Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - CALLIDUS

Framework for Hybrid Apps

Which framework is best suited for the Machina Callida? What can individual frameworks do and what not?

(K. Schulz)

In Web App vs. Native App, significant advantages of hybrid apps as teaching or learning tools were demonstrated: Sustainability, portability, adherence to established technical standards and access to native functions of mobile devices. Now, however, the question of a suitable framework arises. Aspects of functional diversity, user-friendliness and adaptability are particularly important. However, since these categories are very vague and difficult to operationalize, it is worth taking a look at the App Stores, i.e. where ready-made hybrid apps are already available.

In terms of frequency of use alone, Android has two clear leaders in the field of hybrid frameworks: "The most used hybrid development frameworks are Apache Cordova and Appcelerator Titanium counting to 258 and 116 apps, respectively, whereas all the other frameworks are very less used across all categories" (Malavolta et al. 2015, 58). However, counting apps is not sufficient legitimation for the final selection, as the corresponding frequencies may fluctuate considerably, for example with free apps as opposed to paid apps or with Android as opposed to iOS. At any rate, there is reason to hope for the success of a hybrid solution in the - admittedly general, but in parts resilient - judgement of the above-mentioned study: "using a hybrid development framework or developing an app natively is not a key discriminator with respect to end users' perception of the app" (Malavolta et al. 2015, 58). If the perception of the target group really does not differ significantly, this means that the decision for hybridity and the selection of an appropriate framework should be more process-oriented and developer-friendly.

This freedom is an advantage that software developers seem to enjoy: "Kendo UI relies heavily on JQuery [...], developers familiar with the JQuery will find the Kendo UI easy to learn" (More & Chandran 2016, 568). If one could still object that this statement is only about a single framework and only a single JavaScript library, elsewhere this statement is rightly abstracted to a higher level: "Frameworks like Titanium and PhoneGap are using widely used web development technologies (especially JavaScript), do not require a detailed knowledge of the target platform and are certainly worth considering for building cross-platform applications" (Xanthopoulos & Xinogalos 2013, 219). It is noticeable that Titanium and the PhoneGap successor Cordova are not only statistically far ahead of other frameworks, but apparently also perform positively in user perception and in the re-use of already established technologies. But how should we decide between the two?

This is where the explorative nature of the research project comes into play. For Cordova offers a significant advantage that cannot be easily achieved with Titanium, namely the flexibility to turn a pure web app into a hybrid app at any time, serving not only iOS and Android, but also various other platforms: "Cordova has a clear advantage over the others because its hybrid approach makes it possible to wrap the same web app into a native container that can be delivered to platforms other than iOS and Android" (Tunali & Erdogan 2015, 6). So if the practical implementation of platform independence is as simple as this statement about Cordova's great strength, then the framework must be given preference over Titanium due to its superior cost-benefit calculation. Because even if it turns out in the end that Cordova's platform-specific interfaces would be dispensable for the project, it would still be possible to develop a completely normal web app.

Conversely, if the project's own design-based research approach should reveal the need to address mobile characteristics such as network status, power status or voice inputs, then such a framework would be the white knight: "Design practice - whether in the manufacture of cars or of fashions - usually evolves through the creation and testing of prototypes, iterative refinement, and continuous evolution of the design, as it is tested in authentic practice" (Anderson & Shattuck 2012, 17). All four of the above-mentioned characteristics (prototypes, iterative refinement, continuous development of the design, and testing in authentic practice contexts) apply to our software and thus speak in favor of using a framework that is as flexible as possible and can be adapted to changing requirements as needed. In summary, Cordova has the following characteristics:


Die Eigenschaften von Cordova im Überblick



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