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Making the move to mobile

How to determine the best technology stack and architecture for modern app development

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In conclusion: Determine the best mobile strategy

The five core app approaches of responsive, progressive, hybrid, cross- compiled, and native are by no means exhaustive. Each of these approaches has several unique methods for development.

Responsive applications are best suited for use cases that involve an occasional need to interact with the application. The content of responsive applications can be accessed via search engines. If a low barrier to entry and complete ownership of implementation are vital, responsive app development may be the ideal choice.

Progressive web applications are more likely to replace responsive applications than native applications. They provide access to offline data; they run near- natively on the device and still provide complete control over updates to the application author. If the benefits of responsive application are appealing, but there are hard requirements for offline functionality, PWAs are an easy middle step between the worlds of apps in web browsers and native applications.

Hybrid applications enjoy popularity in large part due to the promise of
shared and reusable code, a native-like experience, and cross-platform portability. Because they are built using HTML, JS, and CSS, there is a broad range of engineers that can support their development. They offer near-native experiences with near- native performance when appropriately optimized. Given their popularity and success, this is a common entry point for most new native application efforts.

Cross-compiled applications are the purest form of one codebase, multiple applications. As a result, cross-compiled apps enjoy a reputation of being substantially better (or substantially worse) than native applications. There is a need for strong architectural and code strategy when building. For instance, usability patterns are not always shared across platforms. The popularity of this approach has faded with the rise of progressive web and hybrid apps--as well as the increased ease of native app development.

Native applications will not disappear from the landscape in the near future. However, as cross-compiled applications gain feature and performance parity, native apps place in the market may wane. Application developers with more robust security, code control, and performance in mind will likely opt to a native tech stack. While this approach does require expertise in technical areas, the overall customer experience that can be provided is noticeably improved over other architecture approaches. For that reason, top-tier app experiences continue to lean toward native development.

The most effective and efficient results are achieved when an architecture is selected by pairing the business objectives with the features required. Not understanding the purpose of the app when selecting an architecture, or selecting an approach before validating the business need results in costly delays.