Industry voices: Reaching new technological heights

Deep within every crisis, there are opportunities. In 2020, the tech experts within Swiss AviationSoftware spent substantial time on evaluating, testing and ultimately selecting the future tech stack for its M&E software ‘AMOS’, says sales representative Chris Clements

[This article first appeared in MRO Management September 2021, which you can read in full here.]

AMOS is a comprehensive, fully-integrated MRO software solution, developed and distributed by Swiss AviationSoftware (Swiss-AS). Swiss-AS, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Swiss International Air Lines, has more than 190 customers worldwide and is one of the most well-respected MRO software providers. Our loyal customer base includes pure operators of all sizes, major low-cost, regional and flag carriers, large airline groups and MRO providers.

A long requirement list for the choice of a new frontend technology was defined, which included such criteria as:

  • How appealing and consistent is the UI (user interface)?
  • How much effort is it to implement and maintain the solution?
  • Which libraries are existing?
  • How flexible is the technology in supporting different operating systems including platforms like Fuchsia?
  • How adaptive is the solution regarding different device types?
  • Can the framework access camera, geolocation, fingerprint reader, a Bluetooth device? (to name just a few criteria that had to be adhered to)

Choosing the right platform for app development is paramount, and the right choice depends entirely on the nature of one’s business. The Flutter framework combines both state-of-the-art technology with the assurance of being future-proof. Cross-platform app development (over hybrid or native app development) has been selected as the best approach for AMOS. It allows developers to write code once and reuse it for different platforms with secure, stable and easy to maintain and iterate features.

With the cross-platform app development approach we will be able to equip the large AMOS community with apps that have all the advantages of native UX, that are easy to implement and are the product of cost-effective development.

A little over four years ago, the alpha version of the open-source framework Flutter was released by Google. Since that day, the world has seen Flutter as a framework grow into a massive community of millions of people. Dart is the programming language for Flutter, providing a UI toolkit for building beautiful, natively compiling mobile, web and desktop apps from a single codebase. Flutter is, basically, a software development kit (SDK) and is considered as one of the most efficient tools to build native apps in record time. The apps made with Flutter are adaptive to the hosting operating system (iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, MacOS, ChromeOS or Fuchsia) and flexible in regards to the deployment method: native apps or web deployment via PWA (progressive web apps).

With our tech selection the first screens of the new ‘AMOSmobile/STORES’ suite were developed with this new tech stack, which lived up to its promises. AMOSmobile/STORES is an optional module in the form of a mobile web application. It provides a user-friendly solution to allow store people to perform their daily operations within the store using a mobile device, without the need to use a PC or paper documents.

AMOS users will enjoy a completely new user experience due to material design language.

As the POC (proof of concept) phase of this pilot project has been successfully completed, the new front-end technology will also be rolled out to ‘AMOSmobile/EXEC’, our existing mobile suite for line and base maintenance management, delivering all of the potential of this new framework. The touch-optimised optional module, AMOSmobile/EXEC, is designed with the ultimate goal to enable the paperless execution of all line and base maintenance activities, eliminating tons of paper created in the process of documenting all maintenance steps.

The story does not stop here. We have already identified other high-priority areas where we will start to use this framework and programming language. Our long-term vision is to extend the deployment of Flutter/Dart over the entire functional set of AMOS, thereby ultimately replacing the current ‘AMOSdesktop’ technology.

The ultimate goal is to offer a holistic front-end out of a single code base providing an outstanding user experience on a variety of devices. It goes without saying that there will be a period of developing new apps with the new framework, while maintaining the existing apps in the current technological framework. To be able to grant the best possible user experience during that transition period, we are currently evaluating different bridge technologies that will allow us to bind the different tech stacks into a uniform user interface.

For Swiss-AS as a software supplier, the choice of a sustainable tech stack adding to our competitive edge is as important as adding new functions to AMOS to ensure the product’s longevity. One of the many testimonials published in the web summarises the use of Flutter from a developer perspective as follows: “We can build expressive UIs with the help of Flutter. It uses Material design for Android and Cupertino widgets for iOS. It has rich motion APIs and smooth natural scrolling. It has in-built feature to develop our application very fast with fully customisable widget.”

We believe in the long-term future of this tech stack and look forward to delighting our end-users with beautiful apps created in record time.

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