Icenium looks promising

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The world of mobile application development is a sea of constant flux.  There are so many services, tools, and toolkits that it seems overwhelming at times.  For example: Appcelerator, PhoneGap Build, Trigger.io, The-M-Project, appMobi, RhoMobile [Motorola], DragonRAD [IBM], MoSync, Corona, Wink, Tiggzi, Ludei, AnyPresence, Sencha Touch, jQTouch,  ...the list goes on and on...

A new kid on the block is called Icenium (currently in beta) and pulls a lot of the features from various services mentioned above into an attractive end-to-end workflow.  Here are some highlights:

  • HTML5 CSS3 JavaScript mobile development (a.k.a. Hybrid)
  • Apache Cordova (formerly called PhoneGap) -- proxy bridge similar to Trigger.io
  • Desktop IDE (Icenium Graphite [Windows-only]) or Cloud IDE (Icenium Mist) with version control -- somewhat similar to Appcelerator and Cloud9
  • Real-time simulation (iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S II; Graphite also includes iPad and Android 7" Tablet simulators) -- somewhat similar to RIM Ripple
  • Real-time debugging (via WebKit Web Inspector) -- similar to Weinre
  • Cloud builds (iOS 4.3+ [iPod, iPhone, iPad], Android 2.2+, Kindle Fire) -- similar to, but less extensive than, PhoneGap Build
  • Automatic device sync (via Icenium Graphite/Ion and Icenium LiveSync) -- similar to Adobe Shadow

Backed by a moderately sized company (Telerik) with an attractive, intuitive desktop and browser-based IDE and a full service offering, including debug, simulation, build, and packaged deploy, it's shaping up to be a formidable contender in the mobile arms race.


From the Icenium website:
"The challenge for developers is building applications that work across [all mobile] platforms, since each platform requires different tools and languages. Code written for one platform may not be reusable on another platform. Web developers have solved for this by building websites that are designed for mobile devices — the mobile web. These mobile websites are compatible with mobile browsers on different platforms.  However, the mobile web has limitations. Mobile websites can’t access many of the device capabilities, are not distributable through the Apple AppStore or Google Play, and require a data connection at all times.
"Icenium is an Integrated Cloud Environment (ICE) created to enable web and mobile web developers to target the most relevant device platforms regardless of the operating system they are using. As a cloud-based development environment, Icenium abstracts away the platform dependencies, enabling developers to focus on their ideas and the content of their applications, not the management and configuration of their development environment. By leveraging Apache Cordova — an open source framework for mobile devices — Icenium enables developers to use their existing skills in HTML and JavaScript to build compelling applications for the most relevant mobile platforms, including iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod) and Android (phones and tablets). The integrated device simulator enables developers to rapidly iterate their ideas and see their changes the way they would look and feel on iOS and Android devices without having to deploy their application to physical devices. When the time comes to see the application running on a real device, Icenium has integrated device deployment making it easy to move from a simulation to the real thing. As development continues, Icenium LiveSync™ synchronizes changes in the code editor with the Icenium Device Simulator and all connected devices so they can be instantly viewed without having to rebuild the project.

"Icenium is being built to eliminate the complexity associated with cross-platform mobile development. As a cloud-based development solution, web and mobile web developers no longer have to worry about downloading, configuring and managing SDKs. All of that is managed in the cloud. For the first time, developers can focus solely on writing the code that brings their ideas to life, and those ideas can reach users on the most relevant device platforms in the world."
As a nice bonus, their documentation is surprisingly well thought-out and informative.  However, detailed examples and code samples are lacking.  For example, it's disappointing that the only two provided sample apps (Coffee App and Airlines App) come with the following disclaimer: "Note that these apps do not represent best practices and therefore its structure should not be used for real-world applications."




Teaser: Their Video Player utility is coming soon.

Useful links

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Excellent overview of mobile development options: http://www.slideshare.net/peterfriese/cross-platform-mobile-development-11239246

Useful DVD video ripper: http://ogmrip.sourceforge.net/en/index.html (make sure to select "PC, High Quality" when encoding)

Popular DVD menu maker: http://www.dvdstyler.org/en/

Decent video editor: http://www.pitivi.org/