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Taking the Helm at Forum Nokia

As the recently appointed Vice President of the Forum Nokia Developer Community, Purnima Kochikar is responsible for strategy and growth opportunities with Nokia’s third-party developers to create a vibrant Nokia ecosystem. She took a few minutes to talk with Dr. Dobb's.

Q: Nokia recently released the Nokia Booklet 3G, one of its few non-phone mobile devices. How will Forum Nokia support application development on this new platform?

A: Forum Nokia's support for cross-platform development using Qt will be one important resource for many developers creating applications for the Nokia Booklet 3G. Qt is a cross-platform application and UI framework that allows developers to write applications once and deploy them across many desktop and embedded operating systems -- including mobile -- without rewriting the source code. But let's be clear, the Nokia Booklet 3G, although not a mobile phone as we know it, is perfectly capable of making phone calls too.

Q: Another recent Forum Nokia announcement involved "Ovi Developer Beta." Can you tell us about it? What is it? What's unique about it?

A: The Ovi for Developers program is a closed beta to get feedback from developers for the SDK that will include two newly announced APIs, Ovi Navigation Player API and Ovi Maps Player.

The Ovi Maps Player API provides access to maps, location and POIs on mobile devices. The Ovi Navigation API for mobile gives developers an easy way to integrate drive and walk navigation services using a few lines of JavaScript into their applications.

As Web development on mobile devices evolves to support cross-platform and cross-device standards, the Ovi developer offering will be increasingly important as a way for Nokia to provide exciting opportunities to our developer community.

Q: Forum Nokia just announced the winners of the Calling All Innovators. What was your favorite app entry?

A: This was difficult for not only me but all the judges at Nokia. We were pleased to receive over 1,700 entries, and to narrow it down to three finalists in each of the four categories, and then to select the best in each category, was extremely difficult. All the finalists were very deserving.

One of my favorites is one that is not a category winner at all. We chose the final category winners based on four criteria: quality/functionality; uniqueness, novelty value and innovativeness; usability/creativity; and commercial viability/market potential. My favorite app is one that scored very high on creativity and commercial viability and so we created a Special Recognition Award for Innovation and a cash prize of $10,000 USD to MoBots, submitted by DEIMOS Space from Madrid, Spain. MoBots are easy-to-configure automations created by individuals directly on their Nokia S60 mobile device. The MoBots app is designed so that anyone -- even non-programmers -- can develop practical applications for use on their mobile phone with only a few simple steps. Individuals can set up new, customized MoBots using the application's appealing, on-screen visual interface; and the results can be shared in the mobots.org community so that more people can take advantage of the creativity that MoBots support.

Q: As a C++ programmer, you're probably happy with Carbide and Qt. But will any of the lightweight dynamic languages have a bigger role in Forum Nokia as we move forward?

A: Absolutely. We're making a big investment in Web development and Web developers, increasing our focus on the Web Runtime (WRT) as a key developer environment on Nokia devices. The Web Runtime transforms standard Web technology like HTML and JavaScript into a first-class application development environment. Nokia has plug-ins for the tools that web developers use today such as Dreamweaver, Aptana and Visual Studio. With these plug-ins, web developers can easily create mobile widgets bringing their existing web content to Nokia devices and for distribution to consumers through Ovi Store.

Q: Nokia in general has a broad range of operating system support -- Symbian, Windows, and Linux, come to mind -- and language support -- C/C++, Java, and Python, among others. Is this spreading developers and Forum Nokia too thin?

A: Nokia is evolving to a more cross-platform approach to software development, and will place greater emphasis on Qt for application development, and Web Runtime for service development, across all Nokia devices and platforms. Of course, Forum Nokia will continue to support the very active developer communities in Symbian C++, Java, and other environments, but a larger amount of our focus will be on these cross-platform environments, which should bring great benefits to developers in terms of productivity and access to devices and markets.

Q: WRT is one of the really powerful tools that developers don't hear a lot about. Is it part of Forum Nokia, or is it another part of Nokia? Where do you see it going?

A: As mentioned earlier, WRT is a critical part of Nokia's software strategy going forward. Forum Nokia is already supporting Web developers with extensive documentation, tools, and other resources, and will continue to do so as the WRT environment expands to support more powerful features, like increased access to platform services and Ovi, and improved user interface frameworks.

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