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Mobile CRM application for the Palm platform

I'm a student, and I have an idea of developing a mobile CRM application for the Palm platform. Would the following architecture work?

  • J2ME for the front-end app
  • Back-end database
  • Java servlet on the back-end using JDBC
What are the considerations/options for the front-end database? What is the best format for data transactions both ways? Someone suggested XML.
First of all, mobile Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software covers a wide and diverse area and can vary quite a bit, depending on the application and the industry segment that you are targeting (healthcare, pharmaceutical's utilities, etc.). So, my answer will be rather general in terms of what might be needed in developing a successful front-end and back-end application.

There are really three development issues you should be looking at in terms of creating an application:

  1. The client user interface: The software should be as simple to understand and use as possible, preferably taking a forms-based approach since most of these applications on handhelds will be used for data collection or simple order-taking;
  2. The synchronization technology: The software should take advantage of available synchronization techniques and technology offered in the Palm platform -- specifically it should update any information that has not been updated since the last synchronization. Also, the client-side software should be as compatible with the back-end data base as possible, since it is essentially injecting information into a window of that data base to update central files;
  3. The client software (and related server-side software) should be flexible enough to make simple changes in the form, since these programs will inevitably change over time and may even be "free-form" type data entry vehicles. So, they shouldn't require a lot of additional programming to make these changes.
J2ME is usually desired for client-side software, since it takes up very little space -- which is important, since most of these small devices do not have a lot of extra memory for programs, and it is best to save this memory for data. Java-based software is also the prime choice since one program can be developed for multiple devices and operating environments, without having to do a lot of heavy-duty programming changes.

Finally, XML is a good pick when you are dealing with legacy data on the server side -- that is, a lot of historical information that must be accessed by the client devices. XML compatibility has quickly become a standard in mobile applications development. However, in terms of sped and flexibility, simple, forms-based programs that target small segments of server data are quick and easy to develop. You can get more information on applications development directly from Palm, which will even provide a software development kit for applications-minded developers. There are also a lot of third-party solutions from companies that offer development environments, or building-block programs that let you quickly and easily develop simple applications.

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