Cross-platform tools are software development frameworks that allow one to develop software on a single platform and deploy on multiple platforms.
Cross-platform tools have had a long and tortuous history in the world of software development. From complete development environments to UI tools, cross-platform tools have helped countless companies release the same product on multiple platforms simultaneously. Based on my experience, I am tempted to say same sub-standard product, but that may be a little too harsh. However, it is undeniable that cross-platform tools, as they need to cater to the least common demoninator of all the platforms supported, are not able to provide the same great experience that software natively developed for a particular platform can provide. Having said that, some of the ones listed below are working hard to go as close to native as possible by providing platform specific libraries to go with their framework.
The latest crop of cross-platform tools are the ones that help developers build apps for the major mobile platforms such as Android, iPhone, Windows, Blackberry, Symbian, Palm and others. Given below are the top ten cross-platform development tools. If you have used one or more of these and would like to share your experiences, please do leave comments. If you are building or have built a cross-platform tool that you think should be covered in this column, please leave a comment and we will get in touch with you.
Rhodes is an open source Ruby-based framework to rapidly build native apps for all major smartphone operating systems (iPhone, Android, RIM, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7). These are true native device applications (NOT mobile web apps) which work with synchronized local data and take advantage of device capabilities such as GPS, PIM contacts and calendar, camera, native mapping, push, barcode, signature capture, Bluetooth and Near Field Communications (NFC). Free. Support is charged.
3. Titanium from appcelerator.
4. NS Basic/App Studio
5. Sencha Touch.
This development platform is targeted towards enterprises wanting to get some of their applications available on the mobile. Requires the MobileReflex client engine to be running on the mobile device. Definitely not for you if you are building a consumer app. Not available for Android yet! Not free.
8. Application Craft.