Courtsey of Matthew Wiebe

Your Hybrid App is Going to Kill You

Keith Elliott
Mar 4, 2016 · 7 min read

So How Did We Get Here?

Why are hybrid apps chosen over native apps? Shortcuts! Hybrid apps are usually chosen because executives are looking for shortcuts. Some marketing genius (sarcasm) planted the seed that hybrid apps are developed quicker and are less expensive by hiring web developers instead of native mobile developers, investing less time, and targeting every mobile device without having to create multiple versions of the code. Guess what? Those claims are lies! (This is the case unless the project is so basic that it could have been a responsive web application from the onset, which doesn’t apply to what I’m referring to.) So sad, so pathetic, and yet it’s the current state of the mobile developer world. Hybrid apps appear to be here to stay. I’m willing to bet that when you ask the business gurus in charge why they chose hybrid for the direction of your company’s app, you will hear some variation of the reasons above. You’ve been warned!

The Lies Non-Technical Managers Tell You

As I mentioned above, I’m not going to allow the statistics of non-coders to to trump the experience of real developers. I will tell you that when one of these manager types tells you that your next project is going to be done in half the time, with a small team, and will support iOS and Android… you should run! These managers don’t know that they are signing your death certificate — or, at the very least, you will hate your life while on the project. How in the world did these individuals get put in charge any way? Ah, that is a question for another day. The key takeaway is that you need to be vary suspicious about the supposed sources of the claims that your next hybrid project is the right decision because the stats floating around the internet claim hybrid is winning the mobile race. If you’re a native girl or guy, I would say it’s time to look for a better job.

The Good Truth About Hybrid Apps

The truth about hybrid apps is that they are useful in some cases. Hybrid apps are good in cases where the application just needs to do basic display work in support of your main web application. When all you’re really doing is trying to get a bigger audience using the app stores (Google and Apple), then a hybrid app might work… especially when the app doesn’t really do anything useful.

Why Do Hybrid Apps Spiral into Death Cycles

Every hybrid app starts off with the best intentions. Armed with all of the success stats on hybrid apps your manager dumped on you (which you know to be complete crap), you launch you editor and code away. In the beginning, things are good. Your first set of features seem to be coming along nicely. And then it happens; you get your first request to do something that isn’t supported on Android but is supported on iOS. What do you do? Naturally, you add your first (of a long list to come) conditional statement to do feature A for iOS and do feature B for Android. A week later you realize that your code now contains so many of these conditional statements that you’re beginning to wonder if you should split your code into iOS and Android codebases so that you don’t have to keep adding conditionals! But wait, you can’t do that because your manager told you that hybrid apps are meant to be written once and run everywhere. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here, does it? Besides, if you split your code base, you would have to support two separate sets of code. Ugh! Two sets of code? One for iOS and one for Android? Forget that! Especially since your manager has also already informed you that you should be able to do this in less time than if you had written a native app. Two code bases would break a cardinal rule of having a hybrid app.

What Do We Do Now

The entire tragedy of hybrid apps hasn’t been fully represented above. The real saga is even more somber. When you take into account the sacrifices you make in terms of performance and features that users expect, the impact of choosing hybrid is even more costly. What user really wants to use an app that is slow and unresponsive? If you’re an iOS user, do you want to use an app that looks like an Android app? If you’re an Android user, do you want to use an app that feels like an iOS app? The answer is no! But the write-once mantra, would say, “It’s really not that important to please users; writing once will save you money!”

Teach & Code

Thoughts, stories, and ideas.

Thanks to Grace Elliott.

Keith Elliott

Written by

Web & Mobile Developer, with business and creative skills --- Passionate about family, coding and entrepreneurship. You can find me at www.gittielabs.com

Teach & Code

Thoughts, stories, and ideas.