecture of the app is built in a low code rapid application development style using TTabControls for handling pages and individual frames for each page. TActionList is used to consolidate much of the code in the MainForm. There are two TTabControls on the MainForm. The first one contains the Login frame and the second TTabControl. The second TTabControl contains the rest of the frames. Within the ApptsFrame and the HistoryFrame there are additional Master/Detail TTabControls.

If you want to make changes to the design time frames be sure to edit the frame itself and not the version of it that is embedded in the MainForm. This will keep your changes consolidated in one place. If your changes don't update in the MainForm you can delete the Frame from the MainForm and re-add it. Be sure to add it to the correct Tab and set to Align Client after you add the frame.

The frames are built to be as modular as possible with TBindSourceDB components used as endpoints for the LiveBindings. This allows you to easily re-use the frames in your own projects by connecting the TBindSourceDBs to your own datasets.

  • uDataModule in 'uDataModule.pas' {MainDM: TDataModule},
    Contains the RAD Server (EMS) Provider client components, the in memory table components, the IBLite tables, and the various FireDAC connecting components.

  • uMainForm in 'uMainForm.pas' {MainForm},
    Contains the main form of the application with the various TTabControls and inline embedded TFrames. Additionally, it includes the TNotificationCenter.

  • uLoginFrame in 'uLoginFrame.pas' {LoginFrame: TFrame},
    Contains the UI and code for the Login screen.

  • uApptsFrame in 'uApptsFrame.pas' {ApptsFrame: TFrame},
    Contains the UI and code for the Appointments screen.

  • uHistoryFrame in 'uHistoryFrame.pas' {HistoryFrame: TFrame},
    Contains the UI and code for the Service History screen.

  • uPartsFrame in 'uPartsFrame.pas' {PartsFrame: TFrame},
    Contains the UI and code for the Parts screen.

  • uProfileFrame in 'uProfileFrame.pas' {ProfileFrame: TFrame},
    Contains the UI and code for the Profile screen.

  • uNotifyFrame in 'uNotifyFrame.pas' {NotifyFrame: TFrame},
    Contains the UI and code for the Notification screen.

  • uProgressFrame in 'uProgressFrame.pas' {ProgressFrame: TFrame},
    Contains the activity progress TFrame which is displayed when the app is busy.

  • uTenantsDM in 'uTenantsDM.pas' {TenantsDM: TDataModule},
    Contains the RAD Server (EMS) Provider connector components for accessing the Branch (Tenants) list.

  • uTenantListForm in 'uTenantListForm.pas' {TenantForm},
    Contains the UI and code for selecting a Branch/Tenant.

  • uQueueFrame in 'uQueueFrame.pas' {QueueFrame: TFrame},
    Contains the UI and code for syncing data from the server.

  • uWebBrowserForm in 'uWebBrowserForm.pas' {WebBrowserForm};
    Contains the UI and code for viewing real time map data in a TWebBrowser.

Offline Caching

The Field Service App is able to work offline once you have logged into your account at least once. The next time you log into the app it will use your previous RAD Server Session ID for any new connections it tries to make to the server. The data from the server is cached as JSON files and stored in the IBLite database. The Appointments are saved as appts.json, the Parts as parts.json, the Techs as technicians.json, and the Tenants as tenants.json. If no connection to the server is available the data will be loaded from those files instead. Additionally, if there is no internet connection it will save the appointments and notes that you have marked completed in the History table of the IBLite database. When the next time an internet connection is detected it will upload those changes.

The Field Service App has a local History table where is stores the local changed state of the Appointments. Even if you re-sync the data from the server and your changes have not been uploaded yet it will apply your existing local changes to this new data until which time it is able to upload the changes to the server.

If you log out of the existing account the local database is deleted until you log in again. If you log out before uploading your changes then you changes would be lost.

Notifications

The local notification functionality built into the Field Service App relies on the cross platform  TNotificationCenter component that is built into RAD Studio. There is a local IBLite Notify table in the Field Server App where it stores the current state of notifications (whether the user has viewed them already and whether they have been sent to the user’s platform).

When a new Appointment is downloaded from the server during a data sync a new record is added to the IBLite Notify table. A notification is sent to the platform through the TNotificationCenter when this happens. The user can view the notification by clicking on the record on the Notify tab. Once a notification is viewed it will no longer be displayed on the Notify tab.

Each platform handles notifications differently. You should be able to hook up remote notifications as well through this existing local notification system.

Customize The UI

You can quickly and easily customize most of the look and feel of the app with three easy changes. In TMainForm there is a BackgroundRect, a BackgroundImageRect, and a EmeraldDarkStyleBook control. You can change the background color of the app by changing the BackgroundRect.Fill.Gradient property. You can change the image that is overlayed over the entire app by changing the BackgroundImageRect.Fill.Bitmap.Bitmap property. The background image works by being above all of the other controls, having a low Opacity, having a HitTest of False and a Locked property of True. Finally, you can change most of the rest of the theme by loading different Premium Styles into the EmeraldDarkStyleBook control.

You can customize the header logo of the Login screen on the LoginFrame. There are a few other places where the custom green color is used on some elements in the TListView controls and some the search icons using a TFillRGBEffect.

The Profile screen for the technician has a background image in the ProfileFrame called HeaderBackgroundRect plus a BackgroundRect control. The Profile is also displayed in the TMultiView control on the MainForm with another control named HeaderBackgroundRect as well. Change the Fill.Bitmap.Bitmap property on both controls.

You will need to update the BackgroundRect and BackgroundImageRect in the WebBrowserForm and the TenantForm as well. Remember that you will need to load one style for each of the four deployment platforms. You can access the Premium Styles here:

https://www.embarcadero.com/products/rad-studio/fireui/premium-styles

 

https://cc.embarcadero.com/item/30491

Head over and check out the full deep dive into the Field Service Template for Delphi 10.2 Tokyo!



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