Building Mobile Applications for Enterprise: The HTML5 vs. Hybrid vs. Native Dilemma
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This post is mainly about building Enterprise Mobile applications. Today I was reading Charlie's post about building mobile applications, and was analyzing the hybrid application scenario from an Enterprise Standpoint.
The Bigger Picture
Most of the recent conversations I had about building enterprise mobile applications starts with questions like “Whether I should go Hybrid or Native”. It is true that a lot of organizations are interested to go the ‘hybrid’ way because of cost concerns – but in my opinion, any decision should be customer driven instead of cost driven. So, the answer for this question should be driven by “What will give the best user experience to the end user”, instead or/along with asking questions like “how we can reduce the cost”. This is true for all apps, not just for enterprise mobile apps.
Beyond this, from an Enterprise Standpoint, I think achieving end point independence is another way to reduce your cost and future proof your investments. So, while “HTML5 vs Hybrid vs Native” is just one decision parameter, there are few more parameters to consider when you talk about a mobile strategy. Including,
Concerns during envisioning phase
- Target user analysis
- Choose a simple framework to begin with, like Forrester’s POST approach
- Gap analysis and portfolio rationalization
Deciding a strategy for Mobile Application development & Delivery
- Mobile Web/Pure HTML/JS
- Hybrid apps (HTML5/JS apps in Native containers - Like Phone Gap and/or native parts/plugs like in Titanium)
- Native apps
Concerns regarding a Common Service Layer
- Building/Implementing a scalable Common Service Layer
- Implementing a scalable broker system between the service layer and legacy systems
- Ensuring standards (like using REST)
- Identifying and integrating a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for media delivery
- Security and Performance
- Device based testing
- Payment model
- Keep track of submitted applications
- Feedback tracking
- Continuous improvement
So, all these are parts of your mobile strategy. Especially when you talk about Enterprise mobility, achieving Mobile End Point independence is a key concern, and organizations understand the necessity of making their business logic and data available to multiple end points. REST is evolving more and more as a default choice for building a public service layer, around your existing data and intelligence.
Hybrid vs Native
Now, specifically about Hybrid vs Native. Here are the main Pros and Cons as I see it.
For Hybrid applications
- No need for device specific development
- Better ROI as same code base can be re-used (to an extent) across multiple platforms
- You can still access some of the device features
- Can be packaged for additional channels, (Chrome Packaged Apps, Awesonium)
- UI specialization is difficult
- Can’t be as responsive and feature rich as ‘pure’ native applications
- May hit limitations when implementing specific, optimized features
For Native Applications
- High degree of customization, can satisfy edge conditions
- High degree of usability
- Scattered/multiple platforms
- Investment required for each platform
- Non unified code base, not much re-usability
- Teams with multiple skill sets required
That said, again, think beyond the “Hybrid vs Native” point when you think about Enterprise Mobility.
From a Middleware Perspective
- Select a strategy where storage and compute resources of your Mobile apps can reside in Mobile devices, on-premises servers and Cloud computing infrastructure.
- Use a brokered service for connecting, communicating and brokering between Mobile apps, on-premise resources and Cloud/Middleware environment.
- Custom implementation on top of brokers like Windows Azure Service Bus
- Build on a Mobile ready WOA stack like Marlabs Matrix platform
- Third party Mobile Middle ware platforms like Syclo etc
From a Middleware Perspective
Submission governance includes deciding a proper strategy for payment model, usage tracking, analytics and feedback reporting. The Submission Governance should ensure
- Minimum criteria for submitting an application to the app store
- Users are heard properly – Feedbacks and ratings should be used for identifying features
- Releases and updates are following user expectations
So, happy coding!!