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Nokia enlists Adobe and .NET armies on mobile web

Is that a WRT in your pocket...

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The world's largest handset manufacturer is reaching out to designers using Adobe and to Microsoft's army of .NET coders, urging them to build web apps for phones running its S60 platform.

Nokia's released Web Runtime Extension for Adobe Systems' Creative Suite 4 and the Standard and Professional editions of Visual Studio 2008. Support for version 2.0 of the open-source, Eclipse-based Aptana Studio integrated development environment (IDE) has also been added.

WRT is Nokia's environment for building web apps using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Ajax. Nokia claims that the S60 on its Symbian operating system accounts for more than 180 million devices shipped from Samsung, Lenovo, LG, and - yes - Nokia itself.

Nokia said it's using extensions to target designers and developers using existing IDEs rather than simply offer yet another IDE, which seems fair.

"We think we've have pretty good coverage of 80 to 90 per cent of tools developers use on a daily basis," web tools devices director Craig Cumberland told The Reg.

But in targeting CS 4, Nokia hopes it can encourage designers to start coding and improve the hand off to programmers, closing the gap between design and development - a familiar industry refrain right now. WRT enables you to exchange design and code elements between the different IDEs without losing the work you've already done on design or code.

By focusing on Visual Studio, Nokia wants to reach .NET enterprise developers even though Nokia phones do not run Windows. With WRT, it's trying to appeal to enterprise and ASP.NET developers tasked with extending applications to mobile devices running S60.

The WRT Extension will provide validation of a widget, general purpose debugging of the Javascript and HTML, packaging, and deployment to an emulator or a Bluetooth device.

Cumberland said additional functionality for Adobe and Visual Studio would be added in future releases of WRT. Meanwhile, Nokia seems to want to keep a distinction between WRT for web and Qt for native development, although Cumberland expects there to be some cross over.

Meanwhile, support for the latest version of Aptana Studio means you can write AJAX and Javascript applications for devices that can access features on the phone, such as contacts and location. Also improved is debugging and code completion, and there's support for Nokia's 5800 XpressMusic and Nokia N97 touch-screen devices. ®

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