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02 February 2012, 12:12

RAP mobile: an alternative for developing apps in Java

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RAP mobile logo The Java programming language has gone out of fashion for developing cross-platform mobile apps since web technologies such as HTML5, JavaScript and CSS have become more popular for mobile programming. Now, EclipseSource is trying to establish RAP mobile as an alternative multi-platform Java development approach.

EclipseSource Founder and CEO Jochen Krause says that, although starting out with HTML5 is easy and current state-of-the-art JavaScript libraries "look really great", any initial enthusiasm usually turns into disillusion when trying to get the apps to run or use them. This is why his company has launched RAP mobile, added Krause.

Zoom RAP mobile uses a JSON-based message format
Source: EclipseSource
The name is derived from the Eclipse Rich Ajax Platform (RAP), the basis of RAP mobile which is primarily developed by EclipseSource. The technology is an open source plug-in for the Eclipse development environment and is designed for the development of Java-based web 2.0 applications. RAP mobile uses RAP's server, browser implementation (HTML5, JavaScript) and APIs.

RAP Mobile also offers native clients for iOS and Android which give mobile devices a native app that communicates to the RAP server and handles application rendering. This functionality is provided through the operating system's native widgets rather than its browser technologies. RAP mobile will render the Java/SWT (Standard Widget Toolkit) code as a native mobile app.

The native client software will also give access to device components such as the GPS and camera. Its architecture is designed to provide secure data handling, as all data that is not required for rendering is stored on the server instead of locally on the device, keeping the data safe should a device be lost.

With its announcement, EclipseSource has also launched a RAP mobile developer preview programme which will initially be a closed programme, requiring developers to apply for access. Only a few hundred developers will be accepted to the programme's first stage. A public beta is scheduled to follow this summer. The browser implementation of the client will be open source, but the native client will not be. EclipseSource is planning to open source general purpose parts of the native clients but generally intends to offer their native clients commercially through developer and enterprise licences.


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