Blog archive

HTML5 App Builder Updated with the Enterprise in Mind

How do enterprise developers extend their corporate apps to the ever expanding universe of mobile devices with the least amount of pain? Visual dev tool maker Sencha made the argument this week for the less-coding-is-more approach provided by Sencha Architect, the latest version of which the company just released.

Sencha Architect is a visual app builder designed to allow developers to create applications using the Redwood City, Calif.-company's enterprise-class frameworks: Sencha Touch, which is an HTML5 framework for building mobile applications, and Ext JS, which is a JavaScript framework for business-grade Web app development.

Sencha Architect 3, just announced this week, is part of a suite of solutions for developing "universal" apps from a single code base, explained Jeff Hartley, vice president of Sencha's products and services group. The visual app builder is designed, essentially, to provide best-practice code without requiring much in the way of actual coding.

"This release is about minimizing development complexity, while still allowing for plenty of extensibility to our frameworks and customization of the application," Harley told ADTmag. "It allows developers to focus more on user needs than the intricacies of coding user interface stuff, and reduces the potential for errors the goes with coding by hand."

Architect 3 comes with three new feature sets: Project Templates, User Extensions, and Theming and Styling. The new Templates feature gives developers access to a "gallery" of common templates and layouts for creating projects -- everything from introductory layouts for those new to the company's frameworks to fully fledged example applications. Projects created in Architect 3 can be saved as templates and shared via a personal template gallery.

"We've seen situations a lot in the wild," said Gil Gordon, Sencha's senior product manager, "where a guru type in an enterprise is the one driving the framework decisions, while others are coding the business logic and taking the designs from the designers and making them real in the product. We think Architect will help these folks to work together better when they can share Templates and use them as starting points."

There are about 18 Templates currently available in the gallery for each framework, Gordon said. The company plans to add more Templates in the future for different verticals.

The new User Extensions feature allow developers to customize the company's Sencha Touch and Sencha Ext JS frameworks. Architect 3 makes it easy to add extensions -- little bits of code packaged for reuse -- as first-class toolbox components, including both home-made extensions and extensions from the growing ecosystem of extensions built on Sencha frameworks.

Sencha's frameworks support CSS and come with a selection of canned themes. The new Theming and Styling capabilities in Architect 3 allows users to control CSS from directly within the tool to establish the appearance of an application.

Architect 3 is now a tool that can be used by both developers and designers, Harley added. "Everything they make is sharable with other people on their teams," he said. "This release is not just about individual developers, but about expanding its ability to help facilitate development within teams."

Sencha bills its Architect tool as "the ultimate HTML5 app builder," and really drives home the idea in this announcement that HTML5 is becoming the de facto standard in the enterprise for building Web and mobile applications.

"HTML5 has proven to be an ideal development language to tackle the fragmented world of multiple operating systems and browsers, and hundreds of mobile devices and desktops," said Michael Mullany, CEO of Sencha, in a statement. "Sencha Architect 3 empowers developers to create robust applications through a complete app-building experience, providing the kind of control, flexibility and ease of use that produces high quality apps faster."

Posted by John K. Waters on November 14, 2013