Analytics for Human Information: Keyview Android

Dear Friends,

 

You may remember from my last blog entry that I wanted to use this space to tell you more about the outcomes of the hack-a-thons we’ve been running. To recap, we are running some hack-a-thons around our core HP IDOL product, and the focus is creating data-driven applications. One day duration and the sky is the limit.

 

In looking through the outcomes, I must say I was spoilt for choice. It’s one of those enviable moments where you have the luxury of having options and they are all great! Anyhow, this particular case caught my eye because it’s so incredibly clear how the end user gets value, and it struck me as genius. This hack-a-thon example gives me the opportunity to explain another part of our technology stack: HP KeyView.

 

 Fernando2.jpg

 

The Challenge

 

Files. We don’t think much about them but we use them all the time and they come in endless flavours. Generally, they are proprietary and tied to the application that they were created with, for example word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation formats. This includes rich media files and files embedded within files, such as email attachments or embedded OLE objects.

 

The solution: HP KeyView

 

HP KeyView has two sides. On one hand, it’s an SDK whose job it is to take files and give you back the text, metadata, and other relevant properties from those files (although this is somewhat of a simplification of the problem). Let’s just say that extracting this stuff from just one or two file formats is tough. One has to deal with every eventuality, from standard metadata (e.g., author, dates, etc.) to customer created metadata and the many exceptions that exists in the software world. Then, to get this right, one has to maintain the proprietary application that created the file, which is moving on from version to version (think MS Office 2010 to 2013). So imagine doing this for over 1000 file formats, when you have customers that operate in some of the most challenging environments in forensic investigation and other similar areas.

 

Good news for the app developer

 

An advantage for developers, HP Keyview’s second side allows you to take the same files we discussed above and produce a facsimile of it—but in HTML rather that its original proprietary format. You can create a high fidelity version of the file that can be opened in any browser because it’s in the language of the Internet. It looks like the original in format, fonts, pictures, etc., but you don’t have to have the application that created it to open it.

 

Now that we have a baseline understanding, back to the hack-a-thon.

 

I asked the chap that created the application to write me a couple of paragraphs and I’m going to copy it here almost wholesale. Who better to tell the story than the man himself? Here goes…

 

One of the great things about having a Smart Phone or Tablet is being able to view documents on-the-move.  If someone emails me a document, I don't have to sit at a desk reading it, I can read it on the bus or the train, or as I sit back in a comfortable chair. Provided, of course, that I have an app installed that can read the type of file I've been sent.  If I don't, then a little message flashes up on the screen saying "Can't open file.”  When that happens, I'll have to head off to the Play Store or the iPhone store to hunt for something that can cope with the file I want to read.  An app for PDF files, an app for MS Office documents, and what do I use to view that obscure file format X?

 

So using HP Keyview, I set out to write a single Android app that could view ‘N’ file formats. I did this using the “Near Native View” function. This takes a file and produces an HTML rendering of it. Then, all my app has to do is upload a file and load the resulting HTML into a WebView. The file could come from anywhere, but for my app I created an intent filter that informs the Android OS that the app can be used to view any type of file.  That way if I tap a file in an email or in my list of downloaded files, my new app is given as an option for viewing it.

 

The same functionality could be used by any Android app; just upload the file and get the HTML back. Writing an app to let users access your company’s document management system?  Let them view any file without needing specific viewers for each type.

 

I personally can see almost all businesses and individuals that create any form of application that deals with communicating or exchanging information needing this to allow seamless communication. It doesn’t matter what I send you—you can interpret it!

 

Genius!

 

As HP Discover draws nearer, I will share with you more of these amazing use cases from our very own development team. I will also tell you a little more about how many of you can play a part in this exciting evolution of the application creation world.

 

More to come!

 

#HPAHIB

 

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About the Author
Fernando Lucini has been with Autonomy since 2000 and serves as Chief Technology Officer. As Chief Technology Officer, based at Autonomy’s h...
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