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Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt
An interesting innovation at the 2013 Intel Software Conference was its free HTML5 development environment – a packaged set of programming tools, incliuding cloud support. The approach is different to that adopted for its C++ tools and perhaps deals with a different mindset – web app developers who have to collaborate with business users, regulators and so on, in order to concentrate on delivering business outcomes; rather than on how the detailed code operates. The comment was made that people issues are becoming increasingly important to software development managers these days. But, I wonder, do all developers have a collaborative mindset – or were they selected as loners who spoke code rather than English? And perhaps the high-level solutions-oriented packaging approach of the HTML5 tools could usefully migrate to the C++ tools?
Anyway, Intel is espousing the HTML5 approach to cross-platform web development – develop once, sell in multiple app stores for devices with different form factors (this contrasts with native development, involving a different code-base for each device, and the hybrid cross-platform approach espoused by, e.g., Embarcadero). You get the Intel XDK developer front-end (a Chrome browser plug-in with local project file storage) for writing Windows and OS X apps; and Intel App Dev Centre, which provides cloud-based tools and a build service for, for example, Apple’s App Store, Google Play, Nook Store, Amazon App Store for Android, Windows Store, and HTML5 Web Apps.
The advantage of this approach, of course, that you just learn HTML5 and don’t need to download and learn native platform SDKs (Software Development Kits) although other approaches may possibly have performance advantages (these may not be significant in practice, depending on implementation). What’s new in the Intel offering now is support for the Windows 8 Store and an integrated Project Wizard which is fully integrated into the Intel XDK with, for example, a graphical wizard for website-like apps, a games/physics app framework (“physics” is about making objects behave naturally) and demo examples.
The Intel HTML5 developer experience seems to a a rich one (see here); for example, there’s an HTML5 App Porter tool in beta, which promises to help iOS developers broaden their market to include other platforms. Intel claims to be making HTML5 better with contributions to Open Source projects, emerging standards, and the provision of a complete, integrated HTML5 development environment to support true cross-platform apps – at no cost. Technically, Intel’s C++ programming environments are very impressive and no doubt suit ‘real programmers’ – but its HTML5 environment seems to be a lot more 21st century and may do a lot more to bring Intel Software to the attention of the business (I can’t resist suggesting that it might be a catalyst for a different kind of “Intel Inside” the business).