How the App Designer Works

As part of our series of articles which familiarise on the App Designer, we explain how the App Designer works.

Installation & Use

  • The App Designer is installed on a Windows PC, within the Customer's IT environment.  
  • We make it available for download.  Usually undertaken by your IT team, on your behalf.
  • The App Designer communicates with the PoliceBox/Quvo SaaS platform, access is achieved primarily via the user's login credentials. 

  • While the App Designer communicates during the act of login, the platform will tell the App Designer which Connectors (including API services) are available.
  • Connectors will appear in the App Designer so they can be added to any business process, using the Drag & Drop mechanism, allowing:
    • data collected within the Client App to be exported to multiple back-end systems simultaneously, and,
    • the Client App to perform (federated) searching of multiple back-end systems simultaneously.

Network Security

  • Click here to see how we ensure that network communications are secured.

Least Privilege & Access Controls

  • The User will be able to login to the App Designer, assuming they have at least one of the two privileges associated with business process design.
    • Designers - Users that will design business processes
    • Publishers - Users that will check business processes put together by a Designer, perform as per the business process requirements.  
  • The Publisher can check to ensure that data is not being sent to unauthorised people or systems.
  • It is possible for Customers to combine the two privileges and allocate them to their staff, assuming there is sufficient trust for staff to have both privileges.

What is Configuration?

  • The combined set of all business processes and associated Client and System settings for the Customer for the given system i.e. Live / Test / Train.
  • It is machine readable so that it can be consumed by any part of the platform, whether for display on the Device (within the App) or to direct how completed Tasks are to be exported.

Login to the App Designer

Check out this video, which shows you how to login to the App Designer.

App Designer Logon

When you need to login to the App Designer, you will need a couple of pieces of information, which you should be able to obtain from your System Administrators, they are:

  • System Key - this will identify your system i.e. Live/Test/Train
  • Platform connection URL - where the App Designer goes to interact with the platform

You will then use your work logon credentials to access the App Designer.

Navigate around the App Designer?

To build configuration, you will need to learn how to navigate around the App Designer.  To see the screen like the image shown here, you will need to go to the 'File' menu and download the most recently published version.

To open items, usually a 'double-click' is needed.   Some components on the screen have helpful features which are hidden under a 'right-click'.

Explorer

This is where you can switch between different functions of the App Designer.  The functionality expands with each iteration of the platform.  Some of the features which the App Designer enables are:

Brand Designer Allows you to add your company's logo to the system so it will show on the landing screen in the Client App.  It allows you to put your own stamp on the platform.  
Server Application Settings Platform specific settings for you to tune.  Including SMTP server details.
Client Application Settings Tune the behaviour of the Client App.  Whether the users will receive 'push notifications'.  Push notifications are ideal if you are using the Tasking features of the platform.   You can also set the number of days that completed Tasks will remain available for retrospective reference (such as copy & paste) in the History screen within the Client App.
Data Dictionary Designer Manage the field definitions that will be used on your Task designs.
Form Categories Task designs are organised by category.  You can add your own icon to the category so that it shows up in the Client App to help Users navigate their way around. 
Form Designs

Where all the Task designs are located.  The Task design canvas allows you to drag & drop your field definitions into place.   You can use the properties panel to finalise the behaviour of the Task, including conditional logic.

Other tabs within the Form Design canvas allow you to drag & drop Export connections.  Allowing you to provide a federated search capability or even export data to multiple destinations simultaneously. 

Perhaps all collected information is needed in your records management system, but a specific document which needs to be emailed to a partner agency only needs a subset of that data.  

Linking more than one back-end system for searching and exporting allows your organisation to easily set up a 'parallel running' regime when it comes to replacement of back-end systems.

Tasking Designer

If you are using any of the Tasking features of the platform, this will let you set up aspects of User interactivity. 

Reasons for Rejecting and Abandoning Tasks by the User can be set up here.  User availability states can also be applied.  

When the User makes their availability state known, the event can be passed to back-end systems including control room (CAD) systems.

Template Documents Manage document templates for the Document export feature of the platform.  Even with the entry level edition of the platform, you can pull off some impressive results converting information collected by Users into document formats that your stakeholders are used to using.

Field Definitions List

This is the list down the left-hand side of the screen.  It is displayed when either of the following are being used:

  • Data Dictionary Designer
  • Task Designer

In the Data Dictionary Designer, the list is that of the actual field definitions.  Field definitions can be cloned for easy re-use/repurpose  In the Task Designer the field definitions list is made available so that you can drag & drop the field onto the design canvas.

The Field Definitions list comes with a search facility so that it is easy to find the field(s) you are interested in working with. 

Properties Window

The properties window will change to display the relevant properties for the item that is currently selected.  There are different properties when you have the Task design canvas selected versus that of having a Field definition selected after it has been dragged onto the canvas.

If there are no properties specific to the item being selected, then the properties window will appear blank. 

Task Design Canvas

When designing your Task, it is possible to order the field definitions to suit the way in which you want the User to collect the information specific to the business process. 

 Save Your Work.

 When you see an asterisk '*' symbol next to a Tab, it means that a change has been made to the configuration within that Tab.   It is important that you press the Save button when you've made changes and are switching between Tabs.  The Save icon with the multiple 'disk' symbols is the quick way to ensure that everything is being saved.

It is incredibly important that you press Save after making changes to the Data Dictionary.  Especially if you have created or amended a field definition and want to use it in a Task Design.   Field Definitions are not available until the Data Dictionary has been saved.

Note:  When you press Save, the changes are only made to the copy of the configuration on your PC.   Until you upload and publish your configuration, your work has no impact on the live running of the platform.   The Save process involves putting a copy of the configuration onto the disk of your PC.  This configuration is encrypted so you cannot open it except for within the App Designer.

Tabs - Data Dictionary, Task Designer, and others.

Tabs will display depending on which item is opened up from the Explorer.   The screen can get really busy with Tabs, especially if you are working on several Task designs, so it is a good idea to only open up Tabs when you need them and close them down.  Remember to Save your work as you go along.

Import Task Designs

If you know of an organisation using this platform, they may have developed a business process which you have on your roadmap, but have not yet implemented.   That organisation can send you a copy of their configuration, from which you can import the Task design(s) into your configuration.  

Simply follow the 'Import Forms' wizard which is available from the File menu.

Import List Values

It is really easy to edit values for field definitions that are derived from the  List data type.   These values are known as 'Data Dictionary Presets'.    If there already exists a (long?) list of values, those values can be imported from a spreadsheet using the 'Import Data Dictionary Presets' wizard which is available from the File menu.   Managing long lists of values is often easier in a spreadsheet application.

Publish Configuration

When you have built your Task designs, you will want to give them a test before allowing Users any access, although a group of 'champion' users can help you with trialling and refinement of business processes.  

In any case, it is necessary to upload and publish the configuration.  Upload and Publish options are available from the 'File' menu.



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