Capturing orders into Openbravo POS using a tablet


A tablet has two important advantages over a laptop/desktop: portability and instant-on (although apparently this is also available on a desktop platform now). These allow you to jump straight into a task the moment you have in mind to do it, wherever you are. That goes well with an order capturing use case. The person tasked to do the order entry is no longer bound to a desk and is free to perform other tasks that require him/her to move about.

Now, to integrate tablet order entry with the Openbravo POS system, there are two ways to go about it:

1. Use a remote desktop app to connect to a desktop that is running Openbravo POS. One simply needs to install the remote desktop app and point it to the desktop. The downside is that the desktop becomes occupied even though no one is physically using it. It means every tablet that is used concurrently requires a matching desktop, whether physical or virtual. Also, a connection is required and the tablet cannot perform offline order entry.

2. Create an app for order entry. This overcomes all the short-comings of the first method.

In my case, a nice way to integrate the tablet app with Openbravo POS is to make use of the program i have previously developed for importing orders exported from Ubercart, whereby an EDI file is generated and sent to an email account and later imported from there. All i needed to do was to send the order data captured from the app in the same EDI format to the same email account.

This being my first foray into Android development, it actually turned out to be easier than thought. The app was completed in about a week. What really helped was the vast amount of resources (especially from stackoverflow) whereby every question that i needed to ask while undertaking this project was already posted, with answers provided. Kudos also to bloggers who posted their source code complete with all the project files. I was able to piece together code from two different projects to get into a really good head start. Not forgetting to mention also, the recently released Intel Atom based Android emulator that runs way faster than the ARM based emulators and made app testing bearable. What remains now is a real tablet to run my app!

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