Sun Open Sources Mobile Toolkit LWUIT

Sun Microsystems has fulfilled a promise made this summer to release the source code for the Java ME-based light-weight UI toolkit (LWUIT) for mobile UI development to the community.

LWUIT is a UI library designed to provide mobile app developers with a new tool set for creating rich, portable interfaces for their applications. The idea is to make it trivial to allow these apps run consistently across Java ME-enabled devices -- primarily cell phones. Sun uses the adjectives "compelling and consistent" to describe the toolkit's capabilities and the impact of the visual components LWUIT is designed to support advanced features like style and "theming," animated transition effects, and integration with 3-D graphics and SVG.

Sun debuted LWUIT (which Sun Vice President of Engineering Jeet Kaul pronounced "loo-it") at this summer's mobility-focused JavaOne conference, and just last week open sourced it under the GPLv2 w/Classpath Exception license.

"We understand that, for mobile developers especially, it's all about content and content that's looking good," Yoav Barel, group manager in Sun's Engineering Services group, told this site. "But they have the added challenge of having to create great looking applications that have to run consistently across different platforms. And to do it in days, rather than weeks."

The toolkit has been available in binary form since June. "The market update has been great," Barel said. "There are already applications out there using it." He pointed to mass-device push-communications company Emoze, which developed one of the first commercial LWUIT deployments in its push e-mail client. The toolkit allowed the company to provide what it calls a "clean, Web-like interface" for its e-mail, calendar and contacts suite.

LWUIT was inspired by Swing, observed Shai Almog, a longtime Java ME developer and one of the toolkit's key contributors, and it provides mobile developers with Swing-like features. Almog manages data security at Xpert Inc., a provider of architecture design and implementation for IP-based service providers, and owns Greenfield Online, which provides Internet survey and comparison shopping solutions. In a recent blog entry Almog wrote, "I think Swing developers will find LWUIT very interesting, since it goes places Swing can't go and picked up lots of ideas from Swing's experience. I also assume many Swing developers are peeking towards the mobile space and its rapid growth thinking about making the leap; LWUIT is ideal for those guys…"

LWUIT is available now; Sun is providing a tutorial for the new toolkit on its Projects site here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].