Hybrid app development in 2018

Hybrid app development in 2018

Since 2014, ZOOModsPlus' parent agency have been developing custom built Mobile Apps for clients. During this time we have gathered so much experience and learned so many new skills. The experience helped us look beyond the Joomla space and even the PHP space and into modern JavaScript frameworks.

In feeling our way around the mobile app space, we discovered Hybrid apps.

Back in 2013, I built a cross platform HTML5 style app that existed as a website and I had used a really early version of Cordova/Phone Gap to create the iOS app.

It was extremely basic and, given the limitations of the tech back then, it was not very responsive or engaging and a mile off the native experience.

Fast-forward to 2018 and the hybrid app ecosystem is very different. Cordova has matured and we now have extremely advanced frontend frameworks like Angular and React that help make web app development easier - essentially allowing web developers to achieve more with less.

Our specialism is with Angular.

Back in 2013 this was known as AngularJS and it was a powerful way to do HTML manipulation - much better in my humble opinion than jQuery which had become ubiquitous across the web in those days. The framework allowed us to do things like “if” blocks and “foreach” blocks in real time using 2 way data binding, allowing better user interaction with the webpage.

In terms of creating native mobile apps, the Ionic Framework - which used AngularJS as its underlying framework was the obvious choice for creating native-like interfaces.

The first hybrid app we ever produced for a client used Ionic 1 and AngularJS, all wrapped up with Cradova and sent to the App Stores. It was beautiful watching our web developers work on one single code base and delivering that code to both major App stores, the Apple Store and the Google Play store. But the most satisfying thing about the entire process was that we were leveraging our current skills base - that is web development - to deliver on the native platforms. At last the walled garden of the native app space was opening up to us.

Since then we have some massive strides forward in the Hybrid app world. The main advancement is the development of PWA’s, but I’ll talk about this later. For us the big advancements have come with the development of TypeScript and ES6+, coupled with the release of Angular (note the dropped “JS” at the end of the name, this is because AngularJS and Angular are two different frameworks.)

Angular and Typescript has allowed web developers to build massively interactive and reactive web apps while keeping code in an OOP style. Since these advancements, Hybrid app performance has improved measurably.

Added to that - the Angular plugin ecosystem is brimming with fantastic open source development.

We also have Ionic v4 on the horizon. We’ve already released and app on the app stores that uses the BETA version of Ionic 4. We rarely use beta in production but since the underlying Angular 6 is stable, we felt safe delivering the app in its current form. We have no idea when Ionic 4 will come out of beta but given the speed of their development I can see this happening quite soon.

And now we have some alternatives to Cordova emerging… the team behind Ionic have released Capacitor, a new way of bridging your web code to the native platform. It’s exciting to see the Ionic team develop this product and it’s also reassuring that we may be able to use some plugins that have official support.

Although it has not been discussed as part of the release of Capacitor, I have nothing against the Ionic Team making some of the plugins part of their paid ecosystem. As an agency I would prefer to have supported, well developed plugins from a reliable development team, than having to develop a bespoke solution inhouse or worse, taking a chance on some unsupported code from GitHub.

So that’s the state of Hybrid App development in 2018 as we see it.

If you want to know more about the types of Mobile Apps ZooModsPlus could develop for your business, why not get in touch with us to discuss.

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