Mobile app development tools: A buyer's guide
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
Sencha offers a number of mobile app development tools used for the creation of cross-platform applications for Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows devices. In particular, the company offers three feature-rich development frameworks for developers to choose from: Sencha Ext JS, Sencha GXT and Sencha Touch. Each of these frameworks is installed on premises and available for use on Linux, Mac or Windows operating systems.
Each framework can be licensed as standalone software; however, Ext JS and GXT can also be found as part of Sencha Platform, which is marketed as a complete product for application lifecycle management. Touch is only offered as standalone software.
Being able to choose between various development languages gives developers the freedom to choose a preferred method, which also cuts down on implementation timelines. Multiple development languages also eliminate organizations' needs to hire additional development staff or re-train existing staff, which lowers costs.
The tool also incorporates a layout manager that gives developers control over device-specific data for display, screen and browser sizes, and also features a responsive configuration system that allows app components to change depending on display orientation or browser size. The latest version of the software is 5.1.1.
Sencha GXT lets developers build with Java
Sencha GXT is a Java mobile app development tool that lets developers build apps using the Java Web language. GXT is best suited for organizations with multi-person development teams. There is only one edition of the framework available. Maintenance and support is included with each license, as well as the licensing and distribution rights for built apps.
GXT implements the GWT (formerly Google Web Toolkit) compiler to translate Java code into HTML5 code, which enables the created application to have cross-platform functionality by executing as a Web app. Like Ext JS, GXT provides users with customizable UI widgets with available preset themes and a layout manager for support with device display, screen and browser sizes. It also allows for client-side data collections, and features support for GWT RPC, RequestFactory and JSON. The latest version of the software is 3.1.4.
Sencha Touch helps give cross-platform apps a native feel
Like Ext JS, Sencha Touch allows applications to take advantage of HTML5 and execute on device as a Web application. However, it varies from Ext JS in that it relies more heavily on leveraging device hardware acceleration, giving apps more native functionality and thus classifying them not as Web but hybrid apps.
Touch provides developers with more than 50 high-performance UI widgets built specifically for mobile platforms, as well as themes for Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows to give developed apps the most native appearance possible. It also features an adaptive layout engine that automatically determines and implements the most optimized resolution, scrolling and animation settings based on device platform.
And to ensure full functionality with device features such as a camera or GPS, Touch is fully integrated with Apache Cordova APIs. This means developers can focus their efforts on building the best app possible without having to worry that the app and the device's features won't perform in harmony.
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