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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Please recommend a tool to develop a mobile app

Hi guys,

I am looking for a development tool to develop a mobile app targeting iOS and Android. I would prefer to:

- Target both platforms with the same code base,
- Uses a language where strong typing is possible,
- Something that has proper IDE with debugging, code completion, etc.
- Ability to target other platforms (PC, Mac) would be a big plus.

It looks like everyone is using HTML/CSS/JavaScript these days for the job but coming from C++ background I am very unproductive in JavaScript and cannot imagine using it for anything large-scale.

I know there is Adobe AIR that satisfies all the above but I do not trust Adobe anymore after they ditched Flex and discontinued Flash Player on Android.

The app will be major product that will exist for years so a tool from a vendor with demonstrated commitment to release future updates is desired.

What are my options?
B2B Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
You should apply for a marketing gig at http://xamarin.com
Magnus J Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Not sure what do you imply. xamarin looks interesting but pricey.
B2B Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Not implying anything other than the fact that your requirements aligns pretty well with their products has to offer. Well, except you forgot to mention that it should be (close to) free...
Magnus J Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
OK, I think I misread your first reply.

I am not looking for free, I am looking for reasonable prices. I pay $429/year for Visual Studio + Windows licenses for the whole company (team of 4 developers).

Compared to that xamarin is pricey (I'd choose "Business" for VS support and $999*4  per year is too much).
B2B Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
+1 for Xamarin. Agree that it's a little pricey, maybe you can talk to them if you can't afford it. I've heard that they are really nice people.
edddy Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
> Compared to that xamarin is pricey (I'd choose "Business" for VS support and $999*4  per year is too much).

Also note that the $999 price is per platform. So for iOS + Android, double it.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Nicholas, I did not notice that initially. That makes it way too expensive and rules out Xamarin completely for me.

Does anyone have experience with GWT? It looks like there is a mobile widgets addon for it: mgwt. It seems to be endorsed by GWT: http://googlewebtoolkit.blogspot.com/2012/07/gwt-support-for-mobile-app-development.html
B2B Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Isn't Qt 5 now targeting mobile platforms?
Kevin Walzer Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Kevin Walzer Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Well, if you go for indie plan, which does include everything you initially asked for (i.e. IDE in the form of Xamarin Studio), it's $300 per platform, so $600*4 for 2 platforms.

I wonder, though, where do you get your developers from.

In US 4 devs would cost $400k per year, and in Silicon Valley that's on the cheap side.

At that scale "saving" $4k by not buying a tool that will make your developers productive is rather poor business sense.

I know available tools in that space - there's nothing else that comes even close to being as good as Xamarin.

Like you said, most other tools are targeting lowest common denominator i.e. HTML wrapped in a thin native wrapper.

And as Facebook learned, it's just not good enough for many kinds of apps and once you hit perf issues, you'll end up rewriting the app in native code (https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/under-the-hood-rebuilding-facebook-for-ios/10151036091753920)
Krzysztof Kowalczyk Send private email
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
@Krzysztof - here's an interesting rebuttal of the Facebook performance issue by Sencha.


Of course they would say that but i still found it fascinating reading.

Personally I do use Sencha stuff (GWT / GXT). Unfortunately AFAIK they don't seem to be pushing their GWT library into the mobile space. At least there's no specific support. I'd love it if they did that.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Vendors will always say that their stuff is fast enough/flexible enough.  And then they do a demo which gives a solution that you would have to be expert to implement. How many developers do you think could implement the "Sandbox container"? Or they change the problem (too much data being sent, write a proxy server) to better fit their solution. Now that change might make sense (Is that extra data just a waste or does it make other things faster) but it rapidly means you are testing which developers are smarter than the others. If average coders get the same results as expert coders with another, what does that mean?

The other thing to consider is that the app they created was useless for a comercial product like facebook. They use webworker threads to improve responsiveness. Sounds great. But that app will not run on iOS 4.x or any android version after  2.1. In 2011, that made this app useless. In 2013, the app is still useless for half of the mobile market. If the next version of Android supports it, it will still be useless for 25% of the general market in 2015.  Almost 50% of android users are still running gingerbread versions 2 years after it's release. That is a lot of users to write off.

There are a lot of nice things about using products like Sencha. The problem with all of them (and this has been true for 20+ years) is that you don't discover the limitations until you are 95% of the way through the product and then working around them can be a total nightmare. For some projects you never hit the limitations and you will rave about how much time was saved. On the ones that you hit the limitations, you will swear about how bad the tool was.
Foobar Send private email
Thursday, March 14, 2013
They accept payments with Bitcoin, really interesting!

Don't forget that if you are developing for two platforms, Xamarin makes that pretty cheap. You just buy another license instead of building again.
Abid Omar Send private email
Saturday, March 16, 2013

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