Palm delays webOS developer kit, Mojo

Delay makes it more difficult for PalmOS developers

With little explanation, Palm has delayed the release of Mojo, the software development kit for its webOS platform, until the end of the US summer.

The operating system, based on a Linux kernel with an embedded Webkit rendering and JavaScript engine, is the foundation for building applications for the just-released Palm Pre. Mojo provides an array of interfaces and services that let developers easily access Pre features and functions.

The delay, announced on the Palm developers blog, makes it more difficult for existing PalmOS developers and the new army of HTML and JavaScript developers to coalesce behind the new operating system and create the wealth of applications that will make it a viable challenge to Apple's iPhone.

"We've been working very hard on the SDK and are eager to open access on a wider scale, but the software and the developer services to support it just aren't ready yet. Our goal is to make the SDK available to everyone by the end of this summer," wrote Palm's Chuq Von Rospach in a June 19 post on the Palm developer blog.

But Palm is trying to expand the number of developers with access to Mojo as rapidly as possible in a series of stages, he added.

Starting at once, Palm will "accelerate the growth of the [Mojo] early access program, expanding as quickly as resources allow, to include thousands of developers in the next few weeks," Rospach wrote.

At the same time, Palm said it will start publishing new webOS, development, and Mojo information outside of the early access program, and free up existing Mojo users finally to talk more freely about the SDK and webOS.

Developers working with the early-release version of Mojo have been impressed: Applications are written in JavaScript, HTML, HTML 5 and Cascading Style Sheets, all widely used and well-known Web development tools. The webOS with its embedded Webkit engine runs these programs, which mimic traditional native applications in performance and interactivity, natively on the Palm Pre handset.

Plenty of developers aren't happy about the release target, and vented on the Palm blog.

"END OF SUMMER!? Am I the only one [appalled] at this??" posted Jeremy.

"You have developers climbing all over themselves trying to help your platform be a success and trying to help your ecosystem grow, but you just keep putting us off with vague promises of releasing Soon or the End of the Summer or Early Access or "hundreds" and "thousands", but the longer you delay actually getting the SDK in the hands of developers like myself who are ready, willing, and able to use it to make your platform a success the more of an uphill battle it will be once you finally do," wrote Kyle Goodwin, CEO of Palindrome Softworks, a custom developer of reusable business software.

Hackers have already been busy dissecting and working with the webOS software even before the phone went on sale earlier this month. One poster on the Palm blog alluded to those activities, urging Palm to leverage it by releasing Mojo as soon as possible.

"Given the success of the experimental/homebrew community in less than two weeks, without official support, documentation, or debugging tools, I can only imagine that the pool of quality apps will explode exponentially once the SDK is released," wrote Jason LaBrun.

Another poster, Adam, wrote, "Come on guys. You need to open up this phone and get the apps flowing. It's sad that more exciting things are coming out of the Palm/webOS dev wiki instead of Palm itself! It's like you've dropped a wonderful gadget into the hands of thousands of people and now it has to just sit there looking pretty for months before [its] potential can be unleashed! You need to pull all-nighters and get this SDK released BEFORE that fall deadline."

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