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What is Appcelerator®?

By Benjamin R. Kibbey
Updated May 16, 2024
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Appcelerator® is an open source developer platform designed to allow programmers to create native applications that function across a wide range of devices. This platform is designed to allow the creation of these applications with only the knowledge a developer already has of web-based programming. The stated aim of the company is to address the wide range of modern devices, from phones and personal data assistants to desktops, tablets, and laptops. To answer this need, Appcelerator® lets a developer program an application once, then use the platform to create versions that will run natively on multiple devices. The key difference between this approach and its predecessors is that it creates separate applications for each environment, rather than a framework designed to work in multiple environments.

The primary target audience for Appcelerator® is web developers. The programming knowledge needed in order to create applications with the platform, therefore, is no different than that required to create Internet-based applications. The concept is not simply to create a single version of the application that functions on several operating systems, however. Instead, Appcelerator® creates a version of the application for each targeted device. As a result, the end-product will not only function within the operating system for an iPhone® or iPad®, and at the same time for an Android®-based phone, but will do so as separate applications tailored to each device.

This type of approach may provide several advantages to small developers in particular. To otherwise develop an application to function seamlessly on more than one device might be a difficult challenge for a small-time or independent programmer. Depending on the devices to be targeted, development of an integrated application could require knowledge of several programming languages and familiarity with multiple operating systems. Beyond such initial hurdles lie those of man-hours, with the testing, debugging, and re-working of an application even for a single operating system possibly representing a large investment of time.

For larger developers and companies, the savings of this kind of approach may be no less significant. The need to create only one version of each application in order to service multiple devices may free-up manpower and increase overall productivity. This leaves the potential for man-hours to be invested in further research and development of additional applications, or the refinement of the primary application that might not have been possible previously due to time or budget constraints.

The company producing Appcelerator® also has a stated aim of improving the situation for application users. This may be accomplished by allowing applications that might have otherwise had fewer features or less functionality to create a richer experience due to native programming. Additionally, this may be realized through higher numbers of applications in the market that would have previously been restricted to specific operating systems but now function across multiple formats and devices.

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