ACCESS to Release Open Source Application Framework

ACCESS has announced it plans to release an Application Framework to the open source community under Mozilla Public License (MPL) v1.1. Security features that extend the Linux kernel are planned for release under the General Public License (GPL) v2. The Framework will be released before the end of the year and will be the industry’s first open source mobile Linux application framework for commercial use.

New ACCESS logoAn application framework – a way to install and manage applications, along with providing the ability for applications to interact with each other and the user – is a core part of any fully integrated mobile operating system platform. Currently, there is no open source solution available for commercial software in mobile and embedded devices.

Developed as part of the ACCESS Linux Platform, the Application Framework has been designed specifically to meet the requirements of mobile phones and devices. In addition to providing a set of services to install and manage applications, the Application Framework from ACCESS can integrate communication between applications, enabling a seamless user experience for music, messaging and other advanced features. The Application Framework is also designed to enhance application security to prevent unauthorized use of phone services or tampering with critical system data.

As part of its efforts to help grow the mobile Linux market and foster a global ecosystem, ACCESS has decided to contribute its Application Framework to the open source community. By open sourcing the Application Framework, ACCESS’ goal is to help speed the development and adoption of mobile Linux phones and devices while taking the first step to help prevent fragmentation. The next step in preventing fragmentation will be to work with industry standards organizations, such as the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum and Open Source Developers Labs (OSDL) to determine how they may adopt the Application Framework.

“We created the Application Framework to ensure that applications can be well integrated and securely managed, not just by us, but also by third party developers, operators and all participants in the global mobile Linux ecosystem,” said Mike Kelley, executive officer and senior vice president of product development at ACCESS.

The ACCESS Application Framework is designed for use with GTK+. Currently, GTK+ powers the extremely popular GNOME desktop, and its use in the ACCESS Linux platform is expected to enable developers to leverage existing expertise and code.

ACCESS Application Framework Services Description

The Application Framework from ACCESS consists of several services or “managers” designed to install and manage applications and enable applications to interact with each other and the user. These include:

  • Bundle Manager: provides a unified view of all applications on the system, whether these applications are in main memory or on an extension card. The bundle manager makes it possible to manage and launch different types of applications (Java, native Linux®, Palm OS®) in an intuitive, easy to use way.  Bundle Manager hides the complexity and differences of these types of applications and presents the user an easy to use interface, common for all types.
  • Security Policy Framework (SPF): The Security Policy Framework (SPF) controls the security policy for the device. The policy used by the framework is created by a licensee and is flexible, updateable and separate from the mechanisms used to enforce it. The Policy Framework works in conjunction with a kernel level enforcement component that works in concert with the Policy Framework.
  • Exchange Manager: handles the exchange of data between applications and between devices. Developers can readily add new transport protocols simply by writing a new plug-in. Once the plug-in is installed, Exchange Manager makes the new transport available to all applications.
  • Notification Manager: informs applications of unsolicited events, including incoming calls, messaging, system sleep and network signaling. Because messages are not “hard wired” to specific applications, developers can substitute and add new applications at any time simply by registering their application to the required notifications.
  • Application Server: manages an applications’ lifecycle—installation, launch, suspension, resumption and termination.
  • Attention Manager: provides a central clearing house for application-generated events that are displayed to the user. Alerts include incoming calls, SMS, MMS, appointment, incoming email market urgent, user-set target stock price alarms and low battery. Developers can easily customize these notifications for specific hardware, services and applications.
  • Alarm Manager: notifies both active and inactive applications of real-time alarm events (managed by the Attention Manager). This service provides developers a consistent way to request that an alarm be triggered at a particular time.
  • Global Settings Services: provides a common API for all applications and services to access user preferences, including fonts and font sizes and system themes.

PalmSource has started the process of changing its company name to ACCESS. The company recently showed ALP at LinuxWorld San Francisco. ACCESS will also be a sponsor for Informa's Open Source in Mobile conference next week (Nov. 7-8 in Amsterdam). They will be demoing the ACCESS Linux Platform and will hold two speaker sessions.

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Does this help PDA users

Rhauer @ 10/31/2006 1:49:26 PM # Q
I am a heavy user of a PDA device. I am solidly in the camp of seperate phone and pda and have been using bluetooth for email and web access since the T.

Does all of this help get us to a new, state of the art, PDA.

RE: Does this help PDA users
hkklife @ 10/31/2006 2:40:21 PM # Q
No, not at all. Stock up on all of the remaining Palm TXs, Zodiac 2's, and Sony TH55s while you still can.

2007 is looking to be a very grim year indeed for affecionados of standalone PDAs and high-end CRT displays.

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

RE: Does this help PDA users
potter @ 11/1/2006 9:54:47 AM # Q
To the end user, this announcement is of very little concern. About the only point that I can gleam from this announcement that would affect the end user would be the comments on the "Bundle Manager". This point would imply that there is a fair chance that an ALP device could provide a consistent user interface in the application launcher, such that an end user could be unaware as to the different application types. Legacy Palm OS, Java and ALP applications would all appear and would be started in the same manner. However, due to the differences in the APIs and programming styles used in these different application types, once in the applications a user could probably tell the difference.

Now to the Palm OS programmer, some of this is interesting. The
Exchange Manager, Notification Manager, Attention Manager, and Alarm Manager are all APIs which the Palm OS programmer has had available to them for some time. Therefore their knowledge in these areas can hopefully be easily transferred toward their efforts to write ALP applications.

To the open source enthusiast, this may also be interesting; for now it appears that Access is exposing more and more of the ALP to open source. A question might be, would it be possible with all that they have exposed (or will expose) to port ALP to some of the legacy devices, without Palm's support? A noteworthy piece that appears to be missing so far is the Palm compatibility layer.

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