Intel XDK My Experience
I was not a Mobile App developer.But I always wanted to develop few of them.It was demanded by reader of this blog as well.But the biggest problem was dedicating time to learn new language as well as tool.In order to create mobile app for popular platforms like Android,Windows and Iphone I would have to learn three different tools (languages).
So for quite some time (that is around one year) I did not jump into mobile app development world.I also searched for cross-platform mobile app development platforms like Phonegap,Adobe Flashbuilder,Mosync,Rhomobile and Titanium. I installed them and tried them for sometime (creating sample Hello World app only). I did like Adobe Flashbuilder but Adobe’s stand on Adobe Air impacted my decision.I have used it in past for creating desktop app.It worked great but due to Adobe Air confusion I did not want to go that way.
This year I heard of Intel XDK.I played around it for quite sometime and after one week of non continuous effort I was able to create four mobile apps.The apps are live on Android App store as well.The learning curve of Intel XDK is very less.It is simple and powerful at the sametime.Below is the list of features which makes it best HTML5 cross-platform mobile app development framework.Note I can say it is the best in market HTML5 or not.But since I have not used many non HTML5 framework so I am not making that remark.
Intel XDK Features
I am outlining the features which I think sets it apart from other cross-platform mobile app development frameworks.This will not be a technical post I will cover technical aspect of Intel XDK in other post.This post will give you overview of features which will help you in decision making.Decision making was the tough part for me.It took me months selecting a framework and after the selection was over only one week was enough for app development and testing.
Vast Target Platforms
This is in my opinion best feature of Intel XDK.Your app will be ready for most popular mobile platforms without any change in code.The platforms which you can target are Android,iOS and Windows.It is worth mentioning in this case that you can use Phonegap plugins with Intel XDK.So you are getting power and flexibility of Phonegap with user interface and built options of Intel XDK.
Covering above three platforms with a single code base significantly decreases your development effort.Building your App for any one of the above platform is matter of a click only.With one click you can create installer for your target platform.You can download the installer on your computer or you can get the link mailed to your email id.You can see the build option page of Intel XDK above.
Many cross-platform mobile development tools only target either Android or iOS or both of them.Targetting all the platforms is a big plus for this framework.This was one of the major reason I selected Intel XDK above other options.
This post is about Mobile app development.But it is worth mentioning one feature of Intel XDK not related to it.If you are not using Cordova plugins then you can build your app for Facebook,Chrome,Webapp and Firefox.So a single code base can be used as mobile app as well as web app and Facebook app.
Drag and Drop UI designer
I am good in coding but not so good in creating user interfaces.Also it was tough for me creating user interface with code.The drag and drop user interface designer makes it very easy to create user interface.You can drag and drop the controls and create layout of your app.Below image shows the App designer option of Intel XDK.
For me this option worked wonders as I was able to create user interface with ease.You can create the controls with simple drag and drop.Also you can see the code generated for each control as well.The code is simple HTML.So if you are familiar with HTML then you can easily understand it.The look and feel of controls can be controlled from Front End (App Designer).Also fine grain control is possible with backend code editing.Your knowledge of HTML5 and CSS from web development will make the task easier.
Multiple UI framework support
This again is an excellent feature offered by Intel XDK.Though the option made my life bit tough.I was not aware of any options.So I had to read some details about each of them to decide which one to use.I finally selected App Framework which is also from Intel itself.The other UI frameworks supported by Intel XDK are App Framework,Ratchet,Bootstrap 3,Topcoat,jQuery Mobile.
Web developer may be aware of BootStrap 3 and jQuery mobile.Instead of playing with these two I played with Topcoat and App Framework.I liked both of them.The UI framework options helps you chose one which meets your requirement.The UI designer discussed above supports all of the UI frameworks.
Cordova plugin support
Phonegap is a leading player in cross-platform mobile app development.It has vast number of plugins available and is based on HTML5.Intel XDK has full support for Cordova plugins even the third-party ones.So Intel XDK brings you power of Phonegap.Support for Phonegap makes it easier to display Admob ads within your application and do other things as per your requirement.
Displaying Admob ads was one of the main decision maker for me.There are few cross-platform mobile app development framework where adding Admob ads can be pain for example Adobe Flash builder.But in Intel XDK it is matter of seconds due to support of Cordova plugins.Plugin does all the heavy lifting for you.
User Friendly IDE
Intel XDK IDE offers very easy interface.You can develop,design,test and build you app using IDE.The options are easy to understand and no documentation or manual is required to work around them.Intel XDK does offer a walk through to give you idea of the options.
There was no issue understanding the different options.The text editor offers syntax highlighting,code indentation and auto complete features.You can also test your application with emulator shipping with the IDE.The emulator offers different device setting.So you can test your app with devices of different platforms and type.It supports phones,tablets and notebook.
IDE also does not overwhelm you with plethora of options.Menu has only the options needed for app development and deployment.You have basic options like Develop,Design,Debug,Test,Profile and Build.So if you have used any IDE in fast then getting around this one will not be an issue.
App Debug and Profiling
Though these two options were not used by me during app development but you may find them useful.For my task Emulator was just fine.It helped me test my app on different device configuration and also debug my app.But in case you want to debug your mobile app on real device or profile your app on real device then XDK provides you with the option.
You can connect you Android phone or Iphone with PC using USB cable.After that you can debug or profile your app on your device.It also supports live design layout changes.I hope in future it will support Windows phone as well with these two options.
Intel App Preview
Intel App Preview is a mobile app.It is available for Android,iPhone and Windows phones.You can download and install it from official App stores for free.You can use it to speed up your app development.In case you have any problems with App debug option mentioned above or you do not have Android device or USB cable to connect with your PC then you can use this option.There can be other reasons like after development you want to test the app on different devices in leisure time then also Intel App Preview will be helpful.
You can install this app on your mobile device.While developing your app with Intel XDK you can push the files for testing to cloud.This functionality is built in XDK.You can access your cloud app within Intel App preview.The only requirement is Internet connection on your mobile phone.Now on your mobile phone you can test your app.
You can also test your app if the PC having Intel XDK and your mobile phone with Intel App Preview are connected over wifi or by USB cable.This helps in testing your layout and app experience on real device.Since I have Windows phone App preview worked great for me.
Code Generator and Demo Apps
It is always good to have starting point for app development.It significantly lowers the development time.You also do not have to worry about including required libraries.The code generator takes care of it all.Even if you create a blank project using Intel XDK the required libraries are included.You can built your app on top of the initial code.
Also there are many demo apps and templates included in Intel XDK.You can search the catalog.You can use any one of them as starting point for your own development.Also these apps help you understand the code and working of Intel XDK better.
In my case it was of great help.I referred couple of included apps and learned about the code.Then I created blank project and worked from there.
I would recommend you giving it a try for mobile app development as well as Facebook ones based on my experience.I have already published few apps in Google Play.All are created using Intel XDK using App Framework UI framework.I will not say they are very complicated apps.In case you want to see Intel XDK work in action then you can try the apps yourself.You can find the apps in this link.