3 Most Powerful Frameworks For Cross Platform Development
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Mobile application development is the process by which applications are developed for mobile phones, handheld devices, and similar gadgets with internet facilities. These applications are either pre-installed during manufacture of device, or downloadable through an app store. During the processes of development, developers have to consider diversity in device screen size, orientation, pixels, hardware specifications and configurations for the application to survive in the market. The user interface (UI) design of a mobile and its applications holds utmost importance. Reason behind this is that the UI is the ‘middle man’ between user and device. It helps the user in interacting with the system and easily be able to understand what is going on on-screen.

A framework is that platform used for the development of web and mobile applications. These frameworks may be specific to a particular operating system, for example, specifically only able to develop apps for iOS. Others are hybrid app development frameworks. These frameworks in turn may use a number of programming languages for developing the application.

Here, we will compare three of the most well-known and powerful mobile app development frameworks used by developers today, Sencha Touch, jQuery Mobile, and PhoneGap.

Sencha Touch

Sencha Touch is a UI library written in JavaScript and owned by Sencha ®. Applications developed on Sencha Touch work on iOS, Windows, Android, Kindle, Tizen, Bada and BlackBerry. Sencha was specifically built for mobile app development and is written in either HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, the last one being the most commonly used amongst the three. Sencha claims that their framework produces apps of speed, great experience, and success. Their lastest version is Sencha 2.3.1, released November 2013 and supports Android (Browser, Chrome), BlackBerry 10, Bada Mobile Browser, Kindle Fire Browser, Windows 8 (Phone and Mobile), Mobile Safari, and Tizen Browser.

Sencha can be used with Cordova or PhoneGap, or even its own packager, i.e: Sencha Architect 2. It requires GPLv3, Free Commercial, Paid OEM or Embedded Systems Licenses, as per need. It can be delivered via web, or hybrid version via the native shells for each platforms.

jQuery Mobile

jQuery MobileTM is a mobile framework, UI library based on JavaScript and is owned by The jQuery Project. Applications that can be developed using jQuery Mobile are compatible on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, WebOS, Blackberry, Symbian, and more. jQuery is able to be used alongside PhoneGap, Worklight, and more. Applications are written in JavaScript and HTML5, the latter enabling the developer to produce a hybrid application with their “write less, do more??? mantra. Since they believe that a website/application should look like a brand, not just an app, they have created ‘ThemeRoller for Mobile’, enabling an easy, drag-and-drop feature. Their features are similar to those built on CSS3, too.

jQuery Mobile requires a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) License. The latest version is jQuery Touch 1.4.5, released October 31, 2014. jQuery uses Ajax navigation.

PhoneGap or Apache Cordova

PhoneGap is also known as Apache Cordova. PhoneGap is an open source mobile framework, produced by Nitobi, bought by Adobe Systems in 2011. The framework is used to produce hybrid applications which are compatible with a wide variety of operating systems including Android, BlackBerry, Firefox OS, iOS, Symbian, Ubuntu Touch, Bada, webOS, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. The framework uses HTML5, CSS3, Java, C++, Objective-C, C# and JavaScript. The latest version is PhoneGap 4.2.0, released January 10, 2015, basically, probably the most recently updated frameworks out there.

As PhoneGap is a free, open sourced mobile app development framework, it only requires the Apache 2 license and uses 3rd party IDE tools.

Comparison of Frameworks:

Now that we know what each framework is about, we can differentiate them and their features. We know what they are all about, we have scrutinized the basic aspects of their development, and we can now compare their structures.

Similarities:

  • They all have the same hardware component development capabilities
  • All three can produce hybrid applications
  • All of these use JavaScript as the primary programming language
  • They are all free mobile app development frameworks for commercial use

Differences:

  • Sencha Touch is not entirely free – it offers paid support starting at $1395 for a 5-develop package
  • jQuery Mobile has been found to have poor performance in mobile browsers, being labelled as slow.
  • Sencha Touch has been found to have SVG support – great plus point in game production
  • jQuery is easily debugged
  • Developer can write extensive plugins on PhoneGap
  • Sencha is fairly complicated
  • 50 Sencha Touch widgets available
  • 22 jQuery Mobile widgets available
  • 12 PhoneGap widgets available

Hardware components developable by the frameworks in discussion:

  • Accelerometer
  • Camera
  • Capture
  • Compass
  • Connection
  • Contacts
  • Device
  • Native Events
  • File
  • Geolocation
  • Notification
  • Storage
  • Gestures & Multitouch
  • Messages & Telephone
  • Bluetooth
  • NFC
  • Vibration

Conclusion:

PhoneGap and Sencha Touch are fairly good frameworks for our mobile app developers out in the world. IMHO, I have found jQuery Mobile framework to be the one that ranks on top. While it may be slightly slower than the other two, it has the highest number of widget production capability, reaching an amazing 50 widgets! It can develop the exact same hardware components. The framework is completely free and open-sourced. You can develop hybrid applications alongside the use of their ThemeRoller. It is also easily debuggable. Why use any other framework when they are providing so many wonderful features, widgets, and opportunities?

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