First Read

A first take on enterprise IT technology news and events.

Sencha Ext JS 5 Unifies Mobile, Desktop App Dev

Sencha's new Ext JS 5 enables developers to easily move desktop apps to tablets and other mobile devices.

BYOD strategy

Sencha, a provider of HTML5 development tools for desktop and mobile applications, announced an upgrade to Ext JS, its flagship development platform for building cross-browser applications.

Ext JS 5 enables developers to build or move desktop apps to mobile devices with little to no modification to the existing code base and within the same development tools they already use.

Ext JS 5 adds support for touch-based gestures and now allows desktop Ext JS apps to run on touch-screen devices such as tablets and touchscreen laptops. Ext JS 5 also includes touch-centric, customizable themes. The new touch-screen support enables organizations to target a wide range of applications with one code base and allows easy adaptation of existing apps for operation on touch devices, thereby extending the deployment footprint and useful life of these applications with minimal cost, the company said.

The promise of Web application development is that developers can easily build applications that run in the widest range of device. Mobile devices and mobile apps disrupted this model as the industry moved to native apps that require independent development for iOS, Android, Windows and other platforms or even just porting a Mac OS app to an iPad, Sencha officials said. This extended application development lifecycle constrains the timely delivery of new features and unnecessarily complicates application deployments for both IT pros and users, the company said. In addition, the migration from traditional, point-and-click, desktop computer applications onto touch-based tablets and laptops is a transition marked by significant software engineering work to resolve display and user experience issues.

"IT departments and developers are challenged with giving users access to their business apps on all of the devices they use," said Jeff Hartley, senior vice president of products and services, in a statement. "This becomes harder with every new mobile platform and device launch and our research shows that they must support five different types of device/OS combination, and it's only growing. Ext JS 5 eliminates a lot of work from this exercise by providing one platform for bridging desktop apps to tablets and other touch devices like laptops, kiosks and large-format touch screens. This is a big breakthrough for our customers and the entire mobile app market."

Indeed, "One framework, multiple form factors and devices, including desktop and mobile—that's the promise of Ext JS 5," said Chris Thornhill, chief architect at enterprise software maker Aptean, which is a Sencha customer. "Routing is very important to us, and we use deep linking into our app to create tight integration with solutions like BI dashboards and social forums. We're also using data binding for our internationalization strategy. With Ext JS 5, we build our app once, and our developers move quickly and easily onto new projects, rather than spending time maintaining multiple code bases."

Sencha Ext JS 5 features a Model View ViewModel (MVVM) architecture and two-way data binding to facilitate building apps. MVVM also fosters more modular development and enhances application scalability. Moreover, built-in client-side data session management helps minimize round-trips to the server and the introduction of routing allows deep linking within applications.

In addition, developers can continually upgrade Sencha. As developers' needs grow, Sencha continues to enhance its component library. With Ext JS 5, developers can add widgets inside of a grid cell for data visualization and big data analytics. Ext JS 5 also adds an upgraded touch-optimized charting package with financial charting capabilities.

Sencha Ext JS 5 is offered under a commercial software license with product support and maintenance, training and expert professional services available. The product is also available under the GPL v3 open source license. More information on the product and licensing can be found here.