Rhomobile will offer on Tuesday an IDE and capabilities for Windows Phone 7 and NFC (near field communications) application development in an upgrade to the company's multiplatform framework for building smartphone and tablet applications.
Included in Rhodes 3.0 is RhoStudio, an Eclipse-based IDE offering integrated application generation, device emulation, editing, building, and debugging. With the debugger, developers can change code but not have to do a full rebuild of an application. Through version 3.0's Windows Phone 7 support, Rhomobile claims to offer the first framework to support Microsoft's new smartphone platform.
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Rhomobile cites the open source Rhodes as an alternative to using Microsoft's Silverlight and XAML for Windows Phone 7 application development. "People know [Silverlight] is not a long-term technology for Microsoft," Rhomobile CEO Adam Blum said.
Microsoft, however, continues to upgrade Silverlight and calls it a core building block for Windows Phone. But Microsoft also is backing HTML5, seen as a potential alternative to Silverlight in the Internet Explorer browser and in tools. Windows Phone 7 has trailed Google Android and Apple iOS in terms of targeted mobile application platforms, but Blum insists developers are interested in it. "It's not necessarily the first OS they want to target, but they want some way of generating Windows Phone 7 apps."
Rhodes leverages HTML and Model View Controller development to write native applications. Some Ruby coding is involved. "We generate a native project for every single different platform," Blum said. Other platforms supported include Apple iPhone, Google Android, Windows Mobile, RIM BlackBerry, and Symbian.
With NFC chip backing, Rhodes is supporting development of applications that leverage NFC, such as programs for checking prices on objects in a store or purchasing transit tickets. Support for Windows CE is planned for a subsequent release, Rhodes 3.1, due in a month. Rhomobile's business model involves offering Rhodes for free while charging for integration services via the company's RhoSync server, to integrate mobile applications with back-end systems.
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