I have no mobile application development experience, I don't even own a rich mobile device (I can send text messages with my cellphone :) I have strong web, .NET, and Java experience but am open to develop with any language / platform. I need to target at least iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices. I am seeking some guidance on the right set of tools for developing an application targeting these devices given my requirement. An easy deployment model would be a big plus. I have some notion of the difference between native apps and mobile apps on devices, and the later seems like it may be a good choice in terms of cross-platform support and easy deployment, but I do need access to some device information.

I currently have a fairly simple Java Swing application which is backed by JSON web services. The application is launched automatically when a user logs into their computer via a login script (it's deployed on corporate-like network). The user is presented with some html formatted information, and they click a button to answer a question. That's about it!

Core Requirements

  • Must be able to get user identification information from the mobile device and send it to the server; the Swing client sends the Windows account and domain name.
  • Would very much like to retrieve the local date and time of the mobile device and send it to the server
  • Must be able to have the GUI workflow described previously: present content to user, user "clicks" a button to respond.
  • Must be able to communicate with the JSON web service; if needed, could use some other data encoding, but just need to be able to communicate over HTTP (unless things are very different in the mobile world and I don't know what I'm talking about!)

Nice to Have Requirements

  • Render HTML fragments for the content (if not possible, could strip it down to plain text)
  • Be able to "click" on a link to send an email someway for help / feedback
  • "Click" link to a web site with information on how well the user is responding to their questions; could also build this into the app if it is a mobile app.
  • Be able to build some kind of user options "dialog"
  • Render small pictures along with the content; currently the pictures are just http resources.

Thanks in advance!

2 Answers 2


It looks like your needs are pretty limited in terms of access to the device itself. I would suggest one of the cross-platform, web-ish platforms. There's a couple of them out there, such as PhoneGap http://www.phonegap.com/.

See http://mashable.com/2010/08/11/cross-platform-mobile-development-tools/ for some other options, and to make sure it supports the platforms you require.

  • +1 for phonegap. It's the best combination of reuse (HTML5/CSS) and native (hooks to contacts, accelerometer, notifications and more on the device itself).
    – Ryan Hayes
    Aug 30, 2011 at 0:42
  • Wow, PhoneGap looks really impressive and a really nice fit for my requirements. Thanks! Aug 30, 2011 at 3:44

Check out ZooLib. It can build BlackBerry and iOS Apps from a single set of C++ sources. I don't think it yet supports Android, but it could be made to do so without a whole lot of work.

Until recently Android Apps had to be written in Java, but I understand that recent Android releases support Apps that are entirely native code.

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