Select Page

One of the best developer conferences in the country is great for a few reasons. First, there’s a giant indoor water park (America’s largest, in fact). Second, there’s an amazing congregation of developer minds in one place at one time; that makes for amazing conversation. Third, the conference itself is truly heterogeneous. There’s tech of every type all over the place. You can discuss appdev, mobility and more in a refreshingly agnostic context.

For me, this was the best CodeMash to date. I was able to present on one of my favorite topics — the big move to go native with mobile app dev. It’s not like I’ve always been a diehard champion of native to the exclusion of other options. A little more than a year ago I was all about solutions like PhoneGap, for example. My endorsement of native dev has evolved out of a real-world view of industry trends. It’s what’s working. It’s giving enterprise users the consumer-oriented experiences they demand.

If you have about 15 minutes, you can catch my last presentation on PhoneGap and HTML 5 at last September’s MoDevTablet conference here.

Are options like HTML5 making headway? Sure. Are they ready for prime time? Not yet. I’d say keep an eye on HTML5 but my takeaway from CodeMash is that if you want to build a mobile app, build in native or in another strong framework. The bar is so high thanks to consumer-centric user expectations. Think Flipboard and, of course, Angry Birds.

The native languages are hard to grasp, yes. And there can be a seemingly confusing variety of hybrid approaches, but you can build in another language and produce some sweet apps. Ones I’m liking lately? Check out Xamarian, Corona, Unity (for game dev), and Appcelerator. What all these frameworks have in common is the ability to build apps that provide interesting, engaging visuals — again, back to user experience! You just won’t get that in HTML5. My advice: Go native or pick a framework that offers different language and an appropriately powerful platform.

I really started to formulate this question relatively early when I was in Ohio. I started my session, HTML5 and the Great Mobile Debate, by asking how many people used Objective-C. Out of 100, maybe four people raised their hands. I then asked how many knew Java. Ten, maybe 15 hands went up. When I asked how many knew JavaScript and HTML5, everyone raised their hands.

That popularity didn’t tell me, however, that HTML5 was the best strategy for enterprise mobile app dev. It told me that it’s a “lowest common denominator” language. And when I suggested as much, I didn’t get any disagreement. Again, might work great in certain circumstances, but there are several better options if you want to build an app that is appealing to consumers. And that matters because consumer conditioning is what’s informing today’s enterprise app performance expectations — plain and simple.