Just one year ago there were only a handful of pseudo-legitimate mobile Web frameworks and none were well known in the mobile development community. A year later, we find the landscape for mobile Web developers has grown dramatically and is now loaded with frameworks for developers to choose from. Before I go on, let me briefly define what a software framework is and the two type of mobile Web frameworks that have emerged.

Framework Explained
A software framework is a micro-architecture of all or a portion of an abstract application. A frameworks provides patterns of operation and integration, services and conventions for direct use and extension by the developer. In the mobile Web space, two type of frameworks have emerged over the last year or so. They are  a) the UI framework and b) the application framework.

UI Frameworks
A mobile Web UI framework is used for creating mobile Web user interfaces. This type of framework provides a developer Web widgets, look-and-feel styling and event model, to name a few. The framework's programming model: HTML, CSS3 and JavaScript. Many of these frameworks provide very high-end native look-and-feel capabilities. For example, imagine an iPhone mobile Web application that looks as good as native Objective-C iPhone app.

The following are some of the UI frameworks available:

Mobile Web UI Frameworks

o iUI
o iWebKit
o JQTouch
o Magic Framework
o WebApp.Net
o WidgetPad
o xUI

Application Frameworks
A mobile Web application framework differs from a UI framework in that its primary benefits are services, such as an application packaging model, JavaScript APIs for accessing device services and sensors, e.g., accelerometer, camera, contacts, local database, etc. In some cases, the framework API is portable across different mobile platforms, e.g., iPhone, Android, RIM.

The following are a some of the more well-known mobile Web app frameworks:

Mobile Web Application Frameworks

o Appcelerator
o Big5
o NimbleKit
o OpenConnect
o PhoneGap
o Rohmobile

If you're confused where to start; you're not alone.

Our mobile team has been researching a number of these frameworks and will be reporting their findings here over the next few months. Stay tuned.

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Posted on Sep 23rd 2009