Understanding Multi Platform Development

The days of designing and developing software for a single platform are long gone – it is an expensive, time-consuming venture. In today’s competitive world, businesses should be accessible to customers on as many platforms and devices as possible. 

Disregarding either Android or iOS means you’ll be significantly limiting your reach either way, and native app development can be very tedious, time consuming, and costly. By leveraging multi-platform development, companies can more quickly increase exposure to a larger number of uses on multiple devices and platforms.

Multi-platform development is becoming a critical part of innovative businesses and individuals focused on maintaining a competitive edge in any consumer market. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about multi platform development, from the different device platforms available to the benefits of multi platform development over traditional software development approaches. 

The article discusses some of the best resources and tools for multi platform development and provides critical tips for using several multi platform development tools. 

Let us look at the different facets of multi platform development in detail.

What is multi-platform development?

Multi-platform development is a term that experts in software development use to describe approaches and strategies utilized to create mobile, desktop and web apps that run effectively on multiple platforms or devices. These platforms can be:

  • iOS 
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Web
  • macOS

Some customers use more than one device, each running on a unique operating system. These customers anticipate consistent user experiences irrespective of the devices or platforms they are working with. 

Multi platform development caters to every stage of the software lifecycle. Software developers must optimize UI UX design components, information architecture and product usability for customers to enjoy seamless interaction with their favorite brands and businesses.

Is multi platform development revolutionary? It is arguably the best thing to happen in the software development space. Initially, developers focused on writing software targeting a specific platform – for instance, Windows. It means the technical capabilities and knowledge of developers were limited. 

What happens if customers no longer like the platform that you develop software for? It is becoming inevitable for developers to learn multiple skills and understand how diverse software development frameworks work. At times people use cross-platform app development when referring to multi platform development. They have differences and similarities and use similar approaches to resolve software development challenges.

Multi platform development allows developers to write application codes once and run them on different platforms. These developers optimize software features to ensure they operate effectively on several devices and operating systems.

Multi platform development has several benefits that are business and customer-sided. Apart from reaching a wider audience, developers can take advantage of the unique features each platform has to offer to customize business solutions and expedite software development.

Things To Consider Before Beginning Multi platform development

Are you preparing to work on a new software product? If you are thinking of multi platform development, here are a few things you must keep in mind.

Target specific platforms

Developing software for multiple platforms may not be the ultimate answer. One benefit you will gain is enhanced customer engagement. However, some platforms have fewer customers. It is prudent to focus on devices and platforms with more customers. It does not make good business sense to build apps for a platform that your target audiences do not interact with often. 

Optimize code portability across platforms

Before launching software on different platforms, developers should ensure the codebase is portable. It means the developed code should run on any platform without much hassle. Any modifications to be made should not affect user flows and the hierarchy of commands. The wireframe development process for all platforms should remain consistent for clients to enjoy similar experiences irrespective of the operating platforms, devices and firmware they use.

Test software on all platforms 

Developers must test software on all platforms before release. The software must be compatible with platform-specific elements and plugins and be stable across devices. Testing helps developers identify usability issues and catch any bugs that may impede its performance at the customer’s end. Before committing to multi platform development, ensure you understand how to test apps on different platforms. If you will enlist third-party testers, ensure you have sufficient budgets for it.

Multi-platform development can be a little challenging, but it is worth it in the long run. 

The benefits of multi-platform development

Multi platform development has many benefits that impact business strategies and customer engagement. A skilled multi platform developer is an all-around specialist that can participate in:

  • iOS app development
  • Android app development
  • Web app development
  • Desktop app development

They increase the flexibility and efficiency of traditional and new software using agile methodologies and other advanced strategies for quickly launching digital products.

Multi-platform development also has several advantages over traditional development approaches. They are:

Enhances software flexibility

Multi platform development increases software flexibility. Developers can adapt and scale applications to work on advanced hardware devices and platforms. 

It is cheaper and faster

Using multi platform development is cheaper and faster. The developer creates a single codebase that is adapted to several platforms. It eliminates the need to build several versions of the same program. 

Simultaneous updates

Developers using this approach can update the software on different platforms simultaneously. They receive feedback from different target audiences and can leverage this information to enhance software functionality and fix predominant bugs in particular devices or operating systems. 

The challenges of multi-platform development

Multi platform development can be challenging for a section of developers. The biggest concern for developers is how to create consistent user experiences across multiple devices, given the different features and capabilities of the hardware. What are some of the challenges that multi platform developers should anticipate, and how can they overcome them?

Balancing performance and user experiences

Every device has a set of technical capabilities and performance limitations. There are activities that a desktop or laptop computer can perform seamlessly yet become a problem for a smartphone. The developer must explore ways to adapt the same codebase for all these devices. It can include minimizing memory allocation when the app is used on handheld devices.

Code adaptation for platforms

Another difficulty multi platform development teams face is managing code adaptation to different platforms. It means the developer should understand how each platform works, syntax and bug fixing. It becomes a bigger problem if the developer cannot comprehend how to track issues on diverse platforms. The development team spends more time fixing usability issues and adapting codebases for hardware and operating systems.

Unpredictable testing experiences

Testing and debugging is usually the most unpredictable stage in multi platform development. No one knows how the apps will perform on specific platforms nor how the devices will react to different applications. Will they slow down other processes? Lack of extensive testing and debugging knowledge may increase software development errors. Developers should be cautious when testing and modifying their code to ensure all features work as intended and are compatible with native devices.

Despite these challenges, multi platform development is beneficial, and developers can enjoy better success if they are aware of the potential pitfalls and plan accordingly. Taking time to create a consistent user experience and manage different code bases enables developers to create applications that appeal to a larger target audience.

Frameworks for multi-platform development

Different frameworks exist in the market for developers to create multi platform solutions. These frameworks have unique characteristics, development tools and in-built functions to expedite software development and simplify routine workflows. Each framework has benefits and drawbacks. The choice of framework depends on several factors. Before settling on a multi platform development framework, consider the following factors: 

  1. What type of project are you developing?

The first thing is to identify the type of software you intend to build. Is it an enterprise or personal project? How fast do you wish to release the app? 

Enterprise-level software requires rigorous research and optimization of critical features. It also requires a bigger software development team and may take time to actualize. 

  1. How complex is your project?

The complexity of a multi platform solution depends on the number of features, UI components and quantity of commands the software can handle. Complex projects are a little demanding. Developers are required to write long lines of code to execute such complex projects. 

  1. What budget do you have for development?

Multi platform development is an investment in itself. The developer or business needs to set aside money to facilitate team operations from conceptualization to launching. The budget should be commensurate with the complexity of the project. A hefty budget means the company can pay for the most experienced and talented developers.

  1. What skills does your team have?

Every multi platform development framework uses a set of languages and code syntax. The multi platform development team should possess extensive knowledge of different technical skills. They should understand how to use HTML, CSS and Javascript for web app development, object-oriented programming languages like Objective-C, Java, Swift and Dart for iOS and Android app development, and C++ or C# for desktop apps. Sometimes, one hires experts with different skill sets to work on a project.

Irrespective of the multi platform development framework you choose for the project, it is critical to deliberate about the software features you need and the type of devices that target audiences use. Here are some of the most popular multi platform development frameworks.

Xamarin

A framework that uses C# programming language and .NET framework to facilitate app development for iOS, Android, and Windows platforms. Xamarin has dedicated library classes for optimizing app features. These libraries contain XML, networking support and database management tools. Developers can compile and validate program codes on the framework, allowing them to minimize run-time errors.

React Native

Another popular option for multi platform development is React Native. The framework allows developers to create native apps for iOS and Android devices using JavaScript. It focuses on UI optimization and enables software developers to build responsive user interfaces. The framework has inbuilt debugging and code inspection tools to facilitate quality control throughout the coding process.

React native has gained popularity with a large community of global developers. These experts leverage their experiences to support the development of the framework. They also use these developer communities to share job opportunities and the latest software development trends. 

Ionic

Ionic is another popular open-source framework developers use to create attractive UIs for multi platform apps. It uses several programming languages including:

  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • HTML

The framework integrates well with other frameworks like Angular and React to facilitate cross-platform app development. Developers can access inbuilt app features and elements like cameras, GPS and recorders using plugins contained in Ionic’s integrated development environment (IDE).

Cordova

Cordova is an open-source framework that is crucial for developing hybrid apps with platform-specific apps. These apps work on Android, Windows and iOS platforms. It uses CSS3 and HTML5 programming languages. 

Other Frameworks

Developers can choose from a wide range of multi platform development frameworks depending on their skills, experiences and complexity of projects. Most of these frameworks use object-oriented programming languages. Some are easy to use, while others require extensive research and learning before utilization.

Multi platform developers should be aware of frameworks like:

Final Thoughts

Innovators and businesses are increasingly inviting the idea of transitioning from traditional software development practices and leveraging multi and cross-platform development approaches to align business development needs with existing budgets. Multi platform software development is attractive and has its challenges. To succeed with this approach, one needs to assemble a team of multi-skilled developers and plan with software development challenges and pitfalls in mind. 

Engage a software development agency if you are uncertain which procedures to follow when working on the first multi platform project. 

Developers have preferences for different software development frameworks. The choice of the framework should guarantee stability and optimal software responsiveness across devices and platforms. If you are a beginner, choose a framework with additional inbuilt tools and extensive online support to ensure you achieve development goals with less strain.