This blog post is contributed by Marco Metting, an IT-Specialist for IBM Software Services for Mobile and IBM Redbooks thought leader.
While web content could be written from scratch for every mobile app, developers usually use frameworks or libraries with pre-implemented functionality to reach development goals more efficiently. Such frameworks include, for example, jQuery Mobile, Dojo and Sencha Touch.
The usage of pre-implemented components can offer the following benefits:
Provides usable and elaborate components to reduce development effort
Motivates the use of design patterns and best practices to support developers with already existing experience
Facilitates the development of apps in standardized ways
Structures the development process
Mobile applications in business environments have to look professional as they represent the company. The produced UI frameworks should be smooth and without flaws.
The more a web application looks like a native application, the more users expect it to feel native as well. Performance and user experience are therefore important factors for the applications created with the frameworks.
In contrast to regular applications, mobile applications are controlled directly by human hands. For this reason, it’s important that UI controls are large enough for physical interaction.
The documentation of a framework directly influences how fast specific results can be achieved and of what quality they are.
Additional documentation (for example, tutorials and books) makes it easier for developers to get started with the product and learn how specific targets are reached. Therefore, good reference documentation is extremely important.
Efficient development with a library can be improved by the use of development tools like graphical user interface (GUI) builders. The existence and maturity of such tools will streamline your development efforts.
The amount of written code is a good measure for the usability of such a library. Less custom code is an indicator for efficient development.
Maturity is an important general criterion for software quality and has special influence on the acceptance of products. The number of known real-life projects using the library can be seen as an indirect measure of its acceptance by other developers and companies.
A big user community is an additional indicator for the acceptance. It can provide fast support in case of challenges that are not covered in the regular documentation.
Users of mobile applications expect those apps to be immediately usable. The startup time of the whole application is therefore a valid criterion.
The Document Object Model (DOM) size influences the performance of web content, especially on mobile devices with limited resources.
Developers will have to develop custom widgets to compensate for missing functionality and to differentiate their applications from the competition. How easy it is to develop custom components is therefore a good factor for the extensibility and maintainability of a specific framework.
The main motivation for web and hybrid development is platform independence. The way in which a framework behaves on different platforms is therefore key.
Providing pleasant UIs across platforms
Using limited resources of mobile devices
Supporting developers with a structured MVC system
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