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Rhodes 1.5 Allows to use Ruby to Write Apps for Smartphones - and now the iPad

by Mirko Stocker on Mar 29, 2010 |

Rhomobile, the company behind the Rhodes framework that allows developers to write native applications for almost all smartphone platforms in Ruby, has just released version 1.5. Rhodes applications are written once and then compiled to run on almost all smartphone platforms. Currently supported are the iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Android; there are also plans to support Intel and Nokia's MeeGo and Palm's Web OS in the future.

But with HTML 5 on the horizon, why should people want to write native applications? We asked this question Adam Blum, Rhomobile's CEO: 

We like HTML5 and you can use HTML5 in the views of your Rhodes-based native smartphone app. But there will always be a need for local installable native apps that take advantage of native device capabilities, the vast majority of which will never appear as an HTML tag. Also, support of the framework for automatically synchronized local data in the Rhodes framework makes it far easier to build apps that provides offline, disconnected data to users than is possible with just HTML5 SQL support alone. The success of the iPhone app store on a device with a good browser demonstrates that users want and now demand local native apps for their smartphones

A new entry on the company's blog describes what distinguishes Rhodes from other frameworks like PhoneGap:

  • Model-view-controller for smartphones, with Rails-like generators for apps and models, including an ORM.
  • Synchronized offline-data, making it very easy to have all the data available offline and still editable.
  • Hosted service for development on RhoHub, so you don't need to install all the different SDKs.

Rhodes applications are written in HTML and Javascript for the GUI, and Ruby. With Ruby, it's even possible to use RubyGems (Gems with native extensions obviously don't just work, but Rhodes supports native Gems like net/http(s), JSON, REXML, crypt, openssl).
Being native applications, you can also access the GPS, PIM contacts, the camera, and other devices that are not accessible from a pure web application.

The latest release Rhodes 1.5 added some improvements like "native geo mapping for android", "native screen resolution for iPad" and support for splash screens.

Rhodes can be used either free of charge under a GPL license or by buying a per-application-license for $500. A list of applications built with Rhodes can be found, for example, Wikipedia's iPhone app is developed with Rhodes, in "approximately 20% of the code of their previous mobile app written in Objective C for the iPhone".

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