To better serve the growing number of garden enthusiasts, DCM (De Ceuster Meststoffen NV) wanted to offer a supporting mobile app. After all, they are known for providing advice to gardening professionals and are happy to share their knowledge with home gardeners too. In the past, this was only possible in the shop or online, but now, the time is ripe for more mobile advice.
DCM and 3factr have joined forces to develop DCM Garden: a mobile app that guides the plant lover through all stages of care, from garden to greenhouse and from winter to summer.
DCM has long toyed with the idea of a virtual garden assistant to help the home gardener care of his plants. Development has followed along with technological evolutions, taking on different forms over the years. In 2004, it was a garden advice computer programme, and today they offer both a web and mobile application. For the development of this mobile app, DCM turned to 3factr.
“The garden advice must be accessible everywhere to give the gardener access to all the information, even while they are in the garden or greenhouse. This is why the mobility and user-friendliness of the app were top priorities. Based on various factors entered by the home gardener, the app creates a personalized plant profile with personal care advice – from fertilization and watering to replanting, you have care advice for your garden or greenhouse all year round.” – Jan Dever, online marketing manager, DCM.
How was the mobile app with advice of this kind created, and what role did 3factr play in this? Continue reading to learn more!
DCM has specialized in organic fertilizers and tailored advice on all aspects of garden care since 1966. Their products are widely available in specialized garden shops, such as AVEVE and Horta, but can also be purchased through their webshop. In addition to this webshop and an extensive website with information, DCM also already offers a web application with care advice. Now, they are launching a mobile app.
In the past, the home gardener took a soil sample to a garden centre to have the acidity and nutrient levels calculated on the spot. Based on these measurements, they received maintenance and product advice for the plants. DCM Garden takes this a step further. As a garden enthusiast, you can add extra information to the app, in addition to the analysis data you get at the garden centre. The advice the new app generates considers precipitation, temperature, soil type, season and much more. Based on this, the gardener receives a detailed step-by-step plan with care advice for his new or existing plant. The recommendations are very specific for each particular plant and environment as well as being tailored to the season. The personal plant profile is always just a few presses away, all year round. With a few sensors in the garden, the gardener receives even more detailed advice, and the garden flourishes like never before.
The app was developed in such a way that DCM’s in-house IT team provides the back-end system and API that are used to generate the necessary data. 3factr is responsible for the design and app development, using the cross-platform development tool Xamarin.
3factr based the design on the main colours of the DCM logo: light and dark green. The style is both functional and carefully crafted, with the graphic support of some recognizable symbols to optimize user-friendliness.
Once the design was complete, we started developing the app in Xamarin. This choice is one DCM thought long and hard about and was taken because they want to be able to respond quickly when a new version of a mobile operating system is released to the market. After all, with Xamarin, you can develop applications for both iOS and Android with a single programming language (C#). The benefit? Less work and a streamlined version that works as efficiently as a native application on all devices and operating systems.
Who better than our Xamarin specialists of the 3factr team to get the job done?
In the background, our app communicates with DCM’s API, which collects information and data from various platforms and sends it to the app. This includes data such as soil types, weather forecasts, geographical location and more. The returned data is naturally based on the choices the gardener makes as he proceeds through the app.
The web application, developed by DCM in-house, is based on the mobile app and synchronizes with it. This communication between the mobile and web applications enables you to consult your plant profile anywhere, anytime, with a single account.
“The collaboration with 3factr is smooth and congenial. Our in-house IT department mainly has API and back-end knowledge, but little experience developing mobile apps, so we turned to 3factr, because that’s their core business. Thanks to the good, positive communication between the two teams, the work is well synchronized and questions quickly answered.” – Jan Dever, online marketing manager, DCM.
Thanks to a shared Slack channel and Trello account, communication concerning new updates is very smooth and everyone can see how the process is progressing at a glance.
“In time, we want to integrate even more elements, such as soil expert maps and sowing, flowering and harvesting periods. What’s more, in the future we plan to integrate the webshop so that private individuals can purchase fertilizers, insect repellents and other products directly from DCM. That way the app will become a true source of garden intelligence that fully assists home gardeners in maintaining their garden. When the time comes, we will certainly call on 3factr to contribute again!” – Jan Dever, online marketing manager, DCM.