Friday, January 9th, 2009

Palm gets it’s Mojo back?

“The need is obvious for a cross-device mobile javascript library supporting iphone, palm, and android. blackberry browser still blows” — Joe Hewitt

Joe of course created the popular iUI framework that mimics the native iPhone look and feel and gives you nice simple iPhone features via JavaScript.

Palm is on his list, because it is back in the game with their CES announcement of the Palm Pre, an offering that has an SDK that makes me happy. No Objective-C, no Java, just a Web stack!

Announcing Palm WebOS, Palm Mojo Application Framework, and Palm Mojo SDK

Palm WebOS, Palm’s next generation operating system, integrates the power of a window-based operating system with the simplicity of a browser. The user experience is designed around multitasking, and makes it easy to run background applications, switch between applications in a single step, and handle interruptions and events without losing context. Using WebOS, you’ll be able to develop fast (and beautiful) applications.

The Palm Mojo Application Framework

Palm WebOS applications are easy to write using Mojo, a new application framework based on the HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript standards that web developers already know and love. WebOS applications are installed and run directly on the device at native speed and have access to a wide range of device services.

Mojo will enable you to:

  • Build applications with gesture-based navigation, transitions, and scrolling
  • Use the WebOS notification system to alert users without interrupting them
  • Leverage the local storage capabilities of HTML5 so that data is available even when users are offline
  • Use a JSON-based message bus to tap into a wide range of device services, including contacts, calendars, and location

And good news for Palm OS developers! There are a number of ways to migrate data from a an existing PDB file to your new WebOS app. Stay tuned for more information for developers with Palm OS applications who want to build WebOS applications.

The Palm Mojo SDK

Besides the Palm Mojo Application Framework, the SDK will include sample code, documentation, and development tools. An Eclipse-based IDE is included, and you will also be able to use your choice of tools to build WebOS applications. The Mojo SDK is currently in private prerelease, and will be available later this year as a free download from the Palm Developer Network.

The Palm App Catalog

Palm will provide an on-device application catalog to deliver your apps directly to users.

We are still some time out from the release, but very cool to see!

Clink Ecker of Ars has a nice piece where he talked to a developer familiar with the SDK. If anyone knows more, please let us know :)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:01 am

4 rating from 30 votes


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FWIW as far as the Web engine that’s behind all this: According to an interview with a Palm VP, Stephane Maes, “The Web browser is Palm-developed, but based on the WebKit engine.”

Comment by sideshowbarker — January 9, 2009


Thanks for that. If anyone else has actual details on the API etc…. we are all ears!

Comment by Dion Almaer — January 9, 2009

It’s not “it’s”, it’s “its”.

Comment by mrmass — January 9, 2009

Additionally to a UI Javascript API a tool like Google Gears for mobile devices makes sense. This way you get access to device specific functionalities like geo location, camera, acceleration and so on. For iPhone there is an application available in die App Store offering these functions via a simple API trying to be close to the HTML5 definitions of W3C. The app is called “Big Five” and the API is available here: A tutorial and screencasts show how to use this technique:

Comment by perenzo — January 9, 2009

Strangely when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone and its Web-Based SDK, most developers cried out for an Objective-C based SDK.
I for one hope for a standard way of creating GUI apps, for phones, for desktops with the use of HTML, CSS and JavaScript and a Gears like persistence. It might not be the best way for developing 100% of the applications, but for quite a few will do nicely.

Comment by tdegrunt — January 9, 2009

@tdegrunt: minor correction, the iPhone still doesn’t have a way to build apps with javascript and web technology.

When Jobs announced the only way to develop for the iPhone was to write webapps (i.e. websites), but were clearly using Obj-C/Cocoa for all their own apps all the Mac OS developers with years of Cocoa experience wanted in on the action and caused a big fuss.

Some of those developers have done very well with ported apps but I personally think the platform itself, new developers and users may have been better served with some standards based HTML5 style development.

You can read about some attempts to hack this by building on what Apple gives you here:

So this Palm moves makes a lot of sense to me, and I hope Apple and others follow suit, maybe even in a compatible manner (for simple apps at least). Here’s hoping.

Comment by bawjaws — January 9, 2009

Please change that “it’s!’ It’s giving me a stomach ache!
@bawjaws: “the iPhone still doesn’t have a way to build apps with javascript and web technology.”
Is that true? I thought that PhoneGap fixed that. Is PhoneGap not a reasonable solution? I hope it is, I was planning on trying it.

Comment by Nosredna — January 9, 2009

@nosredna: that’s one of several hacks discussed by John Resig at the link I provided but they’re all currently incomplete and may not be able to reach their full potential without official blessing and co-operation.

Comment by bawjaws — January 10, 2009

@bawjaws you have not done your research sir. PhoneGap applications have been deployed in the app store for the iPhone and there are several successful Android implementations. In short, PhoneGap is adopted, accepted by the official stores and maturing quickly.

Comment by brianleroux — January 10, 2009

I concur with Joe Hewitt on this. We need to move to a powerful mobile browser based app model and Palm’s Mojo is the first right step in that direction.

I share my thoughts on this here:

Comment by sachmonkey — January 12, 2009

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