|By Mike Jacobs||
|March 17, 2011 03:00 PM EDT||
Which mobile device should I target for my application? That's one of the first questions you need to answer as a mobile developer. You might select the device based on personal preference or what looks cool today. The problem is that mobile technology choices are diverse and evolving quickly. The tools and languages used to develop native applications vary wildly and you probably cannot afford to learn them all. Chances are you want to find a way to replicate your application across multiple devices while minimizing your investment. How can that be done?
Hybrid Is More than a Green Decision
Figure 1 - This diagram depicts the major differences between mulitple native and hybrid application development
Sencha Touch Is My Cup of Tea
The Sencha company logo is a green leaf, presumably because sencha is a Japanese whole leaf green tea. I am an ardent coffee drinker but I really like this tea. Sencha is perhaps best known for their Ext JS and Ext GWT libraries. Sencha Touch is their latest library released late in 2010. There are several similar libraries in various stages of development, but Sencha was one of the first to market and I am working on commercial products that depend on released libraries. The first release includes support for Android and Apple iOS devices. Reading the tea leaves promises future support for Blackberry 6 and Blackberry Torch. The library is open source and supports a dual license approach making it appropriate for commercial use. The library includes:
- Robust data integration including access to AJAX, JSONP, or YQL and local storage
- Large library of user interface elements many of which automatically bind to the data objects
- Advanced native look-and-feel styling, animation and branding capabilities
- Model, View, Controller (MVC) support to put it all together
Figure 2 - Example Sencha Touch application running on Apple iPhones
My First Sips of Sencha
I started using Sench Touch in the Summer of 2010 while it was in beta. I had the typical beta experience of incomplete documentation, a few bugs and changing API. Over the frequent updates, the documentation improved and examples were updated to align with the latest API. Throughout the beta and after the production release, I worked on my application. My application successfully used local storage, tree and carousal navigation, animated transitions, custom search features and selective user updates to content. The plan is to deploy on Apple iOS devices first with the need for possibly many different branding themes.
I found it quite easy to define enities and storage objects with the data integration features. The storage objects were extensible enough to add custom search features. The user interface elements often took some experimentation and reverse engineering to fill in the gaps of light documentation. I had to become familiar with the inspection and debugging features of Chrome and Safari to ultimately answer many questions. There are still a few inconsistencies in how user interface element templates are used but overall, the library is quite complete. One of the most powerful user interface features is the branding support.
The branding support in Sencha uses Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets (SASS). SASS is a scripting language that describes how to generate cascading stylesheets. Need to change your corporate color across all user interface elements? Change it in one place and regenerate your native look-and-feel stylesheet. Sencha Touch ships with a full library of SASS scripts that you can easily extend to meet your branding needs. This approach also encodes images into the stylesheet to reduce the number of files to deploy. I was able to extend the SASS to specify branding color selections, omit unused user interface elements and specify the needed icons.
Figure 3 - You can also write applications for the Apple iPad
This is Only a Test
- Continuous integration
- Multiple browser testing
- Event testing
- Mock objects
- Organization of tests (e.g. suites)
- Code coverage reports
Figure 4 - A unit testing console for displaying progress and results
- Start the Selenium RC server
- Specify the regression test HTML files
- Specify the browsers to run the regression
- Run the tests
- Collect and report the success or failure of the tests
- Optionally create coverage reports
- Shutdown the Selenium RC server
PhoneGap also provides console integration with desktop debuggers, support for six platforms and integrated development environment (IDE) project templates. You must have your target platform SDK installed to use PhoneGap. Since my project is targeting Apple iOS, that means a Mac running the Xcode IDE and the iOS SDK. After downloading and installing the IDE, SDK and PhoneGap, a new project template was available. I created a new PhoneGap project and the template created all the native programs, build targets and default properties and images for me. I copied the application build results into the Xcode project, pressed Build and Run and the application was running in the phone simulator. It was that simple. No Objective-C to learn or write with less than a day from install to running.
Gaps with PhoneGap
Despite the trivial effort to get the application running on the simulator, there were three minor gaps to address:
- The default target is iPhones. This means the application would start up and run on an iPad with the dimensions of a phone (with the 2x option). Sencha Touch reported the platform as a phone even when running on the actual iPad device. Ideally, the default would be what Apple calls a Universal App that runs on all devices and adjusts itself when running. After some research, I found that the solution was few mouse clicks away within Xcode.
- Orientation changes did not work. A Sencha Touch application can change the way it looks based on the orientation of the device. PhoneGap always reported the device orientation as portrait (0 degrees) even though Sencha Touch correctly reported the current orientation. The solution was a minor hack to monitor for the window resize event and inform Sencha Touch to do the right thing.
- Certain text was rendered as a link. Clicking on the link offered to add or update a contact. What was that all about? It turns out the default web view component in the iOS SDK attempts to find phone number and e-mail addresses and automatically makes them links to the appropriate app like contacts. Pretty cool if you want that behavior but does 001-999.9 look like a phone number? The solution was to add one line of Objective-C code in the PhoneGap generated code to turn this behavior off.
Live Long and Provision
In order to get your application running on an actual device you must go through a complex process Apple calls provisioning. There is a nice step by step procedure to get you through it all available on the Apple developer site. Now that I have my Sencha Touch application running on an iPad I see that performance work is needed. Now that automated build and test process is going to pay off. It is clear to me that a robust development cycle with this technology is possible and practical.
There are bound to be changes in the available libraries and supported devices in the coming months. Sencha Touch and PhoneGap is a powerful and easy to use combination that is ready now.
- Opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author and do not reflect those of my employer.
- iPhone image Courtesy of Apple
- Sencha Touch application images used with permission
- The Android logo is reproduced from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.
- Sencha: http://www.sencha.com/
- SASS: http://sass-lang.com/
- YUI Test Standalone Library: http://yuilibrary.com/yuitest/
- Selenium Remote Control: http://seleniumhq.org/projects/remote-control/
- Apache Ant: http://ant.apache.org/
- LCOV: http://ltp.sourceforge.net/coverage/lcov.php
- PhoneGap: http://www.phonegap.com/
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Oct. 4, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 367
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Oct. 3, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 347
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
Oct. 3, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 318
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
Oct. 3, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 562
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Oct. 3, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 644
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
Oct. 3, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 413
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Oct. 3, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 137
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless Thingies, will discuss and demonstrate how devices and humans can be integrated from a simple clust...
Oct. 3, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 583
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...
Oct. 3, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 391
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Oct. 3, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 312
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Oct. 3, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 490
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
Oct. 3, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 284
As enterprises capture more and more data of all types – structured, semi-structured, and unstructured – data discovery requirements for business intelligence (BI), Big Data, and predictive analytics initiatives grow more complex. A company’s ability to become data-driven and compete on analytics depends on the speed with which it can provision their analytics applications with all relevant information. The task of finding data has traditionally resided with IT, but now organizations increasingly turn towards data source discovery tools to find the right data, in context, for business users, d...
Oct. 3, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 307
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 150 developers, designers, quality assurance engineers, project manage...
Oct. 3, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 637
“The Internet of Things transforms the way organizations leverage machine data and gain insights from it,” noted Splunk’s CTO Snehal Antani, as Splunk announced accelerated momentum in Industrial Data and the IoT. The trend is driven by Splunk’s continued investment in its products and partner ecosystem as well as the creativity of customers and the flexibility to deploy Splunk IoT solutions as software, cloud services or in a hybrid environment. Customers are using Splunk® solutions to collect and correlate data from control systems, sensors, mobile devices and IT systems for a variety of Ind...
Oct. 3, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 535
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgeniakhela will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgeniakhela is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing ...
Oct. 2, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 532
Sensors and effectors of IoT are solving problems in new ways, but small businesses have been slow to join the quantified world. They’ll need information from IoT using applications as varied as the businesses themselves. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Meike, Distinguished Engineer, Director of Technology Innovation at Intuit, will show how IoT manufacturers can use open standards, public APIs and custom apps to enable the Quantified Small Business. He will use a Raspberry Pi to connect sensors to web services, and cloud integration to connect accounting and data, providing a Bluetooth...
Oct. 2, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 305
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Oct. 2, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 553
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
Oct. 1, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 395
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
Oct. 1, 2015 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 7,342