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Cross-platform framework adds NFC support

May 11, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Rhomobile announced a new version of its cross-platform smartphone app development framework, adding support for near field communication (NFC). Rhodes 3.0, which continues to support Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and WebOS, now adds Windows Phone 7 and Windows CE support, the company says.

Rhomobile announced its Rhodes 1.0 mobile development framework in March 2009, supporting Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. The company later added support for Palm's - and now HP's - Linux-based WebOS, and Rhodes 2.0 was announced last June, providing support for the iPad and devices' native mapping capabilities. (See farther below for more Rhodes background.)

Rhodes 3.0 adds support for Windows Phone 7 and Windows CE. Calling Rhodes a "great alternative to using Silverlight and XAML," Rhomobile says the framework provides a modern HTML5-based approach to creating "device-optimized" native apps for Windows Phone 7.

Rhodes mobile phone interfaces

(Click to enlarge)

According to Rhomobile, the cross-platform framework (above) also now provides support for NFC chips in smartphones, so "developers can learn one API to develop and create apps that fully take advantage of NFC's capabilities across all smartphones."

NFC chips, which offer contactless, very short-range wireless communications for applications such as mobile payments, are or will be included in many upcoming mobile devices. It is available now on Google's Samsung-built, Android-based Nexus S and Nexus S 4G, which went on sale at Sprint on May 8, as well as the RIM's Bold 9900 and 9930. NFC will soon be available on Nokia's upcoming W7 Windows Phone 7 device, the company adds.

The Rhodes 3.0 release is also said to include RhoStudio, an Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE) that provides app generation, editing, build, and an integrated debugger and device emulator. This allows developers to generate Rhodes applications, edit the Ruby and HTML code for the controllers and views, and build for any smartphone operating system, says Rhomobile.

Also touted are "unique and industry-first integrated device emulators, which don't require installation of any smartphone SDK." Thanks to an integrated debugger, developers can change code on the fly and see the effects immediately in a running app, something that's not possible with any other mobile development tool, claims Rhomobile.

Rhomobile says Rhodes allows rapid development of true native apps that work with synchronized local data and take advantage of device capabilities such as: GPS, PIM contacts and calendar, camera, native mapping, push, barcode, signature capture, and Bluetooth.

Rhodes background

Rhodes reduces mobile development costs by "up to five times," Rhomobile has claimed. The savings are said to be achieved by eliminating the need to develop similar applications for each mobile OS, and by using HTML instead of "diverse and complex native device OS languages."

Modeled in part on the open source Ruby on Rails framework, Rhodes combines an HTML coding framework with a Ruby interpreter. The software is said to be especially suitable for interaction with hosted enterprise application (SaaS) backends, such as CRM and ERP. Rhodes enables users to work offline with synchronized local data via a local database such as SQLite or DB40, and it can also work with a generic backend synchronization framework such as RhoSync (see diagram below).

Rhodes architecture
(Click to enlarge)

Other key Rhodes features touted by Rhomobile include:

  • Model View Controller for mobile app development
  • Object Relational Manager (ORM)
  • app provisioning via the RhoHub hosted "Development as a Service"
  • built-in tools for test-driven development
  • interactive debugger
  • full access to native device capabilities

Stated Adam Blum, CEO of Rhomobile, "The smartphone revolution is here and Rhodes 3.0 provides developers with the essential app developer framework for keeping ahead of the market trends. We are the first solution to support Windows Phone 7 and NFC ensuring developers can support the next generation of smart devices today."

Further information

The open source Rhodes 3.0 framework is available for free under the MIT License, though most organizations building real production apps will require some level of paid support under the Rhodes Enterprise License, according to Rhomobile. More information may be found on the Rhodes product page.

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