The Hiker Project: An Application Framework for Mobile Linux Devices
The characteristics of mobile devices are typically an order of magnitude different than desktop systems: CPUs run at megahertz, not gigahertz; memory comes in megabytes, not gigabytes; screen sizes are small and input methods are constrained; however, there are billions of mobile devices sold each year, as opposed to millions of desktop systems. Creating a third-party developer ecosystem for such devices requires that fragmentation be reduced, which in turn demands high-quality solutions to the common problems faced by applications on such devices. The Hiker Project's application framework components present such solutions in a number of key areas: application lifecycle management, task-to-task and task-to-user notifications for a variety of events, handling of structured data (such as appointments or contact information) and transfer of such data between devices, management of global preferences and settings, and general security issues. Together, these components comprise an "application framework," allowing the development of applications which can seamlessly and transparently interoperate and share information.
ACCESS Co., Ltd., originally developed the Hiker Project components for use in their "ACCESS Linux Platform" product, but recently released them under an open source license for the benefit and use of the open source community. This paper will describe, in detail, the components which make up the Hiker Project, discuss their use in a variety of real-world contexts, examine the proliferation of open source-based mobile devices and the tremendous opportunity for applications developers which this growth represents.