DuPont Diagnostics Takes Test Results Mobile with Xamarin
DuPont Diagnostics, located in Wilmington, Delaware, provides innovative, science-based microbial detection and monitoring solutions for the food industry. These products are used by food processors, contract laboratories, and government agencies worldwide to help reduce the impact of pathogens, such as Salmonella, E. coli or Listeria, and other unwanted organisms in raw ingredients, finished products, and manufacturing environments.
The most well-known solution available from DuPont Diagnostics is the award-winning DuPont™ BAX® System, the first automated pathogen detection system to use PCR technology in the commercial food industry. The BAX® System instrument not only amplifies bacterial DNA, but also automatically detects the presence or absence of the target pathogen to provide clear yes-or-no results in an electronic format that require no advanced interpretation.
Taking Food Safety Test Data Mobile
Once a BAX® System test is completed, the instrument generates a flat file, which is typically sent around to employees for analysis on a desktop application. Unfortunately, this meant that if salespeople or technicians wanted to access a file to verify a potential contaminated lot, they would have to wait until they could get to a computer, resulting in several hours of delay in getting back to a customer about a potentially critical issue.
In order to facilitate more responsive customer service and faster response times, the company decided to develop a mobile application that would enable personnel to access test results anywhere, whether on the road at a customer location or after hours working from home.
While DuPont is a very large company, the Systems Development Group inside the DuPont Diagnostics is a small team. Jeffrey Rohrbeck, Systems Development Group Manager, was the sole developer responsible for the project, which meant maximum efficiency was paramount to achieving the project’s goals.
Getting Ahead with Expert Xamarin Training
Once Rohrbeck decided to use Xamarin, he signed up for both Xamarin Evolve, the largest cross-platform development event in the world, and Xamarin University. This two-pronged approach helped him rapidly gain the expertise he needed to develop a high-quality application.
“I came to Xamarin Evolve with a bunch of ideas and questions and I was able to get very specific feedback straight from the source,” says Rohrbeck. “I found the experts at Xamarin to be very accessible.”
Rapid, Flexible Cross-Platform Development with Xamarin
Within DuPont Diagnostics, the sales team and customer service representatives primarily use iPhones and the iOS platform for customer communications. This made targeting iOS the obvious first choice. However, instead of developing directly in iOS, the company chose to use Xamarin for two key reasons.
“We’re a Visual Studio shop,” says Rohrbeck. “We use C++ and C# to develop our applications, and we wanted to be able to reuse that expertise rather than learning an entirely new approach to coding.”
Additionally, the company wanted the flexibility to adapt the application to future uses inside and outside of the company, which is a choice that has proven to be strategically wise. In order to streamline development even further and prepare for potential cross-platform opportunities in the future, the company opted to use Xamarin.Forms, which enables developers to build native UIs for iOS, Android, and Windows from a single, shared C# codebase.
Reusing Desktop Code for Greater Mobile Productivity
The BAX® System desktop application was written in C#, the same language used to create native Xamarin applications across mobile platforms. This allowed Rohrbeck to reuse a significant amount of code from the existing tool, saving valuable time and effort.
Reusing desktop code not only saved development time, it also supported the creation of a familiar user experience. “Because we modeled the mobile user experience on the existing desktop application, it made it easy for people to use the tool right away,” says Rohrbeck.
Building the application to accommodate a multi-platform approach has allowed it to have significant potential to deliver value beyond its initial internal deployment. “The response to our mobile app has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Rohrbeck. “Every customer who has seen it says, ‘I want that, too,’ so now there’s a move to get this out to the public.” As a result, company is exploring the possibility of an Android version of the application and may leverage Xamarin Test Cloud to affordably and easily test the multitude of Android devices on the market.
A Reliable, Trustworthy Solution
Overall, Rohrbeck has found that Xamarin has delivered on his initial expectations and beyond. “It’s really nice to find a platform that does exactly what it says it does. I was incredibly impressed with how easy it was to create high-quality software using Xamarin and Xamarin.Forms, and equally happy with the level of support I’ve gotten along the way.”