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we have a b2b webshop, which we would like wholesalers to place orders even when there's no internet on their ipad and smart phones. Are there any ways to make this possible? I know a pure html & css website can work offline. but not sure if a databases based dynamic website can do the same.

our enviroment is

Linux Centos

Php

Mysql

  • Is this "just in case" the user loses internet access? Or a deliberate "work offline" mode? – MrWhite Oct 7 '14 at 9:03
  • not only just in case user loses internet access, but also when they are sitting in a meeting room where the internet access is unstable or doesn't have internet at all, but they still should be able to access the web application and place an order. and orders should be synchronized to our production server as soon as there's internet connection on their devices again. – Zhenyu Oct 7 '14 at 9:20
  • Are you talking about no network access at all?? – closetnoc Oct 7 '14 at 14:50
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    In theory you can use something like sqlite.org to make temporary deploy databases on client devices. Then when internet is available, a sync occurs. This would have many implications though such as customer login validate, no ability to make new account, checkout processes exploits, PCI invalidation, and inaccurate prices/stock if you change something live. A better bet may be the old school route of a "view only" sorta cached catalog then they can login to order up once they are back online. – dhaupin Oct 7 '14 at 15:33
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    HTML5 allows offline databases via websql. You have other options such as FileMaker Pro. And a simple solution is to submit an email form for processing since you need to validate stock availability anyway. – Sun Oct 9 '14 at 3:51
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This capability is very possible, however you could not achieve it with a website alone - to offer an offline-usable webshop service you would need to create a standalone mobile application for your target mobile/tablet operating systems (for example: iOS, Android), and then get those who would need the offline capability to install this app onto their device.

When embarking on the mobile app development project you would need to use the following user stories as a minimum functional requirement:

  • While offline (no Internet available):

    (a) The app would keep a stored copy of the entire product catalogue on the mobile device enabling the creating and editing of orders in full, but without stock quantity checking.

    (b) Orders could be committed/confirmed but then would essentially sit in a queue waiting to be submitted when the device is next online.

    (c) A copy of all existing submitted orders that are in progress would be kept stored on the device for easy/quick reference.

  • While online (connected to the Internet via WiFi or GPRS/3G/4G etc):

    (a) The app would download the latest incremental updates to the product catalogue to ensure it is up-to-date.

    (b) The app would download information about any existing in-progress orders associated with the user that may not currently be stored on the device, for example they may have been ordered over the phone or via the website.

    (c) For each completed order waiting in the queue to be submitted:

    • Check that any products chosen in each order still exist in the updated product catalogue, and if not mark that selected product as discontinued in the order, and notify the user with an alert or some kind so that they can make an alternative selection.

    • Check that sufficient stock is available for the product quantities selected, and if not mark that selected product as out-of-stock or limited-stock, and notify the user with an alert of some kind so that they can make an alternative selection.

    • Submit the order and mark the order as submitted, removing it from the queue.

    • Take payment for all orders awaiting payment if appropriate, depending on your business requirements this step might just involve sending a PDF invoice by email to the user with information about how to pay and the payment due date.

    (d) Check for any new messages that have been added by staff to existing orders and notify the user with an alert of some kind so that they can read the message and become aware of any delays or problems ASAP.

And in order for this to be possible the current webshop would need to undergo further development to include an API with which the mobile app could communicate.

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  • very well structured solution. But is the App really necessary to make the offline feature possible? I've done a lot researches recently, and what I found out so far, is HTML5 + WEBSQL (or SQlite) will make an website working offline. Is there anything I've missed in my research? – Zhenyu Nov 13 '14 at 10:04
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    Technically HTML5 + WEBSQL will make a webpage with local data storage work offline, but in order for it to be on a mobile device and run while offline it will need to be packaged into a mobile app using a tool such as PhoneGap, Cordova, Intel XDE, Appcelerator Titantium etc. This is the only way for offline capability. Devices cannot access your website/domain while offline. – richhallstoke Nov 13 '14 at 10:18

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