Rhomobile Launches New Version of Open-Source Smartphone App Framework
Developer Rhomobile has launched of Rhodes 2.0, an open-source, cross-platform smartphone application development framework. Key features include native mapping, faster sync, optimized native styling, and metadata framework. Better yet for smaller ISVs, it’s now available for free under the MIT license. Here’s the scoop.
The general idea behind Rhodes 2.0, according to the press release, is to build an app once and have it work natively on major smartphone platforms like the Apple iPhone, BlackBerry, Google Android, Microsoft Windows Mobile, and Symbian. The new features seem to be build around enhancing the cross-platform experience, making every app “feel” like it was designed for the platform it’s running on in addition to working like it.
In order: native mapping is designed to give iPhone-style annotated pushpins that link to external URLs to phones like Symbian and BlackBerry that otherwise don’t support them. Rhomobile says it’s as easy to implement as a call to the Rhodes MapView object.
RhoSync, the Rhomobile mobile synchronization system, is integrated with the Rhodes framework, which means developers can add what they call “true sync” to mobile applications. And now with the 2.0 release, it uses memory data caching to boost sync speed and keeping information accessible to even offline users, the company says.
Optimized native styling is what it sounds like — Rhodes-built applications coded in HTML and Ruby now better visually integrate with the mobile OS they’re running on, again improving the overall feel of the application.
Finally, the metadata framework is going to be of huge interest to software developers, since it lets applications communicate with backend enterprise systems with changing schemas. The example Rhomobile gives is of a CRM application that handles the backend server adding a field like “mobile phone number” to the definition of a contact in the system. On next sync, the new field with the new information would show up.
As I mentioned earlier, Rhodes 2.0 is completely free under the MIT license. If that sounds good to you, just be aware that Rhomobile makes its money from deployments of the RhoSync server, which starts at $10,000/app for 100 users, with that price doubling every time that userbase increases by tenfold. Alternatively, they offer RhoHub, a development environment delivered as a service with a hosted RhoSync server.
With all the hubbub around Adobe Flash on mobile devices, the time is right for an alternative cross-platform framework to throw its hat into the ring. But which way will enterprise mobile application developers jump?