With the list of spatial requirements constantly growing for field crews and those responsible for managing their activities, developing a collection process that not only meets those requirements, but also integrates with all your other apps can be a daunting project to take on.
Fortunately, Geocortex Mobile gives you all the tools you need to easily integrate external apps within its interface.
In this tech tip we discuss how Geocortex Mobile can open other apps based on your URLs, the flexibility you have in terms of how you construct those URLs, and how you can use Geocortex Workflow to be able to customize that process.
“What’s up guys? My name is Jeff Siemens, I’m the Lead Developer on the Geocortex Mobile product. Today we’re going to be talking about how to integrate your apps with Geocortex Mobile!
Today, we’re going to be talking about integrating apps, external apps with the Geocortex Mobile platform.
When we’re talking about integrating apps, what I’m referring to is basically being able to open other apps from your Geocortex Mobile and having other apps open Geocortex Mobile. It’s kind of that two-way directional communication that we’re talking about here, and the primary mechanism for achieving this is by launching external URLs and handling incoming URLs.
Let’s talk about the first one first, which is the ability to launch an external app. We’ll start out with something really simple, I’m going to add a menu item for opening Google. I’m going to open a URL and it defaults to that, I’ll just leave it there. So, open Google and this is that app that I had open in designer, refresh it. My ‘I want to’ menu has the ‘Open Google’ button, and I click it, and there’s Google. So, that’s a really a simple example, but that’s the basics of it.
We can get a little bit more interesting. So, let’s say we want to open the current extent in Bing Maps. I’m going to consult the Geocortex Documentation Center, and I know that we’re working with an open URL command. So, I’m going to do a search for that. That’s what we want. This is in this documentation here; this is the screen that were on.
The interesting part is here it list off a bunch of location tokens. You can use the current user location and get the location of a feature if you’re hyper linking up a feature, map center, map scale, map top left, top right, bottom right, etc. There’s a lot of different locations and basically you just need to put this component in your URL and it will it will get substituted dynamically when the user clicks a link.
I already have one of these cooked up and it looks like this. We are going to call this, ‘Open Current Extent in Bing Maps’. The command will be, ‘Open a URL’, and this time the URL is going to look like this. So, what it is, is that it’s ‘bingmaps’ prefix.
In my previous example, I used HTTP but URLs can also open other different types of apps with different prefixes, so if you have an app that you’re trying to integrate with and supports a certain prefix, then this could be a mechanism for being able to open that app.
Now, Bing Maps happens to support some query parameters as well so that you can pass it in the long and the level that you want to open up the map app. In this case, we’re going to launch Bing Maps with the current map center latitude and longitude as well as the level.
Let’s give that a try! We will refresh this again. Now, we’ve got open the current extension Bing Maps and there you go. I’ll zoom in a particular area and do it again. It kind of zooms into that level because it’s already open.
So, there’s a couple examples of things you could do from the ‘I want to menu.’ Hopefully that gives you some ideas for how you can integrate your apps. Now I’m going to show you how you can sort of contextually do that for a particular feature.
Let’s go to ‘Map,’ and we will configure the hospital’s layer. Let’s say we want to be able to search Google for a hospital. We’re going to call it, ‘Search Google’.
The URL is going to look like this. We’re going to do an open a URL again, and now it’s actually even filling in an example for us. All we have to do here is that we just have to put in the name of an attribute, so any attributes that you may have names, you can just put in the squiggly braces here in the same way that we used location tokens. We can just put an attribute name in there and that will get substituted at runtime, when you click that button.
Let’s give that a shot. We’ll find the hospitals and click this one and do a real quick search. I’ll click search Google, and what we want it to do is pass this name into Google search, Monterey Park Hospital, and there it is!
Let’s do another one, this for that was just for the hospital’s layer. We could also have feature actions for all layers. Let’s say we want to be able to get some directions. So, ‘Get Directions,’ and open the URL again. Now, we’re going to have a little bit of a longer URL, but it’s the same idea. So, Google Maps, again were going to pass it in location, this time were passing in the user’s location. So, ‘Location.Geolocation’ is the current user’s location, and the ‘destination’ will be feature.
This is going to get us directions from my current location to wherever the feature is. We’re going to use this ‘Location.Feature.Latitude,’ so that’s going to be the location of the feature that we click on.
I’ll save that and refresh again. When I click on the feature, then I’ll click ‘Get Directions,’ and there you go! There are the directions from my office here in Victoria, BC all the way down to Los Angeles, where that feature is located.
There are four examples on how you can use the open URL command to launch other apps and get a website or be at another native application installed on your computer and how you can pass contextual map parameters, contextual feature parameters, location parameters and attribute values to that app.
Moving on to the second part now which is how we can handle incoming URLs.
The easiest thing to do right is that we can just launch Geocortex Go. If you’ve got Go installed, you can just use GXM dash go, click that, and it’s going to launch Go.
Next up, let’s say we want to launch a particular app. The easiest way to do this, is we can actually go over here under ‘Deploy,’ and you can go ‘Get Launch Link.’ This will actually just give you the URL to Go. So, you can put that into a browser, you can paste that in. You can copy it, or you can actually just click the button and now it’s launched that out within Go. If Go is closed, that’s ok, it will still launch that app.
Let’s do something a little bit more interesting. Let’s say that you want to run a workflow. If you want to do something interesting, that’s the way you do it is that you run workflows from the launch link. To do that we’re going to have to come in here to ‘Launch Link Workflows’, this is basically telling the app that it’s ok to run this particular workflow from the launch of the application.
I have a workflow created it’s called, ‘Workflow Argument Inputs’ – this is one I’ve already created. What I can do is that I can go to ‘Deploy,’ and now this time when I do ‘Get Launch Link,’ I can actually select that workflow and it’s going to populate this URL for me.
Let’s give that a try. The parameters are right – it’s got the app, it has the item ID in Portal or ArcGIS Online, and it’s got the workflow’s item ID.
There you go! What it has done here is that it has launched this app with this workflow, and its done this display form, there’s not much interesting going on there in terms of parameters, but we will fill that in.
Taking a look at the workflow, what we can see is that it’s using this activity ‘Get Workflow Inputs.’ You can find that over here in the toolbox, I’ve already added it, but it’s right there. Once you’ve got the workflow inputs, then in this example what I’m doing is that I’m doing a display form. On load of the forum, then I’m doing a ‘Set Form Element Property,’ and I’m going to set the element to ‘text2’, which is this one. I’m going to set its value to be ‘arg1’, then it’s going to be ‘getWorkflowInputs’ result. So, these are going to be the URL parameters that you are able to pass in. From this, I can see that I am able to pass in an ‘arg1’ and an ‘arg2’.
Going back here, I copy this and put into the browser, it’s saying I can put ‘arg1’ and ‘arg2’. There’s this workflow parameter, and I can fill that in with ‘arg1’, ‘hello’, and ‘arg2’, ‘jeff’. I’ll watch that and there we go – arg1 is ‘hello’ and arg2 is ‘jeff.’
It’s a fairly simple example, but what is showing you here is just kind of the basics of how you would be able to take workflow argument inputs from the URL and be able to get them in Geocortex Workflow and then going to be able to do whatever you want within Geocortex Workflow using those parameters.
An example of this might be that you have kind of like a feature with maybe a record ID in another system and you want to be able to open that feature on the map in Geocortex Mobile, so you’d be able to formulate a URL that includes passing in the record ID, or the asset ID of a feature in your system and then being able to query that and do something useful with it.
That basically wraps up the topic of integrating apps with Geocortex Mobile.
To recap, you can have Geocortex Mobile open other apps based on your URLs and you can have other apps open to Geocortex Mobile also using URLs and there’s a lot of power and flexibility there in terms of how you construct those URLs, what parameters you pass in and using Geocortex Workflow to be able to customize that process.
All-in-all that should be a very robust toolset in terms of being able to integrate your apps with Geocortex Mobile.
Thank you very much!”
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