NativeScript: Choosing a Mobile App Framework

NativeScript is a modern mobile open source framework for building native apps.

NativeScript is a Mobile Framework, or a customizable “skeleton” that contains a common selection of features necessary for building mobile apps.

What problem does NativeScript solve?

Developers can use JS, Angular, XML, and CSS-like languages to develop apps while employing native APIs for each platform instead of using web views to render each UI.

Benefits of NativeScript

  • Open source
  • Extensible
  • Platform-agnostic
  • Native API Reflection
  • Uses native UI components from the native OS (fully native apps, not packaged via browser)
  • Standards-compliant ECMAScript Javascript code
  • CSS standard-compliant declaration
  • Hot reload functionality

Strengths of NativeScript

Although it’s a relatively new tool NativeScript is backed by Telerik, a subsidiary of Progress. Progress has a reputation for backing dependable developer tools for enterprise.

It has an enthusiastic community who appreciate how easy it is for Angular fans to learn NativeScript.

Users can actually build native applications in Angular 2 as well as use CSS animations.

Cross platform functionality is essential, and NativeScript is well poised to ensure it.

The framework offers native performance on both iOS and Android. The whole stack is available for both platforms.

NativeScript espouses a “write once, adapt everywhere” philosophy: developers can adapt code between web and mobile. It also provides 0-day support for new OS releases.

Intellectual Property headaches can be bypassed with an open source program like NativeScript.

Its core is licensed under Apache 2.0 which allows users to use, modify, license, and distribute their software without having to classify their use as personal or commercial.

There are only very minimal requirements to leave a disclaimer and copyright notice in place.

NativeScript includes great tooling for productivity and developer consistency.

Implementation is noticeably faster compared to mobile.

Also, developers can integrate CSS animations into their NativeScript projects.

Weaknesses of NativeScript

Most of NativeScript’s weaknesses arise from being relatively new.

For example, there aren’t as yet many official plug-ins.

NativeScript has vocally loyal and active users, but it’s not as big as ReactNative’s community.

Developers can’t use React with NativeScript yet. Only their “Core”, an MVVM style of building applications, is available.

However, Angular 2 is also has first class support and there are strongly indications that Vue will be implemented as well.

Performance has historically not been as seamless on Android as on iOS.

A recent update ironed out many of the problems, but some issues remain.

Comparison

Xamarin

Xamarin is very similar to NativeScript in terms of underlying technology.

Though NativeScript doesn’t have as many available plug-ins as Xamarin, it has an edge in code recompilation. Changing code in Xamarin means recompiling and restarting the computer.

NativeScript is positioned for automatic instant recompiling, which is part of how it drives faster development.

ReactNative

Both ReactNative and NativeScript are cross-platform JavaScript frameworks for mobile development.

The key difference is in their ultimate goals: ReactNative is working towards being able to learn one tool and write for every platform while NativeScript wants to achieve shared code.

Ionic

Ionic tends to emphasize performance over cross-platform compatibility.

The concern with this is that ReactNative can match it in performance (at least for iOS, and nearly for Android) with a much gentler learning curve after updates.

Real-life application

NativeScript is used by well-known companies such as Verizon, Deliotte Digital, Bitpoints Wallet, and Daily Nanny.

One notably complex application is ShoutOutPlay: This app lets users record personal messages and embed them within tracks in a Spotify playlist.

NativeScript was used when developing for different platforms as it let the developers write both iOS and Android UIs with one concise XML language.

Conclusion

NativeScript has two core strengths: speed of development and cross-platform optimization.

If those are the core priorities for your project, it will be a powerful tool to aid in mobile app development.

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