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C++ Developers Get a New Cross-Platform Choice

Embarcadero's Appmethod goes native in its update for Windows, iOS and Android development.

Support for .NET developers wanting to build cross-platform mobile apps using C# is strong, through the Xamarin platform; likewise, those using standard Web technologies like JavaScript and HTML5 have tools like Cordova. Now, those same abilities are available for developers needing the speed and power of C++.

When Embarcadero Technologies Inc. launched its Appmethod cross-platform development tool on March 18, it promised C++ support in a few months; and that has come, right on time.

The company today announced a new version of the multi-device app development platform that adds support for C++, which is the most widely used programming language according to Evans Data Corp. research quoted by Embarcadero. Previously, only Object Pascal support was offered.

Appmethod is designed to enable mobile developers to use one codebase to quickly build natively compiled apps targeting Android, iOS, Windows and Mac OS X. It is one of several tools promising to overcome the mobile developer's dilemma of how to target multiple devices or OSes.

As reported earlier, Embarcadero sponsored a Windows developer survey that highlighted this problem. "A strong majority, 85 percent, of developers believe natively compiled apps give a better user experience than scripted/interpreted languages, but just 17 percent are confident they can deliver native apps for two or more mobile platforms."

Traditionally, one approach was to build separate native apps for each platform to provide the best performance and use of native functionality. That can be time-consuming and expensive.

Another school of thought was to use mobile Web apps that could run everywhere but only use generic features on each platform. These are unable to leverage all of the functionality offered by device features such as accelerometers, cameras or GPS receivers.

A hybrid approach uses cross-platform tools to create apps with HTML, JavaScript and CSS that are then enabled to use native functionality through different means with little loss of performance.

The means used by Appmethod promises "truly native" apps that are compiled and run directly on a CPU. A common API provides access to more than 100 cross-platform UI controls. Embarcadero claims this is the only product to solve the problem that doesn't rely on machine code generated by JavaScript interpreters or through the use of virtual machines (VMs).

"While Android offers the largest addressable market opportunity for app developers, developing C++ Android applications has fallen short on developer productivity," the company said. "The latest release of Appmethod now includes a 'Free Forever' subscription plan that C++ developers can use to create Android apps to be published on any public app store (for example, Amazon App Store and Google Play). Appmethod also enables developers to build and publish apps for all other supported device platforms for 30 days, and provides access to Appmethod Enterprise Mobility Services."

Appmethod's Enterprise Mobility Services is an optional service that can securely expose custom APIs via REST/JSON, and access enterprise data from major databases with SQL database connectors, providing secure use of embedded and server databases.

"The holy grail of mobile development is a toolset that supports the three major platforms natively with a single code base," the company quoted Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data, as saying. "Starting with the most used language and the most used mobile platform and then allowing recompilation to the others makes perfect sense."

In addition to the free-for-30-days plan, Appmethod comes in an individual plan for about $25 per month per platform developer for up to five developers in an organization, or a business plan for about $85 per month, with no company size limit.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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