|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/
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 13, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 251
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Feb. 13, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 140
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
Feb. 13, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 277
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 13, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 469
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
Feb. 13, 2016 12:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 13, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 470
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 13, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 442
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Feb. 13, 2016 11:45 AM EST Reads: 271
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 13, 2016 11:30 AM EST Reads: 154
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
Feb. 13, 2016 11:30 AM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
Feb. 13, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 148
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
Feb. 13, 2016 11:00 AM EST
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
Feb. 13, 2016 11:00 AM EST
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
Feb. 13, 2016 10:00 AM EST
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 13, 2016 09:45 AM EST Reads: 231
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
Feb. 13, 2016 05:00 AM EST
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 13, 2016 04:45 AM EST Reads: 472
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 13, 2016 03:45 AM EST Reads: 251
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
Feb. 12, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 141
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 12, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 426