by David Wilkerson, CTO
It is vital to distinguish between a mobile site and a mobile app, even though the skills and technologies required for a hybrid app overlap.
What is a mobile “hybrid” app? Since the IBM acquisition of Worklight this year and release of version 5.0, a lot of interest in the newest member of the IBM product family has been generated. It is a response rich with confusion regarding the meaning of “app” and “hybrid.”
The IBM Worklight product is a member of the IBM Mobile Foundation along with two other key products: IBM Cast Iron, and IBM Endpoint Manager. IBM describes Worklight as, “An open mobile application platform for smartphones and tablets that helps organizations efficiently develop, run, and manage HTML5, hybrid, and native applications.”
The Worklight product components include a server and a development tool. The server is Java based and runs on a WebSphere Application Server. The development tool, called the Worklight Studio, includes an ability to integrate with lifecycle management by IBM Rational Team Concert, and multi device runtime support. The hybrid approach which relies on HTML5 is based on the Apache Cordova project, more commonly known as PhoneGap.
IBM has other products available in the mobile solution space such as Web Experience Factory and WebSphere Application Server Feature Pack for Web 2.0 and Mobile. I am of the opinion that if you have already invested in these platforms and can build a solution that is entirely constructed using these technologies, then you should do so.
However, if you find you need access to native device features such as the ability to store and work with information off line, you will require some amount of device specific code. Worklight provides such a framework. It is far more than “just another mobile site development tool.”
One aspect about the Worklight platform that a lot of people overlook is that they can develop solutions across an entire continuum from mobile “site” to native “app.” By leveraging the Worklight platform you will have access to a highly manageable application, push notification framework, and a server interface for secure integration of enterprise content and related solutions. In addition, Worklight gives organizations a way to distribute a public solution through an app store such as Apple’s iTunes or Google Play. And, as most of us know, there’s a lot to be said for that.
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