Based in The Netherlands, Keurix B.V. has built a PaaS for mobile inspection and maintenance of building constructions. Merce has been involved with this product right from the start. A team of five worked as an offshore development center of Keurix. This team has been responsible for the product architecture and design, choice of technology, development and operations for over five years.
Keurix is a mobile-first application with all the user interaction done on tablets. It is a multi-tenant cloud-based platform with white-labeling. Enterprises have their own sites with unique urls and branding. They define their own protocols (forms) which are used as part of their quality assurance process while constructing or maintaining large building sites.
High-resolution blueprints are linked to building sections. Inspectors can link any problems or shortcomings to the exact spot on the blueprint and also click and annotate photos in real-time allowing them to provide exact details. This allows the building contractors to fix the issues quickly and correctly and the inspectors to validate the same.
One important functionality is the ability to work completely offline. Many construction sites or parts of them do not have internet connectivity. Keurix allows users to download all the required information before they start work, do all their inspections offline and once they are connected again sync all their updates back to the server.
Another key feature is the ability for client representatives to conduct joint inspections for the purposes of a sign-off on completion of activity: both inspector and supervisor can put their digital signatures on each protocol document. These are automatically sent to the project management team which can include the clients. This functionality in Keurix has enabled our customers to link payments to completed activity and thus significantly improve cash flow.
Keurix had to run on iPads as well as Android tablets. One key and (at that time) risky choice was to use a cross-platform mobile development platform rather than build native apps. Such tools were not yet mainstream when we started. However we took the plunge so as to significantly reduce the cost of building native apps and allowing the savings to be invested in more features and for marketing purposes.
We decided on Adobe Phonegap because it used standard web technologies like HTML/JS/CSS and used Apache Cordova plugins where native functionality was needed. An innovation made possible by using Phonegap was to provide the entire functionality of the app within the browser using the same source code base. Thus users in the back-office could also use the identical app within their browser.
We used the PHP framework Laravel for REST API services that communicated with the app and also for the admin and reporting site. The server infrastructure is hosted on Amazon AWS. We used MySQL on Amazon’s RDS offering. These choices allowed Keurix to start with a smaller server configuration and rapidly scale both the server and database performance as usage grows.
- Our first version had to be delivered in a short six weeks over the Christmas period for a project starting in the New Year. We were able to get it working on time and after that rapidly iterate over the functionality changes required once we went live.
- We have released several major versions since we started. Our software design, testing and deployment methodology has allowed us to make these upgrades seamlessly with no major migration issues.
- Over five years we have been able to work with over 99.5% up time. Most of the issues we found dealt with backwardly-incompatible changes and obscure bugs in the iOS browser engines which only surfaced after Apple updates were available. These were quickly identified and resolved.