Apart from MobEA V (and meeting Dick Hardt — my quote: “Hey. You’re famous!”), the other highlight of the event for me was the panel I got to chair on Mobile Ajax. Now — this is an interesting topic, and we had some great speakers on the panel (the inset photo is Arun from AOL being his usual irreverent self) with a lot of interesting things to say. We also had Mark Birbeck from x-port, Rhys Lewis from Volantis, and Song Huang from SoonR. The panel kind of explored two alternative visions of how Web Apps will be built and deployed — declaratively (such as with xForms) or (as they are now) through script and currently deployed Web standards. This same conversation is playing itself out in the regular Web world, but one twist that Mobile adds is the issue of processing power and battery life on the devices themselves. If you want to create a Web application that runs on the phone using Ajax, that will eat up your battery pretty quickly. Now that may just be an issue of optimization of the underlying engine, but the fact remains (especially for applications that you want to sit there and poll periodically like … say … widgets that sit on your phone’s screen and provide glance-able information) it’s just not practical to do it in Ajax right now.
Song from SoonR gave a great opening presentation and demo of that product which really opened peoples’ eyes to the possibilities of Ajax on the mobile device – in this case, both Opera Mobile and the Series 60 Open Source browser. I myself has been shopping a video of this application in action around various conferences and events and it never fails to draw gasps. Most people don’t actually believe it’s running in the browser, it’s so slick. (It does.) What SoonR have done with Ajax on the mobile is truly revolutionary.