Plan your mobile cross-platform app development process

The decision to create a cross-platform mobile app is only the first step for IT. Here, explore the options of tools to use and how to test the app.

Many organizations decide to use mobile cross-platform app development, but that's just the first step of the journey....

There are many paths to take, so IT pros and developers should plan their route accordingly.

There are a variety of benefits of mobile cross-platform app development. Organizations can create two separate apps for Android and iOS or use a cross-platform framework to ensure that an app is compatible with any device.

Cross-platform development can decrease the cost of app development by saving time and resources, and it does not require developers to specialize in both Android and iOS development.

Take the hybrid or web app path

Developers can build their own cross-platform hybrid or web apps from scratch. Web apps run on any device's browser and use languages such as HTML5 or JavaScript.

Web-based apps can offer the least expensive development because they use an HTML5 browser on any device; organizations do not have to have the budget to support apps for each type of device. A web-based app, however, offers lower performance than a native app.

A hybrid app has the same cross-platform reach of web apps and uses one language for development, but it uses a native container to reap the benefits of each device. Developers can more easily reuse the hybrid app code and add integrations as needed.

Hybrid apps also enable users to access the app and its features offline.

MADPs offer an easy route

Organizations can also use mobile application development platforms (MADPs) or other mobile cross-platform app development tools -- such as Appcelerator Titanium or NativeScript -- to create a cross-platform app. Developers can use coding languages that they already know because, unlike hybrid apps, these tools use one language on a device for direct access instead of a native container.

Some MADPs do not use code to develop apps. Instead, developers select preset interactions to include. MADPs also provide tools to test, deploy and manage the apps. Experienced developers and citizen developers alike often don't need expert coding skills to customize an app in an MADP.

See how much you know about mobile app programming languages

What do you know about the differences between native, web-based and hybrid mobile apps? Test your knowledge of mobile app development and languages with this quiz.

The main problem with cross-platform, non-native apps is a declined user experience due to less customization and slower performance. Organizations should choose the right MADP or another development tool to help mitigate performance loss and ensure a good user experience.

Test your cross-platform app

One of the final steps of the mobile cross-platform app development process is testing. Developers must ensure the functionality, performance, user interface, load testing and security of their apps. With cross-platform apps, they need to check that their app works on all device types and versions.

Developers can choose from a variety of tools to ensure that their apps function correctly and deliver the best user experience. For example, automated testing tools such as Appium and Ranorex can save time and cut costs.

One of the final steps of the mobile cross-platform app development process is testing.

Appium enables developers to use the same code for Android and iOS test platforms without reconfiguring it for testing. It can read any language compatible with its web automation framework, but developers need different scripts to test UI features on virtual Android emulators and iOS simulators.

Ranorex tests native iOS and Android, web, or hybrid apps on physical devices or emulators. The tool can test apps with a developer's own testing script or use Ranorex Spy to create script-free tests.

This was last published in July 2018

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