The Enterprise mobile app development debate continues at pace at Skyron. With the relative benefits of native, HTML5 or hybrid apps discussed at length near enough every day. Why the continued discussion? Because the landscape is changing continually.
The idea of “write once, run anywhere” has been a goal of the software industry at least ever since the arrival of Java. Perhaps before? Trouble was that it didn’t hold true and I remember the line being changed in jest to ‘write once, debug everywhere’. Still the goal is the same, except this time it is now in the mobile arena.
So is the time right for the mass adoption and application of a “new” open standard? Well, HTML5 does tick most of our developers’ boxes.
With the significant number of Operating Systems (and we can count the differing flavours of Android separately) and our growing unease around iOS’s walled garden (and OSX – but that’s a separate story)…we are feeling more at home with the new standard – especially in the Enterprise.
Why? Well, it clearly offers significant time and headache-saving benefits to a developer like us and to our clients. An HTML5 application runs on Android, iPhone or BlackBerry devices and the CSS3 features can be leveraged to adjust automatically the application page layout.
Factor in that HTML5 apps can bypass the stringent and lengthy app store approval processes (not needed for ‘internal’ Enterprise apps, admittedly) and also easily allow for new functionality and bug fixes to be deployed immediately – it starts to become more compelling.
But then the consumerisation of IT point raises its head again. Employees are increasingly used to the standards of native apps and sometime HTML5 just can’t quite deliver that high-end, on-platform experience that just makes native apps so compelling.
Then comes the offline data point. We’ve got a slightly different take here. A lot of commentators reference that we don’t always have ubiquitous access to the Internet (limiting the use of the app) – true. Also true is HTML5’s ability to access and save data on the device is weaker.
But, we’d argue that having the data stored on a server with limited and secure offline access for key offline tasks is often the most secure for the Enterprise.
At this stage of the argument, we are in favour in HTML5 web app route for the Enterprise – just. Look at the option of converting a web app into a hybrid app for improved UI and access to handset features and we have a stronger argument for the web and hybrid app route. Especially given the common development path.
With that thought, we can conclude our debate that it is a web app future…..Not quite.
For example the Enterprise app that we released this week on iOS platform, we opted for native because of the extensive offline data requirements and the speed of interface.
The debate continues…in the meantime it is about making the right choice given the goals and the budget – just as it has always been.