Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Project Ares: Full mobile development environment from Palm all in the browser

Category: Bespin, WebOS


Project Ares is the first mobile development environment hosted entirely in a browser, lowering the barriers for web developers to jump into mobile development.

I am incredibly excited to see the beta release of Project Ares which has been developed by Matt McNulty and his top notch developers at Palm. I am honored to be working with them.

This project is so exciting as the team has managed to kill a couple of birds with one stone. Creating webOS applications has always been simple for Web folk, but with the layout builder you have a UI up and running in an incredibly short order. I am also very proud that we put our money where our mouth is by developing our tools on the Web platform itself. All you need to get going is a Web browser.

The integration features are fantastic too. You can take your application and preview it live, run it in the emulator, or send it all the way to a device, right from the browser!

There are many great features:

Drag and drop Interface Builder


The UI builder is pretty great. It has a very rich layout system that shows how the constraints of a mobile environment allow you to make life a LOT easier for developers.

There are several layout panels that control how widgets are laid out:

  • VBox Panel: The default behaviour. Widgets are laid out in a vertical stack
  • HBox Panel: Same as VBox but horizontally
  • Absolute Panel: Position widgets exactly where you want them, but watch out for orientation and for supporting multiple screen sizes!
  • Combining panels: You can recursively embed panels within panels to get you the advanced layout that you need
  • Scroller: a special panel that will scroll (default is off)
  • Drawer/Collapsable: show and hide internal content


Fancy a step through debugger? Now you have one. Easily and visually debug your code in real-time.

Code Editing

I am also proud that Ares uses the Bespin code editor, and this is the first time we have seen the debugging integration at work. I want to thank the Bespin community for continuing to deliver a web based code editor and look forward to see that evolve along with Ares. I do want to make it crystal clear that Matt and his team did this work, as some will incorrectly surmise that Ben and I went over to Palm to do this, and we didn’t. We are incredibly supportive of the work that Matt and his team have done though and love working with them.

Log viewer

webOS has a log system and the built in log viewer is fantastic.

Source Control

It is important to be able to get your files in and out of cloud based editors, and VCS support is available with more coming.

One click access to a lot

Create a new project. Create a new scene in an application. All available from a click in the browser.

Drag and drop file upload

The bottom left area can be a zone for you to upload a file and have it zoom to the cloud.

Preview apps

Because webOS is a Web runtime based on WebKit and V8, and the Mojo framework sits on top of it, you can preview your applications just in a Web browser. Think about that for a sec ;) We don’t mock out the services…. but you can get your UI just right, and when you are ready you can quickly deploy to the webOS emulator or device!

Can you tell I am excited? I know how Web developers need better tools, and I think this is a great one for mobile development. This is just the beginning too. There are many features that will make life even easier for us developers. In fact, if you have suggestions please join us for a chat!.

Finally, check out how well the app runs. It has surpassed my performance expectations, especially considering how rich the feature set is. Ben and I created Bespin to see if the Web was ready for a desktop class application of that nature. Ares has stepped up and gone even further to prove what the Web can do. I have a great feeling about 2010 as we see the fruits of browser innovation, increased support of HTML5 features, and great work that you all do.

Disclosure: Ben and I work for Palm :)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 5:24 pm

4.5 rating from 41 votes


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1 word comes to mind:


Good job Palm, Matt, Dion, Ben…

So, asked this on Twitter too: just curious if you’ll turn on plugin/scripting support so we can do things like make our own tool palettes, create project and item templates, etc. ?

Keep it up.

Comment by RyanGahl — December 17, 2009

NIS reports this site as unsafe:

Comment by gabe — December 17, 2009

Amazing stuff. I want to build regular web apps this way!

Comment by Joeri — December 18, 2009

I didn’t realise it was all in the browser when I skimmed over the news on I’ll have to take a closer look. Sounds great.

Comment by RichardReddy — December 18, 2009

Congrats! Can’t wait to try this.

Comment by souders — December 18, 2009

My, that’s some super-tasty Dojo-based UI.

Comment by slightlyoff — December 18, 2009

WoW! As one of the first people to ever create a browser based dev environment for Ajax apps (back in 2002 with General Interface) I must say, this is really really really awesome. Congrats to everyone on the team! Keep up the great work.

Comment by khakman2 — December 18, 2009

Very very cool work (and I love that it’s built on the just released Dojo 1.4). However I can’t use it at the moment as there is no search functionality. Ctrl-F doesn’t work, and I can’t search across multiple files for a string.

This is a pity as I love the debugger and log viewer. Please fix this and I’ll migrate all my projects to Ares (which is also ridiculously simply, just drop in a zip!)

Also, some built in source control would be cool, rather than having to run your own Subversion server. Or just the option to use a Git server.

Sorry for coming across as negative, that’s just the 2% I’d like fixed. The other 98% blows my mind ;-)

Comment by sos — December 19, 2009

This is amazing stuff
i love it

Comment by Tribulus — January 14, 2010

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