Telerik's NativeScript Aims To Centralize Cross-Platform Mobile Development
Telerik, a subsidiary of Progress Software Corp., is open sourcing the NativeScript platform for use by all developers free of charge, but it's tailored to work within the company's commercial AppBuilder IDE (formerly called Icenium), part of the Telerik Platform ecosystem.
The company introduced the emergent NativeScript beta in a Web event that it claimed was attended by more than 5,000 viewers.
"This keynote changes everything we know about mobile app development," said program manager Ruslan Mursalzade in the Web event.
First announced nine months ago, NativeScript is aiming for the elusive cross-platform nirvana of writing one store-ready app that provides full native functionality and "look-and-feel" on different OSes. However, it doesn't use the WebKit rendering engine featured in several other approaches, and differs significantly from alternatives such as that used by the Apache Cordova/PhoneGap camp and the Xamarin/Appcelerator approach.
"PhoneGap framework is using the browser's layout and rendering engine to display the UI of the application," the project's FAQ states. "NativeScript is using the native platform default rendering and layout engine to display the UI of the application."
It also points out several perceived advantages over the Xamarin/Appcelerator model, such as support for third-party libraries without the need for wrappers. "This is not the case in either Appcelerator or Xamarin," Telerik states. Also, the FAQ says, shared UI across platforms "is currently not supported in Xamarin and has significant productivity value when building medium and large mobile applications targeting more than one OS."
Product manager Valio Stoychev said his favorite part of the NativeScript project was the library support, a feature also highly touted by coders taking part in the NativeScript Insiders beta experience. "We provide you with support for third-party native libraries out of the box," Stoychev said. "This is a huge thing. You'll be able to use any native Java or Objective-C library in your NativeScript project."
"Similar in implementation to React Native," read one commenter on a Reddit thread about NativeScript. "It uses a JS engine to talk to native APIs. With React Native you will still end up writing different frontend/rendering/layout code for each platform, however."
NativeScript is now available on GitHub. According to the company's roadmap, NativeScript v1.0 is planned for a May introduction, featuring a style guide for building cross-platform apps, Android performance improvements, new cross-platform UI elements and numerous other enhancements. The company is hosting a three-day TelerikNEXT conference in Boston starting May 3.
"I believe the NativeScript framework is going to revolutionize the mobile application marketplace," the company quoted Sharesoft exec Ian Price as saying. "Building mobile apps from a single code base enables developers to reuse features and functionality across platforms, which simplifies mobile app development and significantly increases productivity. I'm also impressed by how easily I've been able to develop native, cross-platform applications using familiar Web development tools and skills."
David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.