Ionic Framework: free SDK for developing hybrid mobile apps

Published on May 11, 2015 in Cross Platform Developers Resources
Ionic Framework

The popularity of Ionic Framework to create hybrid mobile applications has increasingly risen in the last months. Why? Because this open-source SDK for hybrid mobile app development provides tools and services for developing this kind of apps using web technologies like HTML5, CSS and Sass. The framework was created by Max Lynch, Ben Sperry and Adam Bradley of Drifty Co. in 2013.

On its official website, Ionic is introduced as a free and beautiful open source front-end SDK for developing hybrid mobile apps with HTML5. It is built using Sass and optimized for AngularJS. The framework provides many UI components to help develop rich and interactive apps and offers a library of mobile-optimized HTML, CSS and JS components gestures and tools for building highly interactive applications. Apps can be built with Ionic and then distributed through native app stores to be installed on devices by leveraging Apache Cordova.

As we explained in a previous post, hybrid apps are a good choice for developers because they allow cross-platform development and let reuse the same HTML code components on different mobile operating systems, which dramatically reduces development costs. Unlike native apps, mobile applications using web technologies can support many mobile platforms.

What Ionic Framework offers

Ionic provides a high and fast performance and a good and robust architecture thanks to AngularJS. In addition, it’s very easy to use, because it’s inspired by the most popular native app development SDKs, so it’s simple to understand for anyone who already built a native app for iOS or Android. It also presents a powerful CLI (command-line interface) which lets you create, try and compile you apps in any platform with just one command. One of the most important facts is that Ionic has a beautiful, clean, simple and functional design. The framework also incorporates mobile components, typography, interactive paradigms, and an extensible base theme.

Among other characteristics, Ionic Framework includes:

  • A complete set of UI components, including tabs, headers, navigation, modal, toggle, checkbox, radio, action sheet, loading, slide boxes, cards, range, etc.
  • Customizable theme: the base appearance of Ionic looks similar to an iOS7 one, but you can change it and easily create your own theme.
  • A large icon pack that you can use with your mobile apps easily, including some animated icons.
  • State management to keep track of navigation history.
  • Automatic transitions based on History: Ionic will transition views to slide left and right automatically based on History.
  • Gesture support for actions like tap, swipe or drag.
  • Side menus (slide out): built-in support for side menus to be toggled when the menu icon is clicked and slide into view.
  • Pull to refresh: you can easily add pull to refresh capabilities to your scroll area that includes a default icon and animation.

The success of Ionic Framework

Nowadays, Ionic is one of the most used frameworks by developers around the world, because it provides all the functionality that can be found in native mobile development SDKs. Ionic is easy to use and it offers the look, feel and UI interactions to create appealing and amazing apps. Plus, it supports a broad range of common native mobile components, smooth animations, and offers a beautiful design. With Ionic, developers can easily build their apps, customize them for iOS or Android and deploy through Apache Cordova.

Besides the SDK, Ionic also provides services that developers can use to enable features, such as push notifications, A/B testing, analytics, code deploys, and automated builds. Ionic offers a powerful CLI too, so developers can get started and create a project with a simple command. Compared to hybrid apps, mixing Ionic code with native mobile app code in PhoneGap allows for higher performance of the final product, because using AngularJS instead of jQuery allows Ionic to rely on native hardware acceleration.

Right now, all these reasons turn Ionic into the most promising HTML 5 mobile application framework we can find in the market, followed by other frameworks like Mobile Angular UI, Intel XDK, Appcelerator Titanium, Sencha Touch, Kendo UI and PhoneGap.

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