Oracle releases Java mobile development framework

Oracle Corp. has released a mobile client and associated framework, nearly two years in the making, to help developers quickly build Java applications for industrial mobile devices.

The Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) Mobile Client provides the basics for developing applications that can be deployed across different mobile platforms without customizing the code for each specific platform, said Duncan Mills, Oracle senior director of Fusion product management. 

Oracle first announced the mobile client in October 2009, and issued a technical preview in April 2010. 

The client, an extension of the Oracle Application Development Framework, is a bundle of different components, including a browser for viewing the application, a small database for storing local data, and a Java runtime engine, for those devices without Java already installed. 

The framework for the client uses a standard user interface, one based on JSF (Java Server Faces). It also provides a preconfigured set of ways to synchronize data to and from back-end servers, allowing the developer to specify which data can get synchronized with the databases or other data sources. 

The client has been customized to work with the Oracle Fusion framework but can also be used with other Web services. The client can hold data for when the device is used offline, and can transfer the data once connected back to the network.

The client also provides tools to gather and transmit data generated by the device itself, by way of a camera, GPS reader, barcode scanner or other data-generating componentry, Mills said. 

Currently, Mobile Clients are only available for Windows Mobile versions 5 and 6, and Research In Motion BlackBerry devices. The framework does not support the iPhone, Android devices or Windows Phone 7 devices. The Oracle development team is considering extending the framework to include these other devices, but is not ready to make any announcements of what will be supported in the future yet, Mills said. He noted that industrial device manufacturers are still installing older versions of Windows Mobile on their products, and those OSes are still used widely by industry. 

Oracle itself deployed the Mobile Client in its PeopleSoft Mobile Inventory Management mobile application, released last week

The Mobile Client costs US$5 per user and can be priced per device as well. Oracle also provides a free extension to its JDeveloper IDE (integrated developer environment) for designing apps using this client.

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