The times when there were only XCode and Eclipse with the ADT plugin to build mobile apps are long gone.
While XCode is still going strong and even got a new impulse because it is THE defacto tool for coding in Swift, The Android Developer Tools plugin has been canceled in favor of Google’s own Android Studio.
Nowadays, there are a lot of frameworks, tools, and platforms that developers can use for mobile development.
Just to name a few*:
*:The list isn’t complete and w didn’t even mention app building tools like eAppMachine for non-technical people.
All of the mentioned development solutions have different backgrounds, use different coding languages as basics and support a different set of tools and functionality.
What they DO have in common is that they enable developers to build mobile apps. And there are a couple advantages that these 3rd party app development tools have in common too.
Read about the advantages of 3rd party mobile development tools after the break.
Let’s be clear on one thing: building native applications with the original development tools gives you the most optimal access to core SDKs for the mobile platform you are targeting. The tools, coding language, and libraries have been all designed to work together.
Apple and Google have worked hard at giving people the optimal coding experience and it shows.
But that doesn’t take away the fact that building for a native platform using the native tools calls for a platform-specific expertise.
For the most of us, learning the basics for native development is something that you do in your spare time, or might be lucky enough to get to work on for that once-in-a-lifetime mobile project for your employer.
Mobile solutions often need to be delivered to both iOS and Android so they can reach a large audience. And hiring expertise on both ends tends to add up on salary very quickly.
Keeping that in mind, let’s look at some of the advantages that 3rd party mobile app development tools have.
#1 Easy learning curve: reuse your existing skill set
Because of all the tools – and coding flavors that they bring along – it has become a valid option to choose a 3rd party solution because it lets you reuse your existing skills.
There are coding flavors for almost everyone to get started on.
Getting started quickly and reusing your skills are valid reasons to go 3rd party.
#2 Multi-platform support: target multiple platforms
Whether it is because of a company’s Choose Your Own policy for mobile devices, or because the targeted audience is divided over multiple platforms: more and more mobile solutions need to be targeted to both the iOS and Android platform. Sometimes even Windows devices need to be supported.
Most of the listed frameworks and tools in this article support the 2 main platforms iOS and Android. Xamarin, Ionic Framework and Cordova (PhoneGap) even support the Universal Windows Platform.
Do you need to create an app that rolls on multiple platforms? Then choosing a 3rd party development solution is worth the consideration
#3 Reusability: re-use (business)logic and functionality
With the listed frameworks, you’ll be developing in a single language and you can (re)use the same code for multiple platforms.
Depending on the development tools you choose and how you setup your project solution, you can increase the rate of shareable code over multiple platforms. That means less code to maintain and more ground to cover.
#4 Improved Code Quality
Because you use one language you can train developer(team)s to create a common knowledge and become experts of the building blocks and tools. Because of the reusability (see point 3) there is less code and thus less chance of making coding mistakes.
When you combine these advantages with a good coding architecture and apply the testing tools that apply to the language, you can really increase improvement
#5 Reducing cost
A team of developers that all code in the same language and with the same tools tends to be cheaper than a diverse team that includes a native iOS and Android developer. The origin, therefore, lies in the fact that the platform experts have different coding tools, expertise, and workflows.
Mobile platform experts, because they’re not as abundant as web developers, for instance, tend to charge more per hour.When your team is in symbiosis and can work on a generic workflow it often gets to improve their workflow, speed, and quality of code.
These are all factors that often reduce costs for the development process.
The overall team maturity can grow faster thus making this a valid consideration to start using 3rd party tools
3rd party tools are worth investigating
If one or more of the points are valid for your situation, using 3rd party mobile app development solutions is something you should really investigate. No matter if it is a decision you need to make for yourself, your team, or your company.
Be aware: these aren’t the only considerations that you’ll need to make! But that, dear reader, is a story for another article 🙂