Cross-platform tools can save more than 30% of app development time

First preliminary results of research2guidance ´s “Global Cross-Platform Tool Benchmarking Survey” indicate that cross-platform tools can significantly save app development time.

With the increasing platform and device diversification as well as number of apps to maintain, the app development process becomes more complex and costly. Cross-platform tools like Marmalade, Titanium and Service2Media promise to cut down app development time and costs.  Build once and publish on multiple platforms is the common slogan.

But whether or not these tools keep up with their promises is a controversial discussion amongst the app developer community. Detractors of cross-platform solutions for example argue that after a quick start, development time savings are lost again in tedious debugging in the second half of the developing project. Other developer claim that cross-platform tools play a central role in their multi-platform app strategy.

research2guidance is   currently conducting a global benchmarking study to compare the performance of top 80 cross-platform app development tools amongst themselves and against native app development.

Cross-platform app development tools

The first preliminary results indicate that time savings can be significant: More than than 50% of users of cross-platform tools state a significant time saving of more than 30%. About one third of respondents even claim to develop more than 50% faster compared to pure native app development. On the other hand, first results also indicate that the awareness for cross-platform app development tools is still limited and developers are reluctant to start using them due to their limited development capabilities compared to native app development.

Cross-platform app development tools can be clustered into 4 different groups:

  • Native-to-native cross compiler,
  • Web-to-native wrappers,
  • Toolkits for creation of web apps and
  • App factories (which allow composing of mobile apps by dragging and dropping elements).

Many cross-platform solutions have an industry (e.g. music, hotels, events) or an app category (e.g. games, news) focus. They also differ in their ability to support the development of complex apps. Within these boundaries, cross-platform tools differ significantly in their performance.  Any selection process should include the following performance criteria:

Multi-platform capability:

  • The number of supported operating systems
  • Accessible device hardware features (e.g. accelerometer, camera, speaker, NFC)
  • Available cloud API services (e.g. operator billing, InMobi, Distimo, Magento)
  • Accessible pre-installed applications (e.g. image library, calendar, SMS, in-app email)

Results quality: The quality of the developed app developed with a cross-platform tool. This includes: performance, design, access to device features, usability and security

Developer experience or how does the tool support the app developing and maintenance process, including:

  • Required programming skills
  • Time and effort to familiarize with a cross-platform tool
  • Development time
  • Support / training options

App development efficiency and costs, including

  • App development time
  • Cost including license, support, training and development costs
  • Revenue sharing and marketing support

The cross platform app development tool market becomes more and more fragmented and selecting the right tool is a complex and time consuming task. The global cross-platform app development benchmarking survey of research2guidance is currently benchmarking the top 80 tools against the listed performance criteria to support the comparison of available products.

All participants will benefit by receiving the benchmarking results.

The survey aims at app and web developers as well as IT and business managers that have used or have not used cross platform tools available on the market.

Comments and feedback are highly welcome.

research2guidance team