Another contender

Tabris taps into Java mobile app market with first major release

Chris Mayer

Another Java toolkit for native mobile app development has arrived – is EclipseSource’s Tabris up to the task?

The flurry of projects dedicated to creating cross platform
mobile apps, without having to escape the confines of Java, has
really accelerated in recent months. From client side-focused
options such as
Codename One
and J2ObjC to server side solutions such as
ICEmobile, plenty of companies have recognised the imperative need
for a Java bridge to mobile, and crucially as quick as

Following three years of development, another
has entered the fray. Created by EclipseSource,

Tabris hit its first major release yesterday
proclaiming to be “the first Java-Toolkit for the cross-platform
development of native mobile Apps”.

While this may not necessarily be true, Tabris
enables users to write iOS and Android applications in a single
codebase. The technology sits on top of RAP, EclipseSource’s Remote
Application Platform,

renamed in November
to acknowledge a move
beyond the browser.

Through RAP’s JSON protocol, developers
rapidly write web applications for
the browser. Tabris builds upon this concept
by adding an iOS and Android client,
which translates RAP protocol message into its native
counterparts. The latest release also includes the

Tabris UI API
, a UI framework that borrows heavily
from Java’s SWT API and allows the
creation of
frame for the app.

The heavy reliance on RAP (given that Tabris is
an extension of it) is a turnoff to those unwilling to learn the
ropes of the platform, Some might also be concerned by the lack of
clients for Windows Phone or Blackberry. When the project was
initially conceived in April 2010, the focus was solely on iOS and
Android clients. Tabris’s server-side developer Holger Staudacher
told that this was because they were “the big players”
at the time, but there are plans for “future clients.”

Tabris is yet another project targeted towards core Java
developers looking for a quick mobile fix, without pushing them too
far into new waters. But rather than rushing a major release, the
Tabris team have spent the past year making sure that the support
is adequate, with 14 major milestones since January 2012. Whether
it can make headway in an already competitive marketplace is
another question.

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