Native Development vs. Cross-Platform Tools

Clutch spoke with Randall Cross, the CEO of Ethervision, about the comparison between native development tools and cross-platform development tools – an important consideration for anyone looking to develop an app using App Development Software.

Learn more about Ethervision on their Clutch profile or at ethervision.net.

Background

Can you provide a brief description of your company?

Ethervision makes mobile applications, websites, and content management systems. We work in enterprise and cloud, but our bread and butter is creating native mobile applications for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

What role do you play at Ethervision?

I'm the president.

Opportunity/Challenge

What was the business challenge your company was facing that initiated the need for this platform?

When Apple opened the iPhone and iPod Touch to outside development companies in 2008, there was only one choice for creating software: Apple's native toolset, which includes Xcode at the heart. In other words, if you wanted to create apps, then writing them in Xcode was the only game in town. It was the Wild West back then and a very few number of companies and developers like Ethervision were blazing the trail of this entirely new industry.

Solution

How does your company implement this platform or software?

We have been developing apps since the inception of the App Store and three of the first 50 apps were created by Ethervision. Because of this, we have always stayed within Apple's native Xcode environment. Xcode is made by Apple specifically to make native applications for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Within Xcode, you now can choose between Objective C or Apple's newest programming language Swift.

Except for games and 3D simulations, we exclusively utilize Apple's tools to ensure the best in performance, stability, and maintainability of an application.

Was your company considering other platforms? Why this platform?

It is important to understand the difference between developing an application using Apple's native tools vs. using a third party. In our opinion, third party tools such as PhoneGap, Sencha, and Xamarin are useful for creating prototypes, but the apps they produce are not ready for prime time. Most often larger programs feel laggy, almost like a web browser running on a slow internet connection. It is not uncommon to have a delay of several seconds when you push a button before something happens. There is attractiveness to their promise of "write once, run anywhere" but what you end up with is a product that feels mediocre at best.

Although it may be more difficult in the short term, developing with native tools offers the best bang for the buck in the long run. The applications that function the smoothest and interact most seamlessly on iOS devices are built in Xcode.

Besides performance, one real downfall of these tools is your absolute dependence on the third-party company to update quickly when Apple makes a change to iOS. If Apple makes a change that causes your app to start failing, your customers will be out of luck until your tool company does an update to match. Heaven forbid if PhoneGap or Sencha should go out of business, then your entire codebase becomes worthless.

On an annual or monthly basis, how much does your company spend to utilize the platform?

Xcode is free. You can sign up for the free developer account and download Xcode and look at the tutorials and start making apps.

Features

Were there any software features or tools that really impressed you?  

Apple is making it as easy as possible to utilize every feature supported by the native devices. The integrated test environment and advanced debugging of Xcode are useful. We are excited to see where Apple goes with its new analytics platform to give developers better visibility into understanding consumer usage of apps in the real world.

Looking back, are there any areas of the software upon which you feel could be added or improved?

It's hard to say what can be improved on because Apple is always making stuff better. With Xcode, I can say Swift was a major improvement. They looked for –five to six years at the market and created a language that made things simpler. It's still got some bugs here and there. You can't necessarily do everything in Swift yet, but that's changing very quickly. I think Xcode is definitely going in the right direction.

Overview

We have a few quick questions and, for each question, we ask you to rate the software on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. What would you give the software for functionality of the features available?

Five. 

What would you give the software for ease of use or ease of implementation into your business?

Four and a half. 

For support, as in responsiveness of the team or helpfulness of the resources available?

Four and a half. 

For overall satisfaction with the platform?

Five. 

How likely are you to recommend the software to a colleague or similar business?

Five.