Web Techniques

We are seeing the influence of web development on emergent cross-platform techniques for mobile. Before any cross-platform frameworks existed, many developers found that embedding Web UI in a native application was a practical way to develop mobile applications quickly and make cross-platform applications easier to maintain. The user interface for mobile applications tends to be presented as a series of screens. From a high level, the mobile UI can be thought of as having the same flow-of-control as a traditional web site or web application.

It is common in a mobile application for every click to display a new screen, just as a click in a traditional web application displays a new page. By structuring the UI of the mobile application such as a web application, the coding can be simplified. By actually using Web UI controls, the implementation of the user interface can be created with a single source that renders and behaves appropriately across platforms. Also, it is much easier to hire designers and UI developers who are familiar with HTML and CSS than for any specific mobile platform, let alone finding developers who can develop a UI across multiple platforms using native toolkits.

What does it mean to have a web application architecture for an app that may not even access the network? Every smartphone platform has a web browser UI control that can be embedded into an application just like a button or a check box. By placing a web browser control in the application that is the full size of the screen, the entire UI of the application may be implemented in HTML. In reality, this has nothing to do with the Web, and everything to do with the sophisticated layout and visual design flexibility that even a bare-bones web browser is capable of rendering.

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