Barely a day goes by without me receiving a press release on yet another mobile app generator or framework. The frameworks tend to be more interesting for me as they allow developers to do more. Today I came across a useful mobile framework comparison chart. Although it currently only maps platforms to frameworks, it’s already getting very complex. However, what’s really needed is a framework feature comparison.
Frameworks are a highly competitive area at the moment. No one framework does everything (or even covers a significant number of features across all platforms) so there is still a lot of opportunity and competition in this area. In fact, it might be said that no framework will ever be complete because the underlying mobile platforms are themselves changing over time.
One problem for developers is what happens when frameworks mature and uncompetitive platforms disappear. Many of the frameworks are VC funded and will be found to be either not financially viable or will have to start making a profit. Some developers will find they can’t use their chosen framework any more while others, using popular frameworks, will find they are tied into a technology with increasing prices… much like Google app engine is currently doing in the web app world.
In some ways, these frameworks can be seen as both bridging a development gap between platforms and also making up for the deficiencies of mobile web (HTML5) apps. Web apps are a contender to replace frameworks in the longer term but, I believe, not without some kind of disruptive occurence that aligns the people working on web browsers, platforms and devices. Without this disruptive occurence, fragmentation of capabilities will severely inhibit the potential of mobile web apps. Frameworks might continue to be needed to resolve differences between browsers, platforms and devices.