Mobile application platform provider Appcelerator on April 2 unveiled a cloud-based toolkit for developing and running mobile-optimized APIs—even for devices such as Apple Watch that don't have a browser.
Appcelerator Arrow, which becomes part of the Appcelerator Platform, is designed to simplify one of the largest pain points in mobile development: connecting to and orchestrating data from a wide range of back-end sources, enabling developers to build mobile apps faster and better.
For example, Arrow could be used to develop APIs that connect apps in browserless devices—such as Apple Watch—with an iPhone or iPad. Many previously unexplored dependencies exist in that use case.
"We've been working on Arrow for more than a year, our customers helped us design it, and we've actually been using it ourselves internally to build a number of our own capabilities that are coming out as part of this release," Appcelerator CEO Jeff Haynie told eWEEK.
Appcelerator's Titanium platform is already a popular tool for developers to build native applications for mobile devices. "With Arrow, we want to bring the same type of excitement and power to the back end as we did with Titanium on the user interface," Haynie said.
"By putting Arrow together with instant access to the platform, our aim is to help power mobile innovation everywhere it occurs—whether you're a leader in a Fortune 500 company or a lone developer with a great idea."
The extension in Apple Watch that talks to a device is done via an app, not a browser, Haynie said. "With our partnership with Apple, Arrow can facilitate that use case," he said.
To access data sources and services, mobile apps require a different programming interface than traditional Web applications. Mobile APIs must deliver payloads optimized for consumption on smaller screens and must translate traditional interface formats such as XML into modern ones such as JSON. Battery and bandwidth considerations also drive the need for rate limiting.
Arrow forms the backbone of the Appcelerator Platform's MBaaS (mobile backend as a service). It consists of two primary components, Builder and Cloud. Arrow Builder represents a next-generation version of the company's API Builder, enabling developers to rapidly assemble APIs, data models and data connectors via either a visual wizard or programmatically.
Arrow Cloud delivers an instant, elastically scalable cloud service for running APIs and analyzing their use, as well as full support for rich push notifications and ArrowDB, which provides a new schema-less data store.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company also announced a new on-demand model for the Appcelerator Platform. The new model means that organizations of any size, from independent developers to large enterprises, can gain instant access to all the capabilities needed to build, test, connect and measure their mobile apps, Haynie said.