64 Open Source Tools for the Mobile Workforce

Open source mobility projects continue to increase slowly but steadily, while open source mobile development tools are skyrocketing.
Posted November 26, 2012

Cynthia Harvey

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Many within the open source community have recently bemoaned the lack of open source apps for mobile devices. However, their contention that open source has ignored the ongoing transition to a post-PC world isn't entirely accurate.

While it's true that the number open source mobile apps haven't kept pace with the exponential growth of mobile apps in general, open source developers are slowly but steadily adding to the library of open source apps for smartphones and tablets.

In addition, many apps that aren't open source themselves have been created using open source development tools. Arguably, some of the best mobile development tools out there are available under open source licenses, and this category continues to grow quickly.

Also, many existing open source projects have updated their feature set to add mobile capabilities and access from mobile devices.

Thanks to all of this progress, we were been able to extend our list of open source tools for the mobile workforce from the 50 projects we featured last year to 64 this year. The section on mobile development tools alone doubled as many notable projects are growing in popularity.

As always, if you'd like to recommend other open source mobility tools to our list, feel free to note them in the comments section below.

Mobile Development Tools

1. PhoneGap

Used by more than 400,000 developers, PhoneGap boasts that it's the "the only free open source framework that supports 7 mobile platforms": iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Palm WebOS, Bada and Symbian. With it, developers can build cross-platform mobile apps using HTML, CSS and Javascript. Operating System: Windows, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, others.

2. Rhodes

Ruby-based Rhodes allows developers to write code once and turn it into native mobile applications for multiple platforms. An enterprise version with a commercial license and support is available for a fee. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Phone.

3. ZK

Downloaded more than 1.5 million times, ZK calls itself the "leading enterprise Java Web framework." It's known for allowing developers to build Web apps in Java alone--without knowing Ajax or JavaScript--and it can also be used to build mobile apps. Operating System: OS Independent.

4. Appcelerator Titanium

Appcelerator claims that Titanium is "the first mobile platform to combine the flexibility of open source development technologies with the power of cloud services." It supports the development of iOS, Android and mobile Web apps using JavaScript. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS, Android.

5. IPFaces

Designed to make it easier for experienced Web developers build mobile apps, IPFaces excels at the creation of form-heavy mobile applications. Enterprise support and other professional services are available. Operating System: OS Independent for the developer; creates apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, others.

6. JQuery Mobile

This HTML 5-based framework offers a simple drag-and-drop interface for creating cross-platform mobile Web applications and websites. Notable features include a theme roller and a download builder. Operating System: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, others.

7. JQTouch

Want to do Web development from your iOS or Android device? JQTouch makes it possible. Notable features include easy setup, native WebKit animations, callback events, flexible themes, swipe detection and more. Operating System: iOS, Android.

8. Jo

Jo describes itself as a "simple app framework for HTML5." It allows you to build native-like apps in JavaScript and CSS. Operating System: iOS, Android, webOS, BlackBerry, Chrome OS.

9. Sencha Touch

Another JavaScript-based HTML5 framework, Sencha Touch is used by more than 500,000 mobile developers, including more than half of the Fortune 100 and 8 of the world's top 10 financial institutions. In addition to the free open source license, Sencha also offers a free commercial license and paid support. Operating System: OS Independent.

10. Qt

Used for both mobile and desktop development, Qt is a cross-platform application and UI framework that supports both C++ and a JavaScript-like language called QML. Commercially licensed versions are available from Digia. Operating System: Windows, OS X, Linux.

11. MoSync SDK

This cross-platform software development kit allows you write mobile apps in C/C++ or HTML5/JavaScript--or a combination of both. Developers can use it alongside MoSync Reload, an open source development tool that makes it easy to see how apps will look on various mobile platforms. Operating System: Windows, OS X, Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, Symbian.

12. Restkit

Restkit aims to simplify the process of building apps that interact with RESTful Web services. Features include a simple HTTP request/response system, integration with Apple’s Core Data framework, database seeding, object mapping system, pluggable parsing layer and more. Operating System: iOS.

13. Molly

This rapid development framework has a goal of making the creation of mobile portals as quick and painless as possible. Developed by Oxford University, it's a good option for other universities that also use the Sakai Virtual Learning Environment. Operating System: Linux.

14. OpenMEAP

An enterprise-class HTML5 mobile application development platform, OpenMEAP boasts top-notch end-to-end security. It enables rapid application development and supports multiple mobile OSes. Operating System: Android, iOS, BlackBerry.

15. Kurogo

Created by Modo Labs, Kurogo is a mobile-optimized middleware platform that was based on the MIT Mobile Framework. It makes is easy to create portals, mobile websites and apps that aggregate data and content from multiple sources. Operating System: Windows, Linux, iOS.

16. Mobl

Based on HTML5 and JavaScript, mobl is a programming language designed specifically for creating mobile apps. It's statically typed and comes with an Eclipse-based IDE. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

17. AML

This XML-based language aim to makes it possible to build cross-platform, data-driven applications that run natively. However, currently it only supports Android. Operating System: Android.

18. AllJoyn

AllJoyn allows developers to create applications with OS-agnostic, proximity-based device-to-device communications. The company behind the project is currently running a contest where they plan to give away $170,000 in cash and prizes for great apps built with AllJoyn's framework. Operating System: Windows, OS X, iOS, Android.

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Tags: open source, mobile apps

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