Review: AppMobi XDK brings more style than substance to iPhone, Android development

The beauty of AppMobi's slick, cloud-based IDE for building cross-platform mobile apps runs only skin deep

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In the end, I succeeded in creating a WebView-wrapped application that ran a local Web server to execute its JavaScript. Unfortunately, I found my AppMobi-built app to be buggy and unstable, frequently crashing the appLab container and subject to varying quirks across devices.

There was an option to test over local Wi-Fi, so long as the development machine (running the browser-based XDK) and device were on the same network. Alas, this setup also proved buggy, and the content updates unreliable.

In addition to using the AppMobi XDK, I tried AppMobi's PhoneGap XDK, a separate browser-based IDE that spares you the need to install the PhoneGap SDK locally. Although compatibility is not so straightforward as to allow you to just copy and paste in PhoneGap code, adopting the PhoneGap XDK does wed you to PhoneGap. In other words, you'll be reliant on AppMobi to update in lock-step with PhoneGap going forward. Personally, I'd rather work in PhoneGap directly than attempt to eke minimal gains from AppMobi's IDE.

Smart developers, dumb tool
To its credit, AppMobi is quite adept at building out and enhancing underlying platform resources. The AppMobi team has spruced up PhoneGap and rewritten jQuery to produce a faster, smaller UI framework (jqMobi). It even created a new browser (mobiUs) that offers offline functionality, local storage, and solid gaming performance via its DirectCanvas framework.

Web app development is clearly AppMobi's forte. And by open-sourcing much of the work, AppMobi has drawn a good deal of attention.

But the AppMobi XDK isn't among the company's best work. It offers a good starting point or a way to get your feet wet, but anyone serious about developing mobile applications should look elsewhere. Ultimately, it's more a gimmicky emulator than a true IDE -- hardly a compelling platform for real-world mobile development.

This article, "Review: AppMobi XDK brings more style than substance to iPhone, Android development," originally appeared at Follow the latest news in programming and mobile technology at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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