Opinion: Unraveling cross-platform app development
(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/Ersin KISACIK)
With more and more developers looking to get into mobile, it would make sense that they would want to use the tools of their choice. But, what are the options for developing mobile apps in general? You may be asking yourself, “How can I develop for iOS without a Mac?” “How can I develop for Android without learning Java?” Maybe, even more importantly, is, “How do I develop for multiple mobile platforms using a single-code base?”
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Native apps are written in the platform-specific SDKs, have access to all device APIs, and can use the development tools provided directly from the vendor. If you would like to build a native Android application then you would need to install Eclipse or Android Studio and get up to speed with XML and Java. The same goes for a native iOS app, where you will need a Mac and Xcode as well as an understanding of Objective-C or Swift. If you’re building for Universal Windows Platform, then you will need to learn XAML and an object-oriented language such as C#.
While managing all of these SDKs may seem cumbersome, sometimes building a native app just makes sense when performance is a factor. If you prefer not to work with multiple SDKs, another option is NativeScript which enables developers to build native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows whilst sharing the application code across the platforms.
Xamarin allows you to build native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows with .NET and C#. The difference between Xamarin and other cross-platform frameworks is that your app is compiled to a native binary, not interpreted. Native compilation is great for apps which demand fast screen refreshes such as gaming, or complex data-visualization such as a chart which needs to plot thousands of points. Besides using .NET, Xamarin allows you to add third-party libraries to your project. Xamarin also has a component store with a variety of popular libraries ready to integrate into your app.
What are your best tips for building cross-platform applications? Let us know in the comments.
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