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How should you start the process of mobile app development?

IT teams must go into the mobile app development process with a strong plan for implementation. Know which tools and types of apps work best for the organization ahead of time.

Organizations that plan to implement a custom application face a number of decisions about how to build the app.

Before diving into the process of mobile app development, IT teams and developers must first decide what type of app to develop and deploy based on user needs. IT must also decide whether the app should run on Apple iOS devices, Google Android devices or both; they might also want to support Microsoft Windows devices or even BlackBerry devices.

Many IT teams deploying mobile apps are now turning to mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) for their infrastructure needs. MBaaS decouples front-end development from the back-end systems. Effective MBaaS provides the services necessary to support apps throughout their lifecycles, as well as for integrating with other systems and managing security and synchronization. As with other services, however, IT must ensure that MBaaS can integrate with its existing systems and support operational workflows, without interfering with desktop and application management.

Another consideration in the process of mobile app development is whether to build native, web or hybrid apps. Native, built-from-scratch apps generally perform better than other app types and can take full advantage of the device's built-in features. Native apps are more difficult and costly to build, however, because developers must create a version of the app for each supported platform, often having to learn new languages and systems in the process.

Web apps are much simpler to build. They're based on open standard technologies, such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. As a result, they can run on any device with an HTML5-enabled browser, making them much cheaper and quicker to implement and maintain than native apps.

An IT team should take into account their users and the app's purpose.

The hybrid app falls somewhere between the two. It uses open standard technologies like web apps, but can take greater advantage of a device's native features. The hybrid app uses the same core code for all platforms, but for each platform, the code is wrapped in a platform-specific shell. This makes it possible to access many of the device's native capabilities.

As part of the overall process of mobile app development, an IT team should take into account their users and the app's purpose. For example, they might want to invest more in customer-facing apps than those used only internally. If a web or hybrid app can provide the functionality necessary to support the workflow, there is no need to invest in a native app.

Are you familiar with the necessary tools for mobile application development? Prove it!

Mobile app development tools are crucial in today's application-centric business world. Put your knowledge to the test in this mobile app development quiz.

Lastly, IT teams and developers might also consider tools such as mobile application development platforms (MADPs) or rapid mobile application development (RMAD) services to accelerate the process of mobile app development. MADPs and RMAD tools offer end-to-end software for building, deploying and managing apps. For an organization to use these tools effectively, however, it must provide the ability to easily integrate the apps into existing systems.

Next Steps

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Compare the different mobile app development platforms

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This was last published in November 2017

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