Mobile Application Development Platforms (MADPs) – Final

MADPWe’ve learned that PhoneGap is a true multi-platform MADP that works by creating a web to native abstraction layer or “bridge” in JavaScript. With one code base you can directly access the device’s native features. PhoneGap’s “write once, run everywhere” capability is really the formula that can save your organization significant time and money. With this in mind, let’s now turn to discuss another popular MADP which has gained considerable attention in recent years, known as Appcelerator.

 

Appcelerator Titanium

 

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Appcelerator’s Titanium platform is another open source innovative MADP that allows mobile developers to create native mobile applications using JavaScript. However, the core functionality of Appcelerator differs significantly from PhoneGap. Because of the way the Titanium API is setup, Appcelerator is only available for iOS, Android, and HTML5 at this time. It’s not a true “write once, run everywhere” solution to the extent that PhoneGap is. So let’s look under the hood to see how Appcelerator really works.

 

We already discussed how PhoneGap uses the UIWebview (or Webview) environment to communicate with the Native code of the device through a set of JavaScript calls. Titanium operates on a completely different principle. Titanium works by creating a native application from pure JavaScript. When the application is launched a JavaScript source code is created and injected inline into the Native environment and paired with Native objects there (much like JavaScript is injected into HTML5). The Titanium API is written in Objective C for iOS platforms and Java for Android and so it is able to function as a “bridge” and translate the Javascript source code to Native code at runtime to provide direct access to the device’s native features. Using Appcelerator means that you’re essentially writing a Native application with JavaScript and the Titanium API. This is different than PhoneGap’s approach, which creates a web to native abstraction from the actual platform and device that you are targeting.

 

 

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Appcelerator offers two approaches to development within its environment. For those who wish to you get started with the open source community version of Appcelerator, they can setup Titanium Studio. This guide provides instructions for downloading and installing the Titanium platform and third-party SDKs and tools, and creating a simple project. For those who prefer to use command-line tools for development within the Titanium SDK, instructions are available for that as well.

 

The other option is to download the enterprise version of Appcelerator Titanium, known as the Appcelerator Platform, which can be kicked off here. This environment offers the following set of integrated services:

 

  • Appcelerator Studio: the development environment, powered by the Titanium SDK, where you create and develop your mobile apps.
  • Appcelerator Dashboard: a web portal used to monitor mobile app heath and usage.
  • Appcelerator Services: monitiors performance management, automated testing and analytics, which are enabled through Appcelerator Studio and monitored in the Appcelerator Dashboard.

 

 

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The Takeaways on Appcelerator

 

In essence, what you’re getting with Appcelerator are the following features:

 

  • A solution that allows you to create Native mobile apps on Android or iOS without having to learn to program code individually for each platform.
  • A rich user experience and increased performance (based on how Titanium translates Javascript to native code at run-time to access native controls and device functionality directly).
  • A fully integrated enterprise platform that provides a 360 degree view of your mobile environment through performance, analytics, and testing options.
  • Access to a sizeable user community, consisting at last count of 527,000 developers with more than 63,000 deployed apps on more than 180 million devices.

 

We’ve explored the MADP landscape so far by examining PhoneGap and Appcelerator as two of the major players in this market. In our final segment we’re going to round out our discussion on this subject by looking at Kony, an integrated cloud-based mobile app platform that has recently gained attention as a leader among MADP players.

 

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