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Titanium Goes To All-JavaScript APIs

Titanium, the cross-platform mobile development framework from Appcelerator Inc., has gone to all-JavaScript APIs, so coders no longer need to write OS-specific modules in Java or Objective-C to fill in the native-only gaps.

Titanium was among the first mobile dev tools to enlist JavaScript for cross-platform mobile apps targeting iOS, Android and Windows, before other new-age projects such as React Native and NativeScript took the same approach. Unlike React Native and its "learn once, write anywhere" philosophy, Titanium practices the more traditional cross-platform approach of using one codebase to produce separate native apps.

However, doing so typically led to some gaps in the code where existing Titanium APIs couldn't provide some native functionality. For those cases, developers had to write their own customized Titanium modules using Java for Android or Objective-C for iOS -- or leverage prebuilt modules from existing collections.

"With Hyperloop, the need for OS-specific modules disappears," Appcelerator's Jeff Haynie wrote in a blog post last week. "That's right: Hyperloop lets you access every single native API on iOS and Android, all via JavaScript. What happens as the platform vendors release new versions and APIs? Those too are instantly available via Hyperloop. This means you get all the extraordinary cross-platform power of Titanium, plus the ability to access any specific native API just as if you were building through the native SDKs -- and to do it all in a language you know and love: JavaScript."

Hyperloop, Haynie explained, was introduced in Appcelerator's updated developer tools after some three years of development, which included a beta program lasting nearly a year. However, the low-end Indie single-seat plan does not include the new Hyperloop functionality; only the Pro and Enterprise plans, or the Team bundle incorporate the new technology. Also, Hyperloop is available for iOS and Android for now, with Windows support planned.

Along with announcing Hyperloop, Appcelerator announced the general availability of the Titanium SDK 5.4.0, Appcelerator CLI 5.4.0 and Appcelerator Studio 4.7.0, other components of its mobile dev platform.

Noteworthy features in those updates as listed by the company include:

  • Titanium SDK:
    • The SDK supports Facebook's App Invites.
    • Support for "logPurchase" in Ti.Facebook module. iOS: Support Blur View. iOS: Add Stepper UI element. Android: Implement Video Recording.
  • Appcelerator CLI:
    • The appc use command allows you to use pre-release versions by using the –prerelease flag.
    • APPC CLI allows for refreshing of a session without having to login again.
  • Appcelerator Studio:
    • Studio now comes with a built-in error reporting tool that can be used to identify problems within Studio and automatically upload problems to the Appcelerator analytics server, providing key insights as to where problems may exist in Studio and how they can be improved (see Studio Error Reporting for details on this new feature).
    • The Hyperloop Module provides direct access to the native APIs. Studio supports enabling the Hyperloop Module during new project creation and through the tiapp.xml editor.

Appcelerator also maintains an open source version of Titanium, which is available on GitHub. The company thanked nine community developers for contributing to the Titanium 5.4.0 SDK and for testing beta and release candidate versions.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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