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The context:

A native app that went through a complete life-cycle.

The Problem:

Recently, on one of the calls with client, it was revealed that this native app will also be used as an iframe in 30 third-party applications. All of the applications have a different UI. The iframe width & height will be controlled by the third-party application owners. Also, brand elements will be different for all 30 apps; however, the native app has to maintain its own brand consistency.

Ask:

Well, ask is simply: what to do next?

  • Design for each of the third-party apps? (More time & money)
  • Create a consolidated plan after evaluating all 30 apps? (Focus of least amount of effort needed during integration)

Any thoughts or suggestions?

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I don't have an easy answer for this. It sounds like a web application to me, and I hope your chosen framework will allow you to set and change skins without touching the logic of your native application.

Do you have a way to tell the page which company it's displaying it for? The first thing that comes to mind is you must pass a query parameter to this page, like mysite.com/nativeApp.extension?companyId=12345.

Based on the companyId, you will select a skin for your app "to wear", and you would save company and skin name in your persistent storage (most likely database).

You would then create a skin file for each company. A skin file would be an html-like file - with valid html tags and all the graphics you want, but it will also have placeholders for all the UI elements that the app needs to have. This way, you can arrange the UI freely.

As for your main application, its html markup will NOT be for laying out the page. It will only define WHAT UI needs to be there, NOT how to position them.


Just in case you're using ASP.net Web Forms, look into Master Pages, especially how to set a page's master page ("to wear") programmatically. You will have a master page for each client, and your main application page will have a bunch of content place holders. Those master pages will position your content for you, graphics and color schemes.

  • Thank you Mickael! This really helped. App is built with GWT Yes, there is a way to tell what company it is displaying for. I looked at master pages and shared it with the team. Once again, thank you for help. – Usman.A Feb 27 '14 at 16:38

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