Developing for Apple iOS: cross-platform toolkits compared

I have tried a number of programming tools for Apple iOS over the past year or so, focusing on cross-platform tools. This page pulls together links to these hands-on articles. You may be amused by the screenshots – I am not a designer and was not much interested in the design aspect, aiming to put together a quick and simple working app. However they do show what you get if you pretty much accept the default appearance. The Dreamweaver/Phonegap app looks the best.

There is hardly any code in these apps, and you would have thought that performance would not be an issue with any of them. That is not the case. In most of them, there is a perceptible pause between tapping a button and having the number appear. In the worst cases (such as Dreamweaver/Phonegap) this materially affects the app, since if you tap quickly numbers go missing. It always affects the usability and experience, since a responsive app is more pleasing.

If you follow the links, you will find further comment on the development process, tool capabilities and so on.

Dreamweaver and PhoneGap: The design and development experience is good, but performance is poor.

Appcelerator Titanium: Performance is OK on iPhone though it was poor on Android.

Embarcardero Delphi: Performance is adequate, but I was expecting better.

Adobe AIR packager for iOS: I used the latest FlashBuilder and found the results performed reasonably well.

RunRev LiveCode: If you can cope with the quirky tool and language, performance is excellent.

FIleMaker Go: Note that this was more a proof of concept than a realistic proposition. Performance is terrible.

One thought on “Developing for Apple iOS: cross-platform toolkits compared”

  1. Now that you have FPC installed on your Mac, why not do a similar test using Xcode 4 and Objective Pascal and design with native UIButton, etc?

    A big question is whether wrapping the native controls the way these various toolkits do is even a good idea in the first place. For example, MonoTouch and MonoDroid make no attempt to do the UI stuff in a cross-platform way.

    If the end-product is the most important consideration, then I would suggest that sticking as close to native as you can is the way to go.



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