If you’re looking to create a mobile app for your business, it’s important to know your development options. For years, there’s been an ongoing debate about whether it’s better to build an app using native code, or a cross-platform code like HTML5. More commonly now, companies are side-stepping that debate and going for the approach that makes sense for each project or business goal.
Just last year, Salesforce introduced its own hybrid development platform, Salesforce1, and took their solution a step further with the roll out of Salesforce1 Lightning in October 2014. Salesforce Lightning offers an even more compelling solution to building a mobile-enabled Web app quickly and cost effectively.
When deciding which approach to build your mobile app, ask yourself which type of app will best meet your objectives and budget.
Mobile Web (HTML5)
In recent years, HTML5 has emerged as a popular way for building mobile applications. If you or one of your colleagues already has experience in web development, then HTML5 should be relatively easy to grasp. An HTML5 mobile app is essentially a web page (or multiple web pages) that is designed to work on a mobile-sized screen. As a result, HTML5 apps can be opened with most current mobile browsers.
HTML5 works across mobile platforms, so you won’t have to build different apps for different mobile technologies. Additionally, HTML5 is cost-effective, fast to market and SEO-friendly, all of which could have tremendous benefits to your business. On the other hand, HTML5 has fewer offline capabilities and simply can’t compete with a native user experience.
Hybrid and Salesforce1 Lighting
Salesforce1 Lightning is a type of hybrid app. Lightning works off the Force.com custom development platform and does not require advanced coding skills. It features drag-and-drop components to build standard fields and reports and can be custom branded. You can design apps to look the way you want to work — on tablets, phones, wearable devices or desktops.
Enterprise businesses are using Lightning to rapidly deploy customer, employee and vendor-facing mobile apps that streamline processes, engage users and facilitate a community of collaboration. Watch a demo of Lighting here.
Native apps are typically written in the native language of the device’s operating system, primarily Android, iOS and Windows. Each platform provides a different toolset for developers, including the materials needed for marketplace submission and listing.
Native mobile apps provide the best overall user experience with multi-touch functionality, fast graphics API, fluid animation and built-in components. If your top priority is having a stunning user interface, than native is certainly your best bet. However, you’ll pay substantially more in development and maintenance.
One of the biggest problems with native apps is making them available on a variety of platforms. Large portions of the app may need to be rewritten in the native language of each platform you are targeting. HTML5 runs everywhere a browser does, and does not require downloading and learning a new toolset per platform.
Undoubtedly, native development is best for gaming and other applications that require speedy performance and rely mostly on interactivity.
The truth is, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing how you’re going to develop your mobile app. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, often determined by your desired functionality, budget, target group and timing.