Cross platform mobile app development Platforms

In 2011, having a mobile strategy shifted from "nice to have" to "must have" for businesses of all sizes. In 2012, that same shift is taking place when it comes to supporting multiple mobile platforms. Sure, some companies can focus on just one operating system and exclude all others, but most businesses and brands need to target myriad device types. It's no longer enough to just have an need to have a plan to support iPad, Android phones, the Amazon Kindle, larger Android tablets, Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

Developing for all of these platforms is a challenge, especially for the developer or business with limited resources. Fortunately, an entire sub-industry of development tools and languages exist to help solve this problem. Enter the cross-platform mobile framework.

Cross-platform frameworks — which include and PhoneGap — are designed to limit the work that a developer or development team has to put in to creating apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and beyond.

As with any development strategy, there are pros and cons to taking a cross-platform approach to mobile application design and development.

Pros of Cross-Platform Frameworks

The idea behind most cross-platform frameworks is to limit development time by having users write their code in one language that can easily be compiled to multiple platforms.

To do this, most frameworks allow users to write apps in a dynamic programming language (JavaScript is the most common, though many frameworks also support Ruby or Python), rather than in Objective-C/Cocoa, Java or C#/.NET. The frameworks will then compile against the native libraries of a specific platform and spit out an app for each platform the developer targets.

Smartphones-flickr-600The pros of using a cross-platform framework:

  • Code Is Reusable: Rather than having to write the specific action or sequence for each platform, a developer can just write the code once and then reuse those bits in later projects or on other platforms.
  • Plugins: Major frameworks, including Appcelerator and PhoneGap offer easy access to plugins and modules that can easily plug into other services or tools.
  • Easy for Web Developers: Because most frameworks are dynamic or scripting languages, they are easy for web developers to jump in and use. Moreover, most frameworks also support HTML5 and CSS3 alongside the calls to more native functions.
  • Reduced Development Costs: This is perhaps the biggest advantage because it allows companies or brands to get an app onto other platforms without having to invest in a team or developer specific to that ecosystem.
  • Support for Enterprise and Cloud Services: In addition to plugins and modules for specific functions, most frameworks also have the option to directly integrate with cloud services, including Salesforce.com, AWS, Box.net and others.
  • Easy Deployment: Deploying and compiling apps is much faster in a cross-platform scenario. This is especially true with many of the new cloud-based build tools that various frameworks are starting to push out.

Cons of Cross-Platform Frameworks


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Q&A

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How to Choose the Right Mobile Platform for App Development.?

Several new mobile apps enter the market every day, developed by coders at all levels, using multiple platforms. Developers can now choose from various mobile platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian, Qualcomm BREW and Sun J2ME. This is great for developers, both creativity-wise and money-wise.