OSGi successes cited for Android

Technologist stress that still more needs to be done to get Eclipse's Equinox, Apache Felix, and Concierge OSGi implementations accommodated on Android

OSGi runtime software, which serves as a critical cog in the Eclipse Foundation's open source tools platform, has been enabled to run with the Android SDK for mobile applications. But proponents still could use assistance via APIs from those in charge of the Google-backed Android initiative.

Technologists presenting at the EclipseCon 2008 conference in the US, Tuesday afternoon cited industry successes in making OSGi run on Android. OSGi is an enabler in the Eclipse plug-in model for software development. By having OSGi on Android, applications written to use OSGi, such as Eclipse-based applications, could be brought over to Android handsets.

"The question is can we run OSGi on Android," said Neil Bartlett, Java developer and consultant. "The answer is, yes it can."

During the session and in separate interviews, the technologists noted successes in proof of concepts demonstrating that OSGi runtimes can run with Android SDK.

"[OSGI is] a core part of Eclipse so we wanted to do an experiment to see what are the issues involved," said BJ Hargave, senior technical staff member in the IBM Software Group.

OSGi and Android present contrasting models - OSGi follows a single virtual machine model with multiple applications using the VM while Android has multiple VMs, Bartlett said. But work has been done to get the Eclipse's Equinox, Apache Felix, and Concierge OSGi implementations accommodated on Android, presenters noted. Luminis has worked on the Apache Felix port.

But areas have not been explored such as integrating with the UI part of Android, Hargrave said. "We basically were looking at the lowest layers," he said.

Persons at Luminis were able to find a private class to enable Android to load classes necessary for OSGi, but there is no public API for it, said Hargrave. "Since it's not a public API, it's difficult to rely upon," he said. The ability to dynamically load classes in Android is unspecified.

Google and the Open Handset Alliance, which oversee Android, could not be reached for comment.

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