We’ve spent time recently focused on developing tablet mobile applications. Our targets have been the BlackBerry PlayBook and IPad2. We’ve just had our first app accepted in BlackBerry’s App World. So how was the experience?
Background: Utah Application Development Company
Some context first. We have been fully focused on Web application development for most of our history. Some of our literature describe us as Utah application developers. A number of us are based in Utah, but we have remote folks, and work on projects far beyond Utah’s boundaries. The company started out focused on mapping. We’ve actually been building map and GIS based Internet applications for 10 years plus. Not wanting to be locked in a niche, we broadened to general Web development. So called RIA’s (rich Internet applications) have been our specialty; Flash, Flex and Silverlight.
Utah Mobile Content Developers
Mobile caught our attention with the release of the first smartphones. We did not jump in; simply watched from the sidelines. Our reservations were mostly due to the small screen size. To this day, few of us use many of the plethora of smartphone apps out there. The game, in our mind, is really tablets. The first release of the IPad, again caught our attention. But the restrictions imposed by Apple; no Flash Player so Web based Flash/Flex apps were out, difficulty packaging AIR apps to run natively on the device; again caused us pause for thought.
Utah Mobile Programmers
Two things changed in early 2011. First, BlackBerry released the PlayBook tablet. Second, Adobe released Flash Builder 4.5.1, which includes Apple iOS support. So what is the big deal?
The PlayBook has no Adobe restrictions. So Web apps can run based on Flash or Flex. Apps built using Adobe technology can be built, installed and run natively on the device. Our recent release, named ArcGIS Viewer is available here
Utah Software Developers
The application runs natively on the device. What we found interesting about the BlackBerry PlayBook was that we could take code developed for Flex Web applications and port it to this application. No need to completely reinvent the wheel. The application remains a proof of concept. But we continue active development for a stable, advanced release.
The Flash Builder 4.5.1 release is a big deal. The process of iOS development for Adobe technology developers has been restrictive. Objective C remains the top technology choice for iOS development. That may change now. This new release means Adobe application developers can now push their apps to the IPad and IPhone more easily. They are also optimised to improve performance.
We decided to test this out. Excitedly we downloaded a trial version of Flash Builder 4.5.1. Our plan; to move our BlackBerry PlayBook ArcGIS viewer to the IPad. In Flash Builder we created a new Flex Mobile AIR project. And started moving code from our existing app to the new IPad project. Shock horror ERRORS. We scratched our heads. And realised unless the project is built with the newest Flex components it will not run. We will need to write the application from scratch. Bummer.
The bottom line. It is easy to port legacy Flex apps to the Playbook. But IPad development using the new Flash Builder 4.5.1 will likely need a rewrite.
Utah Mobile Application Development
So. We are based a Utah software company. With a wide geographic reach in terms of clients. Focused on Web and mobile application development. We are looking at the future. And the future is all about mobile tablets.
If you have a BlackBerry mobile download the ArcGIS app and try it out. Its a free app. We’d be interested in your feedback. If not here are a couple of videos of the app:
Incidentally, we have another pure open source application similar to the above scheduled for release in the next few weeks to App World.