From just a blip in 2009, global mobile and tablet traffic has slowly grown to surpass desktop internet usage, hitting over 51% in Q3 2019 [1]. The figures are even higher for specific countries – in the USA smartphones and tablets account for 63% [2] of all internet traffic. The situation results primarily from the ubiquity of mobile devices, the availability of fast internet, and the convenience offered by modern smartphones – but also the ongoing improvement of the mobile experience.

Visiting an e-commerce website and making a purchase on a mobile phone is no longer the clunky, nightmarish experience we remember from yesteryear’s internet – illegible letters, oversized menus and badly scaled images. With the advent of responsive web design, websites have become more flexible and work much better on devices with smaller screens.

Ecommerce operators and developers want to capitalize on this mobile trend by ensuring a seamless user experience for mobile users.

The good mobile experience is an indispensable element of the website design process, which is often reiterated by giants like Google. As of 2019, Google indexes web pages based on how they render on a mobile phone versus a desktop computer. This basically emphasizes the importance of ensuring the website renders as well on mobile devices as it does on the desktop. Older websites that are still not being indexed using mobile-first indexing will not be switched yet to mobile-first.

What is a mobile app framework?

A mobile app development framework is a library that makes it easier for developers to build a mobile app. It basically provides a fundamental structure that not only supports mobile application development, but it also boosts the whole development process and reduces the overall development cost. It typically comes with API support, various plugins and a community that shares the knowledge and helps to solve problems.

There are two types of mobile app development frameworks:

  • Native Mobile Development Frameworks
  • Cross-Platform Development Frameworks (e.g. Ionic, Xamarin, React Native, Flutter)

Most of the mobile frameworks out there are for cross-platform development. Normally, native mobile app development is done using frameworks created and maintained by the company that owns the mobile platform; so there is usually just one of those.

What are the best app development frameworks?

While it is impossible to say which app development framework is best definitively, their differentiating features and unique characteristics make ones better than others for specific use cases.

Choosing a framework should follow an analysis of the needs of the project, the platform, development methodology and other requirements of the project.

React Native (Facebook)

React Native is today’s leading JavaScript library. Introduced by Facebook in 2018, it is used by developers to create rich applications for both iOS and Android.

ReactNative is open-source and uses JavaScript and JSX to create native apps for iOS and Android from two different codebases. While you can share code between both platforms, the views and design will use native controls for both platforms, so the resulting code is different. It defines styles with CSS, uses JSX markup to create layouts based on various native components available for iOS or Android.

React Native allows developers to write the minimal amount of code, leading to fewer bugs, errors, and other issues, and higher code quality overall.

Flutter (Google)

Flutter is all the rage today. Conceived by Google, this UI toolkit allowing to build beautiful, native-looking mobile & web applications. Developing user, the Flutter development framework involves using a single codebase – based on Google’s own object-oriented programming language Dart.

But Flutter is not just a framework. It is gaining popularity in the industry primarily because it is a complete software development toolkit. It has everything the developer might need to build cross-platform applications. With an integrated rendering engine, ready-made widgets, testing and integration APIs and command-line tools, Flutter is truly a full package and a very solid contender to React Native.


If you want to know more about Flutter check out our previous blog post available here.

Ionic

Ionic is a cross-platform hybrid app development framework which offers a friendly learning curve for developers. It is built on standard web technology and uses a single codebase for web, Android, and iOS applications. It allows to build interactive hybrid and Progressive Web Applications and cross-platform apps.

Developers can view and manage all Ionic apps in a central, shared dashboard with live activity feeds to see how your development projects are progressing. Deliver live app updates, content changes, A/B tests, bug fixes, and more—before or after your app is in the store.

Ionic’s powerful command-line interface (CLI) compiles the project to native projects and creates new files and folders following the right architecture. The Ionic lab feature speed up the app testing by showcasing how the app looks on the different platforms, side by side. When the changes are made, the Live Reload is triggered that helps in viewing the changes in app preview and then the code is updated automatically.

Ionic offers intuitive UI components, fast development, and a community of 5 million developers.

Xamarin (Microsoft)

Xamarin is a .Net-based app development framework introduced by Microsoft. Being a cross-platform and open source app building platform, Xamarin offers a development ecosystem with backend, API, components, etc. It is a .Net developer platform supported by various tools, libraries, and programming languages. Xamarin provides access to platform-specific SDKs using simple syntax that further helps in bringing the apps close to native. It also supports building the wearable app for all three platforms.

With Xamarin developers, you can build native applications with the support of an active community for Android, tvOS, watchOS, iOS, macOS, and Windows.

Xamarin.Forms convert app UI components into platform-specific UI components at runtime to create a flawless native experience across the platforms. With full hardware compatibility and access to platform-specific APIs, the app can be linked with native libraries that enable better customization and creation of native-level functionality with little overhead.

The maintenance and updates are very easy. By deploying the changes or making updates to the source file, the changes can be applied to apps on various platforms. Xamarin test cloud packed with performance tracking capabilities can test and detect the bugs or performance issues over 2000 devices in a couple of seconds.

PhoneGap (Adobe + Apache)

PhoneGap is another popular cross-platform app development framework, and a result of a joint collaboration between Adobe and Apache (other contributors include BlackBerry, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, and others).

Adobe PhoneGap the main distribution of Apache Cordova, a tool that will let you package your web app as a native app while creating a bridge with native code, known as Cordova plugins. PhoneGap is based on HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. With Cordova plugins, you can add features that are not available on the web stack, such as social network login, QR code readers, push notifications, or in-app purchases.

Apache Cordova is only responsible for the packaging and the plugins – all the other things are done by the web stack.

Phone Gap offers a free CLI (command-line interface) tool where you can control the entire packaging process. Several companies offer other tools on top of it, such as Adobe PhoneGap Developer App, Intel XDK, or Visual Studio for Apache Cordova.

Corona SDK

The cross-platform framework Corona SDK is based on LUA, a quick and lightweight programming language, and allows to create applications for Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Mac and Windows Desktop.

The Corona SDK framework is free and simple to set.

The distinguishing features of this framework incorporate live testing, profoundly improved, and different modules to broaden the component.

Conclusion

The mobile development framework landscape is very dynamic. New mobile development frameworks emerge and rise in popularity, others fall from grace. Choosing the right one typically boils down to the platform (or platforms) the app will be published for, the team’s skills and previous experience, as well as the characteristics of the app, i.e. the required performance and feel of the interface.

Naturally, going with a Native framework offers better performance, but the convenience behind the ease of use and larger community support with web stack solutions is more important for some. The good news is all the frameworks are getting better in their own right, so it’s also really hard to make the wrong choice.


[1] Source

[2] Source


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