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Choose wisely

Top 5 frameworks for mobile app development

Vadym Getman
framework

Macro photo of tooth wheel mechanism image via Shutterstock

A framework is a complex software development environment. It includes many sub-components which help you create your application. Such sub-components include tools sets, compilers, debuggers, application programming interfaces, different code libraries and many other components. To help you choose a framework which will suit you best here is the list of top frameworks for mobile app development.

A framework is the base of your future application. Its usage greatly simplifies the whole development process. Instead of writing an application from scratch and dealing with large portions of code to make your application work on different platforms – you use a framework. Here’s a list of framework for mobile app development:

Ionic

Ionic is one of the most popular frameworks available today. With the help of Ionic, you can build impressive native and progressive web applications. This framework is the perfect choice when you need to make a high-performance app. The framework is made to work perfectly on the latest mobile devices available to you, which is crucial for those who are about to hit the mobile app market.

The Ionic website has Ionic Market, a place where you can download templates and projects built by other programmers. With the help of Ionic command line utility you can build, emulate, and run your app. The Ionic Lab component lets you test an application on both iOS and Android.

Ionic works great with Angular, so as a result you get a powerful SDK. You get efficient core architecture, which is suitable for creating even the most complex apps. Ionic can be combined with Cordova, PhoneGap and Trigger.io projects. Ionic is very flexible. It does not look complex, has an ergonomic design and is easy to learn.

Ext JS

This framework is based on HTML5 and Javascript. Ext JS is flexible and helps create a wide range of mobile applications, from simple to complex ones. It provides users with high-performance UI widgets. This framework includes widgets like lists, forms, menus, toolbars, etc. All components are built regarding the main requirements for mobile applications. Using the resources provided you can create amazing applications for iOS, Android, Windows  and Phone.

Ext JS offers high performance, smooth animation of different elements, which respond immediately to users’ actions with great pixel precision.

This framework works perfectly with other APIs as well. Therefore, you can combine different APIs to achieve the desirable result. Ext JS is perfect for rapid development of applications for mobile devices.

It offers many tools to test your application and see how it works, like Sencha Test. It helps to do cross-platform and cross-browser testing. Sencha Inspector is a debugging tool, which facilitates analyzing of code and improves the overall performance of the application.

Sencha Themer tool helps to create a unique style for your application using graphical tools so you don’t need to write code anymore to have an eye-catching design.

jQuery mobile

The well-known framework can be used to create cross-mobile-platform application projects. This framework includes a wide range of plugins, which decrease the time you need to create an application. Using the jQuery mobile framework you can create one application that will work great on different devices or operating systems and platforms, like Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, MeeGo, Opera Mobile/Mini, Firefox Mobile, Kindle and Nook.

One of many features this framework offers is ThemeRoller. With the help of this feature, you can create a unique design for your app.

jQuery offers many documents that will help you to get in touch with this flexible framework. jQuery mobile is built on the jQuery base. Therefore, you will have no problems with this framework if you are familiar with jQuery syntax. The framework is powered by Ajax navigation system. It helps to assure smooth animation of pages without experiencing any errors.

jQuery is a module-based framework which allows you to create as much custom builds as you need.

Adobe PhoneGap

A framework from the Adobe Company, which has released software solutions for designers such as Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, etc. PhoneGap is a framework for building hybrid applications using CSS, JavaScript and HTML. The framework is able to ensure high performance on different devices and allows you to deliver the application to your target audience without considering any hardware limits.

Plus, there are a lot of plugins available. You can easily extend the functionality of this framework. PhoneGap is in the development phase and there are many third-party tools currently available. Many educational documents will help you learn how to use it. If you still experience any difficulties – PhoneGap social community will help you to find your way out.

You can develop applications for Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry, Ubuntu, Firefox OS, mac OS and Windows Phone. The flexibility of this framework makes it a great option for app developers. This framework supports different debugging tools, like Safari Web Inspector for iOS, Chrome Developer Tools for Android and Visual Studio Web Debugging Tools for Windows Phone.

Adobe PhoneGap includes a collaboration feature that lets a number of developers to work on a single project. With the help of this feature, you can grant any certain group of people with an access to your app project.

One of the greatest tools of Adobe PhoneGap is Hydration. It reduces the amount of time needed to compile an application and facilitate the process of updating it. When a developer uploads a new version of an application, a user gets a notification and if they decide to run the new version, it will automatically fetch and run the final code.

Intel XDK

Intel XDK will help you create HTML5 applications fast and without dealing with any problems and issues. As a complex software development solution, Intel XDK offers a wide range of features, like supporting of industry-leading tools and plugins. This framework is perfect for creating and monetizing games as well.

Thanks to the support of third-party plugins, you can greatly decrease the time you need to create a top-quality application. Plugins may help you with advertising, in-app purchasing, authentication and use of social media services.

This framework includes powerful debugging tools, like Chrome Developer Tools, which help debug JavaScript code, Cordova plugins, DOM elements and CSS rules. Another debugging tool available is Weinre — a remote debugging tool that runs your application on a certain device. Intel XDK includes a very precise emulator so you can see how your application works on different devices.

Choose your framework

Since the framework is the base of your future application, making the right choice is of utmost importance . However, there are some factors you should consider. A framework is not a narrow-specialized programming solution; it is able to deal with a wide range of problems but it also can increase the size of an app. It leads to a phenomenon called “code bloat” when the size of the application becomes too big.

Another issue you need to take into account is that all frameworks are different and their APIs are based on different ideas. It leads to the necessity of spending some time on learning those APIs, therefore you can increase the amount of time you need to create an application because of learning how the APIs should be used.

Hybrid mobile app frameworks are a good starting point but you need to choose carefully as there are many factors you need to consider. It is necessary to understand clearly what application you are going to build and what functions it has to perform.

A good option is to study what frameworks offer what and find the one that suits you best. Some frameworks may have functions that you won’t be using. To sum it up, you need to clearly understand::

  • What is your target platform?
  • What kind of framework do you need? (a native mobile app framework or a hybrid one)
  • What are the functions of your application?
  • What plugins do you need?
  • How will your application interact with a user or other applications and websites?

If you know the answers to these questions, you will be able to find the best framework for app development. Nevertheless, you need to remember that frameworks evolve and they get new features that will make software development easier and faster. New frameworks appear and they introduce something new. It is important to keep track of solutions to find the best frameworks for mobile app development.

Author

Vadym Getman

Vadym Getman, CEO of Lunapps,  is an expert within Digital solution business design and development of the native iOS and Android apps with outstanding UI/UX. Successful entrepreneur, who organized several start-ups.