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Mobile: Cross-Platform toolkits

Yesterday I attended an event from Thoughtworks – Thoughtworks Technology Radar. Thoughtworks Technology Radar has positioned Cross-Platform toolkits for mobile development in the ‘Hold: Proceed with caution’ ring. Around an year ago Martin Fowler wrote about Cross-Platform toolkits for mobile development here.

Fowler’s conclusions in his bliki entry 


  • Don’t use cross-platform toolkits
  • For maximum reach: built a web app that looks like web app
  • To appeal to a particular platform: build a native app for that platform, with a experience design based on that platforms interaction style

In the footnote he highlighted a scenario where using a cross-platform toolkit may be valid –

Use a cross-platform toolkit – but you write a different app, with a different experience design, for each platform you build for. The gain over doing this with native code is that you have a single platform for your developers to use and can get some reuse of common code (particularly non-UI code)

I recently read a comprehensive study of Cross-Platform Developer Tools 2012 – Bridging the worlds of mobile apps and the web (VisionMobile The Clash of Ecosystems report). This what they had to say:

The outlook for cross-platform tools

  • Cross-platform tools will evolve from productivity tools for developers to strategic assets in the battle of ecosystems
  • As the platform landscape remains fragmented for the foreseeable future, cross-platform tools will become “business as usual” for most mobile developers
  • Cross-platform tools vendors will differentiate by reaching across the app lifecycle
  • Specialisation and segmentation in cross-platform tools
  1. Games
  2. enterprise
  3. media apps
  • Cross-platform tools will be complementary to native SDKs, providing effective solutions for developers making less demanding apps that can perform well while not having access to bleeding edge features
  • Cross-platform tools are taking HTML further than web browsers can, by unifying the authoring side, rather than the runtime side of the app
  • Component marketplaces becoming an essential feature of successful cross-platform tools
  • Cross-platform tools allow developers to reach platforms they otherwise could not. CPTs lower entry barriers, for example allowing web developers to create native smartphone apps using only HTML and JavaScript. They can provide easy-to-use languages and development tools, and facilitate modular development and software component reuse. The result could be termed a “democratization” of software development
  • The next frontier for cross-platform tools – and the next major point of vendor differentiation – will be catering to multiple screens


I am towards VisionMobile report’s outlook and the footnote from Fowler. Interesting to wait and watch who will be right here.

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