For some time now, Oracle has offered its Application Development Frameworks as a way to speed up adoption and development of applications based on the company’s middleware and databases. Today, the company announced the first major release of its Oracle Application Development Framework Mobile client. This framework gives developers a hardware and data abstraction layer upon which to build software for BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices.
Duncan Mills, senior director of product management in the Oracle Fusion Middleware group, said that this new framework is not just about phones and business users. He said there was a reason this first release targeted Windows Mobile, a platform even Microsoft has tossed overboard in favor of Windows Phone 7.
“The major reason is that this is a huge platform in retail and industrial,” he said. “There are Windows Mobile devices, which don’t look like a phone to you and me. We actually supply, as part of the packaging, a JVM for Windows Mobile devices.”
For developers, the new ADF is entirely based on Java, thus the necessity of running a JVM on the Windows Mobile platform. Mills said one of the primary goals of the new framework is to give developers an abstraction layer that can access databases and on-phone features, such as GPS chips and wireless radios.
From a developer standpoint, the ADF mobile client is installed on a device, and subsequent ADF-based applications are run out of that client. With the client in place, the framework handles all database access requests and acts as an intermediary to phone features.
Mills said this approach will shortly allow Oracle to add additional phone platforms to the framework. While he did not actually say the word “Android,” he did intimate that this was a Java-based framework, and thus, certain mobile Java platforms would make sense to be targets in the future.
“Within the tooling,” said Mills, “we provide the developer with all the tools and widgets they need to do tricky stuff. Which rows do they need from a particular set of data? There’s no point in downloading the entire customer database into the device for something like that. Data sub-setting is functionality provided by the framework.”
Also, because the framework is written in and uses Java, developers can mix their applications with standard Java helpers, like JSF, said Mills.
Currently, the Oracle ADF Mobile suite of libraries and helpers is priced low at US$5 per device. Developers will build applications using Oracle’s JDeveloper, though Mills said Eclipse support is expanding.