SPOTLIGHT Cross-platform app development frameworks can help cure developer headaches, says Josh Galde, senior marketing manager for Keynote DeviceAnywhere.
One of the biggest challenges facing enterprise mobile app developers today is designing and developing apps across multiple platforms. In 2011 through to 2012, having a mobile strategy was imperative as the consumerisation of IT and BYOD trends pervaded. As the number of app-ready devices continues to increase, with new players such as Firefox OS and ZTE, and brands such as Alcatel and Qualcomm making a comeback, developers have to consider this proliferation of operating systems and handsets which are available to their end users.
Shifting strategiesAs a result, enterprises now must shift their mobile strategies to support multiple mobile devices and platforms, or they'll lose the power to manage all the various devices within their environment. Previously, many companies were able to focus on developing apps for just one device type if the devices were company-issued, but this is becoming less and less the case. Businesses must support more than one device type, or risk backlash from employees.
Cross-platform app development frameworks are becoming critical tools for developers because they're designed to lessen the time and resources that developers have to allocate to creating apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and beyond. As a result, developer teams can focus on what matters most, the end user experience.
Pros positiveThe pros and cons of using cross-platform app development frameworks are many. Pros include reusable codes, so developers can just write code once, and then reuse those actions or sequences in later projects or on other platforms. Then there are plug-ins; most cross development frameworks offer easy access to plug-ins and modules that can easily integrate with other services and tools. These type of platforms are easy for web developers to use, as most frameworks are dynamic and simple because many of them support HTML5 and CSS3.
A further pro is definitely reduced development costs, which allows companies and brands to get an app onto other platforms without having to invest in a separate developer or team.Support for enterprise and cloud services is also included in many cross-platform app development frameworks. And finally, easy deployment is a major plus; deploying apps is much faster in a cross-platform scenario because it is easier to incorporate one development code onto multiple devices.
Cons negativeCons include the framework might not support every feature of an operating system or device. Also, you can't always use your own tools as most frameworks want users to use their own development tools and suites, and that can mean that a developer has to forgo their own preferences and use something unfamiliar. Code may not run as fast, as the cross-compilation process can sometimes be slower because it may take longer to load than native tools. There may be limited high end graphics and 3D support, although fortunately, game-centric development platforms are here to help fill in those gaps.
Regardless of which platform developers are developing for, app testing will still be one of the most critical steps of the app development lifecycle. Just because an app works on iOS does not mean it will work just as well on Android devices. Likewise, just because an app works on an emulator doesn't mean it will work well on a real device. So, test early, test often, and test on real devices to ensure the quality of the app.
App development is a hot industry and the market is saturated with app developers, so being blasé about app quality is not an option.
Keynote DeviceAnywhere is a subsidiary of Keynote Systems, that provides a service for planning, testing and monitoring the functionality, usability, performance and availability of mobile apps and websites.