Real-life Example: Cloud Server Mobile App

This is to let you know about another real-life mobile app:
1&1, one of the world’s largest web hosting providers, has successfully launched an Android app, implemented with qooxdoo mobile. The “Cloud Server Management” app allows you to manage your 1&1 dynamic cloud servers: get their current status, install new operating systems, configure CPU, RAM or HDD, shutdown and reboot them, and so on.

Development of the app had a significant benefit from reusing existing code from a similar qooxdoo RIA prototype. This not only reduced development time, but showed once again the advantages of qooxdoo’s multi-platform feature. In short, you implement the fundamental app logic in a clean MVC style, atop of a REST-based transport layer. You then can reuse this common code base and put either a mobile or a RIA view on top.

Packaging of the 1&1 Cloud Server Management app was done via Phonegap, and the resulting native app was published to the Android Market (now called Google Play). This mobile app is another good example, that you can already leverage qooxdoo’s mobile features for production use, despite much of it still being labeled experimental. Of course, the mobile world keeps spinning fast in general, thus give qooxdoo mobile a try and help improving it, e.g. file bug reports or contribute code.

Debugging mobile apps with Weinre

Creating qooxdoo mobile apps is pretty easy – you can develop and debug the applications on your machine in Safari or Chrome desktop browsers. But sometimes there are errors that only occur on the mobile device. Debugging CSS or runtime-specific JS code can be challenging, if the application is running in the mobile browser or is deployed as a native app via PhoneGap.

Weinre to the rescue

Weinre is a remote web debugging tool, similar to “Firebug” or Webkit’s “Web Inspector”. It allows you to inspect and debug your qooxdoo mobile app running on the device – remotely and conveniently from your desktop machine.

More info on how to use Weinre with qooxdoo mobile apps can be found in the newly added chapter to the manual.

Thanks to Weinre we could already solve several issues. After all it makes life for a mobile developer much easier, so give it a try.

Mobile Framework: Firefox and Less Support

qooxdoo’s mobile and low-level capabilities get improved constantly. One of its latest new features is due to specific demand: support for the Firefox browser on the desktop.

With the migration of the original CSS files from plain CSS to Less (a dynamic stylesheet language), we have introduced experimental Firefox support for the mobile framework. Firefox already supports the flexible box layout (albeit some exceptions compared to the WebKit implementation), so that we mostly had to adapt the vendor prefixes of the CSS properties. However, some bugs are still open, but you can already start testing the new feature right away, i.e. open it in Firefox.

With Less as the base for all CSS themes it started to get quite easy to extend existing themes and to create new ones. We added a new chapter to the manual, which describes how to use Less with qooxdoo. We would be happy to see people experiment with it, even to see new themes created by the community!

Google Chrome Beta for Android

Google has just launched the long awaited Chrome Beta for Android 4.0 devices. We have great expectations in this new project and that is why we have tested the beta with the latest version of the qooxdoo mobile showcase. The good news is that Google Chrome Beta has exceeded all our expectations in the use cases tested: Form elements work as expected (no password field overlay when transforms are used, select boxes display items correctly, scrolling on text areas works). Also page transitions seem to work better than in the latest Android 4.0 browser, where animations for page transitions are completely useless. Anyway, animations could be smoother and we have seen a blur effect during transitions – Google should improve that for the final version.

But the best part is: Chrome Beta also supports the CSS properties overflow:auto and position:fixed, which are essential for mobile HTML5 apps. Seems like Christmas is in February this year for all mobile developers. ;-)

qooxdoo mobile works out of the box with the new browser. Overall Google has done a great job with Google Chrome Beta for Android. Let’s hope that Chrome will become the default browser for Android soon. Right now, even as a beta, it’s better in all tested scenarios than the default Android browser.