It’s been pretty clear that 2009 has been a great year for mobility here at Citrix. First we announced Receiver for iPhone. Then we announced an updated Receiver for Windows Mobile. Most recently we announced a tech preview for Receiver for Android and plans to release a tech preview for Receiver for Blackberry. All exciting to say the least. Through it all though, I always seem to get the same questions and comments…

  • “Why access desktop apps from a phone?”
  • “It’s great but it’s not something I would use all the time.”
  • “Great but this is not for everyday use, right?”
  • “Cool app but I can’t use it unless I do custom development of my own.”

These questions and comments basically tell me that the community needs a better understanding of how to get the most value out of Mobile access to XenApp hosted apps.

Folks, these Receivers are highly valuable to your business and they don’t require a lot to get going. What’s more you can provide a great access experience with very little effort. In this series, we’ll explore some of the best practices for getting the most out of Receiver for Mobile Devices whether you want a quick fix or you’re willing to put some effort into it and really get your hands dirty. Hopefully I can elicit a response from Adam Marano, my personal hero in this area. The way I see it, these best practices fall into three categories – optimizing configuration, presenting key data, and skinning your apps. Below is lesson #1.

Optimizing configuration by publishing apps at the right resolution

The last thing you want to do when implementing access to XenApp hosted applications from mobile devices is go into it thinking that you’re going to get the same experience as on a desktop. You just can’t shoe horn your Windows desktop apps into a 320×480 form factor and expect to have the same experience. But all is not lost. The first step is to assess the situation.

Publish the application you want to deliver from XenApp. Depending on your target devices, the resolution and aspect ratio will vary. Normally you’re looking at a 2×3 ratio or there-abouts. Publish your app in 320×480 resolution and see how the application looks (this is easily done by modifying the application properties or by using the publish application wizard).

Does it re-factor or does it seem easy to navigate within that space? Some apps do this naturally even though they were never intended for small form factors. An example of this is the Microsoft Office Suite. Don’t believe me? See for yourself by opening Excel 2007 and shrinking the window. Notice how the ribbon disappears as you approach smaller width. This is a natural optimization for small screens.

If the application looks good at 320×480, you’re set. If not, try publishing it in various resolutions that are in multiples of 320×480. So for example, try to widen the session by making it 640×480. Or make it double height at 320×960 for apps that look better longer. You can even try 640×960 for double height and double width. In the example below, I’ve made a 3 panel view (960×480) for Microsoft Outlook. You could do the same with any application. In the case below, if the user pan across the session, they can position the viewable area on top of three distinct views – e-mail list, e-mail reader, and datebook/event list.

The point of this exercise is to eliminate or reduce the need for the user to have to Pan and Zoom to see a complete app work area. It’s hard enough navigating the app without also having to navigate the screen.

Stay tuned for more in my next post in this series – “Publishing Tasks

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