This page last changed on Aug 20, 2010 by mishoboss.

Hi, I used to work with ExtJS some time ago and today I decided to check out what's new on that great framework. And I found great news - they renamed to "Sencha" and have one new great product - Sencha Touch. This is "The First HTML5 Mobile App Framework" as they say. In fact it's not the first, but as far as I see is the most powerful HTML5/JavaScript framework out there, especially made for touch screens.

I post this here just to let you know about that in case you have interest. I think it's a way to increase productivity and build just one client that runs both on iOS and Android devices (and probably more platforms are coming soon) and looks and feels natively.

Just my 2 cents

I forgot to give a URL (http://www.sencha.com/products/touch/), but you could google it anyway

Posted by mishoboss at Aug 20, 2010 14:09

There is jQuery mobile, too http://blog.jquery.com/2010/08/13/the-jquery-project-is-proud-to-announce-the-jquery-mobile-project/ (announced last week)

GWT Mobile WebKit might worth a look as well http://code.google.com/p/gwt-mobile-webkit/

Posted by jvelociter at Aug 20, 2010 14:17

jQuery mobile looks really beautiful and already covers all major mobile platforms, not only WebKit based, which is awesome! I think OpenRemote could gain great benefits choosing one of these frameworks and building just one general web-based client (console) that runs on all mobile browsers, without installing anything on the mobile devices and without waiting for app approvals.

Posted by mishoboss at Aug 20, 2010 14:28

Hi guys,

Thanks for posting the links.

jQuery Mobile and GWT mobile looked pretty raw so I didn't give them a try. Sencha seemed more complete with demos online so gave it a quick try.

Sencha seems to work quite well on iPad's large screen. It's quite impressive in demonstrating how far HTML5 can go in creating form-derived applications with drag-and-drop.

Sencha on smaller screens was less impressive. Most of the demos seem to be optimized for iPad's large screen for a reason. One problem with iPod Touch mobile browser was indeed not that the app is built with HTML5 but that it needs to run on a generic web browser platform. The browser navigation controls and URL bar take large amounts of screen space that is completely wasted on a dedicated application that has no use for them. Sencha failed to hide these browser UI components and I'd estimate that it wastes at least 15% of the screen space in that case. That's a quite a lot on a small screen. While iPad does the same, you don't really notice it on the large screen (the wasted space is a lot smaller % of the total).

Some of the UI widgets that did work on iTouch were quite nice. But mostly the demos are optimized for iPad.

I could not get the demos to work on Google G1 with Android 1.5 at all – neither on its native browser or on Opera Mini. Opera Mini on iPod Touch did not work for me either. That puts quite a dent on the cross-platform claims. Couldn't see any specific mentions if a specific Android version was a requirement.

So Sencha today seems to work for Apple devices mostly and on the small screen is not as good as a native app. On the larger iPad screen the apps are quite cool but ultimately any mobile web framework needs to win cooperation from the web browser platform which today are not geared towards the idea of stand-alone apps. I am guessing this is what Google is tackling with their Chrome Os and Chrome Web Store efforts. The other factor that may become an issue is the limitations generic browsers put on integrating with the rest of the app or device platform functionality. This is less of an issue on Apple platforms (there's little to no integration, period) but could be a bigger issue on Android OS.

So there's still some ways to go – we'll see HTML5 apps on desktop browser first before on mobile, is my guess.

Posted by admin at Aug 26, 2010 10:28

Hi, I'm glad you find this helpful.

I have just a few notes on your post:

  • Sencha is a WebKit based HTML5/JavaScript framework, so it will never run on Opera or OperaMini (it uses Presto engine, not WebKit). It will run on Safari, Chrome, iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and Android OS.
  • Android 1.5 is very old and I think the recent versions of Android have very strong HTML5 and JavaScript support. Google even announced their engine as the fastest engine when it comes to JavaScript rendering.

"So there's still some ways to go - we'll see HTML5 apps on desktop browser first before on mobile, is my guess."

  • I'm not so sure on that. By now mobile browsers have much more HTML5 support than the desktop ones. Especially the WebKit engine. Apple loves HTML5 and will continue integrate it in their products as a weapon against Adobe Flash
Posted by mishoboss at Aug 26, 2010 10:50

Sencha is a WebKit based HTML5/JavaScript framework, so it will never run on Opera or OperaMini (it uses Presto engine, not WebKit). It will run on Safari, Chrome, iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and Android OS.

Fair enough. That doesn't give me the cross-platform support that I was expecting though. The current OpenRemote Mobile web app is intended to expand on mobile platforms beyond Android and iOS, so Sencha seems like not the right choice then.

I'm not so sure on that. By now mobile browsers have much more HTML5 support that the desktop ones. Especially the WebKit engine. Apple loves HTML5 and will continue integrate it in their products as a weapon against Adobe Flash

My point wasn't that HTML5 itself is not coming in the future, but that the browser platform is not very good at the moment for stand-alone app hosting. It's less of an issue on larger screen (iPad was fine) but the short-coming was clear on smaller iPod Touch screen. And therefore my reference to Chrome OS which seems to want to tackle this issue, albeit still for larger screen hardware – HTML5 engine needs to be an app platform component; currently the paradigm is forcing app developers to battle the fully-featured web browser application that gets in their way.

So it's not a generic replacement for stand-alone apps on small devices yet. We'll see some apps that fits within the limits and more so on devices with larger screens (10" and above).

Posted by juha at Aug 26, 2010 11:04

Sencha failed to hide these browser UI components and I'd estimate that it wastes at least 15% of the screen space in that case. That's a quite a lot on a small screen.

Hopefully, someday we should see fullscreen API coming to browsers (e.g. see the plan for firefox : https://wiki.mozilla.org/Gecko:FullScreenAPI). But we are not there yet. Maybe mobile browsers will implement auto-hide of the all the UI chrome "a la Fennec" before that happens.

Posted by jvelociter at Aug 26, 2010 11:15

Yep. That's what I mean. We need to strip away the notion that we're building an app that runs inside a web browser and rather use HTML+CSS+JS as a generic app framework for defining client user interfaces.

Wow, typing that was a flash back to year 2000 – but maybe we'll get there during this decade?

Posted by juha at Aug 26, 2010 11:39
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