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One To Watch: AeroGear, mobile Java sites without the pain

Elliot Bentley

A new JBoss project aims to make life easier for mobile developers working with traditional Java EE backends.

Launched in January this year, AeroGear is a project aiming to support
mobile developers working with traditional Java EE backends,
through JavaScript, iOS and Android libraries which, the
promotional materials claim, “provides everything from a simple
persistence layer to a security API and everything in

At JAX London last month, Matthias Wessendorf – who has previously
worked at Kaazing and Oracle, as well as leading the Apache MyFaces
project – turned up to represent AeroGear and give a talk titled
‘HTML5 alchemy: the secrets of mixing JavaScript and Java EE’
the slides here

After the talk, JAXenter caught up with Wessendorf, who explained
how it’s very much aimed at a specific use case. “If folks are
running existing traditional Java EE backends, mainly JAX-RS
backends, and they want to get a mobile view [version] on top of
that one without dealing with all the nasty details of jQuery and
whatnot,” he says, “AeroGear is a good project to look at.”

Even more ambitious is direct input into wholly native apps. “It’s
still early,” says Wessendorf, “but the project itself is working
on delivering abstraction layers to get a convenient access from
each platforms, like native iOS, Android or JavaScript – for REST
communication, security, data management, synchronisation,

In his JAX London talk, Wessendorf described the options available
to mobile app developers as native, web, hybrid and “hybrid+”, the
latter displaying WebView pages able to hook into native APIs.
AeroGear-based web apps are specifically designed to quickly
integrate with Apache
, which
recently graduated
as a top-level ASF

Yet Facebook recently scrapped their hybrid iOS app and replaced it
with a
faster native version
, leading some to speculate
that HTML5 isn’t yet mature enough to match up to

“On the internet, there were lots of complaints about it
[Facebook’s implementation of a hybrid app],” Wessendorf argues.
“If you do it wrong, don’t blame the tools.

“It’s all a trade-off, right? We know the web since ages, and if
you use those standard techniques, you have a good amount of

Yet Wessendorf doesn’t agree that, even with unlimited resources,
native apps are the best option. “It depends probably on the use
case,” he says. “Probably some [app for] graphic transformation,
even though the canvas engine is improving and improving and
improving, probably things that are highly [complex] graphically
are right now more better suited with native.

“While [when] doing some vanilla business application for existing
REST backends, web is the way to go.”

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