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Understanding cross platform app development

February 21st, 2024

4 min read

The steps of cross platform app development shown with Android icons, a phone interface, and iOS icons

Written by

Joe Robinson

Category

Developer Insights

There’s controversy surrounding cross platform app development. What incites the controversy and debate, is whether cross platform frameworks save development time or not, and if the language frameworks used are too obtuse to learn…It can be a lot to sift through and process.

That’s why some insight into the essentials of cross platform app development can help. Everyone joining in the discussion can be on the same page, with the same understanding of cross platform app development. And that’s what you’ll find in this article.

At Tiny, alongside our TinyMCE rich text editor ongoing expansion, we’re always looking for new ways to help our community. This new guide gives a cross platform app development overview to help you get unstuck in your cross platform app development plans.

What is cross platform app development?

Cross platform app development is a development pattern that allows you to create a project that works on multiple, separate mobile operating systems. The deployment flow takes the shared core, and processes it with compiler directives or similar behavior, while a cross platform framework enables or disables code sections specifically for Android or IOS publishing.

The principle behind cross platform app development is reduced burden. 

Mobile developers often have to carry the burden of writing the same logic twice (or more) in order to support iOS, Android, and other platforms (although it’s less and less common since cross platform frameworks matured, becoming more stable.)

Cross platform app development puts this reduced burden benefit into action with a few, specific design choices – the reusable core, for instance.

Cross platform app development benefits

Depending on your project complexity and requirements, you can successfully finish your app using cross platform app development without too many blockers.

A business benefit of this approach is reduced time between the idea and development stage, and the market launch of your app. Another benefit is audience size, because launching on two or more platforms gives you a larger group of people to connect with your app.

✏️NOTE: A larger audience size could also see an increase in the complexity of your support requests, with bugs and errors that are unique to each system. This is one reason why a sequential development pathway, begining with one device operating system, and then eventually expanding to the other, is sometimes selected over cross platform app development.

Cross platform app’s reusable core

Despite mobile development having two distinct development environments, cross platform app development usually starts with a reusable core for the project. 

Three essential parts of the application can be included in the core:

  1. The business logic layer
  2. The data layer
  3. Any back-end communication scripts

The views of how the front end of your application looks, can change based on platform. Therefore, this makes any view-related code unsuitable for adding to the core project. The framework you choose then connects the core with the specific Operating System view, as well as other logic to finish publishing your app.

Cross platform mobile development options

Before you jump on the cross platform mobile development train, it’s definitely worth checking  your project plan and goals, and confirming if they’re compatible with cross platform frameworks.

✏️NOTE: It’s easy to get stuck in controversial discussions around cross platform mobile development, and doom scroll through cross platform development opinions. Instead, focus on the bigger questions first before you start looking at the difficulties of Flutter’s Dart language vs. the React Native ecosystem.

Complexity: 

How complex is your planned application? As complexity increases, the likelihood that a cross platform app development framework cannot support your requirement increases.

Scale: 

How many customers do you need to scale to support? The more intense the performance levels involved are, the more difficult it may be, depending on your framework, to build scale into your project.

Operating System knowledge: 

How much knowledge do you have around running an application in a specific Operating System? Knowing exactly how an application optimized for a specific OS runs, and what it requires, can go a long way to helping you prepare a cross platform app development project.

Cross platform frameworks compared

Looking closely at the available cross platform frameworks can help to clarify which one fits your project needs:

Framework

Stack Overflow – % of professional developers using the framework

GitHub Forks

Languages

React Native

9.14%

24.2K

C++, Java,

JavaScript

Flutter

9.21%

26.9K

Dart

Ionic

3.33%

13.8K

TypeScript, HTML, SCSS, JavaScript

Cordova IOS

2.74%

998

JavaScript,

Objective-C

Cordova Android

2.74%

1.5K

JavaScript, Java

IMPORTANT: The Xamarin framework may currently have 3.61% of professional developers making use of it, based on Stack Overflow survey results, but end of support for Xamarin is approaching at the time of writing. The MS documentation provides a guide for migrating to .NET Multi-platform App UI (.NET MAUI), as a replacement for the framework.

Cross platform mobile development and TinyMCE

TinyMCE automatically detects the platform, and changes its appearance, switching to an optimal design for the customer. The TinyMCE mobile design is tested on the current or penultimate version of Android and IOS, as well as the default browser running on either platform. 

To ensure that web apps built with TinyMCE run on mobile devices, add the following tag to the HTML head section:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">

More on TinyMCE and frameworks

If you’re looking for more information on how TinyMCE works and integrates with different frameworks, or more on framework comparisons, the following guides can provide more support:

Contact us if you’d like to know more about how TinyMCE effortless customizability allows it to integrate easily into your projects.

DevelopersMobileEngineeringProduct Management
byJoe Robinson

Technical and creative writer, editor, and a TinyMCE advocate. An enthusiast for teamwork, open source software projects, and baking. Can often be found puzzling over obscure history, cryptic words, and lucid writing.

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