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Choosing Between Native And Hybrid Approaches To Mobile Development

Managing Expectations
Dev Processes
Coaching / Training / Mentorship

9 April, 2018

Derek Hollis
Derek Hollis

iOS Engineering Manager at Slack

Derek Hollis discusses the differences between native and hybrid development, and which type of development to choose and why.

Problem

I've been a Mobile Engineering Manager for the past seven years. I find that when we're trying to decide whether to do a project using a native or hybrid approach, a few things will always come to mind.

Actions taken

When deciding between the two approaches, consider what the end state you are looking for is, how much data you'll need to pull in at any given time, whether you're just showing content on the screen or something more complicated, and how many customers will use your feature. If the answers are more complicated, a native approach will be a better approach. If you choose hybrid and want to use web and native technology, React is the best framework to use. Hybrid is nice if you are still a web developer and want to build mobile apps, as it's a great entry point into building mobile apps. However, you will face a lot of bottlenecks once your app gets a bit more sophisticated. I would suggest switching over to native sooner, rather than later, as native will bring a better customer experience. Customers want to have an app experience feel like it is part of their ecosystem (i.e. iOS or Android), rather than having it feel like the web. Web-based applications can't function with gestures, and the look and feel is different to their native experience.

Lessons learned

While hybrid technologies can be useful when you are new to developing mobile apps, I strongly recommend moving quickly to using native technologies, as they will provide your customers with a much better experience. It's useful to set up guidelines from the start within your company to allow people to easily decide on whether they should go native or hybrid. This will avoid pain in terms of time and money being spent on switching from one to the other.

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