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Embarcadero HTML 5 Builder for Native/Web Development

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg caused an industry-wide stir last month when he said during a press conference that the biggest mistake his company had made so far was "betting too much on HTML 5 rather than native" in its mobile software development strategy. His comment underscored a kind of tension between web and native app development growing among developers.

"This is really about choosing the right technology at the right time for what you want to achieve on the mobile device," said Michael Swindell, SVP of marketing and product management at app development toolmaker Embarcadero Technologies. "The mobile devices themselves have limited performance runtimes for things like WebKit and JavaScript. You really have to think about that today when you're building an application. I believe that eventually HTML 5 will be perfectly appropriate for a Facebook type of app on the mobile device."

In the meantime, Embarcadero has just released a tool for developers who want to use the same code base for Web and native apps. The company's new HTML 5 Builder is a complete integrated development environment (IDE) aimed squarely at app developers used to working with Visual Studio, C++, and Delphi.

"Many if not most of the HTML 5 tools and frameworks currently on the market are lightweight products for web/graphic designers," Swindell told ADTmag. "This isn't one of those. The tool includes visual designers, components, code editors, debuggers -- all familiar tools supporting web and mobile development. And it relies on three common, standards-based web technologies: HTML 5, CSS3, and JavaScript."

HTML 5 Builder is designed to allow developers to create end-to-end Web or mobile apps using a single codebase of these standard Web technologies. The emphasis in this first release is apps targeted for multiple mobile operating systems (Web, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone), but the tool also supports server-side development based on PHP.

The apps built in HTML 5 Builder can be deployed to Web servers, in which case they are accessed and rendered through standard Web browsers; or they can be compiled and deployed to any of the app stores. And if the hardware allows it, they can be loaded directly onto a device.

HTML 5 Builder is available now as a stand-alone Web and mobile solution, or bundled with the company's new RAD Studio XE3 tool suite, also released last month. The new tool suite combines HTML 5 Builder Delphi, C++Builder, and Embarcadero Prism for developers building apps for Windows 8 (desktop, not RT) and Mac OS X Mountain Lion (and Retina display). The company plans to come out early next year with iOS support, native ARM-based compilation and Android support.

"These tools have been focused historically on the Windows developer," Swindell said. "But Mac is now a real entity in the enterprise, and just about every developer needs to think about Apple devices. In some of the organizations we work with, Macs make up 10 percent or more of the desktops. And certainly the mobile market has completely changed in the past five years."

More information about HTML 5 Builder and a trial download is available on the company's Web site.

Posted by John K. Waters on October 10, 2012