The kaleidoscope of HTML5 app development

HTML5 is a technology that stands to rival the duopoly of the app economy. In terms of Mobile Developer Mindshare, 52% of developers are using HTML5 in some form, closely behind Android (57%) and iOS (72%) developers, according to our Q3 study of 6,000+ mobile app developers.

Once we double click on that 52% of HTML5 mobile mindshare, a kaleidoscope of colour and options appears behind the five short letters of HTML5. Some developers will build responsive websites that scale down gracefully when viewed on smartphones and tablets. Others will develop fully fledged web-apps that work offline and are smart enough to adapt to the user’s location. Others will combine HTML5 elements with native APIs within a wrapper such as PhoneGap, or Icenium and which can then be sold via app stores. Others will leverage native platform support for JavaScript APIs available through BlackBerry WebWorks, Firefox OS and Windows 8. And others will use cross platform tools which take JavaScript and convert it to a native app such as Appcelerator for enterprise IT use, or Ludei and Ejecta for gaming apps. Last but not least, we have seen cases of HTML5 being used by app building tools as an interim language, so that it can be rendered across multiple devices with ease.

“We thought of developing our own HTML5 framework because we didn’t want to be limited by the Sencha Touch or jQuery mobile capabilities, for example when they will support new platforms such as Firefox OS. But we postponed as it requires a major investment.”

Ciprian Borodescu, CEO, Webcrumbz

The next table analyses the many approaches to HTML5 mobile development, including routes to market and examples of tools used.

Table title: Approaches to mobile development using HTML5
HTML5 usage Description Distribution Built using (examples)
Mobile websites Websites that are designed to be rendered on small screens, incl. responsive websites Web WordPress
Mobile web apps Websites with offline storage and deeper browser integration Web BackBone.js, JQuery Mobile
Hybrid apps (using native wrapper) HTML code wrapped in a chrome-less browser, within a native shell. Native app-store PhoneGap, Marmalade, AppMobi, Icenium,
Apps using native JavaScript API Platforms exposing software and hardware services through a JavaScript API Native app-store BlackBerry Webworks, Firefox OS, Tizen
HTML5/JavaScript apps converted to native Tools which take JavaScript and convert it to a native app Native app-store Appcelerator (generic). Ludei, Ejecta (gaming)

Amidst this kaleidoscope of approaches to HTML5 mobile development we asked: which developer tools and approaches are used most often? Based on our recent survey of 6,000+ mobile app developers, we found that the largest share (38%) of HTML5 developers develop mobile websites with another 23% developing mobile apps, i.e. incorporating offline functionality and deeper browser integration. Hybrid apps, such as those produced by PhoneGap account for 27% of HTML5 mobile developers. A minority of 7% of HTML5 mobile developers use platforms exposing native APIs via JavaScript, such as Firefox OS and BlackBerry 10. Last but not least, 5% of HTML5 mobile developers use a Javascript-to-native converter tool like Appcelerator.

61% of mobile developers go direct to browser

In a future Q3 2013 report we ‘ll be looking in detail at the HTML5 approaches to market, and what are the revenues, tools, and challenges for each.

“We use HTML5 a little but it doesn’t give the high end graphical experience we want.  We use only use HTML5 for apps with low interactivity.”

Jeff Bacon, Mobile Director, Fuel Industries


Copyright © 2016 Visionmobile Ltd · Licensed under (CC) BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Developer Economics