Cross Platform Tools

appcelerator.gifMany people come to me and ask my opinion of cross platform tools. They want a magic tool that can create their app for multiple platforms. While I have used PhoneGap for a few projects, I tend to dissuade clients from using cross-platform tools because the end app is likely to be less polished than an app developed using the official SDKs and there’s the problem of what happens if the tool vendor shuts shop or gets bought out. This happened a while back when AppForge was purchased by Oracle and existing developers hit a dead end.

People also ask me about Titanium of which I know very little. However, there’s a very recent post by Tanner Burson who recounts his experiences with Titanium and some of the problems. The post comments from other developers seem to confirm the issues.

The main problems with these kinds of tool are…

  • They don’t provide the full platform look and feel nor the required platform programming idioms
  • They are continually playing catch-up with the official SDKs
  • The IDEs are under-developed due to lack of time/resource
  • The documentation is usually lacking and what’s there soon becomes out of date
I suppose the main problem is that the tools themselves need huge resources to develop and maintain.