We are probably all looking forward to the approaching release of Application Express 4.2. Next to a series of functional and performance improvements, version 4.2 will finally fully support the development of mobile applications in a declarative way. This means we’ll be able to create mobile pages with the same ease and speed of regular desktop pages. A new milestone in APEX its development process that opens the door to the emerging market of mobile services.

You might have noticed that it’s already possible to create mobile applications in APEX 4.1. The reason why mobile development is not supported in 4.1 is the jQuery Mobile framework which was still in beta phase back then. However, jQuery Mobile recently hit version 1.1.0 so this time we’re good to go.

jQuery Mobile is an easy to use web framework that provides a unified user interface and consistent functionality across a large variety of mobile web browsers. This cross-platform and cross-device feature is a big thing for developers since it abstracts away the inconsistencies between all different mobile platforms. Another advantage of jQuery Mobile is its straight-forward way of working. There isn’t much of a learning curve due to the framework its simplicity and wealth of documentation. As an APEX developer, it won’t take much time to get familiar with jQuery Mobile.

Oracle’s choice to incorporate jQuery Mobile into APEX is pretty obvious. First of all, APEX ships with the regular jQuery library since version 4.0. Because jQuery Mobile is dependent on the jQuery library, there is not much needed for the APEX development team to get jQuery Mobile up and running. Furthermore, jQuery Mobile is regarded as one of the most popular and stable frameworks that above all perfectly fits the APEX way of working. The framework employs an HTML-driven technique to transform page components into full-blown mobile functionalities. An ideal characteristic for APEX to support its declarative development approach.

However, in the meantime, we are obliged to await version 4.2 before we can fully evaluate the mobile development part in APEX. I’m pretty sure everyone will be astonished by the ease and speed of development. But, I wonder if the RAD principles had any influence on the level of flexibility and/or the range of possibilities. We’ll have to wait and see how the APEX development team coped with that.