Unified Smartphone Development With Rhomobile

Did you ever dream of writing mobile applications, but felt overwhelmed by the range of platforms and operating systems available? Rhomobile brings the goal of ‚write once, run anywhere‘ to the smartphone development world.

Write once, run anywhere

With Rhomobile, no need to mess with device-specific languages and APIs. Rhomobile is an open-source Ruby-based framework that supports all major mobile operating systems:

  • iPhone
  • BlackBerry
  • Windows Mobile
  • Symbian
  • Android

Modeled after Ruby on Rails, Rhomobile lets you write once using Ruby and HTML. You can then compile your source into optimized native mobile applications.

Standard smartphone features

Rhomobile gives you access to such smartphone capabilities as GPS, address book, data, and camera. Connect with back-end applications via REST or SOAP, and even work offline with synchronized local data.

Specific functionalities like iPhone’s multitouch are still missing, but CEO Adam Blum says it’s on their to-do list. Next to come: SMS, audio/video capture and accelerometer.

Keep in mind that Rhomobile released version 1.0 at the end of March, and that a growing community is interested in its development. You can expect more features as the framework matures.

Is it Open Source?

Rhomobile adopts a dual-licensing model: available under GPL, it’s free for personal or open source use. However, you’ll have to pay for a commercial license if you are building proprietary applications. The latter is most likely to happen, since Rhomobile targets the enterprise with their synchronized local data capability.


PhoneGap is an open source development tool for building fast, easy mobile apps with JavaScript, while still taking advantage of the core features in the iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

The Eclipse Pulsar Initiative is led by the mobile device manufacturers Motorola, Nokia and Genuitec, while industry leaders such as IBM, RIM, and Sony Ericsson Mobile are among the participating members.

Pulsar does not address the issue of the runtime operating system software that runs on the various handset platforms. Pulsar is about the application development tools that run on top of a device’s operating system. It is expected to be available at the end of June 2009 and will be part of the Eclipse Galileo annual release.


Rhomobile will specially appeal to companies willing to port their enterprise apps to the smartphone, but are put off by the jungle of existing operating systems and platforms.

Key benefits are:

  • platform independence
  • massive reduction of development time
  • program in ruby and HTML
  • generate native device-optimized apps (not web apps!)
  • connectivity with backend services via REST or SOAP
  • synchronized local data
  • growing open source community

No doubt that frameworks like Rhomobile have the potential to attract many new players to the world of smartphone development. That’s the case here @ Puzzle: we are about to create some prototypes to evaluate this technology. Interested in the results? Just drop me a mail.

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