Volantis updates open-source mobile Web development tools

Version 5.1 of Volantis Mobility Server Community Edition adds improved support for Apple iPhone.

Volantis has released an improved edition of its open source toolkit aimed at mobile application development.

Version 5.1 of Volantis Mobility Server Community Edition adds improved support for Apple iPhone, and new "connectors" that let mobile Web applications built with VMS interact directly with Web-site programming interfaces. New connectors support Google Picasa and Flickr, both photo-sharing applications, and Google Docs.

Mobile Web developers can add these connectors into their mobile sites using XML markup tags, instead of having to write Java code to access and use content.

Written in Java, Volantis Mobility Server combines a runtime framework, an expanding database of configuration information on thousands of mobile devices, and development tools. It supports other development languages including PHP and Ruby. A servlet container, such as the open source Apache Tomcat server, is needed for runtime support.

The community edition of VMS, formerly called Framework, was first unveiled a year ago under the GNU General Public License version 3. Applications are written in the Volantis markup language.

In response to a Web request from a mobile browser, the Volantis server software queries the device for information, and then combs through, in milliseconds, a database of device details. The database has up to 600 attributes per device, for nearly 5,000 devices. Once it identifies the device, the software can scale images, for example, to best suit the available pixels, or make use of Ajax libraries to validate fields of text or numeric data entered by a user in a form, without having to do so by submitting the form back to the Web server.

That means developers don't have to take into account device-level details when designing and writing mobile Web applications. The VMS software is deployed by carriers, service providers and enterprises. Volantis offers its own applications built on top of the platform, including Broker, an online feed manager, and StoreFront, an e-commerce application for selling online content.

More recently, Volantis released SiteBuilder, a Web tool that lets users drag-and-drop components to quickly bring a Web content site online.

The new connectors are the company's response to the rise of Web-based social networking and collaboration sites. The intent is to make it easier for Web developers to tap into the applications, data and services on these sites, and create new mashups of mobile Web functions.

The 5.1 version of the Community Edition of VMS is available now as a free download.

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