Cross-Platform Mobile Dev Platform Icenium Goes Commercial, Gets Cloud Backend
Developer tools and solutions provider Telerik last week released the first commercial version of Icenium, a mobile development solution the company has been road testing for the past six months.
With Icenium, the company is confronting what Todd Anglin, executive vice president of Telerik's Cross Platform Tools group, calls "the most disruptive force in software development" -- mobility.
"I think most people would agree with that statement, generally," Anglin told ADTmag, "but what specifically is so disruptive? It's the fact that mobile requires developers to build software for multiple platforms. It has radically reset the idea of what it means to write software, even for experienced veterans."
The hybrid application model, which takes the "run everywhereness" of HTML5 and marries it to some native enrichment, has emerged as a popular mobile development strategy, Anglin observed. But he argues that the hybrid approach isn't really a solution to the core problem.
"It gets developers part of the way there," Anglin said. "Hybrid development still requires them to write and configure multiple applications and packages for Android, iOS, etc. It still requires them to figure out separate development tool chains -- Xcode for iOS and Eclipse or whatever for Android. And there's still a lot of manual SDK management, even though the hybrid runtime itself is going to help you get onto multiple platforms more easily."
Icenium, he said, "completes the hybrid vision" by taking away the pain associated with managing software and pushing it into the cloud. The result is essentially a development platform for building hybrid app UIs with supporting cloud-based backend service.
The latest version of Icenium comes with several new features, including a preview of a set of project templates called Everlive, which automatically provision the cloud backend service. These services provide the application with data and files storage, user management, cloud code execution, and email notifications. It's a capability that some are calling Mobile Backend as a Service.
"It's all that stuff that doesn't add any value to the mobile app, and for many developers getting into mobile development, represent a significant learning curve," Anglin said.
The backend services are running on a mixture of Node.js and MongoDB, and the Icenium infrastructure leverages a partnership with cloud hoster Rackspace.
This release also comes with a data navigator, which allows developers to "explore the structure of backend projects" (navigate to types, fields, permissions); cloud code, which execute business logic and validations without replication on the client; user management features for making apps social; and the Kendo UI DataViz, which provides a dedicated suite of HTML5-powered data visualization widgets, including animated charts.
The company is still providing a 30-day free trial of Icenium, which can be downloaded from the company Web site. Ongoing access and support requires a subscription.