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Five approaches to mobile app developer software

Research suggests that mobile application downloads will double by 2021. Learn how developers can stay ahead of the demand with the right app software.

The demand for mobile applications is nearly insatiable.

Users downloaded approximately 197 billion mobile apps in 2017, and by 2021, that number is expected to balloon to 352 billion, according to data from Statista. It's no surprise that mobile app developer software is in high demand. Here are five ways mobile app developer software is changing to enable new apps at a quick pace.

Tools to build enterprise mobile applications

Prepackaged consumer-grade mobile application development software is widely used in many organizations. It's easy to use, but hard to customize. For more flexibility, companies often opt to use build-your-own mobile app development software, and options exist that aren't overly complex.

The Capriza development platform can move existing workflows and connect them to anywhere, which suits turning a web app into a mobile one. Users can create enterprise mobile applications rapidly based on Salesforce, SAP, SharePoint and most commonly used software.

Another option is Microsoft PowerApps, an addition to Office 365. Unlike Capriza, it uses a data connector to knit together websites, APIs and Office 365 tools, based on an API model for modern mobile design.

Enterprises can also choose to stick with responsive web design, such as JavaScript and HTML. Developers work with different versions of JavaScript, such as React, AngularJS and Bootstrap, for mobile app development. JavaScript is the most widely used development language, which makes it easy for employers to find talent to do the job.

Each mobile app developer software option has pros and cons. If consumer-grade applications don't work for your enterprise, select the tools to build your own.

Cross-platform mobile tools win over hybrid and native

With all the mobile app development software choices available, developers have to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of native platforms for iOS and Android with hybrid frameworks and JavaScript cross-platform mobile tools.

Developers most concern themselves with security and performance features, expert mobile developer Jen Looper said. "In the enterprise specifically, there's a lot of concern about security. ... You have to architect your app in a secure fashion." Developers can look at ways to obfuscate their code so that it can't be cracked, swiped or hacked, Looper said.

Developers can create products to deliver the performance and security of native apps, without being limited to either iOS or Android, if they use cross-platform mobile app development tools, according to Looper. "[Developers] want to have something that's snappy, something that's beautiful on both Android and iOS -- not just one or the other -- and something that performs in a native fashion," she said. The latest cross-platform mobile app development tools that use JavaScript can be more effective than hybrid tools and native approaches for applications on multiple types of devices.

How the UX role fits into modern software development

Mobile app developer software needs to stay modern, which means paying attention to the user experience (UX). This trend has led to a new UX developer role. The UX job encompasses a few responsibilities and tasks to consider the holistic experience of the app user.

Today's users expect a quality experience; a poor one can cost the company. Of users surveyed, 57% said they won't recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, according to Business 2 Community's "2018 Mobile Marketing Report." Unhappy users will take their business elsewhere.

A UX expert can help provide an environment where developers receive improved requirements that have already been tested with users. Although the UX developer is not a position in every enterprise, the need is growing.

Build mobile apps more easily with low-code development

As mobile applications have gained popularity, so has the need for ways to develop them at a faster pace. Mobile apps are expected to see a 21% compound annual growth rate and be worth $101 billion by 2020, according to an App Annie "Mobile App Forecast" report.

At the same time, a shortage of talented software developers exists -- pushing up developers' salaries. A new breed of mobile app developer software has emerged. Low-code or no-code development platforms enable almost anyone with an idea to turn it into an application quickly and easily.

"They aren't coders, and they're never going to be coders," said Richard Rabins, CEO of low-code platform developer Alpha Software. But application users can replace developers in certain scenarios.

Ionic Pro embodies mobile app dev tools' DevOps embrace

Software development toolmakers have come to realize that there is a market for low-code, easy-to-use mobile app services to build enterprise applications. "Professional developers and nondevelopers increasingly see eye to eye on the things that need to be done," said Joe McKendrick, analyst at Unisphere Research.

Teams looking for low-code development options should evaluate tools such as Ionic Pro, which enables them to design, build, test and deliver mobile and progressive web apps across the development lifecycle. "Ionic Pro provides us huge technology benefits, as well as business benefits," said Peter Chatzky, president and CEO of Napa Group, which develops software for fintech companies. "We can streamline staff by having a single, smaller team develop for both iOS and Android platforms, thereby developing complex apps faster and at reduced cost." A low-code tool should enable the user to create modern apps without favoring a specific mobile platform or limiting the initial user base, Chatzky said.

This was last published in March 2018

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What mobile app software methods work best for your enterprise?
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To elaborate on my quote in this article, it is important to understand the difference between no-code and low-code platforms.

No-code platforms make a LOT of sense for "line of business" people, but because low-code still involves some coding, low-code platforms are NOT appropriate for this group.

On the other hand, low-code products that are well designed and are standards based, are proving to be very useful for professional developers because of their ability to deliver productivity by reducing coding, but are still able to deliver  power/control to professional developers by not "getting in the way" of coding on either the front or back end&

Richard Rabins
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