Daniel Jebaraj on Orubase
We spoke with Daniel Jebaraj about Orubase, Syncfusion’s framework for building line-of-business mobile applications.
InfoQ: Why was Orubase created in the first place? Or rather, what needs did you think existing products such as PhoneGap and Mono weren’t meeting?
Daniel Jebaraj: We created Orubase for a couple of key reasons.
One reason we created Orubase was the absence of a unified stack for the creation of hybrid mobile applications on the Microsoft platform. The different parts needed exist but there is no unified framework. PhoneGap does not have a set of UI, reporting and business layer libraries required to power the web core of a hybrid application. Users have to source these libraries from elsewhere and then integrate with PhoneGap to produce the final solution. We strongly felt that offering an end-to-end framework that handled the web application core along with the device specific code will make it vastly easier to create and maintain hybrid mobile applications. Orubase offers a tightly integrated stack that provides everything needed for the creation of line of business mobile applications.
Another reason is the lack of real hybrid functionality in most hybrid mobile applications. We rejected the notion that mobile applications, especially ones that users love, can be built with a completely web-based UI with absolutely no need for native elements. Indeed, the key selling aspect for many web-based hybrid mobile frameworks is that you can work on the entire application lifecycle within a browser (we see marketing information that states that one does not need to even use a Mac for instance). We think this notion is not at all conducive to the production of a truly functional hybrid mobile application; one that delights users and offers the kind of experience they get when they use a native applications. Such frameworks in their quest for developer productivity sacrifice the needs of the user. We believe there are elements such as the navigation experience that are best handled natively. Orubase does much of the heavy lifting in this area but also leaves it open to extension by our users. We want more users to poke around in Objective-C or Java and leave the door open to enable them to make the tweaks they need to meet expectations from their user base. Ultimately, Orubase is about offering the best user experience possible while retaining the benefits of hybrid applications.
InfoQ: Why did you choose to not use PhoneGap/Apache Cordova as a base?
Daniel Jebaraj: We did not feel that we could deliver a truly complete end-to-end development experience relying on an external entity for perhaps half the functionality. We know from experience supporting our .NET controls for over a decade that enterprise customers have very specific needs that need to be met within short timelines. Relying on an external framework for key functionality would have made meeting such expectations very hard. Another reason we chose to build our own native interaction framework is that we wanted to bake as much of the native UI aspects into the framework as possible.
As a company, we are also committed to helping our customers navigate the app publishing experience as part of our support offering. Having complete control over the framework used makes it possible to provide this kind of support.
InfoQ: Can you explain how you get a native look and feel out of ASP.NET MVC?
Daniel Jebaraj: We do a lot of work with CSS. There is also some scripting involved. Testing on multiple deployment platforms is also a vital part of ensuring just the right experience.
InfoQ: Is IIS required, or can I use other web servers such as Tomcat for hosting the server-generated views?
Daniel Jebaraj: The ASP.NET MVC centric parts of the framework require IIS. The native wrappers and all related functionality can be used with any server framework. They can also be used with local HTM/JS files as well as SPA applications that talk to a web service backend and generate no markup on the server.