NativeScript for Mobile Apps

Today at 6pm we have a MeetUp on NativeScript at our Palo Alto Telerik office (169 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301), so here is a quick summary of what is NativeScript and a few links to get started.

What is NativeScript

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NativeScript is an OpenSource platform that allows developers to create Native mobile applications in JavaScript.  We provide a bridge between the underlying runtimes (iOS – tvOS too – and Android, with Windows Universal in the future) and the native JavaScript Virtual Machine (JavaScriptCore and v8).  We also provide abstractions for the most common functionality, plus a module system that can be used to create new abstractions.  You can write most of your code against the abstractions in a cross-platform manner, but you can also go deep into the specifics, or create your own abstraction.

The UI for a NativeScript is structured as pages; each page is typically developed through an XML markup language that combines widgets, layouts, data bindings and event bindings and can then be customized using CSS or style object properties, e.g. per platform.  The XML file bindings are to JavaScript or TypeScript actions.

The resulting applications are fully Native leveraging the native UX.  The architecture of NativeScript also allows us to provide zero-day support for new features and allows applications to use platform specific functionality.  Here are two examples: A Proof Of Concept of an app for tvOS, and an iOS Today Widget.

Another benefit of the architecture is that we can take an existing native library and introspect on it and use it from JavaScript. This is exactly what Mehfuz will show at today’s MeetUp: he will develop a contact app that uses CouchBase for local store, using the CouchBase iOS native library.

NativeScript is not like Apache Cordova (nee PhoneGap) in that you are writing a Native application, not an HTML5 App, but like with Apache Cordova, you are using JavaScript or TypeScript.  Because we are using a markup language, you also get the benefits of CSS, Data Binding, and Event Binding.

Further Readings and Links

Next Steps

NativeScript continues to improve and evolve.  The next release, 1.4, is due “very soon” (roadmap) and will include new UI components and Transpiler Support in NativeScript CLI, and we are beginning to work on the features for 1.5 in November.

Follow us at @NativeScript, and if you close to downtown Palo Alto this evening, come by to hear Mehfuz show you how to combine CloudBase and NativeScript, and for free food.

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