Increased developer productivity, multi-platform development, the BYOD trend, enterprise scalability, the demand for great user experiences, and code reuse are some of the reasons why application developers should be using both open-source and proprietary mobile application frameworks today, according to industry solution providers.
“I think what we’ve seen when it comes to app frameworks is, it comes down to developer productivity,” said Genefa Murphy, director of product management of mobile, analytics and user experience at HP Software. “With the whole notion of BYOD, when people used to talk about BYOD, it was always about mobile device management. Now people are realizing that, if you want to actually enable BYOD, it’s not about having the device-management system; it’s about enabling cross-platform applications.”
One way to do that, according to Murphy, is for developers to leverage a mobile app framework for consistency and repeatability if they are building the same app on different OSes. “They should do so if they want to truly support BYOD and also need to get enterprise scalability,” she said.
“Because if you’re looking at a one-off consumer application, it’s not as problematic to do it in native, and native is actually sort of the preferred approach. But when developers are looking for scale—scale and speed combined—that’s when they turn to the mobile app frameworks, which can help them to enable a flexible BYOD policy in their organization.”
Reach out to multiple platforms
Another challenge that developers face in creating mobile apps is that the platforms are diverse and rapidly changing, unlike desktops, which were largely unchanged for the last few decades, according to Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman. “Specifically, there’s a huge variety of operating systems, form factors and hardware devices that a developer has to support,” he said. “And it’s an incredibly dynamic market; it’s changing quickly and there’s a fierce battle for third place among the mobile OS platforms.”
Friedman said that since developers want their app to be available on as many devices as possible, and since they need to develop that app as efficiently as possible, a great tool can help give them a head start. “What a great mobile application framework will do,” he said, “is it will help elevate a developer above the fray of this battle for dominance between the various mobile platforms.”
One of the challenges that mobile uniquely presents that didn’t exist before includes this need to develop multi-platform apps, agrees Appcelerator’s CTO Nolan Wright, but he added that the demand for a great user experience is another challenge facing developers. “It’s unprecedented, really,” he said. “Apple led the charge there; they really raised the bar significantly for user experience. What we see is that it’s not only true for consumer apps, but it’s also true for enterprise apps.
“When you see trends like BYOD, IT doesn’t have the time necessarily to really dictate hardware and software. So you have to worry about internal adoption of your application just as much as you do for external adoption.”