Today's release of three new Eclipse tools for embedded systems provides a missing link between SOA developers working on enterprise applications for cell phones and other mobile devices, says Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions LLC.
"There's still a fairly wide divide between the guys working on embedded development and the enterprise," the analyst said. He noted that developers working in the embedded systems are only vaguely familiar with what their counterparts are doing with SOA for the enterprise, and vice versa. This is a potential problem because an increasingly mobile workforce requires versions of the applications they use in the office to be available on their increasingly sophisticated cell phones and other mobile devices.
Doug Gaff, leader of the Eclipse Device Software Development Platform (DSDP) Project Management Committee (PMC) and engineering manager at Wind River Systems Inc., said one of today's releases specifically addresses interfaces for cell phones. The Eclipse Mobile Tools for the Java Platform (MTJ), will provide for interfaces design beginning with the embedded version of the Eclipse Rich Client Platform known as eRCP.
eRCP is a step forward, but Gardner cautions that it should not be confused with an Ajax approach to mobile devices as it is a much fatter client. From the analyst's point of view, the key advance with DSDP is that Eclipse is providing a common framework for enterprise and embedded systems development.
"With embedded developers aligning with Eclipse, and increasing enterprise development and service-oriented architecture development also aligned with Eclipse, we're seeing a level of crossover here that wasn't easy before," Gardner said. "It's a unification on a level that we've never seen before."
This could speed the movement to providing application access on mobile devices, so workers in the field could gain access to enterprise business logic and data with a similar, if trimmed down, interface to the one they are used to working with at their desktop."There's definitely a demand in the market for bringing together data and logic and access that people have on the network in their enterprise out into the field," Gardner said "The more you can liberate the data and applications, the more productive you can be and extend your workflow to the places where works being done."
He said he is impressed with the way Eclipse is moving to provide as sort of grand unified framework for application development.
"A developer working with Eclipse APIs and tools would probably be able to move over and start doing development for devices," Gardner said. "It also allows for applications to be more easily developed for deployment in both arenas taking a typical enterprise runtime and delivering it out to mobile devices. The framework that they develop in is now not in separate, distinct universes, but they're in the same universe for both enterprise development and mobile device development."
Gaff said the DSDP project has moved quickly from its founding in early 2005 to today's release of tools that developers can download and begin to work with, hopefully providing feedback to the project. Led by Wind River, the device software vendor, the DSDP project includes 40 developers from 10 companies, including IBM, Nokia and Motorola, who have provided more than 550,000 lines of code, he said.
The three tools available for download today are:
- Mobile Tools for the Java Platform (MTJ), release version 0.7, which extends the Eclipse platform to support mobile device Java application development. Gaff said this is a first step in developing frameworks that can be extended by tool vendors, providing tools that can be used by third party mobile Java application developers.
- Embedded Rich Client Platform (eRCP), release version 1.0, which is designed to extend the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) to embedded devices. eRCP enables the same Eclipse development model used to create applications on the desktop to also be used on mobile devices. The project includes a subset of RCP components tailored to mobile devices. It supports Windows Mobile 2003/2005, Nokia Series 80 and S60.
- Target Management (TM), release version 1.0, which is designed to create data models and frameworks to configure and manage embedded systems, their connections and services. It supports Windows, Solaris, Linux and Mac.