Breeze makes mobile apps easy

By Peter Judge, Techworld.com |  Mobile & Wireless, Cascada Mobile

Anyone who can build a web page can build a mobile application using a J2ME development tool called Breeze, according to the tool's maker, Cascada Mobile.

Breeze lets users create applications and published them for free using online tools. The resulting applications include advertising, which developers can pay to remove. The model is similar to some website building applications, but produces real mobile applications that run on the phone.

"Businesses would opt for the 'ad-free' model by paying a fee to turn off the advertising," said Cascada chief executive Alan Lysne. "They can create applications that run expense reporting applications that integrate into their own systems, for example." Cascada does not claim any right in the applications that are built, he added.

The system will not allow phishing and viruses, said Lysne: "Due to the fact that there are some nice security features built into the Java implementations on phones, no application can access things like the internet or the contact list without the user explicitly approving it and allowing it," he said. Such applications would also break Cascada's terms and conditions, and the company has automated auditing procedures built into its servers that would detect and prevent abuse, he added.

It will also not allow a proliferation of genuine-but-misguided applications on corporate networks, developed outside the control of the IT department, because Breeze developers get a publisher ID, and IT managers can restrict their systems to only run Breeze apps from approved publishers whose applications are checked by the IT department.

Breeze takes HTML, JavaScript or Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) code and converts it into J2ME code, also known as the Java Platform, Micro Edition or Java ME. Applications can - with user approval - access the phone's contact list or camera for specific mobile applications. The applications should run widely, on any
phone with a J2ME. "Generally we can support phones that are less than 3 years old," said Lysne.

"The mobile handset is very clearly the critical application platform," said analyst Craig Mathias, of Farpoint Group. "But building mobile applications has traditionally been difficult and expensive due to complex programming environments and the wide diversity of handsets and mobile platforms."

Although J2ME phones still have a lot of variation - including screen size, number of buttons and so forth - Breeze reduces the complexity to a single run on a simulator, and creates multiple versions for different phones, said Lysne.

The application is stored and ready to download from a simple link built into websites or corporate intranets, which ensures the right version is sent to the final users' phones.

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