BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
Oracle's Mobile Application Framework (MAF) is a mobile application development tool used for the creation of cross-platform applications for Android and Apple iOS mobile devices. It features a number of integrated components that provide developers with a complete solution for app management. It is best suited for large corporations looking to develop and implement multiple enterprise-level mobile applications.
Oracle MAF can be accessed by developers in two integrated development environments (IDEs): Eclipse and Oracle JDeveloper. Both of these IDEs are open source platforms that allow developers to build applications using a Java source code. Java is an extremely popular and widely used Web design language; however, its use in mobile app development is not as widespread.
Because Java is not a native language for Android or iOS operating systems, its functionality on these devices comes from an integrated mobile-optimized Java virtual machine found in MAF that allows for the execution of Java 8 code as a native library. This enables developers to use a single source code to build their application for both operating systems, which MAF then translates and delivers as a .apk file (Android) or .ipa file (iOS) allowing the application to executing natively on the device rather than as a Web app.
Also aiding in faster development times is MAF's integrated Oracle Mobile Application Controller component, which enables the creation of a declarative layer to allow for a Model-View-Controller development architecture.
As previously noted, applications built with MAF execute on device. This is significant because this enables the application to run and store data offline, which provides the app's users with tremendous flexibility regarding when and where the app is used. Additionally, apps created with MAF feature encrypted SQLite database access to securely store data when the app is used while offline.
MAF is available for purchase directly from Oracle's digital storefront and through affiliated partners, and is only available as a full edition that includes all tools and functions. It is available with two pricing options: a one-time cost of $55,000, which provides access to an unlimited number of users; or $110 per user, per published application. It is also available for free to users of Oracle's Mobile Could Service, which is a mobile backend as a service offering that helps users easily and securely connect their mobile applications to enterprise systems and other cloud services.
Oracle MAF 2.1, the most current version available, added enhanced integration and security with the Oracle Mobile Security Suite, support for local notifications and richer data visualization. Support services for MAF are also available from Oracle, and cover a wide range of customer needs. The company also has its own YouTube Channel, Oracle Mobile Platform, which features instructional videos that cover various aspects of using MAF for cross-platform app development.
Although currently not available, Oracle says that app development capabilities for Windows devices will be available with MAF in the near future.
Matthew David outlines the factors to consider when choosing a cross-platform development tool.
Security is an influencing factor in mobile app development landscape.