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Jolt Awards: Mobile Development Tools

, March 04, 2014 The best tools for the nuts-and-bolts of building mobile apps.
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Finalist: Corona SDK

Corona SDK uses the Lua scripting language for building graphics-intensive apps on Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, and Nook from a single code base with a really excellent runtime performance. Windows 8.x and Windows Phone 8.x are coming soon as new target platforms.

If you need to develop a 2D rich app with an animated UI or a game that needs to interact with the typical Facebook login and some RESTful services, the Corona SDK provides the necessary building blocks to target different platforms from a single source and makes a difference by really simplifying the creation and maintenance of these kinds of apps. The building blocks also simplify the interaction with SQLite data sources in Lua. Corona SDK makes it easy to add in-app purchases and different kinds of ad-based monetization to apps for all the target platforms. The SDK is remarkably well documented, with extensive tutorials, and many examples including numerous complete apps that demonstrate the usage of the different building blocks and plugins.

One of the most interesting features is the extremely fast simulator for graphics-intensive apps that makes excellent use of the OpenGL acceleration available on your development computer. The Pro edition adds support for additional Corona plugins such as the Social plugin for social media. The Enterprise edition enables you to call native libraries in C++, Objective-C, and Java from your Lua code.

The Corona Editor is based on Sublime Text. The lack of a full IDE makes it a bit difficult to understand how things work with Corona SDK. While Lua is easy to learn, the way it's employed in the Corona SDK takes some time to learn, especially for developers who are used to working inside IDEs to create mobile apps. But those who invest the time will be rewarded with the ability to quickly assemble high-functionality, widely portable apps.

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