Oracle hopes to speed development of mobile apps with its new Mobile Application Framework (MAF), which was made available Monday. The new framework is part of a series of updates to the Oracle Mobile Suite.

It is intended to simplify the development of cross-platform enterprise apps for smartphones and tablets by using 'mobile-centric integration' for back-end services and security.

Easier for Workers

The updates to the mobile suite are a response to the increasing number of smartphones and tablets being used in the workplace. That prevalence is prompting software vendors like Oracle to focus on making enterprise applications more mobile friendly.

At least one industry observer sees the new framework as a good way for developers to increase the flexibility and reliability of mobile apps used in business settings.

"Mobility is huge," said Laura DiDio, principal analyst with Massachusetts-based ITIC. "More than 75 percent of companies have people working remotely who use tablets and smartphones, and need to access the corporate network. Hopefully this will help them."

MAF builds on the cross-platform development tools Oracle already offers. The framework lets developers choose between the JDeveloper IDE integrated development environment or Enterprise Pack for Eclipse. Oracle stated that developers can also pick between a number of development languages, including Java, JavaScript and HTML5 when they are developing native Android and iOS apps.

Plenty of User-Interface Tools

More than 80 user-interface (UI) components are contained in the framework, allowing developers to use more extensive data visualization capabilities and reduce the need for low-level HTML5 coding. The system also offers support for Apache Cordova plug-ins, which can be used across different OSes. Apache Cordova device interfaces enable developers to access features such cameras or accelerometers.

The framework also includes capability for declarative UI components creation, which allows for greater reusability during the app development process.

By integrating the new MAF with its Mobile Security Suite, Oracle hopes to calm the misgivings of mobile enterprise-app developers who are concerned about securing their apps and the data they have access to. The security suite includes features for application containerization, advanced authentication and authorization, and integration with social network log-ins.

"Anything that helps developers get a leg up and cut down on coding errors, speed issues and time to market will be something worth paying attention to," said DiDio.

Chris Tonas, Oracle's VP of mobility and development tools, pointed out in the announcement that the Mobile Application Framework "offers an easy transition for Java developers to bring their development skills to the mobile world, leveraging their Java and JavaScript skills with the tools they already use."

The new framework comes on the heels of another upgrade from Oracle aimed at helping mobile developers. Last week the company launched SOA Suite 12c, which aims to make it simpler to integrate mobile apps using its application integration software.

Oracle said the updated Mobile Suite now contains everything developers need to extend their enterprise systems to mobile phones and tablets.