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Over the last few years, the cell phone industry has seen an exponential growth. In the race to reach the top, mobile phone companies are year after year releasing their respective flagship phones with jaw dropping specifications. Phones are getting bigger, better and faster. We are currently living in a world where you do not need a computer to order food from your favorite restaurant or book a movie ticket for that one show you have been waiting for all summer.
The phrase, “just a click away" hinting that the click is of the computer mouse, has been replaced by "just a tap away" referring to the tap on the phone. Open the app store on your phone and the screen will explode with numerous apps which theoretically can run any errand for you. Apps have become a crucial part of our life. Not just because they are easy to use, but also because they are readily available. And with each company wanting to have their own app to promote themselves to the crowd, the possibilities are endless.
Cross Platform Development:
Every app on your cell phone is schematically separated into two parts, a front end, and back end. Front end being the GUI (graphical user interface) and the back end is the logical explanation on which the app functions. To put it across in a simple way, the front end tells the user what the app can do if you tap a particular button on your screen, while the back end executes the appropriate procedure.
Any app developers would be well versed and comfortable with one programming language. There would be few who know to code in more than one language, but the knowledge level would surely differ. The reason being a programming language is a vast subject. Each language has its own syntax and architecture. Knowing how the logic works is one thing, but implementing it on a subject to achieve your target is another. A developer writing an app for android might be able to write the code for iOS. However, it might not give the same desired result since the way the code interacts with the operating system is different.
Read also: Step-By-Step Guide To Building Your First Mobile App
This is where Cross Platform Development comes into the picture. Writing code with this method allows the developer to duplicate or manipulate the desired result across all platforms. This means an app can be written in the native language for any particular operating system for example, iOS and later can be developed to work across other platforms such as android, windows and blackberry OS.
With the help of cross-platform development, developers are able to reach out a greater number of consumers. There could be a user who uses an android phone and also an iPad. The user should have the same experience when using the app on the android device he or she has when using it on the iPad. This goal can be achieved by cross platform developed.
How does cross-platform development work?
As mentioned before, each operating system has its own native programming language. For instance, android apps are written in Java, iOS apps are developed in objective C and shift, while Windows uses C# and XAML. Each coding language is different and has their distinctive characteristics. Expecting a developer to produce the same result on each platform across all operating system is not realistic.
The code and functions are bundled together to create a software package. This package is then used to write the remainder of the app using the programming language depending on the platform. The piece of code which is written in the native language, using the package as the core is usually referred to as the wrapper. A wrapper is a subroutine which helps to call the main function of the program which is embedded in the package. So now, a developer can write the package for their app before hand and only needs to change to the wrapper for the app to work across all platforms.
Cross-platform development tools :
There is some kind of software that helps a developer write an app which is functional across various operating systems. Below is a list of few of these tools.
Xamrin: Xamrin is a C# code and .Net frameworks based programming software which allows users to develop apps across multiple platforms. The software was developed by Miguel de Icaza who also worked on the Mono open source project. Gaining immense popularity rapidly, Xamrin was then bought by Microsoft in February 2016. This software now comes bundled with the Microsoft Visual Studio pack. Although the free version offers capabilities, this software is highly used by app developers across platforms.
iFactr: iFactr is a C# based coding software which helps users create a multi-platform framework integrated with backend data. Integrated development Environment (IDE) is available for all platforms to ensure developers are able to achieve the desired result they are looking for on all the operating systems. This is also integrated with Microsoft Visual Studio.
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