Mobile app development tools: A buyer's guide
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
RAD Studio XE8, the latest in a line of RAD Studio offerings from Embarcadero, is an on-site, Windows-based mobile application development platform used for the creation of native and cross-platform desktop and mobile applications for Android, Apple iOS and OS X, and Windows devices.
RAD is an acronym for rapid application development and embodies Embarcadero's approach to application deployment, which is that quality applications can be developed quickly while not sacrificing performance or functionality. RAD Studio helps accomplish this task.
A mobile app development tool for multiple device platforms
RAD Studio comes equipped with several proprietary Embarcadero integrated development environments (IDEs) for the creation of mobile and desktop applications. Featured in RAD Studio are C++Builder (for developing applications with a C++ codebase), Delphi XE8 (for developing applications with object Pascal codebase), and HTML5 Builder (for developing applications with HTML5 codebase).
Powering each of these IDEs is the FireUI Multi-Device Designer. This component allows developers to create user interfaces across multiple device platforms through the use of one codebase (C++, HTML5 or Object Pascal), then view, target and enhance these interfaces by device platform. These predefined views include Android phones and tablets; Apple desktop, iPad, and iPhone; and Windows desktop and Surface Pro Tablet. RAD Studio also features the FireMonkey graphics processing unit, Embarcadero's proprietary application development and runtime platform that is also a pivotal component of RAD Studio's cross-platform development abilities.
Embarcadero boasts that RAD Studio has the largest set of supported native UI elements available for use in application development. This, in turn, gives developers who use RAD Studio the ability to quickly and easily address typical problem areas that they face when creating cross-platform applications (such as device performance, resolution discrepancy and sensor interaction) and produce applications that perform as if they were created natively.
RAD Studio meets a variety of developer needs
Several editions of RAD Studio are available, all of which are aimed toward development teams of varying size and are capable of creating applications for use by small and medium-sized businesses and large enterprises. All are offered on an annual subscription basis and offer full commercial use licensing.
RAD Studio Professional is the company's base offering. Professional includes all the components needed to design, code and implement applications across multiple platforms, accomplished through the previously mentioned IDEs integrated into the software. Starting cost is $1,954.
RAD Studio Enterprise provides the full functionality of the Professional edition, as well as data connectivity with Embarcadero's DataSnap SDK and an Embarcadero Enterprise Mobility Services Developer License. Enterprise has features for the creation of client/server and n-tier apps that connect to a variety of enterprise database and cloud platforms. Starting cost is $3,244.
The Ultimate edition: A complete software development offering
RAD Studio Ultimate includes everything in the Enterprise edition plus Embarcadero's DB PowerStudio Developer Edition for structured query language database development, database change management, SQL profiling and SQL tuning tools. Ultimate is a complete software development offering designed for building, managing and tuning database-intensive, connected apps with enterprise database systems. Starting cost is $4,325.
RAD Studio Architect includes everything in the Enterprise edition plus Embarcadero's ER/Studio Developer Edition, which offers users database modeling and design capabilities. Starting cost is $4,866.
An annual support contract is also available for all RAD Studio editions at a cost of $1,460. It includes technical support, major version upgrades, maintenance updates, critical function updates, early beta access, and exclusive technical content and add-ons.
Scaled down RAD Studio available for small development teams
Also available from Embarcadero is Appmethod, a scaled-down version of RAD Studio aimed at smaller development teams. RAD Studio and Appmethod are functionally equivalent mobile app development tools but offer different degrees of available options. Appmethod offers a free version aimed at Android phone app development; a $25 per month, per platform, per developer version for use with up to five developers for the creation of cross-platform applications; and an $85 per month, per platform, per developer version that offers cross-platform development, unlimited users and technical support for up to three developer incidents per year.
RAD Studio and Appmethod are available for purchase through Embarcadero's sales office, its online store or through a special program for academic institutions. A free 30-day trial of the software is available for those looking to test the mobile app development tool before purchasing.
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