Reddo Mobility intros HTML5 app-refactoring solution that doesn’t need clients or remote protocols

Last week, Reddo Mobility, formerly called Gizmox, released the latest in a flurry of app-refactoring platforms. If you've heard of Gizmox before last week, you're probably a developer.

Last week, Reddo Mobility, formerly called Gizmox, released the latest in a flurry of app-refactoring platforms. If you’ve heard of Gizmox before last week, you’re probably a developer. Their claim to fame for the last seven years has been a Visual Studio plugin that allows you to build web apps with rich, HTML5 driven UIs. Recently, though, they’ve restructured and spun out the “old Gizmox” products into other entities while creating Reddo Mobility.

There’s a lot going on around app-refactoring these days, from PowWow (the co-darling of BriForum, along with Devolutions) and Capriza, not to mention the Citrix Mobility SDK. These solutions have their limitations, though. Capriza only re-factors web applications. The Citrix Mobility SDK requires access to an application’s source code, so it only works on homegrown apps. PowWow works for any Windows or web app, but it does it by reading the window calls from RDP streams which means there’s an extra layer in the mix.

Reddo Mobility’s platform (simply called “Reddo”) runs inside Windows and watches the Windows application controls in between the OS and Presentation layer. Positioned there, it can figure out what the app is trying to tell the OS (and vice versa), then use that information to create a customized mobile interface for the application. It’s not screen scraping or transcoding at all. Rather, it’s intercepting the direct UI calls and transforming it for mobile devices.

Reddo has a designer that administrators can use to map aspects of the Windows app to the mobile interface, as you would expect. In the designer, you can change the flow of an application, break up the application into multiple screens (like tabs), and theme the apps to look like native iOS or Chrome apps. They have a feature called “Smart Suggestions” to help with application flow, too. The designer is also aware of different device types, so you can create the most appropriate layouts for each type of device your users have.

On the client side, nothing is required other than a browser. All the transformation is done on the backend (if you could see the console, you could see the apps being used as if someone were sitting there). Without going completely overboard, I think that the browser-only requirement is probably the most important part of the announcement. Clients are just one more thing to manage, so eliminating them is key to adoption.

As with the other products, there are a few limitations to the Reddo solution:

  1. They are focused on Win32 apps right now, so there’s no help for web apps that aren’t HTML5 or mobile-ready. It’s not impossible, but just not on the radar for this release.
  2. Since the app is running in the session, using this on physical desktops means that someone could watch the console. As of now, Reddo doesn’t have a solution for this. If you’re using VDI, it’s not a huge deal, but if you’re using physical desktops, you’d have to find a third-party solution to lock the console and/or blank the screen.
  3. Highly graphical apps are not ideal for a solution like this. The most appropriate applications are data-centric.

Gestures and UX tweaks are great, but they’re no match for custom interfaces to Windows applications, so I think it’s absolutely fantastic to see this space exploding the way that it is. With these companies identifying and plugging the gaps that others leave, we should see a lot of innovation in a short period of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and others get involved and acquire these companies, either. In fact, VMware recently announced a partnership with Capriza, so you can move them over to the short list. I think we’ll continue to see a lot of activity around this well into next year.

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I hope Citrix M&A are already on it!!


:D


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An interesting question is how a product such as this handles custom controls. Many legacy VB apps (and Delphi etc.) utilize 3rd party custom controls, such as custom grids. Unless such a product is smart enough to automatically handle such controls, its value is significantly reduced IMO.  


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Looks a lot like what was done in 1990's, transforming terminal application into GUI applicatione, using screen scraping technologies on top of TN3270 protocol.


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Good discussion here…  I just wanted to clarify a few points.  


It is an interesting point about the analog to mainframe era screen UI transformation.  But to be clear to readers not familiar with the concept of application re-factoring, Reddo is not pixel pushing a desktop UI to another device like classic app virtualization technologies.   The platform creates a new UI from true HTML5 controls (from which users can define mobile-optimized variants) that maintains a bidirectional link with the Windows application.


The question of how we handle the wide range of 3rd party controls or custom developed controls is important.  Any application control can be described by a specific set of metadata including location on screen, data structure, data values, and user interaction behaviors.  Reddo maps this metadata by understanding how the control interacts with the Windows operating system.  From this mapping, we can “re-compose” the application with a set of true HTML5 controls.  Each control can be mapped using 3 approaches.  In order of preference:


1.     Automated.  All standard controls and many 3rd party or custom controls that follow a standard model can be automatically mapped to an HTML5 equivalent.


2.     Manual.  If Reddo is unable to detect a suitable match, the operator can explicitly describe an HTML5 counterpart and define how the data maps over.


3.     Selective Pixel Push.  In the case of a highly novel custom control or a highly graphical element that does not have a clear HTML5 analog, the operator can choose to pixel push that particular control to a container that sits alongside the other controls that can be mapped with approach 1 or 2.  


Itzik Spitzen


CTO Reddo Mobility


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