2012-07-15

Creating a mobile platform where 3rd party developers are expected to write applications using HTML and JavaScript may seem like a quick and easy way to get a lot of applications created for the platform; and in this day and age, a platform without a plethora of apps available when the the platform launches is going to die a quick death. But is HTML really the best route to choose?

From what I can tell, the main advantage of requiring apps to be developed using web technology is the low barrier to entry; anyone with a text editor and a standard compliant web browser can write and test an HTML and JavaScript application. While this would certainly allow for the creation of a lot of applications for a platform, from a proprietary software developers point of view, creating an HTML/JavaScript application for a software store may not be a good idea (or at least that's what I gather).

Suppose a developer doesn't want anyone to have access to the code of a newly developed app. If the app in question is created using HTML and JavaScript, it will be fairly easy to gain access to the JavaScript text file. Even if the code is obfuscated, it will still be reusable by anyone with the know-how. In order to keep code logic in an HTML/JS application from being viewable, the code would need to reside on a external server and be accessible through an API. While this solves the problem of the code in an app being viewable by all, it leads to what I consider a more significant problem: the application will only work when there is an internet connection. While it is certainly possible that the app is question will be installed on a device that can easily connect to the internet, there will always be a time when the internet isn't accessible and from a consumers point of view, if I buy an application and can't use it because the internet is inaccessible, I would be extremely displeased, especially if the application doesn't need to be connected to the internet.

So what is the solution? Simple; develop a native application.

Speaking of putting code on a remote server..... If a developer has to put some of their code on a remote server, why wouldn't the developer put all of the code on the remote server? To rephrase the question: why make an HTML5 application for a platform specific app store when it is probably just as easy to create a website, with an interface designed for mobile devices, that can be used by any mobile device with a compliant web browser? Write it once, and let it be used/accessed by mobile and traditional computers. Win!

There may be a very compelling argument for why creating HTML/JS application for a specific platform is a good idea, but I don't know what it is, and until I hear otherwise, I will always prefer developing native applications when the target is a single platform.

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