Telerik pitches new framework for building Android, iOS, Windows apps

NativeScript lets JavaScript programmers reuse their skills to build native apps

With Telerik's open source framework NativeScript, programmers with expertise in JavaScript have a new option for cross-platform mobile app development. The resulting applications will be able to run directly on Android, iOS and Windows.

After launching a beta in March, Progress Software-owned Telerik on Tuesday launched the first generally available version of NativeScript. The company describes it as a native framework that lets developers build apps for Android, iOS and later this year, Windows phones, with much of the same code. The choice of JavaScript as the underlying language wasn't a coincidence.

"We think it's one of the most universal languages and skill sets out there," said Todd Anglin, vice president of product management and marketing at Telerik.

The goal has been to allow customers to reuse the same skills as well as tools (including Visual Studio and Telerik's own AppBuilder) to build Web and native apps, as well as hybrids of the two. This flexibility is needed because most modern organizations have some of each. Very few companies get away with a one-size-fits-all strategy, according to Anglin. Up until now, Telerik's tools have been used to build Web and hybrid apps.

The foundation of the framework is the so-called NativeScript Modules Layer, which translates NativeScript to platform- specific code. Telerik has focused on NativeScript's user interface, which is one of the biggest challenges when building applications for multiple OSes. With NativeScript, features such as navigation are automatically adapted to work the way users on each OS expect.

To help developers get started, Telerik has a dedicated website for NativeScript. Here, developers can find documentation, a showcase of apps built using the framework and a roadmap detailing future upgrades.

The plans for developing NativeScript were first made public in June last year, so the company has been working on it for a long time. But like other first versions, NativeScript still has some growing up to do. Telerik already has plans to launch an updated version in June. It's expected to include a cross-platform notifications module and support for Apple Watch.

NativeScript is available under an Apache version 2 license, and the source code can be downloaded from Telerik's GitHub repository by anyone who is interested. The company plans to make money from NativeScript by integrating it with the its existing products, such as the Telerik Platform.

For companies that want to build apps that can run across many OSes there are already a ton of options. With NativeScript, Telerik will compete with PhoneGap from Adobe Systems, Appcelerator's Titanium and Xamarin's C#-based platform.

They all have a big head start, but Telerik thinks NativeScript is good enough to compete. For example, NativeScript offers better performance than PhoneGap, thanks to the fact it doesn't rely on a browser layout and rendering engine to display the user interface, the company said.

NativeScript was launched at Telerik's first ever U.S. user conference, TelerikNEXT.

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Tags mobilesoftwaremobile applicationsapplication developmentTelerik

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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