What is the best mobile development framework

Comparison of Mobile Frameworks - Cross Platform App Development

App development frameworks are enjoying increasing popularity. No wonder: in the pioneering days you could still address the majority of mobile app users with an iOS app, now Android is at least as important and Windows Phone is also posting growth. So it is inevitable to develop serious apps for at least two mobile operating systems. A framework that allows the app to be programmed once and then natively transformed into different operating systems saves a lot of work.

The question of which framework is "the best" for developing cross-platform apps cannot be absolutely answered. We present the most popular frameworks and give you a tabular overview with links to the bare facts. Finally, we compare these and explain their strengths and weaknesses and show which framework is best suited for which type of user.

The most popular frameworks for cross platform app development

With Google Trends you can quickly determine which frameworks for cross platform development are the most popular. The trend graph for the years 2010-2014 is shown below.

Source: Google Trends (link to the current cross-platform framework comparison at Google Trends)

However, jQuery Mobile is not included in this overview because it is a pure JavaScript framework; So you cannot use it to program native apps.

Otherwise, Phonegap is apparently still the most widespread cross platform framework, followed by Sencha. Quite usable alternatives, such as Corona or Appceletator (Titanium Mobile) are far less sought after, although these too have their strengths.

Tabular overview of the Cross Platform Frameworks

C ++ frameworks

FrameworkScope of serviceslanguageLinks, tutorialsPrice / license
coronaFramework with its own Objective-C-like language and extensive APIs e.g. for physics, sprites, animation, social media integration and much more.

Lua (similar to Objective C)

Install Corona

Corona tutorial
Lua API Reference

trial / subscription

HTML5 / JavaScript Frameworks

FrameworkScope of servicesOSLinks, tutorialsPrice / license
Sencha touchHTML5 framework with drag & drop visualizationsiOS, Android, BlackBerry, Kindle Fire, webfrom $ 995
Appcelerator TitaniumJavaScript based platform with which cross browser apps can be programmediOS, android, webAppcelerator Tutorial "Pizza"Free trial
Price on request
PhoneGapHTML5 / JS framework with function for embedding in native appsiOS, android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Bada, Symbian, webApache License (free)

The HTML5 cross-platform frameworks in comparison

Appcelerator Titanium Mobile

In order to program with Titanium Mobile, it is first necessary to install the development environment of the operating system for which a native app is to be developed (see "Quick Start Guide: Developing Native Applications with Titanium"). During the development process, however, Titanium's SDK, which is based on Python, is used almost exclusively. This runs through Titanium Studio, the Eclipse-based IDE (Integratet Developer Environment) of the framework.

When creating an app, all tools of native development, such as code completion and debugging, can be used.

Finally, the app is compiled, technically the JavaScript code is inserted into the native code depending on the mobile OS and executed at runtime. Finally, the Titanium API ensures that all objects that the programmer has created in JS have an equivalent in the native code.

This means that almost everything is possible that could also be accessed directly via native code - but currently only in iOS and Android and as a hybrid web app.

Manufacturer information on the Titanium Mobile Framework:

  • 70% faster than developing with Objective-C or Java (when developing for iOS AND Android ...)
  • A single platform for development for iOS, Android and HTML5 (hybrid apps)
  • Unlimited expandability
  • Supports 5000+ native APIs
  • Runs with JavaScript

Appcelerator has also published a relatively objective and very detailed comparison between Titanium Mobile and Phonegap.

Phonegap

Phonegap is perhaps the most successful framework because it offers both: On the one hand, a pure HTML5 + JS approach, which web developers really enjoy and, on the other hand, access to almost all hardware features of a smartphone, such as accelerometer, camera and geolocation (see Cordova API reference) .

The programmer can therefore develop a website with the simplest means (an HTML editor and a browser with a code inspector). The finished product is then embedded in a native shell, where this code is displayed in a web view. From a technical point of view, this approach is more of a website that communicates with the native wrapper via a JavaScript bridge.

The Phonegap framework is therefore very small and simple and the perfect choice for manageable projects. If you come from the web developer scene and use Dreamweaver, you can also look forward to the "purchase" of Phonegap by Adobe, which has integrated extensive functions of the whole thing since CS6.

However, the problems start when you demand a little more from the framework. The apparently smallest hurdle is a big stumbling block: the user interface. The UI must be built in HTML, so it cannot be a native UI and it therefore lacks the dynamics of flexibly integrated elements.

Other tools from the native developer kit, such as a sophisticated table view that can be used to organize the display of data easily and efficiently, must therefore also be copied in Phonegap.




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