Mobile wars 1: Cross platform mobile


The world has gone mobile. Workers are logging-on to the corporate network through handheld devices and finalising business deals on the move.

Everything – in short – is changing very quickly, but not as quickly as it could be.

The explanation for such lethargy is a lack of standards. So, your firm has a great idea for a new business application? Great, but which platform do you want the application to run on?

That probably sounds like a question of mixed priorities – surely it would be better to design the application first and then think about the operating system (or systems) you want to use? After all, business priorities – and user preferences – change as quickly as technology develops.

Unfortunately, a lack of mobile development standards mean you will probably have to start your design with a decision on the operating system. If you want a mobile application, you have to write the code in different technologies for different operating systems on separate devices, such as for the Apple iPhone, RIM’s BlackBerry, Java/Symbian and Windows-powered phones.

In short, developers are expected to design once and write many, many times – a method of mobile development that is simply not viable. More to the point, the plethora of mobile standards is actually crazy.

Only a fool would want to keep working on the same piece of software over and over again. Writing multiple versions of the same app is timely, costly and wasteful. It prevents business from moving on to the next idea; it prevents firms from being innovative.

What your business needs is a method for development that creates standardisation and allows IT professionals to write an application once and then publish it many times for different operating systems. So, where is that alternative?

Step forwards Rhomobile, an open-source Ruby-based mobile development framework for business software. Instead of relying on proprietary languages, Rhomobile’s Rhodes framework makes use of HTML. It take a Model driven Approach to development: write once in HTML and publish many times to individual platform standards.

The result is portability and the encouragement of development across multiple mobile operating systems, from Google Android to Symbian. It is an approach that must be encouraged.

Writing once and publishing many times will help businesses to drive down costs and release applications at greater speed. The result will be quicker innovation that provides real business benefits for end-users.

If you think the pace of change is fast now, wait until we’ve sorted out the mobile development standards.

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