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RhoMobile Suite for Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Upgraded

The latest entry in the cross-platform enterprise mobile app development tool arena comes from Motorola Solutions Inc. with today's release of RhoMobile Suite 5.0.

The set of tools takes the approach of several other vendor solutions -- and open source products such as PhoneGap -- in using Web technologies such as HTML5, CSS 3 and JavaScript to create cross-platform apps that communicate with devices via API calls to access native functionality such as cameras and accelerometers. In the RhoMobile solution, Ruby code is added to the mix.

The company further differentiates itself by offering a full environment on the device. "The key added thing RhoMobile Suite has ... is that we deliver a full framework/technology stack natively on the device, and do not require a connection to operate," company exec Mark Kirstein told this site. "Our approach is unique in the industry, and ideally suited for complex data-centric enterprise applications.

"We deliver our own secure SQLite data store for offline data (with automatic data encryption) -- what we like to call the 'world's smallest Web server'" -- and a Ruby byte-code executor. What this allows us to do is run, in essence, a full Ruby on Rails application on the device offline. We actually compile the apps down to byte code and then use the WebKit for UI rendering. We offer all APIs through both JavaScript and Ruby (you use them where best suited for experience and performance)."

The company claims to have the largest set of APIs among similar frameworks. APIs are provided for reading barcodes and magnetic stripe cards, Bluetooth connectivity, printing, Near Field Communication (NFC), RFID, battery life indication and more.

The cloud-based RhoMobile Suite includes hosted build, synchronization and application management services. The suite consists of RhoStudio, an Eclipse-based IDE; RhoElements, a framework providing the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern and object relational mapping (ORM) functionality; RhoHub, hosted services; Rhodes, an open source Ruby-based framework; RhoConnect, which provides "mobile app integration" servers; and RhoGallery, which provides an enterprise app store. In addition to the IDE, developers can use any text editor or a plug-in to work in Microsoft's Visual Studio. The suite targets development on the iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms, among others.

Along with new APIs, the new RhoMobile Suite 5.0 comes with a new pricing structure. Developers can use Rhodes and RhoStudio for free, while Silver and Gold paid subscription models include Rhodes and RhoElements, Cloud Build and the Visual Studio plug-in.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.

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