Sencha offers HTML5 framework for mobile apps

Sencha Touch enables cross-platform development of touch-enabled apps; the company also eyes upgrade to its JavaScript framework

Sencha began offering on Monday Sencha Touch, an HTML5-based mobile application development framework for touch-based devices. The company also detailed plans for an upgrade to its Ext JS JavaScript framework.

Available as a free download, Sencha Touch 1.0, enables cross-platform development of touch-enabled Web applications. Developers can use it to access HTML5 technologies such as geolocation, localStorage, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) 3. It is built on Sencha's Ext JS JavaScript technology and supports Webkit-based smartphones and tablets. The product constitutes the "world's first HTML5 mobile Web framework," said Ed Spencer, senior software architect at Sencha, at the Sencha Conference 2010 event in San Francisco. HTML5 is a Web development specification and related technologies for building modern standards-based Web  applications with capabilities such as multimedia.

[ Microsoft and Adobe officials pledged their love of HTML5 last week. | Get your websites up to speed with HTML5 today using the techniques in InfoWorld's HTML5 Deep Dive PDF how-to report. ]

Sencha Touch features a theming system to change an application's appearance with a few lines of code, Sencha said. Resolution independence technology in the product allows consistent display on devices with different pixel densities. Data management classes and a touch event system allow developers to focus on their application rather than on eccentricities of mobile platforms.

Sencha Touch 1.0 had been in a beta test period since June. It supports development for platforms including Google Android and Apple iOS. A roadmap detailed for the product has RIM Blackberry support being added in Sencha Touch 1.1 in the first quarter of 2011.

Sencha had charged $99 for the beta release of Sensa Touch but decided to drop this fee. "We want this to be the de facto standard that everyone uses," for mobile development, Spencer said. The company sells support services for Sencha Touch as well as development frameworks such as Ext JS.

Sencha will compete with others in the mobile application development space, such as Rhomobile and Appcelerator. Rhomobile's Rhodes framework and Appcelerator's Titanium framework both supports native development

The upcoming Ext JS 4 release, or Ext 4, features improvements in stability, speed, and flexibility. Ext JS is for development of desktop applications.

"Speed is very important to us and, with Ext 4, is one of our top priorities," said Spencer. Continual performance testing for code boosts framework speed. A new layout engine also assists with performance and flexibility. Also, unit tests offer 90 percent of code coverage, providing stability, Spencer said. He also cited documentation improvements. "With Ext 4, we have the best documentation we've ever created, and not by a short way -- by a long way."

Also featured are improvements for charting and disabled accessibility.

Ext JS 4 is set for a beta release in six weeks, with general availability due on February 28.

Sencha also plans to offer an automated testing tool called Visual QA, which is now being used internally at the company.

This article, "Sencha offers HTML5 framework for mobile apps," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.

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