NativeScript - to rule them all?
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Monday, 16 May 2016

NativeScript 2.0 was recently released with tighter integratin for Angular2, extended support for 3rd-party native libraries for iOS and Android, and support, via plug-ins for TypeScript and UWP. A webinar tomorrow from John Papa will show you how to use Angular and NativeScript to build native mobile apps.


Cross platform mobile applications are the holly grail of every developer. Many have tried to conquer it, some have failed, some had successes, albeit mediocre ones. Each solution replenished the other solutions' shortcomings, still no-one being 100% percent at the target. There were many paths to follow, the end result of that, a heavily fragmented landscape of mobile cross platform development.

You could use frameworks, Angular, React, JQuery Mobile or HTML5 and vanilla Javascript, taking the path of your app running inside the browser, or masqueraded as a 'native' app through PhoneGap or Cordova emulating a native environment.

Your app now could run anywhere, having access to the actual mobile hardware but still confined within the boundaries of the WebView and the facilities it offers.

Then, you didn't like Javascript that much? No worries there was CoffeScript, TypeScript and the language X to Javascript cross compilers the likes of SharpKit for C#, JSIL for both C# and VB.NET, Opal for Ruby, Google Web Toolkit for Java, Erjang for Erlang, Pyjs for Python, Perlito for Perl, you name it.

And then, the true native path of Java, C and JNI, Xamarin and Mono, Objective-C and Swift. Now you do get access to the hardware but you bear the cost of a steep learning curve, the overhead of a static's language syntax (if accustomed to Javascript), as well as having to learn an IDE such as Android Studio, Visual Studio, Xamarin Studio and Eclipse.

Therefore, each path had something to offer but also something that had taken away. Where is the Union of the sets, an approach that rips each one's benefits without any loss? in other words, we needed something that seizes the ease of development and ubiquity of Javascript but also added unhindered access to the native API's, so that you could transfer the knowledge, tools and frameworks accustomed to when developing for the Web, to the mobile device?


Enter NativeScript and the path towards the promised land.
Backed by the weight of Telerik, open source, free and with a large community around it surely looks capable of finally cutting the Gordian knot. It's important to understand that NativeScript is a runtime that makes no use of the DOM like the PhoneGap or Cordova applications do, building truly native UI's instead.

It's also important to note that the concept is not new, and NativeScript while spearheading is not alone in this native applications movement, (see ReactNative), but it's just that NativeScript seems more capable of pulling it off. As to the reasons why -

With NativeScript you can :

  • share the same code base for every mobile platform, code once deploy anywhere
  • code in standards-based ECMAScript 5 JavaScript
  • use Javascript libraries as well as native libraries
    say written in Java
  • have full access to the device and native API's, instantly hook into the new or update API's released by the vendors of Apple, Google and Microsoft
  • and not to be underestimated, the ability to style the native UI with CSS!

April 27th, 2016 finds version 2.0 released with lots and important additions:

  • First of all tighter integration with and support for Angular2, so you can fully reuse skills and code from the web on mobile

  • Support for 3rd-party native libraries in iOS and for Android, not just the vanilla ones

  • Support for plugins, TypeScript and experimentally the Universal Windows Platform, while Javascript background threads are not included in this release.

Do you think that mobile is the final frontier? No, there's already voices  that ask for integration with the desktop too, and by that  entering the realm of NW.js which supports Windows, Linux and Mac
(these capabilities have already being used for nefarious purposes though,see Even Javascript Can Implement Ransomware),
but that is not a top priority for Telerik at the moment.

So where does that leave us? Javascript after ruling the browser, almost the server, now mobile, the desktop soon to follow, what does that mean for the rest? Will Javascript sidetrack everybody and rule them all? Far fetched it might sound but the push towards that direction has already began...

Closing up, do make sure that you reserve a seat in the upcoming Use Angular and NativeScript® to build native mobile apps. No Web Views webinar, commencing on May 17th, where John Papa talks everything NativeScript.





More Information


NativeScript · GitHub

Related Articles

JavaScript For Native Apps 

NativeScript 1.0.0 Released 

Even Javascript Can Implement Ransomware


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Last Updated ( Monday, 16 May 2016 )