Nokia extends app development to Linux

Nokia Corp. last month began offering a free, Java-based toolkit for developing mobile applications on the Linux platform, for deployment on Nokia mobile phones.

The Nokia Developer’s Suite for J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition), Version 1.1, enables development of applications such as Celesta Smart Forms or games for use on Nokia phones with J2ME clients, according to Letitia Andrews, developer tools marketing manager at Nokia, in Irving, Tex.

“It’s the first set of tools for the Linux environment that supports J2ME,” she said.

An analyst concurred. The kit represents the first fully open-source offering for developing mobile applications, said Chris Preimesberger, a wireless analyst at Evans Data, in Redwood City, Calif.

“I think [this announcement] is pretty substantial,” Preimesberger said. “There are a lot of open-source developers out there who are already familiar with Linux who are interested in getting into wireless development. This really paves the way for those open-source developers out there who haven’t had a tool like to this to start looking at developing for cell phones or handhelds.”

He acknowledged the kit’s being limited to only Nokia devices, but also noted Nokia’s prominence in the industry.

“If you’re going to start, you might as well start with the Yankees, you might as well start with the major leagues. I think it’s a real step forward for Nokia to invest in a kit like that,” Preimesberger said.

Nokia has no plans to port the kit to non-Nokia platforms, Andrews said.

Developers can develop, test, and deploy downloadable applications designed for J2ME, a version of Java designed for small consumer electronics products, the company said. Version 1.1 supports development of Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) applications, enabling MIDP development in a standalone environment. The suite also can be integrated with existing IDEs from Borland Software Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. An automated code-generation tool is included, as are archive builders. The kit is compatible with all Nokia MIDP SDKs.

While the kit is available for free download, the company hopes to generate income from having applications developed for its platform, according to Andrews.

The new version of the suite also provides an audio converter to translate MIDI files into Nokia ringing tones or directly generate source code. Also new is a tool to automate uploading of Java applications to Web servers for testing and deployment. These enhancements are available for the Linux and Windows versions of Nokia’s suite.

The suite is available for download at