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Programming IT

The Headaches of Cross-Platform Mobile Development 197

snydeq writes "Increased emphasis on distinctive smartphone UIs means even more headaches for cross-platform mobile developers, writes Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister, especially as users continue to favor native over Web-based apps on mobile devices. 'Google and Microsoft are both placing renewed emphasis on their platforms' user experience. That means not just increased competition among smartphone and tablet platforms, but also new challenges for mobile application developers. ... The more the leading smartphone platform UIs differ from one another, the more effort is required to write apps that function comparably across all of them. Dialog boxes, screen transitions, and gestures that are appropriate for one platform might be all wrong for another. Coding the same app for three or four different sets of user interface guidelines adds yet another layer of cost and complexity to cross-platform app development."
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The Headaches of Cross-Platform Mobile Development

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  • Advice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:32PM (#38757230) Homepage Journal

    Keep it simple, Stupid

    I'm developing an app which can be run cross-platform and/or mobile. Turned out to be a giant nightmare when looking at user experience on a tablet or smartphone. So .. I bailed on anything whizzy and went back to finding the basic html and javascript to get things done -- look and work consistently on multiple platforms and also be visible in sunlight (something a lot of apps fail miserably at.)

  • HTML5 & Weever Apps (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:38PM (#38757288)

    In the meantime, cross-platform, easy-to-develop HTML5 app frameworks are showing astonishing growth. In the least week alone we've seen three new Javascript + HTML5 frameworks released. And while it take consumers some time for consumers to get wise to the AOL-like 'we are the only (mobile) web' branding that Apple has established - the marketing advantages of one app that works across all touch phone and tablets and is actually affordable is pretty undeniable today - especially as web-app technology continues to mature.

    At Weever Apps (disclaimer, I'm the lead designer) that's the goal: disrupt the expensive, case by case, walled garden model and produce useful apps that actually meet the end-goals of most organizations. We started as a couple of not-for-profit oriented programmers that just couldn't stand how bad the current mobile/web/app situation was out there - our clients couldn't afford a proper mobile experience for their constituents, and that pissed us all off...

    Today, we've grown. We've hooked into amazing, established open-source web technologies like Wordpress, Joomla! and Drupal, created an open API and new RSS spec (RSS3 for semantic/web relationships, find it on github) and basically proven that web innovation can outpace mega-companies - we know this, because we're doing it and winning over former native-app clients. And are *web* apps are still affordable, useful and *accessible* to the at least 3/4 of companies that haven't 'gone mobile' today because of a combination of cost, utility and just sheer confusion with all the per-platform options out there.

    Check out "Why I make web apps" by our lead programmer Rob Porter:

    Or just get a free app at if you're interested. We're new and still adding lots of features - but I can confidently say that we're proving that there are better ways than the status quo to add value to the web and mobile - and we're not the only ones doing it. :)

  • by TheCouchPotatoFamine ( 628797 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:41PM (#38757302)

    well.. not strictly true. IIRC iOS and android are both converging on (or already have) a view-based hierarchy... the way god intended. Personally i hate the signal-and-slots or win32 methods versus the DOM/events methodology - even if HTML's take on it is a little sprained... however, when i look at iOS, i see the DOM/event pattern, just without the xml (for the programmer, anyway, it's right there in the NIB..)

  • Not that bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by t00le ( 136364 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:42PM (#38757312)

    Check out LiveCode Runtime Revolution and you'll quickly dismiss this complaint, it has support for almost all desktops, tablets and mobile phone platforms. Write it once and it compiles for the platform in native code.

    We use the hell out of it for the reason discussed above, not to mention that it allows you to build attractive cross platform products.

  • Re:Advice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:26AM (#38757892)

    So you're coding in the most inefficient way for each device to run your app then?

    I feel for you. Your problem has been experienced by many who don't wish to rewrite that Objective-C app in Java, don't want to maintain two packages on different platforms without common bugs, and don't want to re-design your app so that on iOS it has a back button in the top left while on Android it obeys the hardware back key.

    However before you continue I suggest you look at the ratings of apps on each market that are written in the way you're suggesting. Inconsistent with the native UI of the platform makes the app look .... cheap. An app that runs in HTML / JS is inherently incredibly slow compared to a native app which further upsets the user experience.

    If you want to write a 5star app you'll likely need to abandon any hope of cross platform compatibility and simply code from the ground up for each platform.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:08AM (#38758118)

    This seems to work pretty well across platforms. Fast native compilation to binary same as C++ (NO JIT) via LLVM on both Android and iOS. Full access to the native API's. A pretty nice generational partially copying gc. XNA and OpenGL across all platforms. Full source debugging and profiling on all devices and simulators.

    Only problem is that full binary compilation breaks some standard libs that depend on using the JIT, some occasional bugs, and I'd personally prefer to see the device API wrapping fully open sourced along with the rest of the base platform. Overall not bad though.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein