Mobile Developer Toolkits and Platforms
In the past 1-2 years, we’ve seen the emergence of a new class of platforms to help developers quickly build apps for mobile. Some platforms enable mobile web development, others convert code written for web into native code, and others use proprietary programming languages that enable advanced functionality across mobile devices.
DIY or Self-service native app builders:
Go to their website and use their drop-and-drop GUI to build the interface. The service generates a working app in native code for the handset. You can compare these tools to the FrontPage of a generation ago with it’s self-service interface for building websites. However, while no technical skill is required to use the interface builder, some pretty deep technical troubleshooting skills will likely be required to building your native app binary and submitting it to the appropriate app store submission process.
Mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAP):
Enterprise requirements can be very different from the needs of consumer-based mobile apps and services. If you are seeking a platform that targets internal employees, supports back-office software integration, manages administrative policies across devices, or has enhanced security requirements, you may want to look at the following vendors.
Mobile content management systems (mobile CMS):
If you have a fairly straightforward website (information, news, ecommerce, etc) and want to move it to mobile, the first thing to examine is whether an existing Content Management System (CMS) can help you. If your website currently runs on a CMS, find out whether that CMS supports a template or plugin for the mobile web. For example, WordPress has a number of free or inexpensive mobile themes such as WP-Touch, while Drupal and Joomla also offer equivalent mobile display layers. With a few clicks, it’s possible that your entire website can be mobilized.
However, keep in mind that the mobile screen is much smaller and should be touch-enabled. That means that your mobile home page should be dead-simple and explain things at a glance. The buttons and navigation should also be optimized for mobile devices. However, these changes are much easier if all your content is already mobile-ready.
Using a CMS will not give you native apps that can be distributed through the App Stores. If you want native app distribution, you will need to either wrap your website in a webview or create a native app using a mobile consultant or one of the many tools out there.
This list not long enough for you? If you want to investigate more mobile platform tools, you can visit a crowd-sourced spreadsheet maintained by ReadWriteWeb.