Current "Best" Cross-Platform Mobil App Development Tools

I’m wondering, based on experience with of these people would recommend for mobile app development. (Please mention which of these you actually have experience using.)

I’m an “old school” developer and am proficient in PHP/PERL, HTML, CSS and Javascript. I don’t have time to learn a new language like C# but I would spend the time pickup up RUBY (or maybe Java) if enough benefit was there in the associated mobile app development tool.

I want as close to native as possible with 90%+ cross-platform solution, meaning, 5-10% of the source code may differ due to differences in platform. I will only be developing for Android and IOS (sorry Windows) but may develop for Windows Down the road. Some apps I may develop may be enterprise class that need to get remote data from SQL Server, etc. I have done research and narrowed down my selection and am looking for further insight from those that have actually used these tools. Things that are also important to me include:

  • Low cost (I can’t afford to pay $100+ a month in fees)
  • Good/Large Developer Community
  • Good Support from Maker (good roadmap with improvements, bug fixes frequent, etc.)

PhoneGap - This seems like the most popular but it sounds like the “quickest” route for most web developers that are familiar with HTML and Javascript/CSS but to me it sounds like I might want something that is closer to native being that my primary core knowledge has always been as a coder first, and a web developer/designer second.

Appcellerator Titanium - This seems like the other most popular tool that claims to compile so the app uses the devices native controls (via Titanium API) instead of essentially an HTML page masquarading as an app (like PhoneGap) My gut says this one suits my situation better than Phonegap. Why do people use PhoneGap instead of this, because it’s easier for non-programmers?

RhoMobile Rhodes - I am wondering how this compares to the two above assuming I learn RUBY on Rails.

Telerik Icenium (now called AppBuilder) - This one I have found the least discussion about.

It seems most everyone (that isn’t doing native) is using PhoneGap or Titanium and the second two are lesser known so I’m having a hard time finding people that has at least some brief experience using all four of these.

Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Hi! I can’t really make a recommendation as I’ve only ever used PhoneGap for client work but I do have some general comments.

TL:DR - Use PhoneGap and launch something by next month. If it sticks, then consider another platform.

First, you have to ask yourself three questions:

  • What do I know?
  • What features do I need to go into beta?
  • What features will I need before I hit version 2?

What do I know?
Regardless of your end goal (to form a business out of your app vs building apps for specific uses/users), you won’t personally be developing your app entirely by yourself forever. Either you’ll start a company and hire other developers to maintain/update it, sell it, or you’re building it for a client. The point is the codebase you build today will not be the same tomorrow.

In the end, whether you build it in JavaScript, Ruby, or Klingon doesn’t matter. What does matter is what you know right now, and how can you get from nothing to beta in the quickest way possible.

Does it really matter if it’s native. I mean, does it REALLY matter? In some cases it does: building games, crunching data quickly, or leveraging very specific, low-level hardware are things you’ll absolutely want to do natively. For almost everything else, it doesn’t. Honestly.

In your case you know JavaScript, and you’re a developer not a designer (an old school one to boot), so you probably care more about functionality vs design. That’s great because it means you have both the skillset and mindset needed to build a functional prototype this weekend without stressing on pixel-perfection which holds back a lot more people than you would think.

What features do I need to go into beta?
Beta. This is the phase when you start gaining a following. When you start building excitement, both internally with yourself and externally with your followers. Here’s the skinny, most projects don’t even make it to beta - they die somewhere between conception and launch (or in my case the client leaves).

If all you need is access to external API’s and some common features like accelerometers or the notifications API then those frameworks will do more than fine.

Make a list of features that you need to go beta (where you start actually testing on a physical device or pitching to investors) and compare which frameworks do the job.

What features do I need before I hit V2
After you’re app is already in the store, what remaining features would you like to include? Again, make sure you’re framework supports it - and don’t just say everything. Seriously think about it. If you’re building a calendar app you probably don’t need a holographic projector, so don’t go with a framework just because it can project Princess Leia (however enticing that may be).

By the time you hit V2, unless you’ve done some serious planning, your codebase will be significantly different from when you started. As well it should since you’ll have been adapting to your clients or users. Not only that, by this point you’ll likely have other developers (assuming its a large app), and whether you learn Ruby today just to be more native - in the long run - doesn’t matter.

OMG I feel like I just ran a marathon writing this. I don’t know why I felt so compelled to write that much haha

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Hi Consultant,

You can create free app using

  1. you can search Youtube video for it.
  2. you can search blog, article, and design tips from search engines.

Once you done, you can save .apk file and upload to Google play.
NO Monthly fee :smiley:

Yes, OMG is right for staring out " I can’t really make a recommendation as I’ve only ever used PhoneGap" and then writing all that. I appreciate though. At least SOMEONE took the time to take a stab at an answer. I get all that your saying. It really depends on the specifics of the application to determine if something that compiles to a more native app is necessary or not. But if I have limited time to learn a new dev framework, I’d rather spend a little (not a lot) extra time to learn something that will work for a larger variety of circumstance as opposed to just get something done as quick as possible. I swear 1 out of 3 people of everyone I know has an idea to make “millions” on their app idea and they ask me how hard it is to do. Hence you have the majority of the population opting for the quickest/easiest route (PhoneGap)

You yourself said regarding native, “does it REALLY matter? In some cases it does…” For someone with a programming background I’m willing to take the more robust route at the cost of a bit steeper learning curve as I can handle that. But if all I knew was HTML and CSS and basic Javascript, and didn’t have the desire to learn PHP or RUBY, I’d definitely go the PhoneGap route.

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