Tira launches developer network

Java application developers building programs for mobile devices have a new place to meet, exchange ideas and even test their wares — all for free — thanks to Tira Wireless Inc.

The Toronto-based wireless app-porting technology provider announced the Tira Developer Network last month. This online congregation provides information about myriad mobile platforms.

It also offers an Automated Verification Server (AVS) for app testing, and a forum where developers can discuss best practices or hash out coding conundrums.

According to Tira’s representatives, the Developer Network aims to give app builders operating on J2ME the information they need to make products as portable as possible — capable of running as smoothly on one device, say a Motorola RAZR V3 mobile phone platform, as it does on another, perhaps a Nokia 7610.

The Network provides certain best practices. “You don’t hard code stuff into the application; use variables that can be replaced and moved, for instance,” said Wayne Seifried, Tira’s product marketing director.

The Developer Network might also help ensure that developers’ final products work with Tira’s prime porting offering, the Jump Product Suite, which lets app-dev services firms transform programs so they work on multiple mobile platforms.

If developers used the same application architecture, it would be easier to port programs from one platform to another, Seifried noted. “Our goal with the Developer Network is to give developers the tools and knowledge…to create reference builds in a fashion that meets the requirements of everyone operating the Jump product.”

The Developer Network gives app builders access to information about 150 mobile devices — nuances in screen size and resolution, memory capabilities, etc. It also offers guides to help coders keep the lines clean.

An industry forum presents an idea-exchange area, and the AVS performs 60 tests to evaluate application compliance with the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) and the Connected Limited Device Configuration (CDLC), standard specifications for J2ME applications.

Chris Prendergast, director of operations, said Tira uses the AVS in-house.

“If [an application] doesn’t pass the automated tests there, there’s no way it’s going to pass the more manual, cost-intensive certification that we do.” Scott Northmore, owner of MuskokaTech, a mobile application house, joined the Developer Network. He expects the guidelines and test functions will make it easier to build software for various portable devices.

“It’s incredibly difficult to keep up not only with the pace of J2ME standards, but also with the individual device manufacturers, and the carriers,” Northmore said from his Toronto office.“There’s constantly a new set of APIs,” especially as devices evolve to include cameras and other complex on-board functions.

“The sandbox is opening up more, and you have more power to do things on the device, but if you want your application to work across many platforms, it’s good to go through something like the Tira network.” Prendergast pointed out the Network could give a leg up to developers working in the relatively new portable enterprise app space..

“When you get into things like doing client-server interactions with an ERP system, that functionality is more hit and miss on a device-by-device basis. If you code something into a business app that stresses that sort of functionality, you can quickly find out (via the Developer Network) what sorts of devices the application will fit on.”

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Related links:

Developer banks on rapid apps

Nokia plans new software developer program

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