MULTI-PLATFORM APPLICATIONS: HOW TO DEVELOP THEM IN HTML 5

MULTI-PLATFORM APPLICATIONS: HOW TO DEVELOP THEM IN HTML 5

When choosing the development for your application there is no one right option. It all depends on the type of app you want to create, the budget you have, and even the time frame you set for its launch (among many other factors!).

Multi-platform applications, for example, have a lower cost and a faster development: with a single code, they can be used in several operating systems. However, this type of development also has its limitations…

In this post, we talk about the characteristics of this type of application and their development using one of the most extended programming languages: HTML5.

What is a multiplatform application?

For those of you who have just arrived in the world of apps, the difference between native and multiplatform apps is the following.

  • Native applications are written in the language of each operating system. This means that each system (Android, iOS) will require different development.
  • Multi-platform applications have a single code that is interpreted and adjusted to the operating systems. We would say that they are practically synonymous with the web applications we have talked about on several occasions.

The development of multi-platform applications can be done in two different ways:

  • Using web development languages, such as HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. This code is then presented within a native container, the WebView. Applications created in this way are also known as hybrid applications.
  • Using native rendering tools. These serve as a bridge between the cross-platform code and the native components. This type of development is done with frameworks such as Xamarin, React Native, or Flutter.

One of the languages that precisely allows us to develop multiplatform HTML5. Let’s see a little more in-depth on what it is.

What exactly is HTML5?

HTML5 is a markup language that is used to structure and display content on the web. It provides support for advanced multimedia applications, including audio and video. It also allows you to modify the layout of a page and thus change its appearance.

In this sense, how can app developers take advantage of it? The expert will be able to program interactive apps with HMTL5 that will be seen through the browser of any device.

It is precisely HTML5 one of the most versatile languages for developing web applications and the most used when creating non-native apps.

Multiplatform programming in HTML5

First of all, we can point out that HTML5 is a very widespread programming language. In fact, it has become the standard for web programming since October 2014.

We will always find many resources about it. In addition, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) put its “Recommended” stamp on the fifth version of the language.

The novelty it has brought over previous versions of HTML and other languages is the native inclusion of video and audio and also implement responsive design automatically.

The importance of HTML5 and its use in multi-platform apps

We have already made it clear why the programming language is important worldwide and for an Android or iOS programmer. But do you know what features this language has to become one of the best options for programming multiplatform apps?

Let’s expose you to those advantages of using HTML5 when creating mobile applications.

  • Universality. That is, it works in all browsers, whether on mobile devices or from the traditional computer. The code is interpreted and displayed by any of the browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer).
  • Clearly audiovisual. Allows to include natively both audio and video. Commitment to display and include multimedia content in the creations.
  • Mobile friendly. One of the advantages of multi-platform app programming with HTML5 is that this language seeks to be responsive, adapting to the screen on which the content is displayed. That’s why it becomes perfect for creating websites that are going to be seen as applications (i.e. web apps). According to data from the analysis firm Vision Mobile, more than 50% of mobile applications use HTML5 along with JavaScript and CSS.
  • Open character. That is, anyone can modify, improve, expand, or invent new services on applications already developed.

For the most limited budgets, it is a good idea to first find out how much it costs to create an app. Or even to start with a beta of our business or mobile game start with an HTML5 version to see if it works and there is a market that can be a great saving.

Advantages and disadvantages of programming multiplatform apps

Despite everything we told you in the previous section, HTML5 does not always have to be the right choice for developing your application. We explain to you some advantages and disadvantages so you can decide on the criterion.

Advantages of programming multiplatform apps with HTML5

Why do many companies decide to go for multi-platform development instead of native development? Here are some reasons.

  • More widespread development language. Both HTML5 and JavaScript are programming languages that many web developers will be familiar with. The web programmer can use his experience to get into multi-platform app development very quickly and easily.
  • Fewer resources, less cost. You don’t need double or triple the resources to make the same app on Android, iOs, and Windows Phone. This in turn makes the final development less expensive.
  • Consistency of the user interface (UI). The look & feel of the app will be uniform across the different devices where it is used.
  • Faster launch. The app depends on a single development, so it is easier to adjust the deadlines.

Disadvantages of programming multi-platform apps with HTML5

If any of these issues seem critical to you, native development may be the best option for your application.

  • Slowing down the app.
  • Access to device hardware limited to available plugins.
  • The time investment to validate the operation on each platform. Even if you make sure that the app will work automatically on any platform, this is not entirely true. In practice, you have to check the development on all platforms and make sure that it looks good on one platform and works on the others as well. In addition, every time an update is published for one of the operating systems, the application must be updated and it must be checked again to ensure that it will run correctly on any device.

However, REMEMBER that even if the applications are multiplatform, an APK (Android Package) or IPA (iOS App Store Package) must be generated to be readable and displayed on mobile devices. That is why we will need the SDK (Software Development Kit) for each platform.

Tools for multiplatform development

The most used tools for programming in HTML5 to program multi-platform apps, such as WebView, are those presented below:

  • Apache Cordova. A framework for the development of mobile applications owned by Adobe Systems that allows programmers to develop applications for mobile devices using generic web tools such as JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3, resulting in hybrid applications.
  • AngularJS. An open-source JavaScript framework, maintained by Google, used to create and maintain single-page web applications.
  • Ionic. A free, open-source tool for creating hybrid applications based on HTML5, CSS, and JS. It is built with Sass and optimized with AngularJS.

Although the quality of this type of application is not the optimal one that we can find in native development, it works very well for small and medium projects that do not need very high performance or too many functionalities.

In fact, the first Facebook application was developed with this type of technology until it decided to program native apps.

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