Mobile app development tools: A buyer's guide
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
MobileFirst Platform Foundation from
Powering MobileFirst Platform Foundation's app development capability is MobileFirst Studio, an Eclipse-based development environment. Studio is used to develop client-side apps with the use of additional IBM and third-party plug-ins, widgets and development frameworks, all of which ultimately make possible native and cross-platform app development in the platform. These tools also include popular and widely used Apache Cordova plug-ins; however the Apache Cordova tools can be used only in MobileFirst Platform's command line interface. Studio is also available as a plug-in for Eclipse.
By leveraging these APIs, developers can build their apps without worrying about whether the apps' custom features and appearance will translate across different mobile operating systems. Also, developers are ensured that cross-platform apps will execute with native appearance and functionality on their intended device. Using a single codebase for cross-platform app development helps developers cut down on build and implementation timelines and lets them focus their efforts on building the best application possible without worrying about replicating the application multiple times. The combined use of APIs and a single codebase translates to faster publication to places such as the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, as well as faster deployment to employees in the case of enterprise apps.
In addition to Studio and Server, MobileFirst Platform Foundation offers several other tools that aid in the development process. MobileFirst Console is an administrative GUI that provides developers with real-time application analytics. It also provides push notification services to aid in app management and monitoring. MobileFirst Application Center lets developers establish an enterprise app store for handling the distribution of created apps. MobileFirst Device Runtime Components provides developers with APIs for governance, security and usability. MobileFirst Server is middleware used for the modification of server-side processes that affect communication between apps and associated back-end systems.
MobileFirst Platform Foundation is available for use on AIX, Linux, Mac, Solaris and Windows operating systems. It is suited for use by individual developers as well as larger development teams. Several editions of the platform are available: MobileFirst Platform Foundation Developer Edition, MobileFirst Platform Foundation, MobileFirst Foundation System Pattern, MobileFirst Platform Foundation Consumer and MobileFirst Platform Foundation Enterprise. A basic breakdown of each edition's offering can be found in the IBM Knowledge Center.
The platform's Developer Edition is available as a no-cost download from IBM's website. Pricing for the other editions of MobileFirst Platform is available by contacting IBM. Support contracts also are available and should be discussed with IBM. Free online support forums for the platform are available.
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