Cross-Platform Mobile App Development by Mike Bell

Tuesday 12 April 2016 | Category: App Development

Cross-platform mobile app development is currently one of the most rapidly expanding areas of technology. Tools such as PhoneGap, Xamarin, Corona SDK and Sencha allow developers to answer the question, “What platform should I develop for? iOS, Android or Windows Phone?”, with one simple answer. All of them.

The emergence of these tools also allow developers to put to use knowledge of languages that they may already have at their disposal instead of being forced to learn the ‘traditional’ languages preferred by each platform. PhoneGap allows apps to be built using HTML5, JavaScript and CSS while Xamarin uses C# as its programming language of choice and Corona SDK choosing Lua. This flexibility is opening up mobile app development to developers that would have previously felt they had to pick and choose one platform.

The main advantage is of course only having to maintain a single code base as opposed to two or three. This is a godsend for development and management teams alike. A single code base reduces the amount of time needed in initial development, the number of places where possible complications can occur and make it easier to maintain legacy code.

However, cross-platform development doesn’t come without its downfalls. In theory, it is a wonderful idea, being able to write a single codebase that will work across multiple platforms but that isn’t always the case. Each platform provides its own set of unique challenges to tackle and often need platform-specific code to be written. Although this can increase the initial planning and development phases, it is without a doubt still an improvement over creating the same application multiple times.

SGP currently harnesses the power of Xamarin to develop cross-platform mobile apps, specifically the Xamarin.Forms toolkit. Offering a cross-platform UI toolkit that produces native UI layouts as well as the opportunity to drop down to platform-specific code whilst developing in C# is the perfect scenario for a strongly .NET orientated development team. Xamarin also offer support through services such as Xamarin TestCloud, University and Insights to maintain the health of mobile apps throughout their lifetime. With all of this and the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of Xamarin, the future is definitely looking bright for cross-platform mobile app development.

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