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Appcelerator Titanium vs. Phonegap: Which is the better Mobile Development Platform?

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Appcelerator Titanium vs. Phonegap: Which is the better Mobile Development Platform?

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There are several different frameworks to choose from when developers want to build mobile applications that can deploy to multiple platforms and still harness their native capabilities. Some developers may choose PhoneGap, an HTML5 app platform that uses web technologies to create applications for several different mobile platforms with access to the native APIs. Another developer may choose Appcelerator Titanium, a framework that creates native code for mobile platforms from pure JavaScript. So, which framework should you use? Tony Lukasavage, a mobile development blogger, tries to help you answer this question with an in-depth article and nifty comparison chart detailing the differences between these frameworks.

According to Lukasavage, PhoneGap provides the easiest transition from web to mobile development. They can use their HTML5, CSS3, and DOM based JavaScript library experience to create applications based on what they already know. Titanium only requires knowledge of JavaScript, and is more well-suited for a pure application developer. As Lukasavage puts it, “Why learn HTML, CSS, and Javascript when you can just learn JavaScript?”

So, these frameworks are suited for different kinds of developers, but which has better features?

Lukasavage believes Appcelerator Titanium “is always going to win” over PhoneGap in performance by creating native code instead of relying on HTML5 and features supported in mobile browsers. PhoneGap excels over Titanium in deployment, as its applications are web based and accessible in any mobile browser with HTML5 support. With Titanium, it is not guaranteed that the application will perform the same across all mobile devices, and platform compatibility requires more attention. As Lukasavage puts it, “it is much harder to “code once, deploy everywhere” using the Titanium framework”.

Paul Beusterien shared his thoughts in a comment on Lukasavage’s blog, but he also shared his thoughts on the distinction between these two frameworks in a response to this question on Quora:

They have two very different philosophies - "gap" versus "native"

With PhoneGap you create as much of the app as you can in HTML5 and PhoneGap will provide glue to cover features not yet available in the mobile browser. PhoneGap's goal is to fade away over time.

On the other hand, Titanium Appcelerator focuses especially on helping JavaScript developers create native apps.

Dan Mullinex had some additional criticism of Titanium in the comments:

Appcelerators performance is limited by the javascript interpreter that they wrap and mod with native hooks …

This criticism on PhoneGap’s performance issues comes from Paul Beusterien in the comments:

UI performance improvements would be hard to get around [Phonegap’s] Web View’s limitations.

More information on Phonegap and Appcelerator Titanium can be found at their official websites, and Tony Lukasavage has an in-depth comparison of the frameworks' features is available at SavageLook.com.

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