Cross-platform mobile application development and Sencha Touch

Cross-platform mobile application development and Sencha Touch

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Developing and maintaining mobile applications for different platforms could be really challenging. If we originally wrote our code for a Windows mobile device using Silverlight and Visual Studio for example, that application won’t work on any other phone or tablet outside the Windows mobile family. In order to make that application work on an iPhone or iPad, the code would need to be rewritten using Objective C and xCode, which are the language and tool required for building mobile application for iOS devices.In an ideal world, we would be able to write our code once, and then build and compile our application for the mobile framework of our choice without getting into too much trouble.
Even though having a unique programming language that would allow us to write native applications for all the existing mobile frameworks is still a dream, and also not likely to happen any time soon, there are some alternatives that have just started to be mature enough to be seriously considered by the end-consumer and corporate sector as plausible solutions. Yes, I am talking about combining HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript to create web-based applications that can be converted to native code and would run on our mobile devices just as any another app downloaded from the applications store. But how is this possible? Basically, there are two key components that allow this to happen. First, is the new HTML5 web standard (still under development but stable enough already) that natively supports canvas elements, offline storage, drag and drop, geolocation, file manipulation, among other useful features accessible through new APIs that overhaul the whole concept of standard HTML. The other key element is the tool that makes possibleaccessing local resources in devices such as GPS, accelerometer, etc, and building a compiled version of the application for the mobile operating system of our choice (for example Phonegap).

There are already some Javascript frameworks specifically intended for mobile devices that can help developers creating cross-platform applications that look very similar to those that are built using native SDKs. There are obviously some limitations in using this approach if you were to develop OpenGL games, but for standard enterprise, entertainment, and general purpose applications, it will work just fine.

One of the most complete and personally one of my favorite Javascript frameworks for mobile devices is Sencha Touch, which provides very responsive native-like controls, data package, and MVC support. It also works very well with Phonegap, making it one of the best choices for creating mobile-friendly web-based applications as well as native HTML5/CSS3/Javascript mobile applications.

Here are some other popular mobile Javascript frameworks that you can try:

– jQuery Mobile

– jQTouch

– iWebkit

– DynamicX

– Wink ToolKit