"Seduced" by the cross-platform approach? By the chance to build a single app project and run it on mobile, web and desktop? No wonder... But which hybrid app development framework should you choose?
What's the best one? The "best" one for your feature needs (and time resources) and for your development team's level of experience...
Now, let me guess: it should...
- be feature-rich
- be fast and to enable you to develop your hybrid app... fast, as well
- be developer-friendly
- provide native-like experience to your app's users
- provide you with plenty of UI components to just... mix and match
We've narrowed your options in terms of hybrid mobile app development tools down to... 3.
But before you rush to evaluate each one's pros and cons:
- put together a personal hierarchy: must-have vs nice-to-have features
- get ready to set each of the following frameworks against that pyramid of needs
1. But What Is Hybrid App Development More Precisely?
In plain English:
The hybrid app development approach is building and running one app project across multiple platforms: Android, iOS, Windows...
Now, you do the math and figure it out yourself:
- how much time you'd save
- how many moments of frustration you'd avoid without all the native IDEs, SDK and Apple-specific requirements to get tangled up in
- how much lighter the load of third party libraries would be
- how convenient it is to have a unique list of bugs to keep an eye on
- how convenient it is to adopt one dedicated technology approach instead of having to "juggle" with Java or Kotlin and with Swift or Objective-C...
One software development process (i.e a unique codebase) for all the platforms that you target...
2. Native vs Hybrid App Development
Still a bit confused about the clear differences between native and hybrid apps?
Let me shed some more light here:
While native apps are platform-specialized — Android or iOS — hybrid apps can be deployed on multiple platforms.
In this respect, a hybrid app development framework ships with both native and web-specific elements to help you quickly design and run your "one size fits all" type of app.
Also, when it comes to the key differences between native and hybrid apps, keep in mind that:
While native apps are faster, hybrid apps get built faster.
So, it's your convenience in terms of time and budget vs... the user experience.
3. What's the Best Hybrid App Development Framework for Your Project?
3.1. Ionic- A Feature-Rich, Easy to Use Technology for Building Your Hybrid Apps
"Which framework is best for hybrid app development?"
9 in 10 developers will say "Ionic".
It's the most familiar one, after all, since it's been on the "hybrid app development stage" for... quite a few years now.
Back then, when it was first released, it opened the door to a whole new world of possibilities:
- to build and to deploy Angular-based apps that would challenge the jQuery mobile apps' "supremacy"
- to put together a visually-striking, progressive web app in no time
With its low learning curve, "bulk" of available plugins and all the UI components that it provides out of the box, Ionic's predicted to keep its "rockstar" aura in 2020, as well.
You'd Want to Choose Ionic Because:
- it provides you with a rich collection of powerful features
- it's Angular-based: no need to learn a whole new language
- it ships with plenty of UI components and predefined elements
- it has a livereload system and app enabling you to preview your hybrid app right on your target device
- it ships with an in-built development server
- it provides you with debugging tools
- it ships with a command-line interface (Ionic CLI) that streamlines the development cycle of your TypeScript and Node.js apps
- it's backed by a large dev community
You'd Hesitate to Choose Ionic Because:
- it doesn't provide hot reloading
- it's not the best option if you're planning to build a heavy-duty app
- some of its features are Cordova-based and hence not all the plugins are supported
- you might find it too dependent on plugins
3.2. Flutter- Google's Toolkit for Creating Visually Stunning, Cross-Platform Apps
Is there any surprise why this is an increasingly popular hybrid app development framework?
It's Google's "prodigy" and everybody likes Google.
Although a newcomer in the "arena", Flutter stands a good chance to outshine the traditional hybrid mobile app development tools in 2020.
How? It already sets itself apart as a go-to choice when you need to craft a visually attractive and interactive MVP... fast.
With its flexible design components, you get to craft a stunning UI in no time. And its interactivity elements help you create the engaging experience that users expect.
In a nutshell: you get a power-packed toolkit to craft and to run a cross-platform app in no time.
Where do you add that it's designed to support multiple languages and to run smoothly across several platforms. And all that without the need to look for an alternative for Swift, Java or Objective C.
You'd Want to Choose Flutter Because:
- it's blazing fast
- it ships with its own widgets: you can easily implement buttons, sliders, switches, dialog boxes, tab bars, loading spinners
- it's compatible with Fuchsia, Google's mobile OS
- it provides you with CLI and VI editors
- it ships with the hot reload feature
- it enables you to assemble (and nest) multiple widgets for crafting your app's UI
You'd Hesitate to Choose Flutter Because:
- it's Dart-based, so you need to learn a whole new language
- it provides minimal support for some features
- it lacks profile data completion
- your Flutter app will be approx. 40% larger than a native app
3.3. React Native- Developers' Favorite One
And why do they love it?
- because they enjoy working in Java and Swift (and they're already fluent in React)
- because it provides them with native modules and components and thus enables them to "inject" top performance into their hybrid apps
- because it enables them to provide users a native-like experience
It's Facebook's own version of a framework for building native-like apps.
If you're familiar with the React approach to software development, you'll love it.
You'd Want to Choose React Native Because:
- it's high-powered: rendered with native code
- you cut down costs by reusing code
- it's backed by a huge community of developers that you can rely on
- it grants you a shorter app development cycle
- it features live reload with 2 different screens: to update your code and to preview those updates in real-time
- it is Node.js supported
- you can choose from a whole variety of social plugins: display grid picture, feed, etc.
You'd Hesitate to Choose React Native Because:
- it's not the best technology for hybrid app development if it's an app with multiple UI transitions, plenty of interactions and various screens that you have in mind
- its supply of custom modules is quite limited
- it provides you with few UI and native features, thus "forcing" you to... get your hands dirty with code (and that may take some time)
- it challenges you with a steep learning code
- it takes a team of experienced developers to build a high-powered React Native app
- it presents some shortcomings of navigation components
It's definitely not a framework for junior developers and startups.
4. Final Word
Do you value a native-live experience for your end-users over a fast development process?
Is a big set of UI components, that you can just... assemble, more important to you than high speed? Is a rich collection of plugins more valuable to you than a low learning curve for your developers?
Picking the right hybrid app development framework for your project means finding the (almost) perfect match between a tool's selling points and your own priorities.
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