Update: Sencha launches HTML5 framework for mobile apps

Sencha Touch leverages the WebKit browser engine and is optimized for building applications for touch-based devices

Sencha on Thursday is rolling out a mobile application development framework that leverages HTML5 technologies.

The Sencha Touch framework enables developers to build rich Web applications offering native-like usability, according to Sencha. The framework is optimized for building applications for touch-based devices. A beta release is available Thursday, and general availability is set for next month. Sencha had been named Ext JS until announcing a change this week.

[ A year ago, InfoWorld, asked if HTML5 could kill Flash and Silverlight. ]

Sench's Ext JS JavaScript framework serves as the basis for Sencha Touch.

The Touch platform is "the first HTML5-based mobile application framework," said Michael Mullany, vice president of products at Sencha. Targeted at WebKit browser-based mobile devices, developers can write applications for Google Android-based systems, Apple's iPad and iPhone, and later on, Research in Motion BlackBerry, Mullany said.

"The HTML5 angle is that it's using technologies that are in the HTML5 family," including CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) 3, localStorage, and HTML5 form elements, said Mullany. CSS3 may not be part of the official HTML5 specification but is considered part of the HTML5 family, he said.

Sencha Touch offers familiar Ext JS programming while HTML5 might lead to an end of native applications, said analyst Eric Knipp, of Gartner.

"Sencha Touch extends the familiar Ext JS programming model to mobile devices. This will be a boon for programmers already familiar with Ext, who'd like to build mobile apps without learning how to develop natively," Knipp said. "HTML5's capabilities, while incomplete compared to the range of features available on mobile devices, provide a 'good enough' layer of interactivity for mobile enterprise apps. For all but a few edge cases, this may herald the beginning of the "end of native" as has been discussed in various blogs."

With HTML5, applications can be built that work when not connected to the network, said Mullany. Application types that can be developed range from office productivity and business reporting to customer relationship management and supply chain management.

Sencha Touch differs from Rhomobile's Rhodes framework for cross-platform application development for mobile devices, said Mullany. While Rhodes is for native applications, Sencha Touch applications run in a browser, he said.

Sencha Touch will be offered under both GPLv3 and commercial license options.

Sencha was formed through the combined forces of Ext JS and the JQTouch and Raphael projects. JQTouch has featured a mobile library providing lightweight animation and a UI plug-in for the JQuery JavaScript framework. Raphael has featured a rich SVG library.

Sencha also will support the Connect application framework the combining Rack server application component and Node.js, for high-concurrency applications, to provide an event-driven application server.

This article, "Sencha launches 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 and on your mobile device at infoworldmobile.com.

This story was updated on June 17, 2010

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