Developing using cross-platform tools

When developing an app, there are lot’s of decisions you’ll need to consider, including those regarding the design, UX, look and feel, functionality, and navigation. There are also technical decisions to consider such as which APIs to use, third-party components, server-side decisions and whether the app should be developed in a multi-platform environment or to use native code. The answers to these questions will have an impact on the cost, functionality, and performance of your app. Therefore, it is worthwhile to look at the pros and cons of each option.

In this article, I’ll be focusing only on the client side decision for developing environment.

As a mobile studio owner, I work with a range of companies, including start-ups, so I have a good understanding of the importance of the budget. I strive to develop the best possible solutions for our clients for the lowest possible price. Apps built in multi-platform development environments cost less, while native options cost more. Let’s a take a deeper look at the two options beyond cost.

What Is Multi-Platform Development?

Most businesses and organizations want their app developed on the major platforms – To achieve this while also reducing development time and costs, we can use multi-platform development tools so we can develop once for all platforms such as:

• PhoneGap
• Fuze
• Codenameone
• Xamarin

And many more …

The Case for Native Apps

Native apps are developed for each platform separately aka Android, IOS, Windows phone. So they cost more of course.

One of the downsides of using a multi-platform development environment is that these environments have to compromise on other areas in order to ensure their service is functional. These compromises make it harder – and sometimes impossible – to create complex apps, or apps that incorporate a lot of internal APIs.

Another downside is the lack of support for all third-party components and libraries. The effect of this is either to restrict the functionality of the app or increase the cost of development. There is also a reliability concern. Working with the native platforms means working with Google and Apple directly, so there is a significant community of developers and comprehensive support provided. No multi-platform environment can match this.

Should You Choose A Multi-Platform Development Environment or Native?

In most cases, I use the following rules:

  • Smaller, uncomplicated or demo apps can be developed in a multi-platform environment. This will save money and will     have little (usually zero) impact on functionality and performance.
  • Larger, more complex apps should be developed using native code to ensure proper functionality, good user experience, and optimum performance. The initial cost of the development is likely to be higher, but it makes more sense in the long run. Anyway I always advise my clients to test and release the app on one platform before developing it on another.

You should always discuss the decision with your developer studio since they will be in a position to determine which option best suits your needs.

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