Rich Cross-Platform Desktop Applications Using Open-Source Titanium

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The Titanium open-source platform lets Web developers leverage their Web skills for creating desktop applications.

Save the file, then go to the Titanium Developer's Project tab, and click the package icon on your project. Click Package and Launch, and test your application. Click the buttons to get a hello world from three different languages—all in a single page (Figure 8).

Figure 8. Hello World App

While you're writing code, you're sure to run into bugs. Luckily, Titanium includes WebKit's Web Inspector, which you can use for various developments tasks. To open the Web Inspector, simply right-click on your app, and select Inspect Element.

Once you're done writing code and perfecting your application, you're now ready to package your application, which is easy to do with Titanium Developer. In the Packager window, click the Package for Distribution button.

You are given several options. The first one is to select for which platforms to package your app—you can choose from OS X, Windows and Linux (or all three). Next, you need to decide whether to bundle the runtime with your application or install it via the network during launch. Then, you decide which modules you'll add to your project and whether to bundle them with your app (Figure 9).

Figure 9. Packaging

Finally, you have the choice of making your project publicly available. By checking Make app public, your application will be added to the App directory and be made available to users everywhere. This helps immensely in distributing your application, because Titanium also hosts your files for you. When you're done, click Package.

Titanium Developer then uploads your project files to the Packager Cloud for packaging. When it's done, you are presented with links to your downloads for each platform you specified. If you made your app public, Titanium Developer also starts showing statistics for your application, such as the number of downloads for each platform and the user ratings for you application (Figure 10).

Figure 10. Stats and Links

A Rich API for Rich Application Development

As you saw in the code above, all languages supported by Titanium have a window object. This is the shared global object and is used to bind methods and objects that need to be available on all languages. The main namespace for the Titanium API is also bound to this global object and can be accessed via window.Titanium.

Aside from WebKit goodies, such as client-side database storage and CSS animations, Titanium's current API also contains many of the necessary features needed for desktop application development:

  • Titanium.Desktop: for launching third-party applications and opening URLs on the default browser.

  • Titanium.Filesystem: for working with the filesystem for things like reading and writing files, creating and managing directories and so on.

  • Titanium.Media: for working with media files, such as audio and video.

  • Titanium.Network: for working with network-related tasks, such as socket connections and IRC clients.

  • Titanium.Notification: for custom system notifications, as well as hooks to platform-dependent notification systems like Growl and Snarl.

  • Titanium.Platform: for getting information about the user's system.

  • Titanium.Process: for working with system processes, as well as launching and executing system commands.

  • Titanium.UI: for working with native windows, menus and system chrome.

Unfortunately, going over all of these APIs would require an article (or two) in itself. Fortunately, the official Titanium site provides documentation with more details.

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Titanium: good idea, bad implementation

Anonymous's picture

...except, the product is unreliable as stink (I am using 0.82). I am surprised you were able to get your example code running. Every corner I discover new show-stopper bugs that shouldn't even be in a beta product. On top of that, because you rely on their "cloud", you are at the mercy of their server code too - which is crazy unreliable. I would say 90% of the time I am not even able to get an installer built! And, once the installer is made, often it is corrupt - or doesn't install properly. Just go try to install some of the "example" apps on appcelerator's site - I only tried 3, but 2 wouldn't install properly. Geesh!

The idea is terrific: native apps with a UI in an embedded webkit. But the implementation is weird and unreliable. And, the whole so-called "cloud" bit to their development story is ridiculous. Let's hope 1.0 is dramatically better quality.

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