Rhomobile smartphone app framework adds iPhone-like mapping

Licensing charge also is dropped in Rhodes 2.0, but the planned bidirectional streaming capability is delayed

Rhomobile is shipping on Tuesday version 2.0 of its Rhodes framework for developing native smartphone applications, which extends Apple iPhone native mapping capabilities to other devices.

Rhodes 2.0 also offers accommodations for back-end applications via a metadata framework. Rhomobile also is offering free licensing. But a previously planned capability for bidirectional streaming of multimedia content has been delayed until a future release.

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Developers using Rhodes 2.0 can build applications for Apple iPhone and iPad, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry, webOS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian. Native mapping extends iPhone capabilities for linking to external URLs and zooming to such devices as Android and BlackBerry, Rhomobile said. "We've taken that whole iPhone native UI and implemented it ourselves," said Adam Blum, CEO of Rhomobile.

A metadata framework in version 2.0 enables mobile applications to work with back-end server applications regardless of the underlying structure of the enterprise application, such as an SAP application. This clears a hurdle in deploying mobile applications, according to Rhomobile.

"The problem is, no customer has the same schema," in, for example, an SAP system, he said. Each site has different attributes. The metadata framework accommodates differences, Blum explained.

'What this says is you don't actually hard-code the field on your form," or the prompts or data types, he said. With the metadata-driven application, applications are written so forms working in an application are generated on the fly to accommodate back-end server applications, said Blum.

Rhodes does not clash with Apple's stricter SDK requirements about not using non-native libraries, Blum said. "We generate a native project," for iPhone, said Blum. Applications in the framework are written using HTML, which is then converted to Objective-C in the case of iPhone, he said.

The framework makes it easier to build cross-platform applications, an analyst said.

"The Rhodes framework assists both enterprise and commercial developers in getting mobile applications up and running across multiple mobile platforms, such as the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android, thus reducing the effort that developers have to take to build an application and the re-build it for each successive platform," said Gerry Purdy, principal analyst at MobileTrax.

The bidirectional streaming capability planned for version 2.0 is not ready, according to a Rhomobile representative. It still is being tested and the company is committed to offering it in a future update, the representative said.

Rhodes 2.0 is licensed via an MIT license and is offered for free, Blum said. Previously, Rhodes was offered under the GPL license, which meant applications had to be open-sourced. Or, a commercial license was available for $500 as an alternative.

The company generates revenues through its data synchronization service, RhoSync. Data from back-end enterprise applications is synchronized down to devices so the data will be available offline, Blum explained.

This article, "Rhomobile smartphone app framework adds iPhone-like mapping," 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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