As a methodology for software development, cross platform applications development has been rapidly gaining traction – and for good reasons too. Putting it simply, cross-platform development means developing software that will work across multiple platforms and types of devices. Unlike traditional frameworks that limit your application to a specific type of device or operating system, cross-platform applications can function almost anywhere, certainly on the most popular and recent equipment.
However, we’ve only covered the tip of the iceberg regarding cross-platform app development. So, what are the options? When it comes to cross-platform development frameworks, there are a few options available – yet not all of them are created equal. Some are better suited for certain types of applications than others.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the most popular cross-platform development frameworks and see which ones might be the best fit for your project.
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Single Platform vs. Cross platform applications development – how do they differ?
In the world of applications and software development, there are two main types of development frameworks: those that allow you to develop native, vertical, single target applications and those that will enable you to create cross-platform apps which will target multiple devices and operating systems from the same code base.
As mentioned above, native vertical single target applications are specific to a particular individual operating system. Namely, they are written in the language and framework “native” to that operating system.
Cross-platform applications, on the other hand, are not tied to any one operating system. They can be run on multiple platforms with little or no modification. The code for cross-platform applications is usually written in a language that can be compiled into bytecode or interpreted by a virtual machine. As long as the code can be correctly interpreted and translated into bytecode, any device that has a processor can work with it. This additional layer of interpreter can add a significant overhead in terms of memory and processing speed. Also, the byte code runtime often doesn’t give full access to the device’s sensors and hardware since it is a ‘one size fits all’ approach which compromises on low level accessibility in exchange for ease of development and deployment.
However, some cross-platform frameworks are available which do not use this additional interpretative layer but instead compile down into native binaries. One such system is RAD Studio Delphi which allows you to have all the benefits of writing a single set of source code yet produce fully native applications which embrace the full power and range of capabilities of the operating system and hardware of the device on which the apps are running. RAD Studio offers two main development frameworks – VCL, which is aimed at Windows, and FireMonkey FMX.
So, which type of development frameworks should you use? Well, there is no 100% correct answer, as it really depends on your needs. If you need to develop an application with RAD Studio that will run on multiple platforms, then a cross-platform framework is definitely the way to go and FireMonkey FMX makes a lot of sense. However, if you definitely only need to build an application for a single platform the VCL Windows native framework might be a good choice as it brings with it some specific benefits for Windows application development.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular device-native and cross-platform development frameworks.
What sort of cross-Platform application development frameworks are available?
There are a number of different cross-platform development frameworks available. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Delphi FireMonkey (FMX)
- Apache Cordova
- Ionic Framework
- React Native
If you decide to go with a device-native framework (one which can only produce apps for a single range of operating system and devices), then you might decide to choose one that is specific to the operating system you want to target. Here are some of the most popular device-native frameworks:
- Windows: Delphi’s VCL, WinForms, WPF (UWP is depreciated)
- iOS: SwiftUI, UIKit
- Android: Kotlin, Java
- macOS: Cocoa, SwiftUI
What are the advantages of cross platform applications development?
There are a number of advantages to using cross-platform app development frameworks, including:
- Increased efficiency: When you use cross-platform development frameworks, you can efficiently reuse parts of the code across multiple platforms. This means that you can develop your application much faster and with less effort overall.
- Cost savings: Cross-platform app development can save you money because you don’t need to develop separate versions of your application for each platform.
- Greater reach: You can reach a significantly larger audience with your application by targeting multiple platforms.
- Easier maintenance: Since cross-platform applications use a single codebase, they are easier to maintain than native applications.
What are the challenges of cross-platform application development?
Even though cross-platform app development has considerable advantages, there are also some challenges that need to be considered.
- Varied Performance: Cross-platform apps need to run on a variety of different platforms, each with its own set of hardware & software requirements. This can lead to performance that is different from a device-native framework. if performance is a particular concern, then choosing something like RAD Studio Delphi makes a lot of sense since it compiles the target app down to device-native code which runs at the fastest possible speed of the device because it has no interpreter layer unlike some of the other possible choices.
- Device specific features: Since these apps need to be able to work across multiple platforms, some features might be limited. This is due to a simple reason – not all features are available on all platforms. Thankfully, it’s easy to find a workaround for this problem, as the developers can make specific features available for specific devices. Choose the cross-platform framework carefully so that you’re getting the best possible experience with the fewest possible compromises.
Despite these occasional challenges, cross-platform development frameworks are still growing in popularity and are becoming the top choice for many businesses and organizations looking to release apps. This is because the advantages almost always outweigh the disadvantages, especially when it comes to cost and time savings.
Why you should use Delphi for cross-platform application development
If you’re looking for a cross-platform development framework that is both powerful and easy to use, Delphi is definitely worth considering due to its several clear advantages over other potential choices. It is a rapid application development tool that can be used to develop cross-platform applications with a native look and feel.
Keep in mind that Delphi has a history in native development too, since Delphi’s VCL is an extremely successful and stable native framework for Windows that has been around for many years. Since it already has a native VCL, in addition to supporting development on other platforms (like FireMonkey for Android, iOS, and macOS), RAD Studio Delphi truly offers the best of both worlds.
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What are the advantages of using Delphi for cross platform applications development?
There are many advantages to using Delphi for cross-platform app development, including:
- RAD Studio Delphi has best in class visual design tools: With its visual design tools – something which has always been an immensely powerful feature, Delphi makes it easy to create beautiful cross-platform applications with an overall native look and feel.
- RAD Studio is intuitively easy to use, and Delphi is extremely quick to learn for all levels of software developer: One of the most significant advantages of Delphi is that it is extremely easy to use – even for beginners. The learning curve is relatively shallow, and you can start developing powerful cross-platform applications quickly.
- Delphi is superbly powerful: Despite its ease of use, Delphi is a potent cross-platform development tool. It includes everything you need to create professional cross-platform applications with almost legendary stability and longevity.
- RAD Studio Delphi has full support for all major device and operating platforms and devices: Delphi can be used to develop applications for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
- RAD Studio is a scalable modern IDE complete with all the professional features you need: Delphi is ever-evolving, and it always keeps up with the latest trends. With it, you can add new features directly to your IDE and start using them from the moment they hit the market.
Are you ready to take your cross-platform application development to the next level?
Now that you’ve understood the reasons why RAD Studio Delphi’s FMX is becoming a leader in the world of cross-platform application development, it’s time to embrace everything it has to offer and use its full potential. The team behind Delphi and RAD Studio has a lot of history in native development too – Delphi VCL has been a great native framework for Windows for many years, producing apps which are extremely stable (running for years in some cases) and highly resistant to changes such as Windows security patches and even complete operating systems upgrades. Your Delphi programs don’t suddenly break down just because a new version of the .Net runtimes got installed or a piece of open-source software silently changed the version of Python; Delphi programs are loved for their robustness and lack of pre-requisites.
Why use an IDE which can only create vertical single device and operating systems when you can utilize the full potential of cross-platform development frameworks with RAD Studio Delphi and create your apps for every platform and operating system form a single code base? Delphi’s FireMonkey offers almost everything you’ll need in development. Take your development to the next level, download Delphi and get started today.