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Appery.io Integrates with Ionic for Hybrid Mobile Development

Appery LLC today announced it has integrated the Ionic SDK into its cross-platform development framework, targeting coders building hybrid mobile apps with Web technologies.

Appery.io is a low-code, rapid development platform based in the cloud and leveraging integrated back-end services and middleware for creating apps that can run on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. It's one of many industry offerings promising to provide native-like apps with one code base primarily consisting of HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. This approach avoids the high cost and increased time associated with separate, pure native projects while providing benefits such as app store compatibility that go beyond straight cross-platform Web apps.

The Appery.io platform also addresses the highly publicized lack of mobile-skilled developers. "The Appery.io platform also lowers the skills barrier, empowering a broader base of developers and business analysts to create effective and intuitive mobile applications," the company said in a news release today.

The news release officially announced the new support of the Ionic SDK, joining a bevy of other supported technologies including Apache Cordova/PhoneGap, Bootstrap, AngularJS and jQuery Mobile. Ionic is a free and open source library of HTML, CSS and JavaScript components, gestures and tools optimized to build front-end UIs for interactive mobile apps.

Using Ionic Components in the Appery.io Platform
[Click on image for larger view.] Using Ionic Components in the Appery.io Platform (source: Appery LLC)

"Ionic comes with native-styled mobile UI elements and layouts that you'd get with a native SDK on iOS or Android," Appery said in a blog post last month. "However, since Ionic is an HTML5 framework, it needs a native wrapper like Cordova in order to run as a native app. With Appery.io, Cordova capability comes standard, allowing you to run your apps as native, as well as give you access to native features such as the camera, geolocation, or barcode scanning features."

Under the guise of Drifty, an independently bootstrapped software company founded in 2012, Ionic was released in an alpha version in 2013 and emerged from beta in a 1.0 version just a couple months ago. Since then, it has been making waves in the industry, announcing alpha-stage services for push notifications, app deployment/updating and analytics.

Ionic CEO and co-founder Max Lynch addressed the Web/native/hybrid debate in a blog post last month in which he explained why Ionic was formed -- to address a lack of products and services available to the hybrid camp, of which he is a champion.

"I realized that the vast majority of the mobile dev space had a huge blind spot and was in utter disbelief that anyone would want to build a serious mobile app with browser technologies, so they weren't catering to the needs of hybrid devs at all," Lynch said.

"Our intense focus on hybrid developers was validated once Ionic started gaining traction, Apple and Google started featuring Ionic apps as best-in-class, and developers came to us asking for recommendations for push notifications, databases, app servers, analytics, and everything in between," Lynch continued. "They just weren't finding what they needed from the mobile development space that only cared about developers building apps with the native SDKs, languages and controls."

That hybrid approach espoused by Lynch and his partners was further validated by today's news of the Appery integration.

"For years, developers had to make a choice," Appery said today. "If they wanted to create apps that worked across multiple device types -- Android, IOS, and Windows -- HTML5 or hybrid mobile apps could be deployed quickly, easily, and at a relatively low cost, but forced developers to sacrifice the UX consumers expect. Alternatively, native apps provided a more dynamic experience unique to the device and OS, but were expensive and took time to build for each platform. By integrating the Ionic SDK into Appery.io, developers no longer have to compromise when creating apps for the enterprise and can build HTML5/hybrid apps on a single code base that offer a native UX across all platforms."

Appery said the Ionic integration offers another choice to developers using its platform, depending on their skills and requirements. The company said developers should continue to use tools like jQuery Mobile or Bootstrap if they're more comfortable.

"If you're already familiar with Ionic, or are simply interested in the framework's improved UX for hybrid apps, that framework is the way to go," Appery said in last month's blog post. "However, remember that if you want to build an app that runs in the browser, make sure you're using jQuery Mobile or Bootstrap, not Ionic."

The Appery.io platform, in the spirit of other low-code offerings, includes a visual IDE where developers of all abilities can use a drag-and-drop approach to assemble UI components into an app front end. The visual approach is also applied to data binding, where data relationships are expressed through a drag-and-drop Visual Data Mapping Editor. Several preinstalled app templates are available to help developers get started.

The platform features built-in support for several popular JavaScript frameworks, including AngularJS, which is a core component of the Ionic SDK. It produces APK, IPA or XAP binaries for the different target platforms that are suitable for submission to consumer or enterprise app stores. It also provides a testing service for Android or iOS apps, along with many other development, deployment and administrative services.

"Appery, LLC has made significant strides this year to ensure that we're providing the best possible product to the 200,000-plus developers using Appery.io," said CEO Fima Katz in a statement today. "With the integration of Ionic's capabilities into our platform, we've been able to close the gap between fully native and hybrid apps so that developers don't have to choose between speed, cost and user experience."

Appery.io comes with several pricing plans, including a free starter package that limits development to a maximum of three pages and one user. Other plans range up to $180 per month, with an enterprise version featuring custom pricing options.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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