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Build Cross Platform, Multi Device and Enterprise Ready Mobile Apps with Dxtreme Mobile

by Anand Narayanaswamy on May 17, 2013 |

DXTREME Mobile, recently released by DevExpress includes PhoneJS and ChartJS libraries including support for Visual Studio 2012. PhoneJS is a collection of 30 touch optimized JavaScript based UI widgets with support for Single Page Application (SPA) framework and KnockoutJS MVVM pattern.

It also includes an ability to automatically detect the running platform and apply the relevant look and feel based on the platform. Moreover, apps developed with PhoneJS can be compiled by PhoneGap into a native package to enable them for submission to app stores.

The ChartJS JavaScript library includes 20 different chart types with support for multiple and secondary axes. It also includes gauge indicators with needles, markers and range bars in addition to built-in animation and interactivity. It also enables you to manage various charts programatically using client-side API.

DXTREME Mobile provides support for Visual Studio 2012 as it includes JavaScript project types, project templates and wizards. It also includes browser based device emulator which allows you to debug your app in Visual Studio or in a browser's debugger with integrated DXProxy cloud service that exposes your local connection points to be accessible from various mobile devices. Moreover, Courier app provides an ability to test your application on iOS or Android devices within the PhoneGap environment.

InfoQ interviewed Dave Mendlen, Chief Marketing Officer, DevExpress to know more about DXTREME Mobile.

InfoQ: Does DXTREME Mobile simplifies app development?

With billions of mobile devices worldwide, creating applications that target mobile platforms is the new business requirement. And with the increasing enterprise adoption of these devices, the need is clear - Visual Studio developers must bridge to iPhone, iPad, and Android.

These applications need to fully exploit the underlying advantages of each platform while making it easy for developers to leverage the tools and skills they have today. That’s what DXTREME is really all about - helping existing Visual Studio developers bridge forward to mobile application development. The most efficient path for Visual Studio developers is to use existing tools and expertise without learning the XCode Integrated Development Environment and the Objective C language.

When we think about the integrated Visual Studio templates and wizards that ship as part of DXTREME, the single codebase necessary to target multiple devices, and the productivity benefits of DevExpress Courier, we think we have created the fastest way to bring enterprise applications to new form factors like the iPhone, iPad and Android.

InfoQ: Is it possible to create one app and use it across iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices using DXTREME Mobile?

Visual Studio developers throughout the world face the same challenges: how to expose business apps and address business needs across the breadth of available devices and remain focused on business requirements instead of SDKs and platform differences.

Thankfully, modern browsers and tools like PhoneGap expose ways to use the JavaScript language for next- generation platforms, while retaining the native appearance and expected user experience on iOS and Android. The tool helps developers target multiple devices from the same codebase. A rich collection of HTML JavaScript widgets that look and behave like native controls on iPhone, iPad and Android.

InfoQ: Can you share with us the features of DevExpress Courier App?

Courier is very cool. Think about the process of building and testing an app for your device. Getting your running app on your target device can be complicated and slow to deploy. But with Courier, we make all of that pain go away.

While you are building your application, you simply scan a QR Code device that is presented on your screen from your iPad, iPhone or Android and the app magically leaps over to the phone and is running instantly on the device. It really is amazing. The app will run on that device for as long as your Visual Studio debugging session is running.

InfoQ: Can I use built-in device emulator with PCs loaded with Windows 7?

Yes. Besides Android Phones and Tablets, iPhones and iPads, we have added support for Surface as well as Windows Phone support. Inside of Visual Studio, you can simply press F5 to run the application and a web page is presented that shows an emulated experience for each of these device types and it will work on Windows 7 and Windows 8 using Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012.

InfoQ: What is the importance of MVVM in app development?

The Model View ViewModel (MVVM) is an architectural pattern that enables a clear separation of the development of the user interface from the development of the business logic known as the model (or the data model). The view model exposes data objects from the model to make them easily managed and consumed.

The separation of UI from the business logic allows designers and developers to focus on the user experience rather than the business logic, allowing for the layers of an application to be developed in parallel. Even when one developer works on the entire app a proper separation of the view from the model is better as the UI can change frequently with minimal impact. In DXTREME, we use Knockout.js and that translates into MVVM based UI development that is very easy.

In conclusion, DXTREME helps create highly responsive mobile apps that meet the needs of the enterprise and the Bring Your Own Device world. With the power of HTML, CSS3 and JavaScript we help developers deliver line of business solutions that look, feel and behave just like native apps, without learning multiple languages or frameworks.

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