March 20, 2013

Enhanced HTML5 – Telerik’s Kendo UI Delivers New PHP and JSP Tools and Windows Phone 8 Support

Earlier today Telerik released the latest version of Kendo UI, its comprehensive framework for building JavaScript and HTML5 websites and mobile apps. With today’s release, the company has added a number of new features. First, the new release delivers a large collection of new Web and DataViz (NewsAlert) UI widgets, adding simply access to some fairly sophisticated capabilities. In and of itself this is the easiest thing for Telerik to add, yet it delivers a set of new services that will greatly simplify delivering complex functionality via HTML5.

Second is the new availability of server-side wrappers for PHP and JSP – which is significant specifically for driving enterprise development. Kendo UI now offers a comprehensive front end platform that brings together ASP.NET, PHP and JSP. Enterprise developers that are steeped in server-side programming and who may be new to HTML5 can now use those familiar server-side language skills.

Third, the new release provides strong support for modern web Single Page Applications (SPAs) architecture. SPAs are applications that begin to return a lot of application processing back to the device, as opposed to the mobile devices simply serving as a means to switch between Web pages and where most if not all of the app processing is taking place on the server. Bringing together this new support with the addition of the server-side PHP and JSP wrappers opens up new doors for enterprise developers and by extension the enterprise itself, which will now be able to deliver an entire new range of high performance HTML5-based mobile apps.

Finally, there is now full Windows Phone 8 support. We’d like to give Telerik and Kendo UI credit for taking this step without "waiting for confirmation" that Windows Phone 8 will be a legitimate mobile OS. Getting out ahead of the curve here is an excellent move and we hope that Microsoft itself and perhaps Nokia (News Alert) pay attention to it.

Much of what is in the new release is based on what Kendo UI has been hearing from its customers, much of which was detailed in the company’s latest Global Developer Survey over 5,000 globally-based Kendo UI developers. The survey, which we’ve covered elsewhere, points to a great deal of HTML5 interest, with 90 percent of those surveyed noting that they will absolutely be building apps using HTML5 in 2013.

Todd Anglin, EVP of Cross-Platform Tools & Services at Telerik, who we spoke with at some length recently, notes that “HTML5 is now clearly the holy grail of app development. The biggest tech and business players are jumping in and beginning to take full advantage of HTML5’s inherent flexibility and productivity. Kendo UI itself looks to deliver exactly what developers are telling us is on their priority wish lists. That list not only includes CSS and JavaScript, but also the tools that will enable those folks who’ve done a great deal of server-side programming to also be able to deliver rich, web and hybrid mobile apps that run across all of the major platforms.”

PHP and JSP Matter for HTML5

During our conversation Anglin noted that, "It’s taken a while for Kendo UI to pull together exactly what developers are asking for and it has been a priority for us to add PHP and JSP wrappers to the already available  ASP.NET MVC wrappers. I’m pretty sure that with the new release Kendo UI is now the most enterprise-ready HTML5/JavaScript framework on the market."

The usual storyline for HTML5 is that it allows Web developers with HTML, CSS and JavaScript skills to deliver powerful HTML5-based enterprise mobile apps. However, it’s been lost – or it simply hasn’t gotten the necessary attention it needs that there are, as Anglin makes clear, "Developers in the enterprise who are highly experienced with server-side programming but who are forced to migrate large chunks of application logic to HTML, CSS and JavaScript in order to take advantage of HTML5. We need to change this."

With the new wrappers from Kendo UI, PHP and JSP developers will now be able to build modern HTML5 apps without hand-coding any JavaScript. They simply code in their preferred server-side language, and Kendo UI renders the JavaScript needed to power its widgets and framework features. We believe this will be a major step forward for utilizing HTML5 in the enterprise. The image below shows what’s possible using the new wrapper technology.

Modern Web Application Architectures

The new release also adds support for modern web application architectures, including out-of-the-box RequireJS/AMD (RJS) support and a new, integrated Single Page Application (SPA) implementation, both of which aid developers in the creation of modular and maintainable web applications. In addition, to aid developers interested in integrating Kendo UI with other JavaScript libraries, a new Kendo UI Labs site has been launched to incubate open source integrations with projects like AngularJS and BreezeJS.

The current release of Kendo UI also delivers a set "definition files" that are drop-in ready for developers working with Kendo UI and Microsoft (News Alert) TypeScript applications. In late 2012, Microsoft announced an alpha version of TypeScript, which is a compile-to-JavaScript language designed for "application-scale JavaScript development." In addition to providing additional syntax and languages features on top of the JavaScript language, TypeScript is able to consume "definition files" from third-party libraries, like jQuery, to provide static checking and statement completion to developers, at design-time. Kendo UI developers are now TypeScript-ready.

New Widgets and Chart Types

Kendo UI has added more widgets and chart types in this release than in any release since its initial launch. Charts and graphs provided by Kendo UI DataViz also include added interactivity improvements.

New charts include:

·         Sparklines: A “data-as-text” chart type that allows for the inclusion of small, word-sized data visualizations.

·         Bullet Graphs: An extension to the existing linear gauge visualization, bullet graphs can be used to display actual values alongside of target, projected or comparative values.

·         DataBars: A bar chart variant that enables the visualization of trends in a series of related data.

New widgets include:

·         Multi-Select Widget: A Facebook (NewsAlert)-style multi-select widget that allows users to select multiple values in an expanding text box.

·         ColorPicker Widget: A cross-browser color picker with palette and spectrum modes, as well as HEX, RGBa and HSLa color model support.

·         Tooltip Widget: Tooltip widget with support for rich content.

Below is an example of what becomes possible with the new collection of charts and widgets.

Windows Phone 8

In response to developer demand, the new release of Kendo UI adds Windows Phone 8 support to its mobile capabilities. The previously mentioned Global Developer Survey points out that 47 percent of global developers are very interested in developing for Windows Phone 8. Anglin noted during our chat that, "Strong support for Windows Phone 8 came as a surprise. Clearly there is strong enterprise interest here and we needed no further prompting to make the move to supporting it."

Anglin continued, "It’s worth noting that in our survey Windows 8 was noted as being one of the easiest platforms for development – though in hindsight this should hardly be a surprise as we are speaking about enterprise developers. The strong link that Microsoft has created between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 is working to drive demand. Interestingly the survey also pointed out that iOS is considered by these same developers to be the toughest operating system to build applications for. With HTML5 this won’t matter – that’s the good news."

With the new release Kendo UI developers can now deliver mobile web and hybrid mobile applications across the four major mobile platforms, iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry (News Alert) (though BlackBerry 10 is currently supported only through the browser). The image below shows an HTML5 app that has been automatically rendered for the Windows Phone 8 environment.

The new Kendo UI release is an important one. Enterprise developers need to scope out what is now available. As well, Kendo UI Labs is well worth a visit if you are a developer. Kendo UI also provides a fairly extensive collection of training videos. There are also some rather funny videos from the recent SxSW conference – highly recommended for a quick chuckle. You may note that Kendo UI has a close relationship with the Google Chrome folks – Anglin also mentioned this during our chat. It’s another interesting side of Kendo UI we may explore further in future coverage.

Edited by Ashley Caputo


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