Although debate rages on, longstanding problems with the development of hosted applications for Palm OS-based handhelds could be solved by an Extensible Markup Language middleware tool kit under development by Citrix Systems Inc.
The object-oriented tool kit, code-named Vertigo, will let developers write a single version of a Web-based application and then translate the softwares input, output and user interface into a form readable by any browser, according to officials.
"It really brings interactivity to Web applications the way [Macromedia Inc.s] Flash brought interactivity to GIFs," said Mark Templeton, president of Citrix, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The tool could end the difficulty developers have faced trying to create applications for use with Palm Inc.s Palm OS, officials said. Even Citrixs MetaFrame client does not work with Palm OS, despite the companys "any application, any network, and any device" slogan. The MetaFrame client does work on Microsoft Corp.s Pocket PC and Psion plc.s Epoc.
Citrix officials said technical reasons such as poor graphics support and insufficient consecutive memory addresses with the Palm are to blame for its lack of support.
But Palm officials have denied such claims. "We have a screen and a microprocessor," said Palm Systems Engineer Steve Butsch, in Santa Clara, Calif. "I think its more of a [Citrix] business decision."
Developers have complained that Palm doesnt provide enough access to its operating system; for example, it allows developers to test its applications with an emulator only and not the actual ROM. "The problem with Palm is they dont give you access to everything," said Rich Crane, an independent software developer from Littleton, Mass. "I can test it on the emulator, but I cant test it on my real Palm."
Palm officials said that there are plans to make the actual ROM available to developers through some kind of licensing agreement, but the company has yet to figure out exactly how that will work. "We have some legal hurdles to go through in order to make sure we dont put our source at risk," said Gabriel Acosta-Lopez, senior director of platform alliances at Palm. "We have had some situations of third-party vendors taking our ROM."
Palm has started giving developers the tools needed to write applications that will work with Palm devices that run the ARM processor. Palm plans to sell devices based on ARM starting later this year.