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Mobile companies unite on Apple - Google threat

Eclipse offers sliver of light

Pulsar will include development tools for web technologies, such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, to build the kinds of cross-platform, rich-interfaces that Sun is attempting to solve with JavaFX for mobile, the desktop and the TV.

Also, it seems, Pulsar will rely on JavaScript to get around the fact Google and Apple are not on board. Instead of writing native applications for the iPhone in particular, developers can use AJAX to write to the browser instead.

"This collaboration of these companies in this initiative will agree on the scripting environment for mobile," Brusco said of Pulsar. "So Pulsar is adding the mobile web space. We have that on our roadmap, and [it] is not based on JavaFX."

An important player in Pulsar is likely to be Nokia, thanks to its position as the world's largest handset manufacturer and the fact that it owns Symbian on the runtime side and Trolltech's Qt on tools on the developer end. Brusco flagged up early on that Pulsar will provide native operating system support. Given Nokia's presence, that's bound to mean the ability to build Symbian applications using this Eclipse-based IDE.

Less clear is the role Qt will play, as it's a cross-platform framework and - now with version 4.5 - a fledgling IDE. "Nokia, being one of the members of the steering committee on the working group, has input and influence on the roadmap," Brusco said. "As we go forward we can collaborate among all of us and we can collaborate on the roadmap and the priorities."

What can you expect in the meantime?

Once you download Pulsar this June, you'll be able to specify the handset you're targeting from a drop-down list, and Pulsar will pull in the appropriate SDK so you don't need to go online and find it yourself. According to Eclipse, there'll be a common set of Eclipse-based tools in a packaged distribution that will interoperate with the different handset SDKs.

A lot remains to be seen about Pulsar: how far different SDKs will work inside the environment, what common tooling - if any - they will share, and how many SDKs will plug in, never mind the degree of native operating-system and web-scripting support.

The fact Pulsar is built on Eclipse will go a long way in its favor based on the current level of technology interoperability, features and industry support for the Eclipse platform.

However, if Pulsar is meant to be of genuine benefit to the developer instead of purely a defensive coalition, it'll need input from Apple and Google, depending - of course - on how far that level of AJAX support really goes.

Without Apple, Google or some serious AJAX capabilities onboard, Pulsar will go the way of all those other supposed remedies.®

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