LigerMobile framework aims to raise the bar for hybrid mobile app dev

ReachLocal wants to improve the UI experience on iOS and Android with its open source cross-platform mobile development tools

There are plenty of cross-platform mobile development tools on the market today, from companies such as Sencha, Xamarin, and Appcelerator. ReachLocal believes it has something new to bring to the party with its open source LigerMobile framework, unveiled this week.

ReachLocal, an online marketing company, is releasing its open source LigerMobile framework for building hybrid applications for Apple iOS and Google Android. LigerMobile aims to raise the bar on the user interface experience in hybrid applications by performing page-to-page transitions as native animations. This differs from the conventional approach of emulating native behavior in JavaScript, ReachLocal said.

"Traditionally, the hybrid mobile apps were really just a fancy Web app that tried to emulate native behavior on the devices," said ReachLocal's Joshua Tuberville, principal architect. All the device was doing was launching an HTML view and acting as a single-page application, he said. But this method is sluggish, does not feel native, and can run out of memory and then crash, Tuberville said. "We tried that approach and we hated it, especially when we were emulating transitions from one view to another."

ReachLocal instead decided to launch separate HTML5 views for each view, providing a collection of single-page apps with native transitions. JavaScript is used to build iOS and Android application "skeletons," which serve as master JavaScript templates. Although initially built on top of Apache Cordova, which provides APIs for building native applications via Web technologies, LigerMobile has been using less and less of Cordova lately. Business logic is shared across iOS and Android applications. "If you are looking for a tool to build a hybrid app, create a prototype or just need a stepping stone to full native app development -- this is a great way to begin," the LigerMobile GitHub page says.

Developers are provided with the glue to prototype an application in HTML5 and then can decide how much native coding -- in either Java for Android or Objective-C for iOS -- they need, Tuberville said. Other JavaScript technologies can be used in conjunction with LigerMobile, such as the AngularJS framework or CoffeeScript. The project began when the company was a building a mobile app for its ReachEdge marketing automation product. "Basically, the framework emerged from that product as we worked on it," said Tuberville.

This story, "LigerMobile framework aims to raise the bar for hybrid mobile app dev," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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