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New in Motorola RhoMobile 5.0: Licensing Model, Cloud Services and KitKat Support

by Abel Avram on Jul 31, 2014 |

Motorola RhoMobile 5.0 comes with a new licensing model, support for the latest iOS and Android versions, a set of new or improved cloud services – Build, Synchronization, Push Notification –, Zebra Printing support, and others.

A more detailed list of what is new in RhoMobile 5.0 includes:

  • Licenses are for developers not devices.
  • The cloud offering has been rebranded as rhomobile.com.
  • RhoMobileSuite 4.x builds can be executed in the cloud.
  • Support for Android KitKat.
  • Support for MC32N0 CE7.0.
  • New API for AudioCapture.
  • Improved build, runtime, and startup performance.
  • Bug fixes

RhoMobile provides development support for native cross-platform mobile applications using web technologies and Ruby based on an MVC pattern and with ORM support. We have asked Mark Kirstein, Senior Director of Enterprise Software at Motorola Solutions, a few questions to find out details on how their solution works:

InfoQ: How does RhoMobile achieve "write once run anywhere"? How does a project written with HTML, JavaScript and Ruby end up as native binaries for multiple platforms? How do you manage to obtain the native look of each platform?

MK: The Ruby code gets compiled down to bytecode and runs inside a executor. The applications are built and run offline allowing for native disconnected applications to execute even without connectivity. We leverage the Browser for UI rendering though so you do have an HTML UI, however, we use/leverage standards open source UI styling libraries in HTML to skin and apply native look and feel. Developers can choose if they want to develop native UI extensions.

InfoQ: The controller part of MVC is done in Ruby. Is Ruby mandatory? Can a developer create mobile apps without Ruby? (Probably he can but without using MVC?)

MK: Correct. Today to leverage the MVC and ORM patterns, Ruby is leveraged. However, Ruby is not required. If you choose not to use Ruby then you can still do everything in JS, so in that case it is similar to a PhoneGap application with less functionality. We will be adding MVC and ORM support for JS in upcoming releases.

Motorola RhoMobile is a suite of development tools for creating cross-platform mobile applications for the enterprise and the casual user. RhoMobile was acquired by Motorola in 2011 and has been an open source project from the beginning. The suite includes:

  • Studio - an Eclipse-based tool for developing iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8 and Windows CE applications on Mac OS X or Windows. It includes a simulator, code inspector and profiler and supports remote debugging.
  • Rhodes – a cross-platform framework for consumer apps.
  • RhoElements – Rhodes plus enterprise features such as barcode reading and automatic data encryption.
  • RhoConnect – support for integration with back-end data services
  • RhoHub – Hosted services for building and deploying applications in the cloud
  • RhoGallery – A hosted application store for enterprises. Apps can also be deployed on Apple App Store, Google Play or Windows Store.

Studio and Rhodes are open source and free but the others come with a price tag per developer. The paid editions include a Visual Studio plug-in for those accustomed with Microsoft’s development toolchain.

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