What mobile framework to choose – PhoneGap, Sencha, Titanium , jQuery Mobile…

Not so long ago you could only develop on Objective-C (for iOS) or Java (for Android). Still recently a lot of new mobile app development frameworks have appeared and found their own niche on the market. I think, you have heard about such frameworks as PhoneGap, Sencha, jQTouch, jQuery Mobile, Kendo UI, Corona, Titanium Appcelerator, RubyMotion and many others that allow to create apps using Javascript, Java, Lua and Ruby.

So how do you define what framework to use? Below you could find a few tips that could help you to make a choice.

1) If you know programming
Of course most of the frameworks expect you to know programming. Still even if you don’t know programming there are a number of app builders that allow you to create complex apps in the “drag and drop” environment. In case you are dreaming about developing a game, so GameSalad will help you: it has an intuitive Drag and Drop UI which gives you the possibility to build apps without coding. If your intention is to develop a business app, so BiznessApps will let you build the app for many scenarios.

2) Create apps in a language you know
I suppose you all know that the “native” languages for iOS and Android are Objective-C and Java respectively. Even if you don’t know these languages, please don’t give up as you can create apps in a language that you know. In case you know Javascript, you can use Sencha Touch to build a HTML5 app and then compile it for iOS or Android native app using Phonegap J In case you know Lua, you can easily build a cross platform native game using Corona. In case you know Ruby, RubyMotion will help you to build an iOS app. In case you are master of Java but would like to make smth for iPhone, you can use trick with GWT-touch to create HTML5 app and then compile it using PhoneGap J.

3) How native or cross-platform do you want it?
Do you know that there is a kind of tradeoff that some of the frameworks make? For example, a HTML5 app build with the help of Sencha, jQtouch and GWT-touch could have almost native look and feel, but not 100% native of course. But if you use Titanium and Corona with native UI components, the apps will have 100% native look. The advantage of HTML5 apps is that they could be further compiled for more platforms. Plus they can also be deployed on the web without making any code changes.

4) If you are a web developer and want to continue using your old tools
Firstly, hello to web developers who are reading this article 🙂
Another advantage of these HTML5 apps is that a web developer already knows most of the technologies and has most of the tools available. For instance, if a web developer has to create an app using jQuery Mobile or Phonegap, he can use IDE which he has always been using, for debugging you are welcome to use Chrome Inspector or Firebug. If you still insist on using your trusty tools, go on with Sencha or jQuery Mobile.

5) If you select a frame by taking into consideration their “pros” or “cons”
In case you choose a framework based on “+” and “–“, so hope the following short list will be of use to you.

· jQuery Mobile

  • Great tools like Theme Roller and Codiqa UI builder;
  • View only framework (you can use whatever to handle the MC parts)
  • Based on jQuery;
  • Lots of plugins;
  • Most popular.
  • Could be too heavy for some smartphones;

  • No official paid support.

· Sencha Touch

  • Based on ExtJS;
  • Complete MVC framework;
  • Official paid support;
  • Sencha Architect is great.
  • Some controls look off;

  • No native controls;
  • Performance;
  • Few customization options;
  • Client side DOM generation.

· Titanium

  • Rapid prototyping;
  • Web-oriented;
  • Well-known JavaScript for many developers;
  • It’s sross-platforming;
  • Native UI.
  • Increasing complexity (and costs);

  • No freemium;
  • Flexibility limitations;
  • Native UI*.
    *The native UI is both an advantage and disadvantage. If your UI is simple enough, you may be able to use a single code base. But more than likely, you will need to tweak the UI for each platform to take full advantage of each platform.

· PhoneGap

  • Single code base for all platforms;
  • Rapid testing and deployment;
  • Multiply Platforms;
  • Access basic native functionality;
  • Offline usage.
  • Poor performance;

  • Lack pre-built UI widgets, transitions, standard controls;
  • Access advanced native functionality;
  • Complex Business Logic etc.

Make your right choice my dear readers 🙂

Hope this article was interesting and helpful to you. Should any questions or comments arise, you are welcome with them.

Elvira Golyak

Business Development Manager