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IBM Taps Ionic Drag-and-Drop Tool for MobileFirst Development

IBM has entered the "low code" mobile development arena through a partnership with Ionic that combines the drag-and-drop design capabilities of Ionic Creator with IBM's MobileFirst Platform.

Ionic Creator is one of many industry products designed to let ordinary business users create mobile apps -- or at least a good portion of a mobile app's UI -- without needing to know any programming languages.

The Creator tool uses all the UI elements of the Ionic dev platform, such as tabs, side menus, slide boxes, modals and forms, along with ready-made templates.

That simplified development model will be integrated with the MobileFirst Platform, part of IBM's Bluemix cloud-based "digital innovation platform."

The MobileFirst portfolio includes a set of tools to help companies develop, deploy and manage mobile apps, whether on-premises or hosted in a cloud service. Introduced in 2013, IBM upgraded MobileFirst in April 2014 to emphasize app development functionality.

That functionality is now being enhanced with the tool from Ionic, known for its open source front-end SDK for building HTML5-based hybrid mobile apps.

"Organizations will now have a mobile app development and enterprise integration solution that includes analytics, management and security options," Ionic said in a blog post last week. "We expect this exciting new partnership to increase the number of mobile apps being built in the enterprise environment and expand the available work opportunities for experienced Ionic developers."

Ionic Creator in Action
[Click on image for larger view.] Ionic Creator in Action (source: Ionic)

IBM said the partnership will benefit business analysts and line-of-business managers in departments such as finance, human resources and marketing that are under increasing pressure to keep up with the demand for enterprise mobile apps.

"Closing skills gaps by simplifying and accelerating app delivery means organizations don't have to compromise between speed and quality," IBM said in a statement. "Users will be better able to respond to business demands and work quickly through heavy app backlogs, while securely connecting to back-end systems to spur broader enterprise adoption."

Ionic -- formed in 2013 by Drifty Co. -- envisions business analysts and other non-coders using Creator to come up with an idea for a compelling app and then working with developers to build infrastructure for the prototype. They can then use MobileFirst to deploy the app. This, the company said, lets users securely integrate data from enterprise systems with customization and context.

"By expanding our collaborations with business teams and making Ionic useful to enterprise users, we'll be able to expand our audience and provide more developers with a way to create hybrid mobile apps," Ionic said.

Ionic followed up its IBM partnership by today announcing the final release of Ionic 1.0.0, known as "uranium-unicorn."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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