Appcelerator Takes On Adobe AIR with Titanium

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-12-09 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Appcelerator announced a preview of Appcelerator Titanium, an open-source platform for building desktop and mobile applications using a common set of Web technologies. The technology enables developers to build desktop Web applications that can operate both online and offline. That capability prompts comparisons with Adobe AIR, but Appcelerator boasts open-source components as opposed to Adobe's proprietary technology.

Appcelerator has announced the release of a public preview of Appcelerator Titanium, an open-source platform for building desktop and mobile applications using a common set of Web technologies.

Appcelerator officials said Titanium enables developers to use standard Web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript to quickly and easily develop applications that can be deployed to multiple platforms, including the desktop, the browser or the mobile device. This capability has caused more than one observer to view Titanium as a clear competitor to Adobe Systems' Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR).

"[It] is easiest if you think of [Appcelerator] as an open Web version of Adobe AIR in that it is a run-time that has extended APIs that allows developers to create applications using Web technology," said Dion Almaer, co-founder of Ajaxian.com.

As with Adobe AIR, Titanium, unlike traditional Web applications, which are limited to operating within the browser, enables developers to create applications that are able to read and write local data on the desktop and interact with the operating system. In particular, Titanium enables developers to build desktop Web applications that can operate both online and offline.

Titanium is built on top of a number of leading open-source technologies, including WebKit, Gears and Chromium, and is designed to work on Windows, Mac and Linux desktop operating systems. The Windows and Mac versions are available immediately, and the Linux version will be available in January 2009. Titanium is distributed under the Apache Public License.

"It is built gluing and molding WebKit, Chromium and Gears in very interesting ways indeed," Almaer said of Appcelerator. "A lot of tough work was done in getting the glue to bind to graphics tool kits on various platforms, and then the work to tear apart Gears and allow it to take in new modules which implement APIs such as native windowing [transparent custom chrome], direct file system access, database integration and storage, desktop notifications, application and system menu control, and geo-location."

"Developing for the desktop had shifted down in priority in recent years," said Michael Cote, an industry analyst with RedMonk. "But desktop development has recently picked up more interest as rich Internet application [RIA] technologies have pulled down the Web development experience to the desktop. Increasingly, developers have the option to use known Web frameworks to expand into a previously unreachable area, the desktop."

Although Cote said it is too early to tell whether Titanium is a "game changer," it is definitely a technology to watch, particularly for the enterprise.

"In the RIA world, Adobe is currently king simply because they've been at it so long and control the tool set," Cote said. "That said, they lack being fully open source when it comes to [the newly named] Flash Platform. This may not have been a problem for their existing, Flash-centric developer base, but as Adobe expands out into the 'enterprise' and traditional developer world, it's becoming a problem.

"For Appcelerator, then, the fact that Titanium is open source is very interesting. I think in 2009, the 'game changing' moves for all the RIA and AJAX [Asynchronous JavaScript and X M L] vendors will be how they drive adoption and use, not so much the raw technology itself."

Proof-of-concept applications with full source code, including a Twitter client and a contact manager, are available for download at http://titaniumapp.com/demos

 


 
 
 
 
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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