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Sencha visualizes mobile app development with Architect 2

A developer can put together an application using the tool's drag-and-drop capabilities, but writing code is also made easier

Sencha has introduced Architect 2, a cross-platform development tool for HTML5-based mobile and desktop apps that aims to make it easier to create applications with the help of a new graphical user interface, the company said on Tuesday.

Architect 2 is an upgrade of Sencha's Ext Designer. But early on, the company decided it didn't want to develop just another interface designer, but a complete application builder, where the architecture and the interface of an app could be created and properly structured for development.

"Using Architect, a developer can assemble a complete application using the tool's drag-and-drop capabilities. It will enable a whole new class of developers to take advantage of HTML5, including developers who are not experts and are new to HTML5," said Aditya Bansod, senior director of product management at Sencha.

However, Sencha didn't want to make a purely visual tool, according to Bansod. Developers who want to write code should be able to do that as easy as possible, as well, he said.

"If you really want to take full advantage of the Sencha products, and not put any handcuffs on developer creativity, you have to let them write code," said Bansod.

If a developer wants to see how the application is turning out, Architect has been integrated with Apple's iOS simulator. The tool allows a developer to run an iOS app on a Mac, and spot any major problems during the design and early testing phase.

"You can get into a really comfortable pattern of developing and testing," said Bansod.

Developers will, for example, use Architect to build mobile-friendly versions of existing enterprise applications and full-fledged desktop applications, according to Bansod. With Architect, developers get a very easy way to connect the app to a variety of data sources, which they can take advantage of when developing enterprise applications, he said.

The tool is powered by Ext JS 4 and Sencha Touch 2, which are Sencha's HTML5 frameworks for desktop and mobile applications.

Architect is also designed to make it easier to work on projects where several developers are involved. The single file archive that was available in Ext Designer has been replaced by a file for each view, model and store, according to Sencha. Another improvement lets developers package hybrid applications that run natively on iOS and Android directly from Architect.

A single copy of Sencha Architect 2 costs US$399, with discounts for five- and 20-packs. Developers who are upgrading from Ext Designer and purchased their copy this year will get Architect free, otherwise upgrades are priced at $279.

Architect is available for Mac, Windows and Linux, and can be downloaded from Sencha's website.

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