Free mobile software development tools

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As mobile OSes — especially iPhone and Android — wax and wane, the pressing question remains: How do you choose which mobile devices to develop for and which devices to omit from your roadmap?

Cross-OS platforms for mobile development on the whole are not yet a completely perfect, have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too solution, but many of them offer an excellent alternative to ignoring one mobile OS in favor of another or, perhaps worse, burning serious resources to develop for two or three platforms at once.

Here are a few cross-platform development tools that were recommended to us by sources we trust. If you know of others or if you have any helpful tips about the frameworks we're mentioning here, please let us know about them in the comments.

The tagline "one codebase, every smartphone" pretty much says it all. RhoMobile offers Rhodes, an open source, Ruby-based framework that allows for development of native apps for a wide range of smartphone devices and operating systems. OSes covered include iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, RIM and Symbian.

The framework lets you write your code once and use it to quickly build apps for every major smartphone. Native apps are said to take full advantage of available hardware, including GPS and camera, as well as location data.

In addition to Rhodes, currently in its 2.0 iteration, RhoMobile offers RhoHub, a hosted development environment, and RhoSync, a standalone server that keeps app data current on users’ mobile devices.

5-cross-platform-mobile-development-tools-you-should-try-18a6083321When we polled Twitter followers for recommended cross-platform tools, Appcelerator stood out as a fan favorite.

Another FOSS offering, Appcelerator's Titanium Development Platform allows for the development of native mobile, tablet and desktop applications through typical web dev languages such as JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby and HTML. Titanium also gives its users access to more than 300 social and other APIs and location information.

Appcelerator's offerings also include customizable metrics for actions and events. App data can be stored in the cloud or on the device, and apps can take full advantage of hardware, particularly camera and video camera capability.

WidgetPad is a collaborative, open-source mobile development environment for creating smartphone apps using standard web technologies, including CSS3, HTML5 and JavaScript.

This platform includes project management, source code editing, debugging, collaboration, versioning and distribution. It can be used to create apps for OSes such as iOS, Android and WebOS.


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