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Best Mobile Frameworks and Platforms for Hybrid HTML5 Apps

Last updated on September 1, 2015 in Development

mobile frameworks for building html5 apps

A while ago, I got into mobile app development using HTML5 and PhoneGap. It was a great solution to create apps for iOS and Android while coding in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Today, we have a lot more options in this space. There are many frameworks for building mobile applications and there are also multiple platforms that package that code into a deployable apps and even provide things like monetization, analytics, and testing. Today, I will analyze the mobile development space and go over the best mobile frameworks and cross-device platforms to build and deploy hybrid mobile applications.

Hybrid apps are either built around a native web view container or they leverage cross-platform tools that create native apps. Since a native WebView is basically an embedded web browser inside of an application, you can just focus on building a web page and the platform will package your web code into a cross-platform mobile app. PhoneGap is one of these platforms/frameworks and it gives you access to native features like the phone camera through powerful APIs and it can build apps for iOS, Android, and other popular platforms. PhoneGap Build will compile the app code in the cloud and also has additional features.

There are also many mobile frameworks which allow you to design and develop mobile apps that can be packaged with PhoneGap/Cordova:

jQuery Mobile – HTML5 based framework from jQuery. It has been around for a while and has recently added a neat ThemeRoller editor. I tried it and really did not like it. I thought it was bloated and slow.

Ionic – framework that is open sourced and has a library of mobile-optimized HTML, CSS and JS components, gestures, and tools for building highly interactive apps. It is built with Sass and AngularJS. I loved it and I build a nice hybrid app with Ionic really quickly.

Lungo – an HTML5 framework for your mobile cross-device applications with nice default styles.

Intel XDK – cross-platform HTML5 Development Tool to easily design, debug, build, and deploy HTML5 web and hybrid apps with PhoneGap/Cordova.

The M Project is a mobile HTML5 JavaScript framework for creating cross-platform mobile web apps based on Backbone.js. It has a great kitchensink example and can easily integrate with PhoneGap to deploy the app. – a free, open source JavaScript framework that helps you create smooth, complex UIs for any screen.

Framework7 – F7 is a free and open source HTML mobile framework to develop hybrid mobile apps or web apps with iOS native look and feel.

Onsen UI – a custom elements based HTML5 UI Framework that calls itseld the answer to PhoneGap development. You get many UI components and responsve layout with super performance.

Monaca – cloud IDE, enterprise framework, and local kit to develop and manage your HTML5 hybrid app

CocoonJS – HTML5 framework that speeds up HTML5 execution to improve performance in mobile games and apps.

Junior – A front-end framework for building HTML5 mobile apps with a native look and feel.

Jo – open source HTML5 Mobile App Framework that integrates with PhoneGap / Cordova.

openui5 – open source JavaScript UI library, maintained by SAP, that lets you build enterprise-ready web applications that are responsive to all devices. You can package the code with PhoneGap and build a mobile app for Android or iOS.

LoopBack by StrongLoop – Open Source API Framework Powered by Node.js with SDKs to Develop Hybrid or Native Apps

Sencha Touch is another HTML5 Mobile Framework with many components, themes, and a built-in MVC system to create powerful web apps.

Web Starter Kit – Boilerplate & Tooling for Multi-Device Development from Google. You can see an example here.

ChocolateChipUI – open source framework for building mobile Web apps with the native look of iOS 7, Android, & Windows Phone 8 using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

Ratchet – Build mobile apps with simple HTML, CSS, and JS components.

ImpactJS – a JavaScript Game Engine that allows you to develop stunning HTML5 Games for desktop and mobile browsers

UI for PhoneGap – build native like apps using PhoneGap

crosswalk – replaces native web view with a more powerful version and integrates with Apache Cordova

AppGyver – calls itself the most advanced platform for building hybrid mobile apps with HTML5 and it looks really good. It’s Supersonic framework is built on Ionic, AngularJS, and suposebly brings native performance to the UI and navigation. It uses crosswalk for Android WebViews and everything is compatible with PhoneGap/Cordova.

Kendo UI is another awesome mobile framework that is fast and light with AngularJS integration and support for Bootstrap.

Kendo UI brings us back to platforms as it comes from Telerik who also offers their Platform which can help you not only build, but test, deploy, and manage your application. The point is that the mobile frameworks listed above can be used with PhoneGap or other mobile platforms that utlize the web view model. Here is a list of Mobile Platforms for Deploying Hybrid Apps:

PhoneGap is still the most popular platform to build and deploy mobile apps. It supports a ton of mobile frameworks and will build to many devices. Some argue that it is the best.

Telerik Platform allows you to build mobile apps with JavaScript and enables cross-platform mobile development for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. It has a great mobile UI library, can integrate with Apache Cordova, but it also can deploy the app itself and provides many tools and services with its platform. It also has NativeScript which lets you develop truly native apps with JavaScript and CSS. NativeScript has direct access to native platform APIs using JavaScript VMs that contain a bunch of APIs which let you configure the JavaScript environment (how NativeScript works). is a simple native wrapper around your html5 code with powerful APIs. It lets you create native apps for multiple platforms from a single HTML5 codebase. It claims to be 5 times faster than PhoneGap

RhoMobile is an open-source mobile app platform by Motorola Solutions for creating cross-device apps. It uses the Ruby-based framework Rhodes and by using the Rhodes API you can build your app for many devices. Here is a good infographic on comparing RhoMobile to other platforms.

Appcelerator Titanium utilizes JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, PHP, Ruby, and Python to create applications that run on iOS and Android, and compile to native code. It comes with its Alloy framework. Here is a good comparison of Titatium to PhoneGap.

MoSync is a cross-platform SDK and HTML5 tool to create mobile apps. It supports C/C++ or HTML5 and it can build and deploy apps to multiple platforms. Here is how MoSync compares to PhoneGap.

Marmalade has an SDK that enables developers to deploy code across multiple platforms and devices from a single code base in C++, Lua, HTML or Objective-C. Marmalade Web lets you code primarily in HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript with a web-native bridge.

I didn’t mention Xamarin PLatform because you need to write in C# instad of HTML5 but it is pretty compelling. Same applies to RubyMotion where you build apps in Ruby and Kivy where you can build and deploy apps with Python. Same applies to FireMonkey.

Finally, if you are looking for a good MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform), take a look at Kony, Verivo, IBMWorkLight, or OutSystems.


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