26-03-2012

Integrating Peecho’s Cloud Print Button into your mobile app

Peecho’s
Cloud Print Button
makes it easy to turn digital content into
professionally printed products like photo books and magazines. It’s not
hard to add the button to your website and get
started selling prints
. But what about mobile? In this article, Willem
Vermeer,
our Senior Java Engineer and founder of our partner company MobPri,
will elaborate on how you can leverage the Cloud Print Button in a
mobile environment.

Deciding which technical approach works best for you


Mobile developers are still
debating
what the best technical approach is for developing a mobile
app. Possibilities range from optimizing an HTML5/javascript
web-solution for mobile use, to programming in the native language of
the devices themselves. Solutions that bridge the gap between these
options, such as Phonegap
or Appcelerator
Titanium
, are also widely used in the industry. At MobPri, we have
chosen for native development for Android devices because we believe
this is the best way to achieve optimal user experiences. However,
Peecho’s Cloud Print Button can be added to your app using either one of
these approaches.

Adding the Cloud Print Button to an HTML WebView within the Android app


There are a few things to consider if you choose to add the Cloud Print
Button to an HTML webview within your app. This is basically the same as
adding the Cloud Print Button to a website. First, you need to know the
characteristics of the document or image you’d like to print. Then, you
can add an HTML snippet inside a WebView in one of your Android
activities and you’re in business. The button can be styled using your
own CSS and therefore it can seamlessly fit into the design of our app.
Surely this is the easiest and quickest way to accomplish the
integration. You don’t need to worry about APIs or other complex
integration tasks and can focus on designing the remainder of your app –
for instance, leading your customer through the creation of some form of
digital content using the photos stored on their mobile device.

However, choosing this simple integration strategy has its
disadvantages. When users click on the Cloud Print Button, they exit
your mobile app and enter Peecho’s Checkout process- which in itself is
not a bad thing- but it is a pre-defined process beyond your scope of
control. If this presents a problem for your specific purpose, you’ll
need to establish an integration at a deeper level. Luckily, Peecho
provides you with the means to do so!

Native Integration of Peecho’s Cloud Print Button


The technical architecture of Peecho’s Cloud Print Button enables you to
set up a native integration of the checkout process into your mobile
app. This is best explained with an example. Suppose you want to develop
an app which allows users to select a PDF from their mobile device and
have it printed and delivered to a certain address. Let’s assume that
the user knows the number of pages and the dimensions of the PDF.
Knowing the document’s characteristics, you can invoke Peecho’s checkout
API and ask the API to suggest a list of matching print products. Users
select the print product (hardcover, glossy paper, etc.) of their liking
and are subsequently presented with a (native) form to fill out their
address details. Since you’re building a native app, you can use the
Contacts API to let the user select an address from their contacts
database. Peecho’s checkout API is built in such a way that the
information you’re collecting during this process is added to a
temporary order using a simple JSON data flow. Having done this, you
present your users with a confirmation page and proceed to the payment
page.

After a successful payment, you can thank your customers for their order
and invite them to share their Peecho experience with their friends on
social media.

This approach allows you to remain in control of your own app, collect
and store data incrementally in Peecho’s checkout and use as many native
APIs as you like while presenting them in a consistent design. At
MobPri, we have implemented this example using native Android code in
the PdfPrint
app
, which is now available on Google Play. Alternatively, the same
level of integration could have been attained using Titanium
Appcelerator. In fact, this would probably be easier for the programmer
because Titanium Mobile apps are written in JavaScript, which has better
out of the box JSON support when compared to Android. This would greatly
simplify the behind-the-scenes JSON communication between the mobile app
and the Peecho checkout.

Which approach would work best for you? Share your thoughts with us in
the comments and contact us if
you’d like more information about integrating your app with Peecho’s API.

Jolien

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