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  • BIG NEWS: Announcing RFgen 5.2: The Unity Release - RFgen Re-engineered for the Future

    Written by Robert Brice
    Wed, Aug 26, 2020

    RFgen announces its new RFgen 5.2: The Unity Release, delivering major end user benefits in performance and design.
    RFgen announces its new RFgen 5.2: The Unity Release, delivering major end user benefits in performance and design.

    We are excited to announce the arrival of RFgen 5.2: The Unity Release.

    Release 5.2 is an all-new RFgen that fully realizes the flexibility of the Mobile Unity Platform™.

    In the words of Robert Brice, RFgen Software’s President and CTO: “5.2 is RFgen re-engineered for the future. Its enhanced plug-and-play model adds and extends functionality to drive enterprise software ahead of the technology curve.”

    Since 1983, RFgen Software has been creating cutting-edge supply chain software. We believe RFgen 5.2: The Unity Release is our best release yet.

    In this article:

    What’s New in 5.2

    "Wherever you look, you can see that today’s mobile ecosystem is extremely robust with a multitude of device options and screen formats available. RFgen’s Unity release was re-imagined to allow customers to select the best devices possible for the task-at-hand without being constrained by their software applications.” –Robert Brice, President/CTO, RFgen Software

    RFgen 5.2 delivers major improvements in performance and design.

    The Unity Release represents a re-architecting of the backend processes into leaner elements, improving speed and reliability. Cross-platform functionality for mobile apps on Android, iOS, Windows and Windows CE has been further streamlined, providing a more consistent user experience regardless of the device being used.

    Provisioning and updating for devices operating in offline mode or out in the field have been substantially enhanced, significantly improving data transfer performance. Additional tools have been added to better profile database deployments and to model data synchronization time requirements.

    Themes have been significantly expanded so developers / users now have control down to the individual component level over the environment’s look and feel with a modernized user interface and experience (UI/UX).

    As part of this expansion, themes now support configurable color pallets and control states (focused, error, warning, etc.). This means you can easily switch between application themes and have all application elements seamlessly follow the new color scheme.

    The introduction of device targets further simplifies the design and validation efforts necessary to assure successful application deployments. While we’ve provided a number of popular target device templates, users can easily add new ones to match their environment. Applications can easily be linked to one or more target devices with automatic scaling to help assure an optimal user experience regardless of the actual device being used.

    With 5.2, we are also redesigning many of our ERP application suites to move away from top down, single screen task flows. Instead, 5.2 applications will take advantage of UX best practices, incorporating color, size, positioning, and “reusability” concepts to facilitate multiple device scenarios. This increases consistency across common tasks while reducing the time required to create or customize mobile-friendly solutions.

    Skip to: 5.2 Design Enhancements »

    Benefits of RFgen 5.2

    5.2 features many sought after new benefits, including enhanced end-user productivity and a modern design.
    5.2 features many sought after new benefits, including enhanced end-user productivity and a modern design.

    Adopters of RFgen 5.2 can expect the following benefits:

    • Modern design, look and feel (UI/UX)
    • Simpler, more intuitive mobile applications
    • Faster application design and testing (x60-x100 faster reusability)
    • Enhanced end-user productivity
    • RFgen stability and performance enhancements
    • 85% faster batching for big batch/offline environments
    • Bolstered offline/off-network device support
    • Auto-scaling to multiple devices
    • Sub-second barcode scanning on consumer devices

    When Will RFgen 5.2 Be Available?

    As of this writing, 5.2 is currently rolling out to test groups with a public release available on September 15, 2020.

    Conversion from the existing enterprise application suites to take advantage of 5.2 features is well under way. Upgraded suites are scheduled for release in early Q4.

    New RFgen 5.2 adopters can expect to take full advantage of The Unity Release’s capabilities in their deployments. Existing customers can utilize our managed upgrade services to easily convert their existing applications to the 5.2 format. Or they can re-imagine their applications to gain additional productivity benefits from a more modern user experience for their current workforce.

    Top Features of 5.2

    The Unity Release offers something for everyone. In addition to general performance improvements, many of 5.2’s greatest features are all about simplifying application design for heterogenous device environments.

    RFgen’s 5.2 core architecture has been streamlined so we can quickly add new features and functionality using a more agile delivery methodology. RFgen still maintains strong backwards compatibility, empowering customers on prior releases with a flexible path forward.

    In the words of Robert Brice: “Our commitment to our existing customers to help them ‘future proof’ their mobile operations is one of the key considerations we evaluate when designing our product roadmap.”

    Let’s explore RFgen 5.2’s top new features:

    Simpler, Dynamic Design Experience

    Scaling streamlines variable DPI and screen dimensions ratios to provide an optimal display on devices with different form factors. By leveraging built-in scaling factors, apps and app elements will automatically scale to fit the device screen size while retaining proportionality. This makes it possible to inflate (scale up) or deflate (scale down) the screen size, font size, icons and visual elements all at once. Auto-scaling simplifies testing how your forms render as well.

    Anchoring makes it possible to create perfect proportions in less time without having to adjust individual elements. Setting your anchors helps determine how your apps will display on devices with different screen ratios. When combined with auto-scaling, your applications can deliver an optimal user experience regardless of whether it’s running on a legacy Window CE device, an Android handheld or an iPad.

    Snap-to Visual Aides heighten the control of design elements by providing visual guidelines that snap to defined guidelines when near edges. Aligning elements is simpler and less time-consuming. Guidelines also assist in maintaining proportionality across devices.

    Design by Target enables you to design apps for specific devices in a true-to-life emulation experience. 5.2 includes cached specifications for actual devices, including screen height/width, DPI, and the size of status and menus bars. Simply select the desired device and design or test your applications to get real-world results at your desktop.

    Unified UI/UX

    Top features of RFgen’s 5.2 release include a unified UI/UX, reusable purpose elements, new controls and a camera scan engine.
    Top features of RFgen’s 5.2 release include a unified UI/UX, reusable purpose elements, new controls and a camera scan engine.

    A New Graphics Engine proprietary to RFgen 5.2 harmonizes the UI/UX across all platforms to better align with expectations of modern mobile users. Apps in the designer will now appear exactly as they do on the target device, helping to eliminate design issues in development rather than at deployment.

    The end result is a consistent look, feel and functionality regardless of device, OS, or hardware manufacturer. This helps futureproof your business by granting you the freedom to select or upgrade the right device(s) for your business.

    New Visual Themes for mobile apps have been added in 5.2. Users now have the ability to change any value at the control level, add watermarks, set transparency, assign colors, or completely re-skin entire apps. Visual themes can be instrumental in increasing usability and user adoption.

    Reusable, Specific Purpose Elements

    Application Design have been re-tooled in 5.2 with expanded capabilities and more intuitive UI/UX. The Unity Release moves away from aging Telnet methodologies that use vertically stacked prompts on each page towards incorporating UX best practices commonly seen in today’s mobile consumer apps.

    Showing, hiding and reorganizing these prompts typically resulted in more complex development with user experiences that were incongruent from modern day UX expectations. In RFgen 5.2, we aimed to fix that.

    RFgen 5.2 takes the container concept to a new level by creating control groups that are dedicated to one or two specific functions. For example, scanning and validating a set of serial numbers is a function required by many potential workflows, so why not design it once and reuse it in multiple applications?

    By showing the user specific purpose control/page groupings, rather than a cluttered display of stacked prompts, they can be prompted to complete only the specific action required by the task at that step.

    Moving towards this design paradigm provides more flexibility to focus end-users on the task at hand by taking advantage of color, shape, and size—all while maximizing the available screen space.

    New Controls

    New controls for mobile app design in RFgen 5.2 include:

    • Radio buttons
    • Memo field (for text)
    • Spin Edit (+/- values)

    Additional controls will continue to be added in future releases of 5.2.

    Android and iOS Camera Scan Engine

    Our experts have been seeing more RFgen deployments on consumer-grade phones and tablets in recent years. So RFgen partnered with top mobile hardware manufacturer, Honeywell AIDC, to deliver a scan engine solution that turns your native camera into a high-performance scanner. The scan engine uses software to accelerate cameras on consumer-grade devices to scan at industrial sub-second rates. With this feature, you can easily deploy tablets and phones into your operations without requiring additional hardware accessories to enable normal scanning and data collection. Available on a per-device, subscription basis.

    Upgrading to RFgen 5.2: The Unity Release

    Upgrading to the 5.2 release is not mandatory. Existing RFgen 5.x releases will continue to be supported through 2025.

    Should you choose to upgrade, you’ll find your current RFgen version will continue to operate normally. Most of your current applications will look, feel and operate just like they did in earlier versions (but they should be a bit more responsive).

    RFgen maintains its commitment to providing backward compatibility.

    However, the option to request a managed upgrade is always available. In a managed upgrade, our specialists will help you unlock the latest functionality and stability enhancements.

    If you are considering upgrading to RFgen 5.2, you have two options:

    Upgrade to RFgen 5.2 Yourself

    Here is how to upgrade RFgen to 5.2:

    1. Navigate to the 5.2 download page
    2. Download the latest 5.2 release
    3. Install your new RFgen version
    4. Once completed, review your install, ensuring app screens display correctly
    5. Perform a simple user acceptance test (UAT)

    Hassle-Free Managed Upgrade

    Alternately, you may contact us to handle the upgrade to 5.2 for you. The managed upgrade program is an inexpensive, turn-key package available to RFgen customers on an active Maintenance Plan. It includes the upgrade, an initial systems test, and a guided walkthrough for user acceptance testing (UAT).

    If you want to take advantage of 5.2’s new feature, our specialists can help you determine if new or modified forms will be beneficial as part of the managed upgrade process. They can also help you re-anchor or revise the layout of the forms for a specific target (the scaling occurs automatically).

    To engage RFgen professional services for a more advanced rework and take advantage of potential productivity improvements, contact us here. We can help you set up a pilot program to measure its impact on your operation.

    If you are considering an upgrade to RFgen 5.2: The Unity Release, don’t hesitate to reach out to explore your options.

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