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IOS Swift Native Apps Versus Ionic Hybrid Apps | Touchstone Words

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Native iOS App Design with Swift versus Ionic JavaScript Framework – What to Pick

By Editorial Team on 2017-11-11

Although Swift is the oldest platform for designing native iOS Apps, nowadays many developers use JavaScript frameworks such as Ionic, React Native, or even jQuery Mobile to design and deploy their iOS Apps. As such, this article discusses the pros and cons of Ionic versus Swift and helps you find the right platform for designing iOS Apps.


The Ionic Framework was created with seamless development and minimal code generation in mind. In order to do so, its developers utilized AngularJS and Apache Cordova to use web based tools to create a seemingly native experience. This kind of development became known as hybrid applications - the ability to write an application in one paradigm and have it be ported to all kinds of platforms. Ionic enabled developers to write performant applications in native HTML and CSS code and have them run on both mobile and desktop devices.


The Ionic Framework was created with native design in mind. Its components are very similar to native components found in the Android using Java language and iOS SDKs using Swift language. This enables Ionic to create an experience for App users similar to that of a native experience. Its pre styled components allow developers to create applications that look amazing from the start and don’t have an out of the box feel like many other native applications. This is through WebViews in both Android and iOS platforms. As a result, Ionic applications can be more easily built and have a lower risk of crashing on such devices.


Ionic utilizes a web based approach to creating its applications. This is very different from the iOS paradigm of design which uses a drag and drop system through its integrated development environment, Xcode. Developers can drag and drop components onto a screen of their application and subsequently map sections of code to the functionality of the component they just placed. However, this web based development approach enables web developers to be easily introduced to the iOS development scheme and allows them to prototype applications quite rapidly, which can then be created natively.


While Ionic does enable developers to create a web style experience for users, it can often be less effective than a native experience. Ionic does give developers components that ease native design problems, many animations can be sluggish and look non-native. However, as Apple improves the performance of their phones and UIWebView and AngularJS keeps optimizing its code to more efficiently run JavaScript through a device, these problems will slowly disappear as the development of hybrid applications won’t be thwarted by slow bridging between web applications and native applications.


However, while using the Apache Cordova system, developers will have a difficult time with enabling more native features. As more sophisticated hardware is added to Apple mobile devices, the need for plugins through Apache Cordova will increase. As these plugins get more and more sophisticated, developers will have less control over the actual functionality of such plugins for their applications. This creates a sort of black box problem for developers. While React Native allows developers to port their code to a native application which can then be opened in Xcode, Ionic cannot do that due to it being a hybrid application. Therefore developers will have to rely on the generation of plugins for the Apache Cordova system.


Programming Languages and Resources for App Developers
Here are a brief summary of coding languages and resources for developing web Apps or native Apps without using Swift. In general, you need to know common web programming languages such as  HTML, CSS (or HTML5 & CSS3) JavaScript (or JS frameworks like jQuery, Angular, React Web, Node, React Native, Ionic, jQuery Mobile or Express) and  a database  like MongoDB. Knowlege of a back-end coding in language such as PHP, MySQL, Apache or Ruby on Rails is useful but not required. For those interested in learning more about web design and development, here are a list of step-by-step training guide articles: i- Become CMS specialist, ii- Become front-end specialist, iii- Become expert SQL developer, iv- Become expert PHP developer. Lastly, you can use Ionic Java or React Naive to design Android Apps. 


Swift and Ionic coding are well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in mobile App design and development; however, other options are, system admin, web design and development and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.


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