Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools

The mobile app market is increasingly demanding cross-platform support from apps. While this is great for enterprise and for extending a brand's reach to more users, it's not so great for developers, since developing cross-platform mobile apps can be a challenge.

 

Thankfully there are a lot of developer tools, both free and commercial, that are available to help you with this thankless task. In no particular order, here are five of the best.

 

Appcelerator

This is an enterprise-focused tool that features Alloy MVC framework and allows developers to write in Javascript besides HTML, PHP, Python and Ruby. This is great news for the whole host of developers for whom Javascript is a friendly and familiar language. Appcelerator is a very popular tool among developers and indeed, it has a large and robust following on Twitter. More than 300 APIs are available to users while customizable metrics on events and actions are included.

 

PhoneGap

Probably the best-known cross-platform development tool within the community, PhoneGap is based on the open source Apache Cordova project. Best of all, this means it's free to use, and should partly explain its popularity. Developers can create apps for Android, Palm, Symbian, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. Like Appcelerator, it also allows you to use standard Web development languages like JavaScript and HTML. The tool is now owned by Adobe and an enterprise version is currently in beta – though the final version will probably cost more.

 

Whoop

This might be a controversial choice. However its inclusion in the list is due to its suitability for everyone, including non-developers. The tool is very basic and lacks features, and lacks some important requirements for the latest hardware and device features. In spite of this, it's the best tool for mobile developers, and offers an easy tool for dipping your toes in. It features a WYSIWYG interface and works well with Windows Mobile, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and other major operating systems.

 

RhoMobile

Based on Ruby, Rhomobile is an integrated framework that allows native apps to be created for iOS, Symbian, Android, Windows Mobile, and RIM. The supplied framework means that you only need to code once – the job gets done with ease, speed and accuracy and is great for making apps that work seamlessly on most of the major mobile operating systems. The same company also offers a hosted developer environment in the form of RhoHub as well as a standalone server, keeping app data current, in RhoSync.

 

WidgetPad

Another web-based platform used for developing cross-platform mobile software. Using standard Web technologies such as JavaScript, HTML and CSS, the program is a collaborative open-source environment. The platform also includes great project management, source code-editing, versioning, debugging and distribution features, and works on most operating systems such as Android and iOS.

 

The tremendous growth in cross-platform development is showing no signs of slowing down as devices get more varied. While cross-platform apps, in some cases, fall short when compared to the UX provided by specific platform apps, they are a practical choice for developers who want apps that have a wider reach. 

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