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What is cross-platform development?

What is cross-platform development?

Cross-platform development is a popular solution for creating applications compatible with different operating systems, devices, or platforms. Compared to the native approach, cross-platform development in the most cases gains valuable time. You do not have to focus on each platform separately, which very often requires more financial and physical resources. It is worth remembering that the greater availability of your application allows you to reach a wider group of customers. In turn, thanks to popularity, you can achieve potentially better benefits. In this post, we’ll break everything down and analyze the topic of cross-platform development so that you can familiarize yourself with it without a lot of effort.

What does cross-platform development mean?

After learning about the term cross-platform development, you may conclude that this issue is about more than one platform. Indeed, this solution allows you to create a single application that works in different digital environments simultaneously. Cross-platform is not limited to software development with only a split between mobile or desktop operating systems. The main advantage of this solution is the ability to create one application concurrently for different operating systems, desktops, or mobile devices. Coding an application using a cross-platform framework allows to achieve intuitiveness and user-friendliness on the same level as in the native application, but with the advantage of the functionality on more than one platform.

 

cross-platform

The benefits of the cross-platform development approach

As in any other field, different solutions have different attributes. First, let’s focus on the benefits of using a cross-platform approach in software development:

  • Shared code base – Cross-platform development enables you to develop applications for multiple platforms or devices using a single code base. It is an ideal recipe for increasing productivity and streamlining the development process.
  • Save time – Native apps are developed exclusively for one platform, which leads to writing several apps for different platforms, which results in increased delivery time. In comparison, cross-platform development allows creating an application for each platform using the same source code, which results in a significant reduction in development time.
  • Save money – Using cross-platform development, you don’t have to maintain a team of developers where each is responsible for working on the application in a different environment. Thanks to this approach you will save money in the future. Moreover, creating one application for several platforms is faster, which will allow you to generate revenue sooner. You can check out our other post on how to save money with low technology stack.
  • Wider audience – Expanding to more platforms allows you to reach more potential customers, which helps you grow your user base and expand your market.
  • Faster delivery time – Application development is a complex task, especially when designing native applications. Developers, before introducing the final solution, first test several others. In the case of developing software for each system separately, the development time of such an application increases. If the time in which the application will be developed is important, for example because of the deadline – cross-platform development is a solution that will save a lot of time.
  • Keeping the performance of the native app – Cross-platform development, in many cases, allows the same or even better performance as in a native application. A perfect example of a framework that enables such properties is Qt. We detailed the framework comparison in this blog post.

 

native-app

The challenges that cross-platform projects face

The pace of development in native environments is quite fast, resulting in constant change and the need to adapt. Frameworks need to update their cross-platform development tools to support new features and systems. In such a scenario, cross-platform developers may have their hands tied until the framework is updated, while native application developers can immediately start working on implementing new systems.

One of the more demanding challenges for developers using cross-platform development is the difficulties caused by an application’s limited access to native features of a given platform. As well as the performance degradation caused by inconsistent communication between native and non-native functions. However, that strongly depends on the technology that you’re about to choose. For instance, the Qt framework deals well with those issues.

 

Native vs hybrid vs cross-platform – development methods comparison

There is more to app development methods than just using cross-platform. Each solution has its pros and cons, based on which it is best to match the app development method to your needs. Therefore, let’s turn to present the differences between the different approaches.

  • Native development – The most salient feature of native app development is creating it exclusively for a single platform or operating system. Developers can fully customize and adapt the native application to the device, ensuring a high-reliability rate. However, this solution has its limitations. If there is a need to create an application for several platforms, then you will have to develop a separate application for each platform. Hence, creating native applications is more time-consuming and more financially draining.
  • Hybrid development – This solution is distinctive for combining the internal parts of a web application with the external features of a native application. This development solution allows you to create one application for several platforms. Unfortunately, it also has its drawbacks in terms of the lower performance of such applications compared to cross-platform or native. Depending of the framework of choice, you may also face problems with implementation of native systems features.

 

development methods comparison

 

There are many frameworks for developing cross-platform applications, and each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. In a future blog post, we will create a comparison of Qt, Native React, and Flutter to give an idea of their form.

 

cross=platform

 

What cross-platform framework should I use?

If you want to combine the maximized performance of your application with the ease of creating its availability on different platforms, you should consider choosing the Qt framework. First of all, Qt has a lot of experience on the market – it is a mature framework, that has been around for decades, that provides cross-platform solutions while constantly developing. Using Qt framework is not only limited to mobile cross-platform development but also focuses on desktop as much as embedded. A great solution is the Qt Quick module, which allows you to create a user-friendly interface combined with superb software performance using the Qml declarative language. You can read about what we can offer within the Qt framework here.

Summary

In conclusion, cross-platform development is the best option to choose. The main advantage of developing applications using such a solution is the common codebase, which makes the development process much faster and cheaper. Also, it helps to provide the best possible performance which results in a better user experience. Qt framework can provide all these features, which gives it a beneficial solution for customers and developers.

In sum, if you are interested in a cross-platform app development service, check what we can offer you.

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Ewa Orzeszyna Junior Lead Generation Specialist

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