First, why am I only covering top three jQuery hybrid mobile app frameworks when there are many more available? Only these three have big enough market share; everything else is just an evolution dead end.
Now let’s get back to business. First, no, jQuery is not dead, far from it. That’s the topic for some other times, for now let’s enjoy jQuery while it’s still here.
Several days ago I wrote an article covering best AngularJS based hybrid mobile application frameworks; now it’s time to discuss best jQuery counterparts. In the final chapter (conclusion), I will also talk about the speed differences between jQuery and AngularJS frameworks.
Before we go any further, let me give you a better perspective on my experience with hybrid application frameworks. Several years ago, I used to work a lot with jQuery Mobile. It was a great time for hybrid mobile development, think of it as a new frontier. Unfortunately, it was far from a great experience.
Smartphones of that time were much slower than today’s devices, everything felt clunky and jerky. Animations would constantly stutter, not to mention problems with delayed button executions. Though, it wasn’t all that bad, enough money could have had bought you a much better experience (Sencha Touch, Kendo UI or DevExtreme Mobile (ex PhoneJS)).
Some time ago, I decided to switch from jQuery to AngularJS (I’m sill sporadically using jQuery Mobile, at least to help some people at StackOverflow). Last but not least, I know a lot about this topic.
Table Of Contents
Before we start take a look at a list of my chosen 3 in alphabetical order:
- jQuery Mobile
- Kendo UI
- DevExtreme Mobile (ex PhoneJS)
- Conclusion && Recomendations
jQuery Mobile is the best-known jQuery based hybrid mobile application framework. While it’s far from the best one, you can call it lucky by association. I’m talking about its connection to jQuery; they’re after all built by jQuery Foundation.
Just a word of caution, my previous experience makes me a bit bias towards it.
Query Mobile is an HTML5-based UI framework designed for responsive websites and apps, and to be accessible on all smartphone, tablet, and desktop devices. Unlike some other frameworks (like Sencha Touch), jQuery Mobile will run on every HTML5 compatible browser. No matter what platform, Windows, Mac OS, Android or iOS, it will run just fine which makes it appealing to a broad specter of users. Among these three reviewed frameworks, jQuery Mobile is the oldest one. Initially, it was released during 2010.
jQuery Mobile is HTML5 markup based framework (unlike Ionic Framework or Sencha Touch) since much of a job is done through HTML5 markup (mostly through data attributes). It doesn’t offer an MVC nor an MVVM support, so you will need to find a working solution on your own. Backbone or AngularJS will work after some tweaking.
What makes it significant (multi-browser/platform) also makes it slow. Current modern hybrid frameworks are Chrome/Safari optimized making them substantially faster.
- Most commonly used
- Excellent for fast prototyping
- Extensive platform support
- Large number of 3rd party plugins, themes, and information
- Extremely easy to use, HTML markup bases
- Excellent documentation, though it could be better
- Broad browser support, usable for the web and mobile development
- Good theme support
- Large number of 3rd party plugins
- Version 1.5 should include jQuery UI support
- Excellent StackOverflow support including official jQuery forum
- Sluggish on mobile devices, though version 1.4 significantly improved performance
- UI is platform independent, subjectively ugly.
- No out of the box MVC
- Almost feels like vaporware, last major release was two years ago
- Nonresponsive developers, to me this is the greatest disadvantage
Similarly to DevExtreme Mobile, Kendo UI is somewhat an oddity on this list. Though initially built with jQuery, it also supports AngularJS.
Unlike jQuery Mobile, Kendo UI is a commercial product. Thankfully two version are available, a free core version and a commercial enterprise version. I would like to advise you a commercial enterprise version, support alone makes it a great bargain.
If you’ve ever worked with jQuery Mobile and found it inadequate, then this is a framework for you. It uses a similar markup driven design but at the same time it’s much faster than jQuery Mobile.
The core edition contains more than forty different widgets, the core framework, various DataSource components, templates, drag-and-drop support, and themeable widgets, as well as AngularJS directives.
Similar to DevExtreme Mobile, Kendo UI offers a distinctive platform dependent look and feel, including an excellent theme builder.
I would go so far to call it the best framework simply on the account of support you receive with a commercial edition.
One last thing, I have already written a detailed overview of the Kendo UI, you can find it in the “Interesting resources” section below. There’s simply no point in repeating everything again.
- Fast for a jQuery-based framework
- jQuery, AngularJS, and Bootstrap support
- HTML markup based
- Extensive platform support
- Fantastic documentation
- Wide animation support
- Native platform dependent look and feel
- Great template system plus theme builder
- Usable also for a classic web development
- More than forty widgets included in core edition
- Excellent customer support if you own an enterprise edition
- It’s commercial. Core edition is excellent, but it’s nothing compared to the enterprise version.
- 3rd party support is not on a level of jQuery Mobile
- Some people don’t prefer mixing jQuery and AngularJS