Two More Notes on Native vs. Web Applications

Regarding this week’s post about Native vs. Web Applications, there are two additional notes I’d like to share.

First, the topic of graphics rendering performance and the people who point to WebGL. This is not a good answer, because neither Canvas nor WebGL offer us many of the things that make websites so flexible and powerful (in essence, having a DOM we can style via CSS and interact with via JavaScript). Whilst it’s great that these powerful concepts are no longer relegated to plugin (read: Flash) territory, they still effectively run inside their own closed-off sandbox. That’s why I’m much more excited about hardware acceleration for all page content, coming up in IE9, Firefox 4 and Opera (some future version). Already we have hardware acceleration in Safari, but only for CSS Transforms (2D and 3D) and opacity, which provides somewhat limited utility.

Of course, my argument will still stand: even when all browsers offer hardware accelerated graphics, it’s only their latest versions that do so, not any of the ones in use today. Mobile native apps enjoy hardware accelerated graphics almost everywhere, today, right now.

The second note is Phonegap. For those unfamiliar with it, here’s the tagline explanation of Phonegap:

PhoneGap is an HTML5 app platform that allows you to author native applications with web technologies and get access to APIs and app stores.

I haven’t played with it yet myself, but am planning on doing so next I get a chance. It’s been in very active development for some time now, and allows you to at least use your expertise with web technologies to build apps for native platforms, also taking advantage of some of the main native APIs. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

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