back to the Eurescom home page

 

 

mess@ge home

Table of contents
of the current issue

Selected Highlights
Mobile applica-
tions - More
than a hype

 

Apple's App
store and
beyond

 

A platform for
portable apps -
Open source
initiative BONDI

 

Mobile Web applications -
The approach
of Research in
Motion

 

Challenges for
mobile applica-
tions - Strategic considerations by eMobility

 

Mobile Web applications

The approach of Research in Motion

                                                                           

Siresh_Chitturi

Suresh Chitturi
Standards Manager
Research In Motion
schitturi@rim.com

 

 

 


Tim Neil
Manager, Developer Tools
Research In Motion
tneil@rim.com

Tim_Neil

The Mobile Internet has been gaining tremendous momentum in the industry, justified by the astonishing figures indicating that significantly more number of mobile devices are being connected to the internet compared to the desktop computers. This is the result of innovation in the mobile space! However, this trend has not transformed into the same level of end-user experience, and the eco-system that drives it. As we are entering the second decade of this millennium, we anticipate the real innovation to predominantly come from the mobile applications as opposed to more number of devices and the increasing availability of network bandwidth and radio access. 

The success towards developing innovative mobile applications is often based on a rich platform offering a complete ecosystem that will allow developers to rapidly develop, test and deploy applications. These include exposing key device functionality via APIs, necessary development tools, security essentials, and a robust overall development experience, among others. To this end, the business of hosting applications is also gaining popularity among both service providers and handset vendors.

Until now, the mobile application development efforts have largely been very device and platform centric. In other words, an application that was developed for one platform or a device cannot be re-used for another device or platform for that matter without significant effort to re-program or tweak the application to fit the new platform. 

Mobile Web applications

Today, we all understand that Web is ubiquitous and is widely used in every home and one can almost say that we cannot be without it. Mobile Web, on the other hand originally was meant to bring the functionality of the web to the mobile in an optimized form through languages such as WML and Mobile HTML with limited functionality. 

However, this notion has completely changed recently with high powered mobile phones (also referred to as Smartphones) that are now capable of rendering the same “full web” content that we are used to seeing on conventional desktop computers. This coupled with the power of mobility, and the diverse functionality that a mobile device offers today including access to location, camera, sensors, voice capabilities, email, among others, brings a new dimension to mobile application development and enormous opportunity for innovation. To this end, there are several standards efforts in the industry such as Widgets, Device APIs, Policy working groups in W3C, OMTP’s BONDI, and other foras that are actively engaged to marry the mobile web environment with the device functionality. 

BlackBerry Widgets platform 

At RIM, we are highly sensitive to developer requirements and our focus has always been to give the developers the best tools and device functionality that can empower application development.  

BlackBerry Widgets is a platform to allow developers to leverage their existing web knowledge to build compelling mobile applications. A BlackBerry Widget combines standard web technologies with local device functionality in a familiar fashion while still providing industry leading security. Based off of the W3C Widget specification, a BlackBerry Widget is an alternative approach to building a mobile application in a native SDK yet still provides the same power and functionality. By using standard web technologies, the barrier for building compelling BlackBerry applications has been significantly lowered. 

BlackBerry Widgets allow you to write your application entirely using web standard technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, SVG and CSS while still providing access to all of the underlying BlackBerry functionality. RIM has provided JavaScript libraries that allow a web developer to access on-device functionality such as PIM, file storage and BlackBerry push technologies. A developer can also leverage Gears support for local storage via SQLite and also multithreaded JavaScript using Workerpool. 

A key feature of the BlackBerry Widget platform is that there isn’t a limit of what you can accomplish within JavaScript. A developer can easily wrap any of the existing BlackBerry Java APIs to be consumed by JavaScript. This removes pre-existing barriers that blocked a web developer from taking their device experience to the next level. All of this functionality comes packaged with existing BlackBerry world class security. 

Conclusion 

In summary, we would like to conclude by saying that the mobile web platform is a platform of choice for mobile application development. Furthermore, we believe it will be a very promising field for research and development for years to come and a great opportunity for everyone involved in the mobile eco-system ranging from the operators, vendors, content developers, and the end-user and finally bringing the ultimate end-user mobile web experience the way it is meant to be. 

You can find more information on BlackBerry App World and developer resources at:
http://www.BlackBerry.com/AppWorld
http://docs.blackberry.com/en/developers

Relevant W3C specifications in progress:
Widgets: http://www.w3.org/TR/widgets/
Device APIs and Policy: http://www.w3.org/2009/dap/

Please send us your comments on this article.