It will not be wrong if we call our mobiles as “Saviors”, because they actually are. Right from shopping applications to security applications, enterprise applications to consumer applications, marketing application to games, we are becoming quite dependent on our mobile devices including iPhones, Android devices, tablets, Windows Phones, BlackBerry Phones and several other hand held devices that are facilitating our daily lives. Keeping in mind the demand of end user one cannot expect developers / development companies to stick to native application development for all types of projects. Therefore, Cross Platform Mobile Development is the biggest need of the hour.

 

native and cross platform

Cross Platform Mobile Development methodologies have facilitated the development of applications that run seamlessly across multiple mobile platforms. In short, you get to see the following types of applications running on each mobile platform just the way a native app would, with a single executable file / same code:

  1. iPhone Applications (Objective-C development for native apps)
  2. iPad Applications
  3. Android Applications (JAVA development for native apps)
  4. BlackBerry Applications
  5. Windows Applications (.NET development for native apps)
  6. Symbion Applications
  7. Facebook Applications

Cross Platform mobile development answers all big concerns that a developer has such as:

  • How to develop one app that runs on multiple platforms without tweaking the code for each native version?
  • How to avoid continuous revisions of apps on every platform?
  • Version Control without losing track of applied updates.
  • Develop cost effective applications / mobile solutions.
  • Maximum utilization of resources in terms of expertise and time consumption.

The next question is which Cross Platform Mobile Development Tool / Technology we should be using? What is the Tool A offering in comparison to Tool B? Which Technology suits a particular project and why? Please check out the comparison in out next title.

Cross Platform Mobile Development Frameworks Comparison

Now that we have talked about the benefits of Cross Platform Mobile Development, the next step is to educate our readers on the best tools available to develop flexible mobile applications with seamless compatibility.

  • PhoneGap (Apache Cordova) – This is an open source award winning platform that enables developers to create mobile applications compatible with Android, iPhone, iPads, Palm, BlackBerry and Symbian. This framework is based on simple technologies like CSS3, HTML and JavaScript. The overall efficiency is further enhanced as it provides free access to hardware components like GPS tracker, Accelerometer and the device Camera. This is the most famous platform especially among the beginners, while being in use for a large number of apps being used by around 2 billion Android and iOS users.
  • Sencha Touch – This is an HTML5 based cross-platform framework that provides fully functional API’s and offers a component based approach for building mobile applications. The latest release is Sencha Touch 2.4 that has empowered developers to build powerful applications that run on iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone along with advance BlackBerry components for BlackBerry 10, Q5 and Q10 devices. Moreover, this framework makes apps faster and responsive, while creating unparalleled user experiences.
  • MonoSync – This framework supports C/C++, PHP, Java, JavaScript, Python and Ruby. The ideal characteristic of this framework is that it allows the native mobile applications to be transformed for other platforms including Symbian, Linux Mobile, iOS, Android, iPad and Windows Phone platforms without any complications.
  • Appcelerator - This is a Software Development Kit (SDK) that is used for the development of native and hybrid mobile applications, while using a single codebase. This platform enables developers to mobilize all types of data sources, while enabling faster application testing due to its live prototyping and fully optimized code.
  • Corona – Again an SDK that uses Lua along with C++ / OPenGL and enables cross platform mobile applications development with one code, while building the application to iOS, Android, Kindle Fire and NOOK.
  • Adobe AIR – A perfect framework to build Cross functional apps for Google Android, Apple iOS, BlackBerry Tablet OS platforms. Applications with in-app billing, push notifications and browser based games are built quite commonly using this platform.
  • Xmarin – I would rather call this an advanced and versatile framework mostly used by remotely operated development companies. Xmarin is C# based platform that enables users to call the native API’s in the resulting mobile applications. The code is executed on a .NET framework at the runtime, while giving a native dialect of either iOS or Android.
  • RhoMobile – This is an integrated framework based on ROR, while enabling developers to create apps for iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian and RIM with several Add-on features.
  • jQuery Mobile – This is also a very famous Cross Platform Mobile development framework used to create websites that mimic the iOS look and feel. This framework also enables developers to use Windows UI and Windows Phone specific features.
  • QT – Ideal framework for creating Symbian, desktop OS, N9 and BlackBerry 10 applications

Cross Platform Mobile Development Through Visual Studio

A developer’s biggest concern is to develop a cost effective application or game that reaches the target audience on multiple mobile platforms (cross platform enabled), in the shortest possible time. On the other hand customer / end user is looking for feature rich apps including animations, special effects and several other intricate features. In short they require an all-in-one app that handles the entire functionality in case of a business app and provides great entertainment in case it’s a game / fun app.

Great news for both the developers and end user is that Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 is now available that empowers Cross Platform Mobile Development with advance tools for Windows Phone 8.1, Universal Windows apps and several other new features. Applications can now be built for a multi-device environment while using the technology of choice that includes JavaScripting, C++ or .NET

Visual Studio in Combination with Apache Cordova

The latest release of Visual Studio offers great tools for Cross Platform Mobile Development, especially for Apache Cordova. Visual Studio together with Apache Cordova serve to be the perfect combination for developing Hybrid apps that are supported by multiple mobile platforms including iOS, Android and Windows Phone, while using a single project based on JavaScript and HTML.

Why Combine Apache Cordova and Visual Studio?

1- Apache Cordova comprises of the entire device API’s required for accessing the devices native functions including camera, GPS and accelerometer from JavaScript. Therefore, developers need not to explore more or acquire more training; they can simply use the existing HTML and JavaScript knowledge to create Cross Platform enabled Hybrid apps.

2- The tools offered by the Visual Studio cover end-to-end development of Cross-Platform mobile applications.

3- Project Templates are available in multiple formats including JavaScript and TypeScript, while enabling developers to pick the framework of their choice such as JQuery UI, Angular .js, WinJS and BootStrap.

4- The developed applications can run on several devices, emulators and web-based mobile simulators. By installing vsmda-remote npm package on Mac you can start your app on the iOS Simulator right from the Visual Studio.