Objective-J pushes JavaScript apps to iPhone

Alex Handy
March 10, 2009 —  (Page 1 of 2)
Objective-C has long been the official programming language of the Apple development world. For the last six months, however, a small startup in Silicon Valley has been trying to bring object-ivity to JavaScript. The startup, 280 North, is hoping Web developers won't find their new programming language, Objective-J, objectionable.

Objective-J is a strict but smaller superset of JavaScript, built entirely in JavaScript. It adds new features to JavaScript that are of particular interest to GUI developers, just as Objective-C adds such features to C. Objective-J and Objective-C are so similar that these JavaScript applications can be quickly converted into iPhone applications.

The language began life as the absolute bottom of the software stack created by 280 North, formed two years ago when a group of college friends turned pro after graduation. The company's first major release, 280 Slides, was a Web-based presentation program along the lines of PowerPoint that looked and felt like a desktop application.

Beneath 280 Slides was Cappuccino, a library of all the needed cross-platform support and UI elements for allowing desktop-like behavior in Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. Below that was Objective-J, which brought over many of the principles created in Next Computer's OpenStep in the 1990s.

OpenStep led to Apple's current desktop environment, and Objective-J combined with Cappuccino brings a similar philosophy to JavaScript. Both Objective-J and Cappuccino are open source, but 280 Slides and 280 North's next project, a Web application creation IDE called Atlas, are closed source.

The team at 280 North is only beginning to talk about Atlas and has not yet set a release date for it. They have produced a video demonstrating the technology that shows off methods for the creation of windows, buttons and other GUI elements within the browser.

Tom Robinson, a member of the three-man 280 North development team, said that his coworkers always enjoyed programming for Apple's systems. That's why they built Objective-J in Objective-C's image.

“Objective-J…adds the same sort of things [as Objective-C]: Classical inheritance…full classes…super class methods, and all that sort of thing," said Robinson.

Related Search Term(s): JavaScript, Objective-J

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04/21/2009 05:03:22 PM EST

Objective-J is good for those coming from Objective-C to the JavaScript side of the house but can be intimidating for those migrating the other direction. For them a better approach may be to look at QuickConnectiPhone. There are lots of examples in the download, prebuilt Xcode and Dashcode templates, a web site, a wiki, a development blog, a google group, and a twitter page. Go the development blog,, and you will find links to all of the other resources

United StatesLee Barney

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