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Native vs. HTML5: The Enterprise Argument

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A variety of arguments come up in the native vs. HTML5 debate. When an enterprise is crafting its mobile application development strategy it must weigh many factors. It’s part of our mission at Appcelerator to stay abreast of these issues and give the thousands of developers who use our platform the best current information so they can build, today, beautiful apps that make use of the best, most transformative new technologies.

The user experience factor (utility, ease of use, and efficiency) favors native apps, as Apple and Google continue to crank out regular new releases with thousands of new APIs, enabling developers to create the beautiful, useful, and transformative apps users want.

A key element of user experience is performance. Native apps have the advantage in rendering and loading speeds, as applications load locally rather than through the server-dependent browser.

For monetization native applications are favored as well, being distributed through well-organized app stores.

Naturally, the cost of cross-platform deployment is higher for native apps.

However, both native and HTML5 developers can experience problems with fragmentation; support for HTML5 varies with the browser, while significant Android device fragmentation has kept Google’s mobile OS in second place behind Apple’s.

HTML5 gets the nod for availability of programming expertise. Enterprises have spent the last 15 years building up internal developer expertise in web technologies, so a mobile developer project that requires HTML and JavaScript skills has a greater pool of developers from which to choose when compared to the pool of Objective-C programmers.

Since HTML5 apps and updates are deployed directly to the user community via the browser, HTML5 development may be preferable if immediate updates and distribution control are critical. This method can shorten upgrade, change, and release cycles.

A developing organization seeking timely access to new OS innovations will favor native application development. HTML5 is governed by a slow-moving standards body (W3C) that does not keep pace with the multiple new releases of Android per year or annual iOS releases.

HTML5 poses unique security risks. Both HTML5-based apps and hybrid “container”-based apps that run in a native shell store and present data in the very open HTML format. With a compiled native application it’s much more difficult for someone outside the application developer team to access the source code.

For an expanded discussion of these factors please download our whitepaper on the native vs. HTML5 debate.

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