One code-base for all mobile platforms is a pipe dream

After spending the last months developing a mobile app using cross platform technology in the form of Apache Cordova, I have come to realise that the claim of having one code-base that runs on all the mobile platforms is not strictly true. In fact, it’s probably a pipe dream in most cases.

This is not a criticism of any of the cross-platform tools. We used Apache Cordova in conjunction with Telerik Platform and found it to be excellent.

That said, we came across several issues in testing where the different mobile platforms looked and / or behaved slightly differently from each other. None of these were show-stoppers, but were more niggles. But they were still niggles that took time and effort to resolve. They were akin to the idiosyncracies between the different browsers when browsing the Internet.

In particular we had issues with Apple and to a lesser extent Windows Phone (although we dropped Windows Phone before launch release for obvious reasons). Android worked like a charm.

For example we came across scrolling issues on iPhone and iPad devices during testing. When trying to scroll down through a screen, it would sometimes appear “sticky” and take a few swipes to get it to scroll. Turns out this is a well known issue on Apple devices and can be resolved by changing some of the Apache Cordova config settings.

Some of the UI controls didn’t render as expected on iPhone, and they wouldn’t always position correctly. Again, all minor niggles and no showstoppers. Yet having to fix each of them took time that could have been spent elsewhere.

So whilst most of the apps all worked well across the various mobile platforms, we did come across several issues that were specific to a particular platform, and which took time to fix.

Having one code-base running all mobile platforms is a great marketing claim, but the reality may be somewhat different.

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A father, cyclist, vegetarian, atheist, geek and multiple award winning technical author. Loves real ale, fine wine and good music. All round decent chap.

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