Mojax

18Jun07

I meant to post about this for ages, but somehow I could’t really find the time for doing it. At work, AJAX may not be my top priority at the moment, but I keep monitoring it as closely as I can. (Speaking of mobile AJAX: Yes, I’m one of those people who do believe that users ARE willing to trade battery life for eye candy – but we’ll probably get to read a lot of posts on that topic on and after June 29 😀 )

Anyways: in his Mojax Manifesto, mFoundry CTO Rodney Aiglstorfer shares his visions for mFoundry’s Mojax – one of the first contenders in the "mobile ajax framework" playing field.

Mojax applications ("moblets") are written in a special XML + JavaScript flavour (there’s also a neat Eclipse-based authoring environment to support this) and executed on the device in mFoundry’s proprietary runtime (see their list of supported devices here).

Mojax takes a special approach in terms of delivery and deployment, though: The mojax runtime is not a separate download that’s installed first, and which then hosts all the moblets you download. Instead, each moblet is packaged and downloaded with its own copy of the runtime. In other words: every time you download a Moblet to your Java-enabled mobile phone, you download the Java-version of the mojax runtime, which then (after launch) downloads the moblet code – in mojax-byte-code-compiled form – to local storage.

I had an e-mail conversation with Rodney Aiglstorfer about this some time ago, and he confirmed that, indeed, that’s the way it works. Since (as I understand) the byte-code can be exchanged without re-installing the runtime, moblets can be updated over the air without user intervention. Rodney also confirmed that it is technically possible to run multiple moblets in the same runtime, though that doesn’t seem to be the primary model mFoundry has in mind. Seeing this from a Web-apps developer’s perspective it seems a little awkward to re-distribute "the browser" (well, sort-of) with each app. But I think I can see their reasoning behind it (keeping the applications stand-alone & local, but at the same time retaining the ability to perform seamless Web-app-like over-the-air updates). And I guess in a world where people aren’t used to downloading software to their phones anyway, it’s probably also a lot easier to tell them "that’s the URL to your moblet – click to install, and you’re ready to go" than "install the runtime first, then start the runtime, pick the moblet you’re looking for…" well, you get the idea.

It will be interesting to see how Mojax develops and, in particular, how well it can live up to the promise of write once, run anywhere, since that really seems to be the key issue the people from mFoundry are determined to tackle.



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