Magic Kicks Off Mobile Application Push
May 17, 2011 Alex Woodie
Magic Software is targeting Blackberry and Windows Mobile smartphones with a new initiative to deliver access to enterprise applications from mobile devices, which it announced last week. The company eventually plans to natively support all major mobile platforms with uniPaaS, its flagship rich Internet application (RIA) development and runtime framework that deploys on IBM i servers, among others.
Magic has always touted platform independence as one of the primary differentiators of its application development tools. Its current uniPaaS offering, which uses a model-driven development paradigm, builds on Magic’s 4GL roots, and provides customers with a degree of future-proofing, in terms of technology, platform support, and delivery mechanism.
Up until this point, RIAs developed with uniPaaS typically utilized Magic’s .Net-based rich client, which runs on Windows desktops. This .Net-based rich client offers users the familiarity of a Web browser-based interface, but the speed and security of a regular Windows program.
With its current mobile push, Magic is now touting the capability for uniPaaS to generate native mobile clients from the same development effort used to create desktop applications. Eventually, the company plans to support all the popular mobile platforms, including Apple iOS and Google Android. Currently, it supports just RIM‘s Blackberry and Windows Mobile version 6.5, the company says in a FAQ on its website.
“With today’s proliferation of smartphones, companies require a mobile development strategy that targets multiple operating systems,” Magic CEO Guy Bernstein states in a press release. “Our solution addresses the challenges of enterprise mobility by providing enterprises with a device-independent and future-proof approach.”
“With this new offering, we can provide organizations, and in particular corporate IT teams, with a highly efficient and versatile platform for developing mobile enterprise applications, as well as presenting independent software vendors (ISVs) with a golden opportunity to generate new business. In addition, this offering not only supports mobile deployment, but also paves the way for Cloud deployment of enterprise applications with the same development effort,” Bernstein says.
Magic has supported mobile devices before, but those early efforts relied on WML and HTML browsers, which left something to be desired in the functionality department. The company says its current effort to create native clients for each targeted mobile platform will enable its customers to get the most out of each mobile platform, while keeping hand-coding to a minimum.
Magic claims that its new mobile offering is “the first and only application platform that truly supports multiple device types from a single development effort.” The company says the same development effort will yield a full Windows-based RIA client or a mobile client, without the need to dabble in different languages–such as J2ME for Blackberry, J2SE for Android, Objective-C for iPhone, and Compact .NET for Windows Mobile–or to develop in HTML and Flash like other development tool vendors do.
(While making this claim, the company also admits that its customers may want to do some hand coding to get the most out of their mobile apps. “Showing the same UI and the same application flow for all devices might reduce the application functionality according to the lowest common denominator,” the company states in its mobile device FAQ. “Therefore, in practice, there might well be differences in the code for each device.”)
So maybe Magic can’t generate, with a push of one button, a compelling and native UI for all mobile platforms, as well as all future platforms. That is probably too much to ask of any development tool provider.
But the fact that uniPaaS combines both the client and the server components into a single development effort does give the application platform an advantage over client-focused frameworks. And the support for the IBM i platform gives customers a very strong and secure backend for serving screens to mobile devices. It’s unlikely that many vendors targeting the lucrative mobile application market even know what the IBM i server is.
For more information on Magic’s new mobile push, see the vendor’s website at www.magicsoftware.com.