DevExtreme Hybrid Mobile Tools Deprecation in v18.1

Starting with the upcoming major release, v18.1, the DevExtreme hybrid mobile-related tools will be deprecated and placed in to maintenance mode. However, we plan to support creating mobile apps through popular hybrid frameworks, more on this later.

Our hybrid mobile-related tools includes our SPA Framework and Visual Studio Mobile Tools. [Note, that the Knockout integration will not be deprecated and you can continue to use DevExtreme knockout bindings in your apps.]

Maintenance mode means that we'll only fix critical bugs and not introduce any new features. Therefore, we do not recommend starting new projects with the hybrid mobile-related tools.

Why deprecate the hybrid mobile tools?

Here's four main reasons on why we plan to put our hybrid mobile tools in to maintenance mode:

  1. The DevExtreme hybrid mobile tools were great when we first introduced them, however, today there are other popular frameworks that provide similar benefits
  2. It's costly for us to support our hybrid mobile tools due to changes in dependent external tools and vendors
  3. This will free up the team to provide you the tools that you've been asking for
  4. You can replace some of our hybrid mobile tools with modern equivalents that are available today

Rest assured that the DevExtreme brand and tools are doing great and will keep growing. We are only deprecating the hybrid mobile tools.

History

Back in 2011, there was a lack of good hybrid mobile app frameworks that allowed you to build hybrid mobile apps with native looking UI and behavior. To address this market need for mobile, we launched DevExtreme. However, we designed DevExtreme as a product for both mobile (Cordova/ PhoneGap) and desktop web development.

We loved that a client-side framework, based on JavaScript, is flexible and can be used in multiple scenarios. So, we decided to create DevExtreme using several aspects of hybrid web development:

  • UI controls and mobile themes (DevExtreme UI Widgets)
  • App layouts and navigation (DevExtreme SPA Framework)
  • Project seeding (DevExtreme Visual Studio Multi-Channel App Wizard)
  • Debugging and deployment (DevExtreme Visual Studio Mobile Tools)
  • Support the popular jQuery library
  • Support the promising KnockoutJS library

That was many years ago and the landscape for hybrid mobile apps and client-side frameworks has changed.

Current Landscape

Today, there are three dominant client-side UI frameworks that developers are considering when starting a new web app: Angular, React, or VueJS. Yes, there are other frameworks too but they don't have a large userbase.

Let's take a look at some client-side libraries and how they shaped our decision to deprecate our hybrid mobile tools:

1. PhoneGap

Adobe's PhoneGap has been around a long time and it continues to grow with new features and tools. Unfortunately, changes in PhoneGap causes headaches for our DevExtreme customers and the DevExtreme team too because DevExtreme hybrid mobile tools rely on PhoneGap.

Another source of breaking changes affecting DevExtreme is Apple. Randomly, they may change the mobile app acceptance rules, deployment package requirements, or other hybrid mobile app requirement.

Essentially, this causes the DevExtreme team to spend resources fixing external issues rather than providing more value to our customers.

2. Angular

Today, Angular is the most popular framework. It targets Angular developers, has thousands of contributors, and is quite mature now. In short, Angular provides a great framework for desktop web development. However, Angular has made tremendous progress in providing hybrid mobile development too by using tools like the Ionic Framework.

It's also accompanied with a number of useful services for UI design, push notifications, DevOps, and other aspects of hybrid mobile development.

3. React

Facebook's React framework has been gaining popularity for the past few years. They also have a great mobile development framework called React Native. React Native allows you to build mobile apps with a native UI using JavaScript. Developers' experiences with React Native has drastically improved too with the introduction of the Expo toolchain. In fact, the React community is bringing new tools and improvements as it grows.

4. VueJS

VueJS is a young framework but with a rapidly growing community. It's difficult to predict the mobile future of VueJS, but some products such as Quasar or Weex might become mainstream for hybrid or native VueJS mobile development in the future.

5. KnockoutJS

DevExtreme provides deep integration with our controls and KnockoutJS. Unfortunately, there are fewer developers who use KnockoutJS each year.

We'll continue to support KnockoutJS because our integration is mature and it doesn't take many development resources. However, we do not plan to base our tools on KnockoutJS in the future. Instead, we are looking forward to Angular, React, and VueJS tooling.

Mobile Future of DevExtreme

The future looks bright for DevExtreme because in addition to growing our support for more client-side frameworks, we have plans to provide you support to create hybrid mobile apps using other hybrid frameworks and without the deprecated DevExtreme hybrid mobile tools. In a future major release, we're planning to bring you things like Visual Studio wizards, app layouts, and modified mobile themes.

However, you can create mobile solutions today with DevExtreme and a hybrid mobile app framework. For example, you can use the Ionic Framework and integrate the DevExtreme charts or other DevExtreme controls.

Are you developing a progressive web app (PWA) for both desktop and mobile devices? Then you can seamlessly use rich DevExtreme UI controls in it as well.

Alternative Recommendations

Since our DevExtreme hybrid mobile tools are going in maintenance mode, we've come up with a few possible replacements that are available today. Let's take a look:

  • DevExtreme SPA Framework provides client-side application capabilities such as routing, navigation between views, app layouts, and view rendering and management. The modern frameworks we mentioned above like Angular, React, Vue, Ionic, etc. have these same capabilities out-of-the-box or as separate npm packages that you can add. In a future major release, we plan to provide you new responsive app layouts that are based on these modern frameworks and they will use DevExtreme controls in them. In essence, you'll have a File->New type of project template using Angular, React, etc and it will provide you a way for you to create new responsive web apps with DevExtreme controls.

  • DevExtreme Visual Studio Multi-Channel App Wizard is very useful because it allows you to get started quickly by building you a mobile solution based on your data. This wizard creates an OData web service, then scaffolds a DevExtreme SPA Framework application, and also generates the views based on the new OData service. I'm happy to say that we'll replace this wizard with similar tools that can generate an ASP.NET MVC/Core API back-end and Angular views that will be bound to it.

  • DevExtreme Visual Studio Mobile Simulator represents an in-browser HTML container for modeling real devices using screen size, orientation, and user agent. Google Chrome has a similar built-in feature. Moreover, it also simulates touch events. We recommend switching to Chrome's built-in tool.

  • DevExtreme Visual Studio Mobile View Designer is a tool for visually creating mobile views with DevExtreme controls using drag-n-drop operations. This tool isn't used much according to it our usage statistics and user feedback. Creating views via markup is a common task these days for web developers. We don't have any plans to replace this tool, but if you need, you can find free or commercial tools for mobile app prototyping.

  • DevExtreme Visual Studio Native Packer can create a native app package locally for uploading to Apple App Store, Google Play, and Windows Store. This functionality is available today from the PhoneGap Build service and we recommend using it instead.

  • DevExtreme Visual Studio Courier App is used for remote debugging of DevExtreme hybrid mobile apps by accessing a local web-server from the Internet using your mobile device via an HTTP proxy. These days, you can find several different tools to perform remote debugging of your mobile apps. For instance, if you target React Native, you can use the Expo Client app. If you target Angular then Ionic View is your choice. You can also use the ngrok service to access your localhost remotely. We recommend using one of these other remote debugging tools going forward.

  • DevExtreme iOS and Android Themes mimic native mobile apps appearance and behavior. We are going to replace the Android mobile theme with a modern Material Design one. The iOS mobile theme is going to be substituted with the improved Generic theme that will look very similar.

Wrapping up

So to recap, we are placing the DevExtreme hybrid mobile tools into maintenance mode because:

  • There are many great client-side hybrid mobile app frameworks available today
  • To avoid costly breaking changes and issues with mobile frameworks and vendors
  • DevExtreme will shift focus on providing great UI controls for existing popular client-side and hybrid frameworks

As noted above, we have plans to replace some of these tools so that you can continue to build great UI in your apps that are client-side, hybrid mobile, PWA, etc.

Help us by sharing your mobile strategy with us. Do you plan to develop mobile using one of the following?

  • Responsive website with PWA features
  • Hybrid Ionic
  • React Native app
  • Xamarin
  • Native mobile app
  • Or something else?

Please leave a comment below or email me and your feedback will help us plan for future releases.

Thanks!


Email: mharry@devexpress.com

Twitter: @mehulharry

24 comment(s)
Alfred Rakgole 2

Good Day,

Is it possible to make DevExpresa Projects Templates/Extentions to have separate updates similar for CodeRush in visual studio via Extentions and Updates.

Such that they can be updated without having to wait for  entire library update. Just a suggestion.

Regards,

Alfred

27 February, 2018
Edhy Rijo

Hi Mehul,

I have never done a mobile application, but if I have to do one today I would use Xamarin.

There is also a nice framework Code OnTime from www.codeontime.com which is looking good for web/mobile applications in .Net.

27 February, 2018
Tom Mcd

I haven't had to build a mobile app in a while but I would use Xamarin.  In regards to spa frameworks I prefer Aurelia although Vue.js looks interesting.  (Angular is awful and I havent tried react yet.)

27 February, 2018
wolfgang hauer

If i have to write a mobile App i will go with Xamarin

28 February, 2018
Genesis Supsup (QuickZ)

How is this affecting the Mobile Platform in XAF? Is this an implication that XAF will also be migrating to another toolset for its mobile platform? We're about to start a new mobile app and we thought of considering DevExtreme/XAF as our first choice. Please advise.

28 February, 2018
Jonatas Hudler

Regarding SPA frameworks, I follow @Tom's opinion. I would go with Aurelia and find Angular (although popular) one of the most messy/confusing things I've seen.

28 February, 2018
Dennis (DevExpress Support)

@Genesis Supsup: These changes do not affect XAF Mobile users directly. We are using DevExtreme widgets for the UI and are happy with them. We are using Knockout bindings at the framework level, but we do not have problems with them either. Moreover, most mobile XAF users do not need to code much at that low level, so this will unlikely affect them. As for packing, we have been using the PhoneGap Build service from the very beginning. We did not use DevExtreme Visual Studio integrations and designers. PhoneGap itself is used by other mobile frameworks mentioned here and is regularly updated. If you want to evaluate XAF Mobile UI, start with documentation.devexpress.com/.../XAF-Mobile-Beta-Tutorial

Contact us directly in the Support Center in case of any questions.

28 February, 2018
Laurence

We're using Xamarin at the moment and using certain controls from SyncFusion.  However many of their controls such as their scheduler lack full functionality, would much prefer if you guys put out a Xamarin suite!

28 February, 2018
Paolo KALC

+1 for Xamarin suite

1 March, 2018
Franco Bonacchi

Xamarin

1 March, 2018
Matthias Hartmann

I really like Xamarin. I have used it for the last two years. ... +1 for Xamarin!

1 March, 2018
Gerhard Achrainer

We developed an offline-capable HTML5 site using your SPA Framework just 6 Months ago, now deprecated. Did so to avoid app stores, Xamarin wouldn't be an option for that.

It would be good if deprecation was announced a bit earlier than just weeks before a new release.

1 March, 2018
Cesar Augusto

Oh God. Why.

Are you thinking on opening the source for the compilers (Application Template and Build Native Packages) at least?

2 March, 2018
Mehul Harry (DevExpress)

@Cesar, No plans to open source, because there are comparable offers available today (please see the 'Alternative Recommendations' section)

2 March, 2018
Pornsak Tangsujaritvijit

I agree with Mahul to create tool or  many template (like ionic template in store) to support famous framework (angular and react) . And you should have more description for your plan though your new release 18.1.

2 March, 2018
Angel Menendez

Wondering about this decision. It would have made more sense to deprecate the SPA framework but continue developing and maintaining the collection of tools which are very useful having them together as a package. While you are deprecation Mobile View designer, Ionic Creator is a new product of Ionic Pro Subscription. Mobile View Designer is a mature product in comparison. Although markup is the new trend, it impacts productivity from my point of view. I would prefer to have options.

3 March, 2018
Mehul Harry (DevExpress)

@Alfred,

Currently no. There are lots of internal connections between the library and the tools.

What is your motivation for this please? e.g. benefits?

Is the installer too slow?

Thanks.

7 March, 2018
José Enrique

Since years ago, every company specialized in .NET put the mobile focus in Xamarin. Lot of us were worried about DevExtreme strategy. In my opinion this has been a non sense with a sad final. Would you finally address your efforts towards Xamarin as everybody is asking for years?

7 March, 2018
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

José: Although Xamarin sounds attractive in the abstract, we've found issues with writing performant components for it, especially Xamarin Forms. We wrote a grid a couple of years ago and found several issues with Xamarin Forms that have still not been addressed, even after Microsoft's takeover. So, last year we wrote a charting library *twice*, once in Objective-C and once in  Java, in order to get the best performance and reliability we could, and then "wrapped" it for Xamarin. It seems that this might be the way to go for further components, but it just takes longer to do.

Cheers, Julian

7 March, 2018
Mehul Harry (DevExpress)

@Gerhard,

The SPA framework is going into maintenance mode which means that it will still be around for a couple more releases before being deprecated. We will also support it during this time.

You can start your project with it, however, I would recommend considering one of the other alternatives. Thanks.

16 March, 2018
Rudy Scott

+1 for Xamarin--but recognize the performance issues with forms.  I think your strategy is correct--write the controls in Native, then wrap them for Forms.  Hopefully XF performance and quality will continue to improve.  Also +1 for adding Aurelia support.  Really don't see why it doesn't get more traction.  It's a great framework.  

28 May, 2018
Marc Greiner (DevExpress MVP)

The html/javascript SPA solution provided by DevExtreme is wonderful to build Business apps that need to be deployed to several clients (versioning) and updated periodically.

Xamarin cannot compete here, because of the App Store or Google Play.

2 July, 2018
Marc Greiner (DevExpress MVP)

The DevExtreme Visual Studio Mobile Simulator is a unique product.

During a commercial demo, it can beautifully demonstrate how an app works on every platform.

To the other end, the Chrome simulator is far too clunky to produce any demonstration.

It can only be used during development.

19 September, 2018
Mehul Harry (DevExpress)

Thanks Marc. There are other tools for Android and iOS. I added a couple of links however, I've not used them so ymmv:

www.androidauthority.com/best-android-emulators-for-pc-655308

techonation.com/best-ios-emulators-for-windows-run-ios-apps

19 September, 2018

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