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Tools for Mobile Web
July 27th, 2010 by Eugene Ostroukhov

We (the Symbian Foundation) proposed a new project – Tools for Mobile Web. We offer our code as a basis for this new Eclipse project and now that we released version 1.0 of our product we would like to focus on this contribution. I would like to better explain what we would like to see out of this project. We did several presentations already so there are some common questions we had to answer.

What is “mobile web”?

In the scope of this project “mobile web” means “mobile web runtimes” that are present on most modern popular smartphones. Developers can use web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) to create mobile applications. These applications are quite different from the regular web pages in that they are not served from a web site but are installed on the device not unlike regular “native” mobile applications. They can be distributed through the OVI store or other platform-dependent application stores. These application have a broader access to device capabilities – they can access GPS and accelerometer sensor readings, use device-specific UI (i.e. software buttons on Symbian phones), read address book or be notified when SMS or MMS message was received.

Simulator can run web runtime applications and provides basic controls to trigger events

Device simulator

But there is Web Tools Project already!

TWM does not mean to reimplement WTP functionality. We build on top of the WTP reusing all the powerful tools in provides (like JSDT). We focus on adding functionality that is specific to mobile development – like deployment to phone or mobile API simulation.

Will you add support for JQuery UI (or <your other favorite JS library>)?

Our focus is on adding mobile development-specific functionality. We do not plan to implement functionality that users consider “missing” from the WTP. On the other hand we hope to cooperate with WTP and possibly contribute to such areas. Once the WTP gets support for the library then TMW will “inherit” it.

We are watching closely JavaScript frameworks that are more specific to mobile application development. We already added support for PhoneGap framework and we may add support for other frameworks as they mature and gain popularity.

Is there any timeframe on when the tools will be available?

You can already download Tools that support Symbian WRT development. They are feature complete and EPL licensed so we encourage you to try them whether you are a JavaScript developer looking to expand to mobile platforms or an Eclipse enthusiast interested in IDEs for mobile. Currently we are focused on refactoring our code to add support for any number of the runtimes and to prepare it for migration to eclipse.org. From that point we will continue development of both Symbian-specific and runtime-agnostic parts.

What about support for other platforms?

We have implemented support for PhoneGap APIs but we only package applications for Symbian platform. Aplix already stepped up to contribute support for BONDI runtime. We expect other interested parties to contribute support for other platforms.

What can the IDE do?

It is a fully integrated IDE that supports application development cycle from creating a new application project to deployment on the device or packaging for distribution.

IDE main screen

Main screen

Our editing experience is based on WTP were we extended JSDT with the support for mobile libraries and added CSS validator and application manifest validator.

Another important part is the simulator and debugger that are built into our IDE. It can be used as a live preview of your application or as a runtime for debugging. Our primary goal was to reduce overhead of the mobile application development so we chose to use desktop browser (Chrome) to ensure maximum debugger performance. We understand that this approach is not completely accurate but it had proven to be “good enough” for debugging of the vast majority of the tasks. We plan on adding on-device debugging in one of the next releases.

How do I start using this IDE?

Follow this link for up-to-date information on using our IDE. Do not hesitate to contact us on our forums or submit bugs to bugtracker.

How is this IDE related to other solutions for WRT development (i.e. Nokia plug-in for Aptana, Dreamweaver)?

Our code owes to a large degree to Nokia code contribution. Our initial goal was to achieve feature-parity with Aptana-based solution. We added several important features including PhoneGap support and acceleration events simulation that were not available in the original code.


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