In the purest sense, cross-platform software development simply means that an application can be designed using a single language or tool set, and with a simple ‘click’ it can easily be deployed for a variety of platforms. Obviously the more platforms covered, the greater the reach. It’s an advantage to maintain a single code base with the ability to readily fix problems for any platform. Cost reduction is another significant benefit to cross-platform development since the one code base requires less testing than multiple applications.
The reality is that having multiple apps with some measure of cross-platform capability is more the norm. That is to say, developing multiple solutions with consistent functionality using technology such as responsive design for efficient delivery is more often the case.
A number of different cross-platform software design strategies have emerged because of the competition in cross-platform compatibility and advanced functionality.*
- Graceful Degradation – This provides the same or similar functionality to all users and platforms with reduced functionality.
- Multiple Codebases – One codebase designed for different (hardware and OS) platforms, with equivalent functionality, but requires more effort maintaining the code.
- Single Codebase – This strategy relies on having one codebase that may be compiled to multiple platform-specific formats. This technique is sometimes used in web development.
- Third-Party Libraries – Third-party libraries attempt to simplify cross-platform capability by hiding the complexities of client differentiation behind a single, unified API.
- Responsive Web Design – Responsive web design is a web design approach aimed at crafting the visual layout of sites to provide an optimal viewing experience. Little or no platform-specific code is used with this technique.
With the number of smartphone and tablet users increasing daily, developing a cross-platform application solution that fits your business needs and budget will deliver the desired increase in market reach; while ensuring the customer experience is provided at a consistent and high level.
If you want to achieve optimal results in selecting and implementing cross-platform solutions, look for these important assets in the resources you choose.
- Engage with resources that have the experience and skill sets to deliver the appropriate platform solution (as outlined above) for your environment.
- Consider a ‘Managed Team’ approach for solution delivery, ensuring design through testing is not fragmented due to the multiple applications involved.
- Work with a team with multiple skill sets to allow delivery of multiple solutions across multiple platforms such as mobile, web, tablets and set top and with consistent functionality.
The concept of cross-platform software impacts business and consumers across multiple channels. Google did an in-depth report in 2012 and it’s interesting to note that 90% of all consumer media interactions are screen-based, whether using a Smartphone, Laptop/PC, Tablet or Television.
Bottom line: whether in business or at home, consumers want to be entertained and engaged, according to a recent Nielson Report entitled, An Era of Growth: The Cross Platform Report. With the exponential growth in mobile app development, the report underlines the demand for increased cross-platform application, development and innovation.