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2012 Jolt Awards: Mobile Tools

, October 30, 2012 The best mobile development tools
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Finalist: RunRev LiveCode

Mobile-device developers live in a split-platform world that imposes a difficult choice: Run on just one platform, support multiple code bases, or adopt a development tool that handles the platforms for you. If they choose this last option, RunRev LiveCode, a tool with a decades-long pedigree will be of particular interest. It is a fully modern, productive way to produce mobile applications. It implements the good ideas from its HyperCard ancestor — dead-simple creation of good-looking, interlinked and animated apps — and updates them for mobile technology.

Although developers are essentially writing to one platform — LiveCode itself — it's fair to characterize the system as platform-agnostic. The IDE doesn't care if you develop on Windows, Linux, or a Mac. It's even less choosy about where you deploy; depending on the edition you buy, your app can run on iOS, Android, Windows, OS X, Linux, over the Web (there's even support for embedding logic on a server). Apps that don't make use of platform-specific services can simply be copied over, since there's no compilation step, and they will automatically adopt much of the look and feel of the target. While you must pay for a development license, deployment itself is royalty-free and requires no runtime download.

LiveCode development is a process of building cards, assembling them into stacks, and specifying their interactions with code. The tool includes a visual editor for building the UI components of each card, property editors, code editor, and an application browser for managing all the assets. Because of its simplicity, a user of any modern IDE won't confront a big learning curve here. The card/stack paradigm, visual editing tools, and support for a wide variety of media combine to make a development tool that's simple enough for non-programmers to put together applications, while providing plenty of power for dedicated hackers. LiveCode offers its own object-oriented scripting language, designed to be low-ceremony and reasonably easy for "regular humans" to use. If you need cross-platform app development, and especially if you want to empower non-programmer participation, you should seriously consider RunRev LiveCode.

— Rick Wayne

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