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Write Windows 8 Apps in Native Java

Developers use Codename One to create all components from scratch, instead of using native widgets, to avoid fragmentation.

If you're a Java developer but want to write apps for Windows mobile devices, you have a new option.

With Windows 8 due out in late October, and with it a slew of Windows 8 phones and tablets, developers can target a platform that has much less competition as compared to Android and iOS.

Codename One, an Israel-based startup founded by two former Sun Microsystems engineers, said this week that its new mobile, cross-platform software development kit (SDK) is now compatible with Windows Phone and tablet devices. When the beta was announced in July, the toolkit already supported development on iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows 7. The company released the SDK in August.

The company's Java-based, open source SDK is a lightweight tool designed to allow Java devs to create native apps for multiple mobile and tablet platforms with a single code base. The SDK combines an IDE plugin, a visual designer tool, a client library, simulator environments for phones and tablets, a build server, and cloud provisioning services. The company describes its API as "a vast abstraction of mobile device platforms" combined with "rich portable functionality."

Developers use Codename One to create all components from scratch, instead of using native widgets, to avoid fragmentation. The company argues that this approach also supports more accurate desktop simulation of mobile applications.

The company's two founders, Chen Fishbein and Shai Almog, both worked for Sun Microsystems. Fishbein began developing the Lightweight User Interface Toolkit (LWUIT) as an internal project for Sun. The project was launched to address the challenge of writing "appealing cross platform mobile applications," according to the java.net project summary. Almog joined the effort, which was announced in 2008. Sun open sourced the project, licensing it under the GPL with ClassPath Exception. LUWIT, better known as the Lightweight UI Toolkit for Java ME, is now a subproject of the Mobileandembedded project. 

The Codename One SDK is open source and free for commercial use. It can be downloaded now from the company website.

In related news, Codename One this week disclosed a new partnership with Vserv.mobi, a mobile advertising network for application developers. "We believe that Vserv's ability to seamlessly enable app monetization without any coding effort is an invaluable feature for developers," said Almog in a statement. "Our aim is to jointly bring a truly differentiated value proposition to accelerate the innovation cycle in the mobile ecosystem."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on ADTmag.com, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at john@watersworks.com.


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Reader Comments:

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 Joel Solís Monterrey, México

Can you really develop for windows phone 8 using codename one? Because I saw in the dev center page that you can only develop for windows phone 8 using windows 8 pro. I don't know much about windows phone development, I am new to it

Sun, Nov 4, 2012

This is something that Microsoft should sponsor, and promote so that developers know how easy it can be to make Windows Store apps - without sacrificing other platforms.

Thu, Sep 13, 2012 smallmountain

Did you not get the memo? They are called "Windows Store" apps now, *not* Windows 8 apps. Whether it makes sense or not.

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