April 18, 2017

12 Frameworks for Mobile Hybrid Apps

by Jscrambler

12 Frameworks for Mobile Hybrid Apps

Last updated on: April 15th, 2020

Nowadays, working in hybrid mobile app development makes life easier for developers as they are able to write once and build mobile applications that run on the main platforms with no extra effort. The application will run on Android and iOS and the code can be reused for progressive web applications and even desktop applications (by using Electron, with some tweaks, you are able to adapt the code for the desktop environment).

In this post, let us dive into a list of 10 useful frameworks to help you build great and amazing mobile hybrid applications.

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1. Ionic Framework

Ionic Framework

The Ionic Framework is a complete open-source SDK for hybrid mobile app development. It provides tools and services for developing hybrid mobile apps using Web technologies like CSS, HTML5, and Sass. Apps can be built with these Web technologies and then distributed through native app stores to be installed on devices by leveraging Cordova.

This framework is a 100% free and open-source project, licensed under MIT and powered by a massive worldwide community. They have over 120 native device features like Bluetooth, HealthKit, Finger Print Auth, and more with Cordova/PhoneGap plugins and TypeScript extensions. You can use their CLI to create, build, test, and deploy your Ionic apps onto any platform. The framework has the Ionicons icon pack with hundreds of the most common app icons. And you can develop your apps by Live Reload because to compile and redeploy your app at every step of development is for chumps. And there are more useful features like deep linking, AoT Compiling, and a custom animations API.

Since version 4, Ionic framework-agnostic and has official support for React, Preact, Angular, and Vue, as well as for Web Components. Version 5 brought lots of UI updates.

Side Note: Protecting Your Ionic Source Code

We have a comprehensive tutorial on how to protect your Ionic mobile hybrid app. If you want to make sure that nobody is able to reverse-engineer, steal, or tamper with your code, you may want to take a look at it here!

2. Adobe PhoneGap

Phonegap

PhoneGap is still a popular cross-platform framework for mobile hybrid application development. From the team behind Apache Cordova, the Adobe PhoneGap framework is an open-source distribution of the Cordova framework. With PhoneGap, you can reuse existing web development skills to quickly make hybrid applications built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for multiple platforms with a single codebase so you can reach your audience no matter their device.

The core of Apache Cordova applications uses CSS3 and HTML5 for their rendering and JavaScript for their logic. HTML5 provides access to underlying hardware such as the accelerometer, camera, and GPS. However, browsers' support for HTML5-based device access is not consistent across mobile browsers, particularly older versions of Android. To overcome these limitations, Apache Cordova embeds the HTML5 code inside a native WebView on the device, using a foreign function interface to access the native resources of it.

Apache Cordova can be extended with native plug-ins, allowing developers to add more functionalities that can be called from JavaScript, making it communicate directly between the native layer and the HTML5 page. These plugins allow access to the device's accelerometer, camera, compass, file system, microphone, and more.

3. Framework7

Framework7

Framework7 is a free and open-source mobile HTML framework to develop hybrid mobile, web or desktop apps with a native look and feel. It also supports Progressive Web Apps. The framework can be an indispensable prototyping tool to show working app prototypes as soon as possible in case you need to. It is focused on iOS and Google Material design to bring the best experience and simplicity.

Much like similar frameworks, Framework7 offers a rich ecosystem of components for popular JS frameworks the likes of Vue, React, and Svelte.

Some useful features provided by Framework7 are native scrolling, library-agnostic, pages transition animation, multiple views support, hardware-accelerated animations via CSS3, route pages by using the combination of XHR, caching, browser history and preloading.

4. Kendo UI

Kendo UI

Kendo UI is an HTML5 framework for creating cross-platform mobile applications powered by Progress Telerik (the same parent organization of NativeScript). It comes packed with dozens of ready-to-use widgets for jQuery, Angular, React, and Vue.

It is not difficult to learn Kendo UI because most developers are familiar with either jQuery, Angular, React, or Vue. The framework is open-source, but it is aimed at enterprise customers - so no free version is available as of right now.

Among the most noteworthy Kendo UI clients, we find HP, NASA, and over 140,000 other companies across the world. It is definitely a framework to consider if you're looking for an enterprise-grade solution with dedicated support.

5. Quasar

Quasar Framework

The Quasar Framework is powered by Vue.js and enables developers to write code a single time and deploy simultaneously as a website (SPA, PWA, SSR), mobile app (iOS, Android) and desktop (using Electron) using a single code base.

Quasar v1 was released in July 2019 and brought "the largest sets of top-class, fast and responsive web components" with "a component for almost every web development need".

Out of the box, Quasar also offers HTML/CSS/JS minification, cache busting, tree shaking, sourcemapping, code-splitting & lazy loading, ES6 transpiling, linting code, and accessibility features, while keeping a small performance overhead.

With the Quasar CLI, developers also benefit from additional features such as hot-reloading. One of the frameworks most praised benefits is its very thorough documentation and active community.

It's worth mentioning that Quasar is 100% free, open-source, and licensed under MIT.

6. Aurelia

Aurelia Logo

Aurelia characterizes itself as a "collection of Modern JavaScript modules, which when used together, function as a powerful platform for building browser, desktop and mobile applications". As such, any of Aurelia's modules can be used on its own in any JavaScript or Node.js project.

With a focus on clean yet powerful code, Aurelia is especially aimed at those who prefer to use vanilla JavaScript or TypeScript. In fact, they go so far as claiming that they are "the only framework that lets you build components with plain, vanilla JavaScript/TypeScript". Still, because it strictly follows web standards, it can readily be integrated with any framework or library out there.

As for its features, some of the most powerful Aurelia modules include metadata, dependency injection, binding, templating, and routing. Its ecosystem includes plugins for state management, internationalization and validation, as well as tools like a CLI, Chrome debugger, and VS Code plugin. And because Aurelia is based on a high-performance reactive system, it batches DOM updates faster than virtual-DOM-based frameworks.

Aurelia is 100% free to use, open-source, and licensed under the MIT license.

7. Onsen UI

Onsen UI

Onsen UI has quickly grown in adoption since its release in 2013. It is an open-source framework under the Apache v2 license. Onsen UI is framework-agnostic UI components, you can choose and switch among the frameworks: AngularJS, Angular, React, and Vue.js or go pure JavaScript to build your hybrid apps.

The framework architecture consists of three layers: CSS components, Web components, and framework bindings. It also features a large collection of ready-to-use, responsive out-of-the-box components.

This framework is very easy to use, flexible, has semantic markup components, and is free to use for commercial projects.

8. Ext JS

Ext JS

Ext JS is an enterprise-grade product for building cross-platform end to end mobile web apps with HTML5 and JavaScript. It is especially fit to build data-intensive, cross-platform web and mobile applications.

For individual developers and freelancers, Ionic, Onsen UI or Framework7 will be a better choice - but, for enterprise applications, Ext JS leads the way. On its website, the framework claims that 60% of the Fortune 100 companies are using it.

ExtJS scores highly against its competitors by providing a native look and feel across all of the platforms it supports. It helps create high-performance apps with near-native experience and packs ready-to-use widgets with native look and feel for all leading platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. The framework also features a drag and drop HTML5 visual application builder with tons of ready to use templates. It has built-in support for Angular and React.

9. Axway Appcelerator

Appcelerator

Appcelerator (also known as Appcelerator Titanium) is a JavaScript-based mobile framework. This framework is cross-platform with full support for Android and iOS. In the end, the compiled code is a combination of native and JavaScript that improves a better performance for mobile hybrid development. It has integrations available for Angular and Vue.

Appcelerator is a good solution for creating hybrid mobile apps. To get started with Appcelerator, download Titanium studio. The Titanium SDK is equipped with a number of mobile platform APIs and Cloud service to use as an app backend. It comes with platform-independent APIs which makes it easier to access phone hardware.

Appcelerator uses Hyperloop to join the cross-platform power of Titanium with direct access to any native API using JavaScript. The framework has both free and paid plans.

10. Xamarin

Xamarin

Xamarin is a Microsoft-owned San Francisco California-based software company founded in May 2011 which has cross-platform implementations of the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) and Common Language Specifications (often called Microsoft .NET).

With a C# shared codebase, developers can use Xamarin tools to write native Android, iOS, and Windows apps with native user interfaces and share code across multiple platforms, including Windows and MacOS. Xamarin is the top hybrid mobile app development framework. It saves your time regarding re-utilizing abilities, tools, teams and the best significant part is code. You can influence the array of Xamarin and Android APIs as well as design an amazing experience for glass with the Android SDK and GDK.


Extra Mentions

After many suggestions from the community, we decided to feature NativeScript and React Native in this blog post. NativeScript is indeed an awesome open-source framework focused on developing apps on the Apple iOS and Android platforms and React Native needs no introduction for most developers, it is a framework for building native mobile apps using JavaScript and React.

11. NativeScript

NativeScript

Originally created by Progress, NativeScript apps are built using JavaScript, or by using any language that transpiles to JavaScript, such as TypeScript, for instance. NativeScript directly supports both Angular and Vue frameworks via a community-developed plugin. Mobile applications built with NativeScript result in fully native apps, which use the same APIs as if they were developed in Xcode or Android Studio.

Additionally, software developers can re-purpose third-party libraries from Cocoapods, Android Arsenal, Maven, and npm.js in their mobile applications without the need for wrappers.

Side Note: Protecting Your NativeScript Source Code

protecting-nativescript-apps-with-jscrambler

Progress Telerik has recommended Jscrambler as the solution of choice to protect NativeScript Applications! Know more here.

12. React Native

React Native

With React Native, you can build mobile apps using only JavaScript. It uses the same design as React, letting you compose a rich mobile UI from declarative components.

Using this framework, you don't build a "mobile web app", an "HTML5 app", or a "hybrid app". You build a real mobile app that's indistinguishable from an app built using Objective-C or Java. React Native uses the same fundamental UI building blocks as regular iOS and Android apps. You just put those building blocks together using JavaScript and React.

You can also seamlessly protect your React Native source code with Jscrambler by following our guide.


Conclusion

If you're planning to create a mobile application, choosing the hybrid model will save you time and effort and you can reuse the code for creating a web application version too. Of course, the hybrid model is not the perfect solution for all problems, but hybrid apps are a good choice for deploying your app faster and for creating prototype applications, for example. These frameworks can surely provide you a user experience very close to a native application.

A hybridized application is similar to a mobile-optimized website mainly written in JavaScript so if you're worried about the security of your hybrid mobile app, you can use Jscrambler. It avoids runtime code modifications, gives your application self-defensive capabilities and the ability to fight against any reverse-engineering or tampering attempts that can hurt the business logic of your application. It also reduces visibility and makes the code extremely hard to understand.

With Jscrambler, you can protect your app from information leakage, piracy, license violations, and intellectual property theft.