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Access to open-source mobile app framework

Oct 30, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Access will contribute a mobile application platform to the open source community before year's end, it says. Its “Application Framework” for GTK+ aims to offer device developers specialized mechanisms for package installation, task-oriented application interoperation, and security policy definition and management. It will be released under the Mozilla Public License.

Additionally, security components of the Framework residing in the kernel will be released under the GPLv2, Access says.

Access says it developed the Framework specifically for mobile devices, after evaluating available open source alternatives. The company says that currently, “there is no open source solution available for commercial software in mobile and embedded devices.”

An application framework for devices

Mobile devices need their own application framework because their usage patterns differ from those of PCs or servers, according to Access. Mobile use is characterized by “short tasks interrupted by many events, such as receiving calls,” according to the company. Thus, the Framework aims to help developers “create applications that seamlessly blend within the device environment and the applications already installed,” according to the company.

The Framework appears to be aimed at facilitating task-oriented rather than application-oriented user interface design. “The user will take a picture and send it, rather than launch a camera application and spend a lot of time in it,” Access notes. Task-oriented usage patterns affect the way applications should be “represented and launched, how they inter-communicate, and what resources they require,” the company says.

Another Framework goal is to help prevent unauthorized application and phone service use, and unauthorized changes to critical system data.

Finally, the Framework appears aimed at helping to end the “fragmentation” of mobile Linux implementations to date, by providing an open-source application packaging and installation framework that, if widely adopted, would make it much easier for ISVs (independent software vendors) to support Linux-based phones and other devices. However, Access acknowledges that it will need to work closely with a number of standards bodies — including the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum and the Open Source Developers Labs (OSDL) — to “determine how they may adopt the Application Framework.”

According to Access, components of Framework include:

  • Bundle manager
  • Security policy framework (SPF)
  • Exchange manager
  • Notification manager
  • Application server
  • Attention manager
  • Alarm manager
  • Global settings services

The Framework is designed for use with GTK+ (GIMP toolkit), a popular graphics toolkit and widget set used in the Gnome desktop. GTK+ has also been successfully used in a number of mobile devices, notably Nokia's 770 Internet Tablet, Pepper Computing's PepperPad3, and the Purple Labs-designed Dreamphone.

Mike Kelley, executive officer and senior VP of product development at Access explains, “We created the Application Framework to ensure that applications can be well-integrated and securely managed, not just by us, but also by third party developers, operators, and all participants in the global mobile Linux ecosystem.”

Yves Maitre, VP of devices for Orange, stated, “Orange believes that Access' decision to open source the Application Framework will benefit the entire mobile Linux ecosystem.”

LiPS chairman Haila Wang stated, “Consistent with its practice to review open-source solutions, LiPS is looking forward [to] considering this important contribution.”

OSDL CEO Stuart Cohen stated, “Access gets it. By opening its Application Framework, it will help to both increase the use of its own platform and the subsequent growth of mobile Linux.”

The Framework was developed as part of Access's Access Linux Platform (ALP). Another ALP component, a database filesystem for mobile devices, was also recently released to the open source community.

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