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Palm pops out plug-in dev kit

WebOs goes native

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Palm has released its Plug-in Development Kit, enabling native development for those who find AJAX just can't cut it.

The public beta release is aimed at games developers, who might have existing C code they want to port, or find that JavaScript lacks the performance they need. But Palm is keen to emphasise that the PDK will exist alongside the already available web-technologies-based SDK.

Palm isn't the first company to find that JavaScript isn't up to snuff: the iPhone was supposed to make native applications unnecessary, though Apple was quick to turn about when it realised the mistake.

WebOS does a much-better job of integrating JavaScript applications than the iPhone managed - they are downloaded and installed, have icons and so forth - but even at launch Palm admitted that while mainstream developers would be restricted to web technologies, some partners would be granted access to a native environment.

That access has now been broadened to everyone else, though Palm is adamant that web-based development will continue:

"Palm remains fully committed to the web as a mobile development platform... The webOS PDK complements the webOS SDK by allowing developers to use C and C++ code in their webOS apps when it makes sense for business reasons (like leveraging existing code) or technical reasons."

The hybrid approach didn't really work out for the iPhone, but given the way in which WebOS integrates JavaScript apps the comparison isn't really fair. It's reasonable to imagine that while speed-critical applications (such as games) will want to use the PDK, most developers will be happy working in JavaScript, and some might even combine the two.

Not for a while though - while the PDK is now at open beta and free to download, developers won't be able to deploy PDK-developed applications until the middle of the year when the next version of WebOS comes along. Until then, Palm developers are still stuck with JavaScript. ®

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