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Mobile Development Platforms - Choices , Issues, Comparison &  Strategies .

While many of the generic development tools can be used for mobile applications as well, there are a number of specific development tools, SDKs, development aids that have been designed to meet the unique requirements of mobile applications.  The development architect has the following choices: 

  • Traditional Microsoft Windows 98/2000/NT/XP tools : There is nothing different about development tools for mobile applications in terms of backend integration.  The difference is in the user interface on mobile devices developed by using these tools

  • Palm OS Application Development Tools

  • Java Based Integrated Application Development Tools On Client & server Side - Java has become a standard dominant language for server-side programming. Java makes it easier to write safe, reliable code through features, such as automatic memory management and structured exception-handling. A large set of APIs and cross-platform design provide power and portability. Sun has announced significant enhancements for mobile computing and interfaces to wireless networks. Several application servers support Java interfaces.

  • Modern Mobile Application Server Tools: These tools offer application server solutions in a web environment. Some of them are based on conventional application servers, some are extensions of these servers and others are specifically designed for mobile applications and wireless networks. Please go to Application Server page for more information.

  • Wireless Network-specific Development Tools: Several Wireless and Mobile Gateway software suppliers, such as Broadbeam, Oracle, IBM, Sybase iAnywhere and Telecordia Technologies offer mobile application development tool kits as well. Refer to their web sites for more detailed information on these tools. As an example, Geoworks provides "airboss" development SDK for mobile applications.  Click on the Product Guide button on our home page or on the left hand menu of this page for more products.

Role of Middleware for Mobile Computing - Do we need specialized middleware for wireless? There is middleware and there is middleware - different sorts indeed. Since traditional middleware vendors do not address unique requirements of mobile applications (multiple radio network air protocols, inefficiency of TCP/IP in wireless setting, security, compression and disconnected nature of mobile sessions), it is a good idea to investigate the use of specialized middleware for wireless and mobile applications.   Several vendors like IBM, Broadbeam (formerly Nettech), Telcordia Technologies (formerly Bellcore), and Oracle address this area but not every vendor addresses all the requirements.  Please review Mobile Computing Systems Integrators handbook for further discussion of this rather important topic.

Data Synchronization Products: There are a number of file and DBMS synchronization products to help solve the problem of synchronizing information on notebooks and PDAs with master information on the desktop or the server. Many of these products have APIs for customization purposes.

Application Development Strategies & Issues For the Enterprise

The following issues should be addressed while selecting application development tools:

  • Application design should be based on the concept of "mobile-aware" nature of user's work profile and business processes.  Please refer to "Mobile Computing Systems Integrator's Handbook" for further discussion of this topic.

  • "Client-agent-server" or "thin client-mobile server-enterprise server" architectural paradigm should be seriously considered for mobile applications for the enterprise.

  • Security should be addressed in greater detail because wireless networks are more prone to data leakage, theft and fraud than wireline networks.

  • In the current environment where the Internet is the focus, mobile applications should also be based on the Internet development tools, especially modern application servers.

  • You should evaluate pros and cons of Java based independent-platform development versus platform-specific development. Please note that current handheld hardware and OS environment for mobile devices has undergone significant changes during 2000, especially with the convergence of telephony and conventional computing devices, emergence of smart telephones and popularity of WAP.

Programming Considerations for Developing Wireless Applications

Related Resources:
Application Development Index
Horizontal Applications
> Vertical Applications


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