Mobile app developer alliance pondered

Attendees at Sun's mobile developer conference will discuss an industrywide alliance to tackle issues such as fragmentation, security, and deployment policies

Do mobile application developers need to band together to tackle the tough issues facing them? Attendees at Sun's Java Mobile & Embedded Developer Days Conference in California on Thursday afternoon (Friday AEST) will briefly discuss this issue.

The idea is that developers must deal with issues such as fragmentation in features, behavior, security policies, and deployment policies and could form an alliance providing a single voice, said Terrence Barr, Sun technical evangelist for the mobile and embedded developer community.

"We call it the mobile developer alliance and it's essentially a developer activism group," Barr said on Wednesday evening. "It's just a grassroots thing. We haven't thought about it too much. The idea is to bring developers together to give them a common voice and try and work on some of the fragmentation and issues that the industry has."

The mobile developer alliance is envisioned as an industrywide effort and not Java-specific. Developers, Barr said, have not had a consistent, uniform voice in facing issues.

Among the problems developers face is having to slightly rework applications for each of the many phones, Barr said. Every phone, he said "has certain quirks that you have to deal with, and if you're trying to cover 80, 90 percent of the installed base out there it becomes very painful because you're literally producing hundreds of slightly different versions of the same application," he said.

The alliance could serve as sort of a citizens' voice, but the exact mode of operation is still up for discussion, Barr said. Agreement on high-priority issues that developers want to make progress on would be a main focus, as well as trying to establish relationships with players such as carriers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

"It's not necessarily [about] battling your enemies but it's about getting everybody on the same page," said Barr. No single player can address them, he said.

"At the end of the day, [developers] are the ones who have to make all this stuff work," he said.

OEMs care about the platform and carriers care about the networks, said Barr. "The developer has to bring all these pieces together and that's why it's so painful," he said.

Sun officials Wednesday also talked about Java ME (Micro Edition) development tools, including plans for a Java ME development toolkit with a consolidated environment for both the CDC (Connected Device Configuration) framework and CLDC (Connected Limited Device Configuration) technology.

Also highlighted were enhancements planned for the Sun Java Wireless Toolkit for CDLC. Planned features include an application testing framework and support for Java Specification Request (JSR) 256 - Mobile Sensor API Submission to the JCP (Java Community Process) and JSR 280 - XML API for Java ME.

The application testing framework is intended to automate manual testing. It will support refined testing scenarios in an emulated environment as well as improvements for testing of applications for users with visual, motor, or dexterity impairments.

JSR 256 offers a unified way of managing sensors connected to mobile devices and easy access to sensor data. JSR 280 is designed to provide a general-purpose XML API for next-generation mobile devices.

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