Rhomobile upgrades Rhodes mobile apps framework

Bidirectional media streaming and a metadata framework for easier integration with enterprise apps are offered in version 2.0

With version 2.0 of its open source Rhodes mobile application framework, Rhomobile will add capabilities for enterprise systems as well as support for bidirectional, streaming multimedia.

Rhodes enables development of cross-platform, native applications for smartphones. Announced Tuesday, Rhodes 2.0 offers a metadata framework that Rhomobile says will greatly enhance development of enterprise applications for mobile devices.

[ InfoWorld's Paul Krill reported last week about the combination of Google APIs and HTML5 being pitched as a solution for mobile applications. ]

The metadata framework, Rhomobile CEO Adum Blum said, enables applications to work with a given piece of software no matter how much that software has been customized. "What the metadata framework lets you do is allow you to write an application where none of the fields or attributes, whatever you want to call it, are hard-coded," Blum said. Developers, for example, could offer an application that works with SAP or SugarCRM and whatever database structure is in use, he said.

A user of Rhodes at mobile application builder Rhologic said the metadata framework has enabled development of an application that integrates right into SugarCRM.

"This was made possible with the metadata framework in 2.0," said Chris Hall, director at Rhologic. "In this way clients can configure SugarCRM to suit their needs with both an office-based and mobile view of the world. This mobile view is reflected on the device immediately after synchronization making it possible to add new fields, change drop-down values, turn modules on or off and even change languages. All of this occurs with no change to the mobile code base."

With streaming bidirectional multimedia capabilities, media can be streamed from or to a device. "That's actually quite rare," of a feature for smartphones, Blum said. With this capability, a field service person, for example, could show a video of what is being observed.

Using common APIs that expose device capabilities, Rhodes supports development of applications for Apple iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile and RiM Blackberry phones. Developers write code once and can build applications for multiple platforms. With a subsequent, planned 2.1 release of Rhodes, Rhomobile plans to support the new Windows Phone 7 platform.

Also featured in version 2.0 is a faster sync server. "What it does is it takes data from back-end systems and makes it available offline on the user's smartphone," said Blum.

Rhomobile with Rhodes 2.0 is changing the licensing from the GPL to the MIT license. This change means the company will no longer charge $500 for a commercial license as it had previously. Now, both commercial and open source development will be free of charge. Rhomobile instead will make money on its sync server services.

Also in version 2.0, an improved styling library ensures that an application interface looks like the native interface on the device.

Rhodes uses a Model View Controller framework for native development, in which views are written in HTML. The client-side release of Rhodes 2.0 goes into a public beta cycle on Tuesday, with general release set for the end of the month. The RhoHub hosted service for Rhodes also will move to version 2.0 in late-May.

This article, "Rhomobile upgrades Rhodes mobile apps framework," 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.


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