If you are thinking about native app development, it is natural that your mind will revolve around the two most popular platforms, Android (using Java or Kotlin) and iOS (using Swift or Objective C). Native programming has several advantages, including top-notch performance, simple access to hardware settings, seamless API interaction, and complete functionality. Let’s see What is meant by Ionic mobile development?
If you are wondering how you can set yourself free of this trap, tools like Xamarin and React Native make it possible for you to build a cross-platform program. Thanks to their cross-platform compatibility and near-native performance, these tools can help keep development costs down. However, you may still need to bring on board native engineers to handle certain jobs in each of the code bases.
This article brings to the limelight a web-based mobile app development tool called the Ionic framework and discusses its benefits and disadvantages in comparison to native and hybrid technologies used in mobile development.
What is meant by Ionic mobile development?
Frontend technologies and WebView
Angular and the Apache Cordova frameworks
Ionic was originally built on Angular, a widely-used front-end framework for developing dynamic web pages and progressive web apps (PWA). Full-featured mobile apps may be built using Ionic with the help of Angular’s CLI (command-line interface) and components.
The native functionality accessing elements of Ionic is built on top of Apache Cordova plugins. Cordova is a framework for developing native mobile apps using web technologies and Cordova-specific APIs. Because it relies on WebView, Ionic cannot access the hardware APIs of the device. Cordova enables these plugins to access features like cameras and sensors found in smartphones. To facilitate communication between the webview and the operating system, Apache Cordova acts as a bridge for Ionic app development.
During the design of an app, it’s important to include all of the features that users will need, and that is what prompted the need for Ionic Native. Standardized APIs and integration are supported by this collection of Cordova plugins. The Ionic team has created two distinct editions of Ionic Native: the free Community Edition and the premium Enterprise Edition.
Web components and Ionic v.4
Ionic gained popularity as a tool for Angular developers and relies on Angular framework components. Its modification was implemented with the release of Ionic 4, which includes several new features, thereby eliminating Ionic’s reliance on Angular. Ionic can be used without any frameworks, but it will nevertheless support React and Vue.js. Using web components and spreading word about Ionic’s CLI made the shift feasible. By modifying it to be compatible with Angular CLI, it has now extended its accommodation to many more frameworks.
One of the most significant developments in this field has been the Web component, which includes feature sets that use common APIs that are natively supported by the vast majority of mobile browsers today. PWAs and desktop applications built using the Electron framework may then be deployed on any supported platform.
Essentially, web components are self-contained, independently deployable HTML elements that may communicate with one another. There is native support for iOS and Android’s Material Design theme in every one of these components, and this has helped maintain a consistent aesthetic across a wide range of applications. The Ionic team, along with its hundred web components, has released Stencil, a web component framework and generator, to aid in this endeavour.
Ionic beginner’s pack
The Ionic team has produced comprehensive documentation that includes how-to tips for newcomers. As a result, we link to or summarise some of those mentioned in the article below.
General purpose documentation
Information on getting started with CLI, launching the platform, and getting app development underway is all included in the documents.
Official migration guide
In terms of usage, Ionic v.3 continues to be the most widely adopted version. Ionic v.4 has a concise migration guide in the Ionic team’s documentation, essentially because many apps are written on it.
This is for assembling and retrieving web-based modules.
Cordova plugin reservoir
With Apache Cordova, one can use its APIs to make calls to the native system.
Reservoir for Capacitor Plug-ins
The Capacitor platform is one of the most prominent options for Ionic app development, and this provides access to device APIs. Plugins for it can be obtained via the Node Package Manager.
Website for integrating
This contains a collection of useful components, such as modules and native plugins, that can be added to your program. Ionic framework’s flexible features make it easy to create and distribute cross-platform mobile apps. But there are pros and cons to this, just like every technological solution.
Pros of Ionic Development
Ionic framework is a mobile app development framework that offers a number of benefits and is used by more than 3.2% of the mobile app market.
Uniform source code for all supported platforms
With Ionic, one need not pay for expensive native developers to create apps for different mobile platforms. As long as one is familiar with some web technologies and Angular, it can be utilised to build dynamic apps. Creating a unified codebase across all of your platforms ensures:
- Cost savings in codebase management, native developer hire, and development
- Both systems will have a shorter time to market.
- Easy upkeep using in-browser instruments and debugging tools
- Possibility of adapting your Ionic project for use on desktop computers or as a progressive web app
By concentrating on the time saved by releasing the app simultaneously on both platforms, it is easy to see the financial benefits of using Ionic. As opposed to developing apps for individual platforms, the cost of creating an app that runs on Android, iOS, and maybe Windows devices using a single codebase is far lower.
Technologies that are widely used and simple to master
As Ionic does not completely compile the app into a native language, experience with native programming is helpful but not required. It instead compiles UI elements and uses Cordova or Capacitor (a native-bridge platform for Ionic) plugins in order to provide a set of functionalities. Using only the web technology stack makes it simple to create and update an app. In order to fix the plugin or create a new one to add new functionality, a native Android or iOS developer is needed.
Availability of numerous plug-ins and integration options
In case you fail to derive the most out of your Ionic apps, it is wise to connect it to other services. On Ionic’s site, the full official list of technologies that can be integrated with resources for testing and security, payment processing, and data analysis can be found. It also has a variety of plugins that can be used to connect to the device’s hardware. Some plugins, however, are only accessible through the paid Premier plugins and tools that are included in the Enterprise version of Ionic.
The Cordova plugins list, which can be filtered based on supported platforms, contains even more options. Capacitor plugins are also available on npm, another option. The manual details the whole process of using capacitor plugins.
The possibility to rapidly prototype and select from a wide variety of UI elements
Ionic’s UI components library has already proven effective in older versions at mimicking the look and feel of native applications. The graphical user interface (GUI) being developed can use these components either as-is or with minor alterations. Through the use of web components, Ionic can expedite the development of UI logic while preserving a native appearance at no extra cost.
Ionic UI components can be divided in half between the visual aspect of your GUI and its functionality. The functionality of a user interface element can be modified by accessing its source code. Everything can be customised, from the animation to the scrolling method to the reordering of menu items.
Prototyping abilities facilitate quick Ionic progress with the aid of pre-built UI components. It can be achieved with the help of Ionic Creator, a prototype tool. The Ionic team keeps it updated with a drag-and-drop interface for making interactive prototypes, but it can’t be used to build the full app.
Ionic apps can be tested directly on a device by using the browser because they only interact with the device through a webview. As an added bonus, there is no need for any special equipment to make sure everything is functioning properly, making this method significantly more convenient, and this idea works with many other kinds of smartphones.
The entire testing process is simplified by the accessibility of testing and debugging tools that are built right into browsers. Angular CLI is suitable for testing components built with older versions of Angular, while Ionic CLI is best suited to testing web-based components. It may be necessary, therefore, to use a testing instrument or an emulator in order to verify the correct operation of some native features.
People tend to look for answers to questions pertaining to tools on research forums or in online communities. But if you wish to find an answer to a question about the tool, look for it in a community forum. When it comes to Ionic, everything can be found in one convenient location on their website. The documentation is comprehensive, explaining in detail what Ionic is, how to use it, and how the various parts relate to one another. Installation, configuration, launch, and fine-tuning instructions for the various instruments used with Ionic are also included in the documentation.
Ionic is a platform that will never cease to attract new members, owing to its prioritisation of the ease of use of its products. There are over 5 million developers and constant forum activity, so you can rest assured that you will get an answer to any question you may have.
Cons of ionic development
Native apps’ inability to perform well
Ionic isn’t suited to high-performance tasks like those required by enterprise software. By rendering the app in WebView, it achieves respectable performance for the typical features of a mobile app. It will slow down your app if it uses a lot of graphics (games, those rendering a lot of 3D models, etc.), as is the case with Snapchat and other augmented reality apps that rely on smartphone cameras.
Since Ionic’s graphical components are rendered in a browser, it takes a few steps before the image appears on the screen. Loading times will increase proportionally with the number of interstitial elements used. Do some loading animations in CSS and Cordova callbacks here.
If you stick to the typical features, your efficiency will be retained. However, you can always try something new if speed happens to be at the top of your priority list. Apps compiled with Xamarin and React perform better than those that aren’t. To ensure your app runs quickly and efficiently, you should use languages that are close to machine code. It is possible to create high-performance apps using Ionic, but you will need to delve much further into the topic of performance optimization than you might with React.
Implementation that requires plugins
If you want to use native features in your Ionic app development journey, you must rely on plugins. The abundance of existing plugins makes it simple to locate an appropriate library for incorporating the necessary features. Of course, there will be times when no suitable add-on or module exists.
In all but the rarest of circumstances, where you will need the assistance of a native developer to build it, you should be able to track down a plugin that works.
The lack of hot reloading
Flexibility and the accommodation of changes are the essence of modern apps. Changes can be implemented without having to reload the entire application when using hot reloading. You can make real-time edits to a file without having to save and reload the whole document.
Ionic, however, employs a system called live reloading, which requires some getting used to. To immediately see the effects of your modifications, you can use live reloading, which triggers a full application refresh whenever you save a file. In order for the change to take effect, your developers will need to restart the application each time they make a change. However, refreshing the app each time a code is updated can significantly slow down the development process, and this is seen as a negative because it does not facilitate a developer’s job.
Concerns about security
A potential snare you might encounter while working with it will serve as a threat to your critical application data. If your hybrid app can be reverse-engineered, then security is a major concern during development. In version 4, the Ionic CLI includes code uglification, a common method for making code difficult to read by hackers. On the contrary, Angular CLI and older versions of Ionic do not engage in any sort of code uglification.
Since Ionic apps are essentially mobile websites, it becomes crucial to remember that HTTP calls are used for all of Ionic’s communication with the server. Therefore, you should employ the same security measures on your Ionic app as on your website, such as making use of an HTTPS connection rather than an HTTP one.
Size of application
- Cordova, Capacitor, and Native Ionic Plugins
- Standardized library collections
- Dependencies (Angular, React, or Vue, depending on what framework you pick) (Angular, React, or Vue, depending on what framework you use.)
- Cascading Style Sheets Parameters
For apps built with Ionic technology version 3, this is an absolute reality; however, it has been addressed to some extent in version 4. Code uglification, a method of code minification, is available via the Ionic CLI, and it helps further minimise an app’s footprint. So, you can now make the icons smaller and get rid of any unnecessary styles, fonts, or images.
Which cross-platform tool is the best option?
Knowing when to choose one framework over another is a knowledge that must be acquired. While a few of them can finish the job with no change to the final app, what is worth considering are the time, money, and energy put into its creation.
Use of Ionic technology instead of React Native, Xamarin, or Native
Advantage of React Native over Ionic, Xamarin, and Native apps
Apps built with Xamarin above those built with Ionic, React Native, and Native.
Xamarin has emerged as a prominent cross-platform tool for creating mobile apps by giving a nod to code sharing across platforms and providing performance, a feature that is inclined towards Ionic. However, because Xamarin is a Microsoft product, it is necessary to be familiar with the.NET framework and the C# programming language.Xamarin.Forms is another popular tool for rapid prototyping and collaborative code development.
A native app optimised for use with a hybrid framework such as Ionic, React Native, or Xamarin.
Nothing is better than a native app in terms of speed and reliability. A development team that is fluent in Java/Kotlin (Android) and Swift/Objective-C can seamlessly integrate with all hardware APIs and take full advantage of the platform’s capabilities (iOS). Moreover, long-term management of two codebases can seem easier.
Classifying tools as simply good or bad is an injustice in the field of business. Instead, therefore, seekers should look for tools designed to address particular problems. This not only reduces costs but also speeds up the development process.
With Ionic, you can witness an unseen ease of problem-solving with the use of standard technologies in the creation of versatile applications. However, when it comes to speed and usability, a native app cannot be beat.
Whatever your decision, Sterling Technolabs is here to help you hire the best Ionic developers!