Monday, December 29, 2008

Sprint Titan 1.0 released - Mobile OSGi goes Mainstream

Sprint has released the 1.0 version of Sprint Titan™ - a first class Mobile OSGi implementation for Windows Mobile 6.x Standard and Professional devices. Officially the following devices are supported, however, the stack essentially runs on any Win Mobile phone:
  • HTC Touch
  • HTC Touch Pro
  • HTC Touch Diamond
  • HTC Mogul

Official support for a selection of Windows Mobile Standard (these are typically the ones with the mini Querty keyboard and no touch screen like the Samsung ACE (i325)) is said to be announced shortly as well. Moreover, Sprint Titan is said to be integrated on Sprint’s mainstream Feature Phones.

In addition to the production stack which installs only on devices operated in the Sprint network (Sprint branded phones as well as non-Sprint branded phones provisioned by Sprint), Sprint offers 90 days trial versions of the stack which install on any Win Mobile 6 device. I have tried with a HP iPaq 614c and it works great! In my opinion, with these trial stracks Sprint offers a great service to all OSGi enthusiasts around the world who can pick up the stack and get started.

Compared to what Sprint released in December last year, the new stacks now support Location API on the CDC side, contain a bunch of bug fixes and have been performance improved. Functionality wise, there is still work to be done (full web widget and service remoting support, additional JSR support on CDC (like 135), OSGi Bundle App Model support, etc.). However, the new releases are a major improvement over the old versions and should be fun to use!

The new release package also consists of a new version of Sprint’s Eclipse IDE plugins (now Eclipse 3.4 is supported, several bug fixes were applied) as well as an 80+ page developer guide that helps developers get up speed. A set of application demos (binaries, source code and documentation) will come out shortly as well.

It’ll be very interesting to watch what the creative people around the world will start doing with this beautiful and powerful platform!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why Mobile OSGi reduces bad fragmentation

One of Mobile OSGi’s claims is to reduce the platform fragmentation problem the market increasingly suffers under. Why is that so?

In my opinion, there are two types of fragmentation, "good" fragmentation and "bad" fragmentation. It is natural and desirable that a market with 2 billion subscribers develops a large blend of different needs and preferences. The mobile market must and will continue to serve demand for a diverse range of mobile devices and application. This is "good" fragmentation, the market needs that. Btw, that very reason provides a serious challenge to open platform initiative like LiMo, Android or SymbianFoundation. On the one hand, they attempt to standardize a platform which essentially means to define a common set of functionality which is supposed to be equal on any device. On the other hand they must leave enough room for differentiation and diversification. Finding the right balance is not trivial.

Anyway, “bad” fragmentation is what app developers suffers under every day. The market is faced by heavy fragmentation resulting from
- variety of operating systems (Symbian, various Linux, Android, iPhone, WinMobile,..)
- variety of application execution environments (Java, native, WebApps, Flash,…)
- variety of form factors
Multiply the number of OSes by app execution environments by form factors by number of available versions of all of these components and you’ll understand we’re in hell! If you need wide platform support for your apps, you end up developing them multiple times for the various operating systems and/or execution environments.The form factor and hardware dependent aspect of the fragmentation problem cannot be removed (i.e. different screen sizes, different hardware support options like GPS, NFC, etc.). However, there is lots of room for improvement when it comes to the API layers applications make use of. Certainly, the market does NOT need 15 different mobile Linux platforms with incompatible application APIs. Incompatibilities in Java APIs, i.e. resulting from different implementations or spec misinterpretations, obviously make life harder than it should be. Neither will it be particularly helpful for app developers that very soon there'll be dozens of different Widget runtimes out there...

So, how does Mobile OSGi fit in? In my opinion, Mobile OSGi adds a layer exactly at the right spot: above the OS and around the execution environment. In other words, it encapsulates the many different operating system APIs and thus reduces fragmentation. However, it does not constrain the need for differentiation because it does not urge developers to use one particular app model nor a specific UI. Mobile OSGi adds an incredibly powerful & OS agnostic cross-platform execution runtime for your app's business logic, data and network layers. Mobile Enterprise applications, which typically have lots of code under the hoods of the UI, benefit in particular from OSGi's state-of-the-art component and service architecture (which btw has proved to work incredibly well in many other verticals and I'm convinced it'll conquer market share in mobile as well). Why else would companies like IBM or Sprint build their entire enterprise product portfolio upon Mobile OSGi?

Mobile OSGi can run on any platform that supports CDC Java. I am aware of ports for Nokia S60, Win Mobile, Linux, Android and Brew and more are certainly to come.

To keep a long story short: Mobile OSGi certainly reduces “bad” fragmentation but not at the cost of constraining “good” fragmentation. I am not aware of any other technology on the market that has a similar cross-platform proposition. Are you?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Public Resources about Mobile OSGi

Interested in Mobile OSGi? This collection of public links and resources might help you getting around the net and finding the best resources.

Mobile OSGi Stacks

If you want to start playing around with Mobile OSGi, here is were you find the stacks. There two types of stack you will come across:
  1. Integrated Mobile OSGi stack that includes all of the below mentioned pieces
    (a) OSGi framework plus Mobile services (and in some cases eRCP), ideally it is compliant to the OSGi Mobile Specification (aka JSR 232)
    (b) platform integration code (this is the part that ties OSGi nicely into the underlying OS. This integration is required for seamless user experiences during download, installation, launching of apps and also for other reasons like security etc)
    (c) CDC/FP VM
    These type of stacks are off-the-shelf kind of solutions due to their ready to install nature.
  2. Java-only Mobile OSGi stack which is typically only (a) from the list above. This type of stack requires manual integration of a VM, porting on the target device, etc. Thus, I call this type has more the flavour of a SDK.

For Win Mobile:
  • Download a ready to use and well integrated stack (type (1) stack coming with eval license) from Sprint Developer Site (delivered as an installable cab file). It contains a J9 CDC/FP VM, all sorts of services, eRCP and MIDP support and is highly optimized.
  • A Java only type of stack with full JSR 232 compliance, called mBedded Server Mobile Extension, you can get from ProSyst
  • A basic eRCP stack for WinMobile 2003, 5 and 6 you can obtain from the Eclipse eRCP Project site (Java-only type of stack, not JSR 232 compliant, not optimized for embedded use)
  • A commercial product based on Mobile OSGi is the IBM Lotus Expeditor that comes with a blend of added value enterprise services
  • You may also want to contact for more information
For Nokia S60 3.1:
  • A well integrated & ready to use stack (type 1, including eRCP support) is available from Nokia. Write an email to and ask for it.
  • You may also want to contact for more information
For Android:
  • The richest OSGi port (type 2) for Android is probably the one from ProSyst which you can pick up for free from here. Although it contains lot's of OSGi services, it is not fully JSR 232 compliant (yet). I also recommend to read this blog.
  • The guys from Luminis created the first OSGi port for Android which is based on the Apache Felix project. Find information here.
  • The Eclipse Equinox OSGi framework has been ported as well (by BJ Hargrave from IBM), not sure if that is available anywhere, though.
For Brew:
  • The first Mobile OSGi port for the Brew platform is currently under construction, more information you can obtain from .
OSGi for Apple iPhone:
  • You show me and I owe you a beer! Nonetheless, investigations are going on...

Presentations, Tutorials, Articles

General Presentations covering Mobile OSGi aspects:
  • Nokia's developer presentation at EclipseCon 2008
  • Sprint's Titan Introduction presentation
  • Sprint's developer tutorials
  • Jon Bostrom's presentation on Sprint Titan and Mobile Rich Internet Applications (he named them Rich MobileNet Applications)
  • My presentation about Mobile OSGi's value prop for mobile enterprise developers (from OSGi Community Event 2008)
  • Various eRCP related documents
  • Basic OSGi developer guides from ProSyst (refer to Getting Started menu)
  • Gabor's blog about how to write eRCP apps for the Sprint Titan platform
  • Jon Bostrom's article Next Mobile Java based on CDC/OSGi Technology for Universal Middleware

  • Most complete Mobile OSGi toolset based on the Eclipse IDE can be obtained from Sprint. It contains all sorts of tools for developing eRCP apps, debugging, profiling, creating DPs, on-target deployment and execution, remote console, etc.
  • Mobile OSGi specific tools are provided by ProSyst. A free version of the mToolkit is available as here.
  • Obviously, the Eclipse Project in general is a great place to look for advanced tools.
  • Sun also offers a toolset for the Sprint Titan platform here.


I have come across Mobile OSGi related postings in the following blogs (but obviously they all deal with other interesting topics as well):
  • Gábor Pécsy's Blog
  • ProSyst's Blog
  • Ove Nordstroem's Blog
  • Gorkem Ercan's Blog
  • David Beers' article on mobile OSGi, here
  • David Beers' Blog
  • OSGi Blog

Do you know any other good resources? Please let me know!

Jo Ritter

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Mobile OSGi has to offer to mobile enterprise developers!

It is evident that the market for mobile enterprise solutions grows rapidly. A lot less obvious are the technological trends on which mobile enterprise solutions are going to be built upon. Mobile OSGi technology (i.e. JSR 232, Eclipse eRCP, Sprint Titan) is one of the platforms that enters the market and thus competition against other platform concepts such as MIDP, native applications, Google Android, etc. What is it that mobile OSGi technology has to offer?

Download my Presentation
The OSGi Alliance accepted my proposal to talk about this very topic on the OSGi Community Event in Berlin. Please find my slide deck HERE.

This topic is worth a full day but I had to squeeze it into a 40 minutes talk. Now I get even braver and try to sum it up in a couple of paragraphs only. Let’s start with how Mobile is positioned in comparison with the many other technologies in the field. In my opinion, Mobile OSGi has characteristics of all of these platform elements:
  • Operation System: OSGi comes with a number of infrastructural features that are usually associated to the OS level. Example: the EventAmin (API to subscribe to or publish events) or the PermissionAdmin (API to dynamically specify security policies).
    Other technologies on this level: Symbian (S60, UIQ, FOMA), Linux (LiMo, LiPs, Qtopia, Access), Win Mobile, RIM, Apple iPhone, Google Android, etc.

  • Application Execution Environment: On top of OSGi you can run a variety of different application types like MIDlets, eRCP applications, Web Widgets, Xlets, etc. Application model support can be plugged in even after the phone has shipped.
    Other technologies on this level: MIDP 2, Qualcom Brew, Eclipse eRCP, Adobe FlashLite, Nokia Web Runtime, Yahoo Go!, Plain old Browser Model, Coming: MIDP 3, Sun JavaFX, Android, iPhone Apps, etc.

  • Remote Access: Due to OSGi’s component based architecture and it’s service concept, remote manageability comes out of the box. The entire runtime is represented in an OMA-DM compliant management tree and enables almost all use cases required for mobile device management.
    Other technologies on this level: OMA-CP, OMA-DM, SCOMO, FUMO, OMA-DS / Sync-ML, WAP-Push, etc.

  • Application: OSGi itself is much more of a container and not an application by itself. However, in some cases it might have a bit like an „application“ flavour since it could be (but should not be) installed as an application into the native OS (the way better approach is to integrate it with the OS, though).

Now, if OSGi is all that does that mean it competes against all these other technologies? NO, IT DOES NOT. OSGi is a complementary and not competitive technology.

What it does, though, is to abstract some of the other elements and thus creates an almost unique value proposition: it can run on almost all platforms which are out there (and capable of hosting a CDC like VM) while providing a homogeneous execution environment for a multitude of apps.

The other key features of Mobile OSGi I want to highlight:

  • Component & Service model – ready for middleware
    In OSGi you structure your apps in components and you share information (or APIs) between components by means of services (or package level sharing). It’s like a SOA infrastructure in the VM. Main benefit: the system encourage the use of middleware. Write you headless middleware as services and have them be used by all your mobile apps. Or use 3rd party middleware instead and focus on your domain specific application aspects.

  • Security model, dynamic policy model
    OSGi contains a dynamic policy infrastructure allowing trusted code to adopt the device policy. By means of this concept, carriers can create tailored device policies for enterprises customer to whom the standard policy does not fit.

  • Remote manageability out of the box
    Mobile Device Management is inherently integrated into OSGi. Plus, the remote management capabilities can easily be extended by plugging your custom functionality into the device management tree.
The market uptake is not what I would call significant yet, but there is good progress underway. As pointed out in other posts, Sprint launches their Titan platform with is Mobile OSGi build into mainstream handsets - the first pre-integrated mass deployment of OSGi. Also IBM bets on OSGi and has built their mobile enterprise product, called Lotus Expeditor (a universal managed client for SOA), on OSGi/eRCP. Furthermore there are lots of development enterprise projects for OSGi/eRCP going on which I cannot disclose at this time. Nokia has build a Mobile OSGi/eRCP stack as well, find an interesting presentation about it here.

Obviously, I am a bit biased about Mobile OSGi (hey, it’s my bread and butter) and I have to admit that even Mobile OSGi does not solve all your problems (don’t ask me about Java UIs…). Nonetheless, what other contemporary technology provides a larger set features that are available cross-platform?

Tell me!

Friday, March 7, 2008

How to develop eRCP apps for Sprint Titan

In my previous posting I have explained what the Sprint Titan OSGi platform is, what the developer package of Sprint contains and what it is good for. Gábor Pécsy has taken the Sprint Titan analysis to the next level and wrote up a manual on how to develop eRCP apps for the stack.

Gábor's blog adds nicely to the use documentation of Sprint. Have a read!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sprint Nextel goes live with Mobile OSGi!

This week’s news from Sprint Nextel marks a cornerstone of OSGi adoption: Sprint has released its first developer version of the Titan platform, an OSGi based next generation mobile Java stack. Titan was announced on the last Application Developer Program (ADP) Conference and is now made available for download at This is very exciting news for a number of technical, business related and strategic reasons!

First of all, let’s take a look at what the Titan SDK contains:

1. A self-contained Java runtime stack for Win Mobile 6 PDA phones. It is a dual stack system consisting of these components:

(Source: Titan documentation)

The stack comes as a cab file, the package format for Win Mobile applications.

Architecture. The architecture is entirely transparent to developers and end users. Plain old MIDlets are executed in the CLDC VM runtime whereas eRCP applications and OSGi bundles run in the CDC/OSGi VM process. The OSGi stack runs in background mode and handles installation, uninstallation and launching of all applications and components. For this reason Titan contains a set of AMS related components which tie into the OSGi runtime.

Supported Standards. Despite its new architecture, Titan is build upon industry standards. It supports:

Application models. The current version of Titan supports POMs (plain old MIDlets), OSGi bundles and Deployment Packages (DPs) as well as eRCP applications. Other application and package formats may be added in future, a widget based web application model being one of those. I would have loved to see support for OAMs (OSGi Aware MIDlets, i.e. MIDlets that are allowed to access CDC APIs and thus make use of all the beauty of OSGi) but that’s not the case currently. Titan comes with LCDUI and eSWT UI toolkits.

Manageability. One of Titan’s core concepts it manageability. The runtime can be managed from a developer host (using an IP based management protocol) as well as remotely via the OMA-DM protocol. For this reason it contains a full OMA-DM and DL client implementation.

Developer Support. The Titan stack runs on target devices as well as in the Win Mobile emulator that you can download from Microsoft. Moreover, the stack can be launched in normal runtime mode, in debug mode or in profiling mode (requires the tooling add-on, see below).

2. An installation package Titan device tools: This package contains the client side interfaces for the Eclipse based Titan Tooling plugins (debug and profiling libs for the VM, local console app for the OSGi runtime, an agent that communicates with Eclipse, etc.)

3. A set of Titan Tools Eclipse plugins. All the good stuff developers need: VM launcher, DP Editor, OSGi remote management plugin for deployment, installation and launching of apps and bundles and a Java profiler.

4. Demos and documents. Sprint provides a set of videos on how to use the various tools as well as a good documentation on Titan (you need to install the Eclipse plugins to get the docs. Install them and open Help-Help Contents-Titan Developer’s Guide in Eclipse).

I have to admit that I am pretty excited about what they provide and it gives me a hard time to not make this blog a sales pitch for Sprint. Here’s why I believe that Titan is a great step for mobile computing.

What’s in for developers?

Titan offers a lot of enhanced features for mobile application development. The modularity and service registry concepts of OSGi open the door for component based designs, allow code sharing, provide sophisticated solutions for version and security management and offer remote control out of the box – just to mention a few of the many benefits.

Secondly, Sprint offers several application models from which developers can chose. Legacy MIDlet applications are still supported but if you need more than just that you can write bundles, eRCP apps, widgets and perhaps other models which Sprint might add in future. Apparently, the choice of picking the right model has now been taken from the device OEM or operator and been given to those who know best what they need: the developers. However, in contrast to other more or less proprietary platforms like Android, almost all public APIs are based on industry standards and thus secure your investments.

The tooling package provided by Sprint will ease the first steps, although there is still a lot that could and should be added over time (i.e. GUI builder á la NetBeans).

What’s in for Enterprises?

There are at least three reasons why I think enterprises should get involved with Titan:

The market place of mobile platforms is right in the middle of a massive fragmentation process. In terms of open application platforms, until today the choice was more or less limited to MIDP2, Nokia S60, UIQ, Win Mobile and Brew. Tomorrow, a colorful bunch of additional platforms will penetrate the market of smart phones: Android, several Linux platforms like LiMo, Qtopia, MLI, perhaps MIDP3, Maemo, iPhone SDK, JavaFX Mobile, etc. etc. Once ported to all Sprint phones – which I assume is Sprint’s strategy – Titan will provide a homogeneous cross-platform runtime and thus eliminates the fragmentation issue of the underlying layers. This is a huge benefit for enterprises that face the burden of supporting different phone platforms.

Secondly, the introduction of OSGi/eRCP/eSWT is a powerful set of capabilities. For enterprise developers this technology is of particular interest. eSWT offers a large blend of UI widgets that enable development of rich apps. eRCP is a subset of the Eclipse RCP technology (the „e“ in eRCP stands for „embedded“), which seeks a lot of attention from visual desktop application developers (find a list of known RCP apps here). The Eclipse IDE itself, which is based on RCP, is the best example of what you can do with it. Frankly, Titan leverages desktop development know-how and technology to mobile handsets.

The third reason is Titan’s remote management capabilities. The key use cases are: Remote deployment of new apps, updates and upgrades, remote removal of deprecated apps, remote monitoring and remote configuration of your platform and your apps.

What’s in for Sprint?

Hopefully a positive impact on its share price! ;-) The fragmentation problem described in the enterprise context above is equally challenging for Sprint as a network operator. Sprint has built up a large and lucrative application and content ecosystem. Today, most (if not all) of those apps are MIDP2 based. What will happen after MIDP2, though? What can MIDP2 or Brew provide to enterprise developers? Presumingly, Titan is a strategy to offer innovation and yet to satisfy legacy support.

Looking at Titan from a non-technical angle, it appears to me as another episode of the war for share in added value services. Since margins are falling for both mobile hardware and telephony services, device OEMs started to go downstream and battle against operators for service revenue (and so do players which have no traditional roots in the mobile market, i.e. Google, Yahoo!, etc.). Titan – a container technology that is supposed to secure and extend Sprint’s ecosystem business – could be one element of Sprint’s competitive positioning.

What are the downsides?

Well, I guess it is just fair to mention that, alike any other new technology, Titan implies some challenges as well.

The current version of the downloadable Titan runtime works for Win Mobile 6 PDA only. The readme says that it is tested on the Sprint HTC Mogul device only but I know that it works on other devices, i.e. the HTC Touch, as well. Anyway, market penetration requires additional platform support which Sprint already announced in this presentation.

Footage of Titan is probably not an attribute people will get particularly excited about. ROM footprint is around 17.2 MB (incl. everything; size of the OSGi framework is just a couple of 100k) and RAM around 11 MB (stack only, no apps started). Considering the rapid increase of handset memory size and processing power, I don’t think the Titan footprint is really a serious obstacle.

After all, Titan is good news to all of us OSGi enthusiasts. Let’s hope that it’ll gain rapid market acceptance!

Notice: Sun has created a Sprint Titan stack as well and released that right after the last Sprint ADP Conference in December 07. Similar to the package described above, Sun's solution comes with tooling integration and documentation. Definitely worth reading!

Stay tuned...

- Jo

Friday, February 15, 2008

Welcome to the Mobile OSGi Blog!

Yet another blog about mobile - does the world really need that? Well, yes - and this is why: OSGi is around for almost 10 years and it is just now that it eventually hits the mobile market - an exciting time for all OSGi enthusiasts who have been waiting for so long! Although Mobile OSGi does not yet grap attention of the big press, there is quite something going on. Come back and have a read!

Btw, in my terminology, Mobile OSGi reads OSGi R4+ used in a mobile handset. However, typically it either refers to what the OSGi Mobile Expert Group (MEG) specified (also known as JSR 232), or the Eclipse open source project eRCP.

What I intend to write about:
  • News and gossip about mobile OSGi
  • Discussions on what OSGi adds (or adds not) to the mobile market
  • Reflections on what comes after MIDP2: The next generation of mobile Java
My blog is free content but it does come with one obligation: be critical and comment!

- Jo