Sencha Touch 2: What to expect
Sencha has announced that it will be releasing the beta version of Sencha Touch 2 in October and has presented the key new features, which include native packaging and performance improvements.
Sencha Touch allows developers to build mobile web apps that look and feel native on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry touch devices. It makes specific use of HTML5 to deliver components like audio and video, as well as a localStorage proxy for saving data offline. It also makes extensive use of CSS3 to provide a robust styling layer. Sencha Touch is currently compatible with Apple iOS 3+, Android 2.1+, and BlackBerry 6+ devices.
- Native packaging is now a feature in Sencha Touch 2. With just one command, you can package your application for iOS and for Android. YouNative packaging is now a feature in Sencha Touch 2. With just one command, you can package your application for iOS and for Android. You’ll no longer need to write your own wrappers or wrangle with other solutions, it’s all built in to Sencha Touch. Best of all, you’
- HTML5 Device APIs aren’t fully available on mobile browsers yet, so we’re adding many of the native device APIs into the packager API surface, letting you take advantage of what future web browsers will enable today.
- Layouts are getting much faster. We’re replumbed the internals of the layout system so component layouts are radically faster. You’ll notice right away on a Touch 2 app when you start your app how much faster it starts up and renders to screen. Orientation changes wlll also be noticeably superior.
- Event Handling is getting reworked to better respond to touch events on Android. Various mobile platforms handle and dispatch touch events at different rates, so we’ve been working on normalizing this across browsers so apps have smooth and predictable touch behaviors. The list scrolling on Android will blow you away.
- Image based themes are being added to the framework for browsers where CSS is slow. Using SASS, Touch 2 will generate CSS based themes as you do in 1.x, but now you’ll also be able to generate image based themes for devices where CSS3 features slow the browser down. This also opens the way to making Touch 2.x apps eventually work on Windows Phone.
- A rationalized config system make it easier and more predictable to set up your Touch app. Instead of having to learn every different way in which to configure a component, the new config system streamlines setting up your components. And of course, it’s backwards compatible with the old way.
InfoQ had a small Q&A with Michael Mullany, Sencha CEO, about this new development:
InfoQ: What are the new features that version 2 brings?
Sencha Touch 2 focuses on three key feature areas. Performance, ease of use, and native support.
- We've been hard at work making Sencha Touch 2 the fastest HTML5 platform possible. We took a look, hard look at Android and have made radical performance improvements to make Sencha Touch 2 Web apps perform and feel as close to native as possible — even faster, in some cases.
- We've also been working to make Sencha Touch much easier to use. From improved documentation to leveraging the core class system from Ext JS 4, Sencha Touch 2 is more approachable to new and experienced developers alike.
- And lastly, we've made it even easier for developers who want to deploy their apps natively to do so. Sencha Touch 2 includes the capability in one line to package up your web app for distribution in the iOS App Store and the Android Marketplace, as well as new APIs to let you access device specific functions if you'd like to.
InfoQ: How do you see your customers using this product?
With Touch 2, we expect customers to be able to leverage HTML5 like never before. With the radical performance improvements we've made, the promise of HTML5's write once, run anywhere comes closer to reality. With the same codebase, developers can build apps that take advantage of the web's distribution model, and if they'd like, also package web apps up to be distributed through native platforms.
InfoQ: Being early adopter of the HTML5 technologies, would you like to comment on your experiences and how you see this platform (HTML5) evolving?
The rate of innovation and speed of adoption of HTML5 is astounding. Every new hardware platform and device type accelerates the rate at which HTML5 is becoming the lingua franca of the mobile web, and we expect to see increasing support for HTML5 from the companies that have built the Web's top destinations. The native app creation capabilities we're adding to Sencha Touch enables developers to take advantage of the rich app store ecosystem, as well as the native APIs give developers the option to access specific device functions and OS services.
InfoQ: What is the roadmap for your project?
In the Sencha Touch 2 family, we're looking to continue to innovate in a number of areas. First, we're looking to provide additional device support and specifically we're looking at Windows Phone and IE9. Second, we want to make it easier for developers to access cloud services so they can integrate services like Sencha.io Sync and Facebook/Twitter sign in, among others.
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