What, precisely, do we mean by native app development? What is a native user experience or native developer experience? What are the pros of native app development? Why has Native Windows development come storming back on center stage and become such a hot topic?
We want to briefly talk about native app development and explain why you should get in with the In Crowd.
What is a native app?
Native applications are not only defined by the look and feel or fonts. Yes, if you follow these UI guidelines, it looks great and smooth. But if your app is running on Windows, it should behave like other native Windows applications, and if it is another platform, for example Android, it should behave like Android apps. The app needs to look visually cultivated it also needs to keep up with the users’ expectations of how it should behave and contain certain core functionality. It is a problem if it does not behave like the other apps, doesn’t comply with widely established system behaviors, or does not give the performance they need. Native apps are not just about look and feel, they need to be an all-round, first-class good citizen of the operating system environment.
Native user interface controls achieve compliance and help meet the users’ expectations because they follow the system and behave as it should be, largely by allowing the operating system to enable their functionality with minimal additional code on top. For instance, in our case, standard Win32 UI controls, like how they react to clicks and animations and how the shadows and fonts behave when there is a window resizing. We need this because users have subconscious anticipations – “muscle memory” – from the application. If it resizes and animates differently, you risk losing a star in an online review or, perhaps worse, having your application uninstalled and your reputation permanently dented which in turns creates a barrier to the adoption and success of any future applications you might develop.
What other benefits are there to using native components in our applications?
Now let’s see another side of native applications. Except for these UI/UX, native applications also utilize system functions and hardware technologies present on the target system or device. Native applications can access this hardware directly, which gives much higher performance than apps which use layers of abstraction and support code to achieve similar but inferior functionality.
To really create native applications for Windows, your selected development tool should allow you to utilize the system-defined UI controls and libraries. For instance, Delphi with the Visual Component Library (VCL) is the easiest and most stable platform with maximum native power for Windows desktop app development.
What is native app development?
Now you know the meaning and benefits of native applications. The development process of native applications starts with selecting the proper framework or library.
More than two decades ago, there was not much abstraction, variety, or choice of code libraries because the standard operating system APIs were basic and easy to work with them directly. This is no longer the case. Currently, we have Visual Component Library, FireMonkey, Universal Windows Platform, Window Forms, and others. These frameworks and libraries are handy because they have implemented layers of abstraction but making the right choice means picking ones which have a light touch without weighing down the app with unnecessary code or interfering with the users’ experience.
Delphi‘s stable and popular VCL (Visual Component Library) is well designed and gives you high productivity while keeping the native APIs inside. Native code is what Delphi does at its best. Since this Delphi VCL utilizes core libraries, you won’t lose any new technologies while providing an authentic user experience in your Windows apps. Moreover, Delphi’s another award-winning FireMonkey (FMX) visual framework can be used to create cross-platform responsive user interfaces.
But we have other sets of technologies by Microsoft itself and other communities. For instance, Microsoft has been pushing all Windows desktop developers to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) since Windows 8. The idea is the ability to run the same application on a desktop PC, Windows phone, gaming console, and visor technology. But this technology has limited access to the underlying operating system and incompatible with the classic APIs. Besides, we can see that Microsoft itself is back to native apps with the rise of Windows App SDK. Moreover, newer technologies by Microsoft provide a way better experience to create native apps. However, it is still in preview mode, and our development tools, Delphi and C++ Builder, is already in the correct position for more than 25 years and have grown in many ways.
Windows App SDK is the future, bringing all technologies under one umbrella for developers to take advantage of all things.
Native applications or classic API-powered applications are here to stay. Delphi and C++ Builder, with their VCL and FMX frameworks, are the best ecosystem for building native Windows and cross-platform applications because, when you compare other visual frameworks that utilize the classic APIs, VCL has gotten more attention and improvements over these years. From additional UI controls to embedded WinRT and Reunion controls, from support for high DPI to UI styling, the VCL library has kept expanding at a much higher rate than competing native libraries.
Why not download a free trial copy of RAD Studio Delphi and try out its power and speed for native apps today?