AppForge, under new CEO Gary Warren, who has a mandate to refocus the company's target market from consumer to enterprise developers, this week began shipping Crossfire 5.0, a mobile and wireless cross-application development environment designed for Microsoft .Net developers.
The technology lets developers who use VB (Visual Basic).Net write an application once and redeploy it with minimum changes on Palm OS, Symbian OS and the Nokia Series 60 platform devices.
"To run on Palm, a developer only needs to modify the user interface, and that's maybe a day or two of work. All the building tools are in Crossfire, but all the benefits of the debugger and IDE are still there from .Net," said Doug Benson, vice president of marketing.
With mobile devices constantly being updated and upgraded by manufacturers, the company is also using a subscription service model to keep developers up to date on changes to mobile hardware platforms and operating systems.
"We have taken our run time and we are redefining it as a device definition, similar to the way you think of a virus protection program," said Benson.
While Crossfire promises to make the life of system integrators and in-house corporate developers easier on the technology side, Warren also said that Crossfire offers a quasi-political solution to a perennial IT management problem.
"If senior managers are telling IT to use Microsoft .Net, we can extend beyond that to a more diverse environment," said Warren. "We bridge the gap between what senior management wants and what IT wants to use."
The current version also includes full support for bar code readers, scanners, and RFID (radio frequency identification). It supports VB .Net, and the next version will support Microsoft C# as well. "C# is getting popular and we are getting a lot of requests for it, so we moved it up in our schedule," Benson added.