Cross Platform Mobile Development

Introduction

One of the hottest terms being thrown around these days is 'Cross Platform Mobile Development'. With this article, I will introduce you to 'Cross Platform Mobile Development' and what tools there are.

Mobile Applications

Mobile applications run on a mobile platform. This includes cellular phones and tablets. Unlike Web applications, there are many different types of mobile platforms; these include Windows Phone, Android, and iPhone. The trick here is that you need an IDE that can cater to all these different platforms. This is where Visual Studio, for example, comes in very handy because it has the ability to write a single mobile app that can be run on many different platforms. In other words, a platform-independent app gets created.

Mobile App Development

Wikipedia describes Mobile App Development in the following way: Mobile application development is a term used to denote the act or process by which application software is developed for handheld devices, such as personal digital assistants, enterprise digital assistants, or mobile phones. These applications can be pre-installed on phones during manufacturing platforms, or delivered as Web applications using server-side or client-side processing (for example, JavaScript) to provide an "application-like" experience within a Web browser.

Cross Platform Mobile Development

Cross platform programming is writing software that works on more than one platform.

Tools

There are plenty of tools or frameworks at your disposal when you want to create cross-platform mobile applications. Some are described in the following sections.

Xamarin

Xamarin apps are built with standard, native-user interface controls. Apps not only look the way the end user expects, they behave that way too. This can't be achieved with other solutions. Visual Studio 2015 automatically installs the latest version of Xamarin. Choose a Xamarin project to start building your app and use the Visual Studio debugger, IntelliSense, and other powerful features of the Visual Studio IDE.

When starting a New project, you have three choices in using Xamarin to create a mobile app. You can create an app for Windows Phone by choosing Blank App (Windows Phone). To create an App for Android, you choose Blank App (Android). You also can create a Shared Project that creates an app for both the Android and Windows Phone platforms.

Have a look here for more information regarding Xamarin.

Here is a great example on how to use Xamarin to create a cross-platform app.

Visual Studio Emulator for Android

The Visual Studio Emulator for Android is a desktop application that emulates an Android device. It provides a virtualized environment in which you can debug and test Android apps without a physical device. It also provides an isolated environment for your application prototypes.

The Visual Studio Emulator for Android is designed to provide comparable performance to an actual device. Before you publish your app, however, we recommend that you test your app on a physical device.

PhoneGap

PhoneGap is based on the open source Apache Cordova project, thus making it completely free to use. Adobe is also working on an enterprise version of PhoneGap, which is currently undergoing a beta trial, and you can sign up for it here.

For more information on PhoneGap, please read here.

Sencha

Sencha offers a variety of tools for cross platform app development such as Sencha Animator, Sencha Architect, and more. Its main product for enterprise users is Ext JS 6, which lets developers create HTML5 apps that can be converted into native apps with PhoneGap.

For more information on Sencha, read here.

Appcelerator

Appcelerator lets developers write JavaScript with its Alloy MVC framework. The use of JavaScript is helpful because many developers will already be familiar with the language.

For more information on Appcelerator, read here.

Conclusion

Creating cross platform mobile apps can be a breeze if you make use of the right tools. Hopefully, this list has made your decision a bit easier.



About the Author

Hannes DuPreez

Hannes du Preez is a Microsoft MVP for Visual Basic for the ninth consecutive year. He loves technology and loves Visual Basic. He loves writing articles and proving that Visual Basic is more powerful than what most believe. His ultimate dream is to write a Visual Basic book, hopefully one day that dream will come true. You are most welcome to reach him at: ojdupreez1978@gmail.com

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