O'Reilly Releasing Palm webOS Programming Guide

Palm is working with O'Reilly Media to publish the official programming guide for the PDA pioneer's new webOS platform, which will debut in the company's eagerly-anticipated Pre smartphone later this year.

The tome, called Palm webOS: Developing Applications in JavaScript Using the Palm Mojo Framework, is being written by Palm VP and Software Chief Technology Officer Mitch Allen.

The Palm webOS book promises to offer developers concise information about the application model and framework for the Linux-based mobile platform. It will also show readers how to use Palm's Mojo SDK to build applications to run on webOS, along with best practices, considerations, and guidelines for design and development.

(The figure to the left, taken from the book, shows a simplified view of the webOS platform's architecture. The image below offers a more complete picture.)

"Palm webOS is unlike any mobile platform available today," according to Palm's Allen. "Because it leverages several industry-standard web technologies, including CSS, HTML and JavaScript, it enables them to build native JavaScript applications and provides a rich open development environment that's familiar to tens of millions of web developers."

The first chapter of the Rough Cuts Version of the book is currently available online for free here. Rough Cuts is a service from Safari Books Online that provides early access to books on cutting-edge technologies prior to publication.

Programmers eager to learn how to develop applications on webOS can read the book online as it is being written or download it as a PDF. And with Rough Cuts, readers can participate in an ongoing discussion about the book and technology.

Allen plans to offer a free webcast on Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. PT to offer developers a preview of the webOS operating system and development environment, followed by a Q&A session. See here to learn more about the webcast.

The complete book will be published upon release of Mojo, Palm's webOS software development kit (SDK). (To the right is screen shot of the platform's app launcher.)

Last week, Palm CEO Ed Colligan announced that the company would no longer user the Palm OS, the mobile platform that started the PDA and (later) the smartphone revolution. Rather, it would focus on building products on the new webOS and Windows Mobile.

The webOS, to the disappointment of many Palm OS loyalists, won't be able to run legacy Palm OS apps. At least Palm isn't planning on adding that capability itself. It did say a third-party developer (perhaps Styletap) may end up doing so.

The company is looking forward, however.

It had been years since Palm (and later Access) updated the Palm OS. Although Palm added many new features and UI improvements to the platform to help keep it competitive, others -- like Windows Mobile, Symbian, Android, BlackBerry, the iPhone -- far outstripped it in terms of performance over the years.

To Palm, it was time for a clean break. With that webOS, that's exactly what it achieved.

Rumor has it the Palm Pre could debut as soon as the middle of next month.

Flash in the Hand
In related news, Palm this week announced it would become a part of Adobe Systems Open Screen Project, an industry initiative dedicated to driving Adobe Flash techonlogy—the most widely used method of delivering video and animations on the Web—across televisions, personal computers, mobile devices, and consumer electronics.

The upshot: it looks like the Pre should get the mobile edition of Adobe's Flash Player, which is due to be released by the end of the year.

This player, which promise to be more full-featured than the Lite edition of the Flash currently available for mobile devices, is due to become available for Microsoft's Windows Mobile (also supported by Palm) and Nokia's Symbian S60 smartphone platforms as well. Adobe says that today 40 percent of all cell phones ship with Flash Lite.

"We're aiming to bring a rich, Flash technology-enabled browsing experience to Palm's impressive web browser," said Adobe Flash Platform Business Unit VP Michele Turner.


What about the iPhone?
Adobe's been trying to bring its Flash technology to the iPhone for long time now. The lack of Flash support is a real problem for iPhone users, as Flash technology is the most widely used format for delivering animations, videos (YouTube, Hulu, NBC.com, etc.) and interactive applications on the Web.

It is well known that the fly in the ointment towards delivering Flash to the iPhone has been Apple. That is until now. It appears Adobe and Apple are now working together to finally deliver the technology to not just the iPhone, but the iPod touch as well.

Speaking with Bloomberg about the topic a few weeks ago Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said, "It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating." He added, "The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver."

While it is still not known when iPhoners will get their Flash fix, at least we now know Apple is on board with the idea.


Linux, applications, Palm, Palm Pre, webOS