In our first part of this series, we talked about publishing apps at the right resolution… something that doesn’t really require any custom development. All it requires is a little thought and observation about an app in general. In part 2 we talked about publishing apps as tasks to basically turn receiver into a list of tasks that represent the way your users work. Now, we’ll take that a step further and talk about some useful apps you may want to publish. There are many more, I am sure, and if you have some you would like to add, please comment on this post. I’ve just added the top 5 here.
Optimize Configuration by publishing useful apps
As I stated in the previous post, the last thing you want to do is make available applications that aren’t really usable on small form factors just for the sake of saying, “I did it” (Don’t laugh, I’ve seen this practice myself).
To start off your implementation and help ensure early user adoption and support, here is a short list of useful applications you might want to publish. Don’t forget that session resolution, as discussed in the previous post, can help with the user experience.
- Microsoft Powerpoint and Powerpoint Viewer – I love PowerPoint and PowerPoint Viewer on mobile devices. The reason is because it’s a great helper app. I have an iPhone and most smartphones have built-in readers for office. The problem is that they don;t preserve the animations. They also don;t parse data very well so complex presentations with lots of graphics and animation can come out all garbled. For these, I use Microsoft Powerpoint. If I need to get a review on a Powerpoint done quickly or if I’m on my way to a meeting and want to practice my presentation, I can open a PPT up on my iphone and work away. I can even practice and record timings. I would publish this app at 640×480 or 960×640 (landscape) if you are working with phones that have a built-in accelerometer and automatically flip to landscape when the users turns the phone in it’s side. Users will want to naturally flip it on it’s side anyway. Publishing at this resolution gives users the ability to navigate using a 4 quadrant display while at the same time being able to easily zoom out to view a PPT in slideshow mode. You’ll want to try a variety of configurations depending on the mobile devices you need to support. Publish this app as “Edit a presentation” or “View a presentation”. Publish Powerpoint Viewer or Powerpoint with the /s command line option to open in slideshow view only. Publish this task as “View a presentation”.
- Citrix GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting – In conjunction with Microsoft PowerPoint, this is a killer app for anyone on the road. If you don’t have a laptop connection and are in a pinch to watch a webinar, you can do it via GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar on XenApp. It’s even handy for hosting small meetings using a hosted session running PowerPoint. It’s great for participating in meetings if you’re broken down somewhere or at the beach enjoying a lazy day when the board of directors decides to have an emergency call. I’d publish this app at 640×480 or 960×960 to make it easy for users hosting a conference to use the toolbar. If you want to see this in action yourself, get a demo account at CitrixCloud.net and connect with your mobile device. Publish this app as “Join a Webinar”. In fact, even if your organization doesn’t support this yet but you have a GotoWebinar (like a Citrix TechTalk) or a GotoMeeting to attend, you can use CitrixCloud.net and published GotoWebinar to participate. I’ve done this myself for morning meetings from 8-9. I have a suction stand and stereo jack that lets me mount my iPhone on my windshield and plug the sound into my car stereo. I can be on the con-call and at red lights (of course I’m safe ) I’ll glance over and see what’s going on in the presentation. Very nifty tool. Especially if you’re running late or if you need to multi-task without your laptop.
- Microsoft Outlook – I know you’re probably thinking “how could this app possibly be on this list when smartphones can already access e-mail”. Well, guess what? Not all organizations allow mobile e-mail. In fact they don’t trust mobile devices at all due to the fact that e-mail is cached and if the device is lost this can pose a security risk. Even in any organization there are always a handful of users that are involved in mergers and acquisitions or have access to sensitive information. These users can’t even have Camera’s on their phones. You might want to provide them with access to Microsoft Outlook from XenApp which could serve as a more secure option for you. It’s also useful for use with GoToWebinar, GoToMeeting and PowerPoint if you have meetings scheduled in your calendar (makes webinars easier to start from published Outlook). It’s also useful if you have to review that PowerPoint you got in e-mail but your local viewer isn’t cutting it. Open Microsoft Outlook, search for your e-mail with attachment and open it from there. Check out the first blog post in this series for more specific direction on Microsoft Outlook. Publish this app as “Access e-mail”.
- Doc Finder – Doc Finder is a feature of Citrix Receiver for Mobile Devices. Doc Finder is kind of like Windows Explorer built for small form factors. This is super useful for users with lots of centralized data. Just think about it… There are two ways to open a file… using explorer or using an applications File…Open… menu. For small form factor devices, both of these methods are frustrating, requiring panning, zooming, tapping, moving, panning, zooming, etc. The easiest thing is to open Doc Finder, find your doc using simple taps and an interface that actually works on the device you’re using. You’ll want to publish Doc Finder at 640×480 to enable users to work with the apps that will open when they find their file (i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). Publish this app as “Find & open files”. If you decide not to make it available in this manner, then you might want to publish it at 320×480. Isolate the application on a virtual XenApp server and use in conjunction with file type association. This way, when the user opens a file, it will open Microsoft PowerPoint in a separate session which can be configured at a higher resolution (640×480). Don’t worry, this scenario only uses one license.
- App Viewer – Probably one of my favorite utilities is App Viewer, another feature of Citrix Receiver for Mobile Devices. App Viewer is a web browser with no user controls. It’s great for maximizing usable area for web apps. So, if you see the graphics below, one shows the experience of publishing a flash-based app running in Internet Explorer. The other is the same app using App Viewer. This app is so useful for custom apps or even your own web apps if you decide not to do any customization (More on customization later in the series). Publish this app as the task enabled by the web app is it delivering access to.
Other blog posts in this series:
- Part 1: Session resolution by Vinny Sosa
- Part 2: Publish Tasks by Vinny Sosa
- Part 3: Make your app mobile friendly by Chris Fleck
See best practices in action at CitrixCloud.net