Mobile development tool RESTs on CouchDB

Based on HTML5-oriented CouchDB, CouchMobile joins ranks of app dev tools aimed at 'write once, run anywhere'

With computing devices continuing to emerge in varying shapes and sizes running competing mobile platforms, developing apps for these items keeps getting trickier. Ideally, you could code an application once and have it run fluidly on any device, be it a smartphone, a mini-pad with a 5-inch display, or a full-size tablet. Yet even getting a native iPhone app to display properly on an iPad is no easy task.

CouchOne -- formerly CouchIO -- has announced a new mobile app dev platform called CouchMobile, aimed at easing cross-platform development by allowing programmers "to write Web applications one time, scale horizontally, and share data and applications across any computing platform or mobile device they choose," including the cloud.

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CouchMobile is based on the highly respected CouchDB, CouchOne's post-relational database for writing HTML5 applications. CouchDB includes replication and sync features to boost and maintain application performance when network connections are slow, spotty, or down.

Its ties to CouchDB are a strong advantage, but CouchMobile's success will likely depend on how well it integrates with the top mobile platforms. According to the company, CouchDB integrates with Android; HP's webOS will support syncing of locally stored data. An iPhone version is in the works, according to Damien Katz, CEO of CouchOne.

CouchMobile isn't the only mobile cross-development tool in town; competitors Rhomobile, PhoneGap, Appcelerator, and Ansca tools -- all iPhone friendly -- leverage standard Web technologies such as JavaScript and Ruby for writing apps capable of jumping between platforms. Sencha, meanwhile, launched an HTML5 framework for mobile apps in June.

Helpful though these sorts of tools may be, they have their inevitable shortcomings and frustrations. Tweaking code, whether for a different platform or display size, isn't going away. App developers aren't likely to find a toolkit anytime soon that is truly capable of delivering on the oft-heard "write once, run everywhere" promise. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is likely either delusional or trying to sell you something.

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