Krause brings the rhymes

EclipseSource shows off native RAP clients for iOS and Android

EclipseSource has launched a developer preview programme and project site for its newly-official extension of the Rich Ajax Platform (RAP) for mobile devices, known as ‘RAP mobile’. Registered and approved developers are now able to download preview versions of the platform’s native clients for iOS and Android, which allow mobile devices to run apps written using pure Java/SWT.

Writing in a post on the official EclipseSource blog, CEO Jochen Krause runs us through the familiar conundrum of mobile development, listing developers’ three options as “HTML5, development for each platform or making a bet on which will be the most successful.” He describes RAP mobile as a fourth option which “gives us some key advantages over the alternatives”:

First, it allows multi-platform development in Java. It uses the iOS and Android native widget toolkits for rendering the user interface with optimal performance and native look and feel. And, it provides a mature and Open Source platform for writing and deploying business applications on standard JEE servers. It also provides a solution for common data security concerns with mobile devices.

While it certainly sounds convenient for established Java devs, the closed nature of the platform is likely to put some people off. Asked whether the iOS and Android clients are open source, Krause explains that, unlike the RAP server and the existing browser-based client, the lion’s share of the native code is being kept in-house at EclipseSource. “We are planning to open source parts of the native clients that are useful for native development,” he claims, but RAP mobile is, for better or for worse, a commercial offering.

With the core RAP platform boasting a dedicated user base among enterprise-focused Java developers, RAP mobile may just take off, particularly as an environment for rapid development of specialised or niche business apps. For larger projects, though, we expect that hands-on native development will continue to hold sway for the foreseeable future.

As with cross-platform visual environments like LiveCode, performance issues and bloat are always going to be the flip-side of convenience and ease of deployment. Ultimately, there’s no substitute for getting down to the nuts and bolts of a device.

Louis Goddard

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