Discovering the Best IDE for Cross-Platform Desktop Development
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Navigating Choices: Discovering the Best IDE for Cross-Platform Desktop Development

Published datePublished: May 22, 2024 ViewsViews: 295
Deepak Sinha

Deepak Sinha

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Deepak is a hands-on Technology Leader with expertise in designing software solutions for various successful projects for multinationals. He has total experience of 15+ years and has worked on all the phases of application development and has good experience in open source and mobile technologies. He is passionate on new Technologies and has strong interest on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence etc.
Navigating Choices: Discovering the Best IDE for Cross-Platform Desktop Development

The cross-platform development industry will be worth over $540 billion in the next ten years and cross-platform desktop development will contribute a fair share to it. While desktop users are divided into two major groups, Windows and macOS, many of them take a multi-platform approach and don’t want to be confined within the boundaries of native apps that run only on a specific operating system.

This resulted in a popularity growth for cross-platform desktop development, where developers use a single codebase to build desktop apps for multiple platforms. While developing such apps, they prefer using IDEs or integrated development environments. An IDE can be considered a software suite that accommodates code editors, compilers, code libraries, testers, and more. 

Are you confused about which IDE to choose for cross-platform desktop development? Let’s unravel the top IDEs and talk about the best languages and frameworks for cross-platform desktop development.

Understanding Cross-Platform Development

Understanding Cross-Platform Development

Cross-platform development is a platform-independent approach to building applications that usually run on two or more platforms. For example, Adobe Creative Cloud, Affinity Designer, and Blender are some desktop apps that run on both Windows and macOS. According to Statista, developers worldwide use these operating systems to develop desktop applications.

Understanding Cross-Platform Development

To build cross-platform apps, developers choose languages or frameworks that support all platforms. The cross-platform development frameworks provide developers with a solid base to create a single yet powerful codebase. As the apps built in this process run on multiple platforms, the process is also known as multi-platform development.

Why Is Cross-Platform Development Important?

Why Is Cross-Platform Development Important

The significance of cross-platform desktop development lies in the changing trends of the industry. Here are some of the reasons why cross-platform development is the thing of the future.

Increase in Multi-OS Dependence: About 10% of the computers used worldwide have dual boot, where they use Windows in combination with another operating system. Other than that, many users use two different devices with different operating systems. These users prefer their apps to be platform-independent to get rid of the hassle of sharing their work between devices. Cross-platform development is crucial for getting a hold of these users.

Flexibility of Platforms: Major operating systems are showing more flexibility in terms of cross-platform app compatibility. So, the desktop development industry is going to be bigger in the near future. Cross-platform development can be the key to success for businesses willing to target this market.

Benefits of Developing Cross-Platform Desktop Applications

Benefits of Developing Cross-Platform Desktop Applications

Cross-platform software development tool has a myriad of benefits. We don’t want to bore you with a long list, so here is a quick overview of the benefits.

  • Reusable Codes: Cross-platform development allows developers to use pre-written codes in their projects. Also, they can reuse their own codes to develop stunning desktop applications. 
  • Faster Development: Due to the use of reusable codes and other optimized features, this process is much faster than native development. It makes businesses launch their products faster.
  • Optimized Cost: As developers build apps for multiple platforms in one go, it costs much less than building separate apps for different platforms.
  • Better Reach: As cross-platform apps are targeted to users of different platforms, the apps get a better reach compared to native apps that are limited to just one platform.
  • Improved User Experience: With native apps, users need to go through the learning curve each time they use the app on a different platform. But cross-platform development allows users to switch between platforms seamlessly.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an IDE

Factors to Consider When Choosing an IDE

An IDE is a combination of many different micro-tools. So, you have to split your focus on these micro-tools and their features to choose the best desktop development IDE. Before we get into the factors, learn why selecting the right IDE is important for cross-platform development.

Importance of Selecting the right IDE for Cross-Platform Development

The choice of the multi-platform desktop IDE greatly impacts the outcome. Ensuring the following aspects during cross-platform development is crucial.

  • Alignment with Project Objectives: Each desktop app development project might have different goals or objectives. The desktop app IDE used in the process should meet those requirements. 
  • The Expertise of the Developers: When you use an in-house team of developers, their expertise in an IDE matters. If you want to introduce them to a new IDE, it might take more resources.
  • Development Workflow: Each cross-platform app development company might have a slightly different development workflow. So, you must choose an IDE that best goes with your workflow. 

What Factors Do You Need to Consider?

What Factors Do You Need to Consider

Besides the performance of the IDE, you have some more factors to consider. Take a closer look.

  1. The Language Used: IDEs have varying support for different programming languages. So, you must choose an IDE based on the programming language you will use for the development. The choice of IDE will be different for two developers if one of them uses JavaScript and the other uses C++.
  2. Platform Compatibility: Some IDEs are built to run on a specific platform. For cross-platform development, you must choose an IDE that isn’t platform-specific. For example, Flutter, and Microsoft Visual Studio Code can be great examples of cross-platform IDEs.
  3. Project Complexity: If you build a simple app that doesn’t require large file handling or complex dependencies, you can go for a lightweight IDE with simple features. But, building a complex app will require high-performance IDEs with advanced features.
  4. IDE Budget: Depending on the performance and features, IDEs can cost different. Even though there are some open-source IDEs, you should choose a proprietary IDE for a smooth development process. Consider your project type, complexity, team preference, and other features to choose the right cross-platform app development IDE within your budget.

Exploring Cross-Platform Frameworks and Languages

Exploring Cross-Platform Frameworks and Languages

Among the most popular frameworks for desktop development, Flutter is trusted by about 46% of developers. React Native is another leading framework for building cross-platform desktop applications with 32% of developers on its side.

Let us compare some of the top cross-platform frameworks to give you a clear picture of their features, performance, and popularity.

  • Flutter: This is a cross-platform development toolkit that developers use for building desktop apps, mobile apps, and progressing web apps. It offers a faster development process with more flexibility in the UI. It holds about 46% of the market share.
  • React Native: Before Flutter, most developers preferred React Native to develop cross-platform applications. This framework offers great support through its community. About 32% of developers in the world use React Native to build cross-platform applications.
  • Ionic: Developers prefer Ionic because of its native-like experience for users of all operating systems. This framework gained popularity with its high-quality tools and libraries.

The blog will be unnecessarily long if we discuss all the frameworks on the top list. So, here is the Top 10 Best Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks [Updated: 2024]

Now, let’s explore some of the most commonly used languages for cross-platform desktop app development.

10-commonly used languages for cross-platform desktop
  • Java: It is one of the most popular programming languages of all time. As this follows the WORA protocol, Java is highly suitable for building cross-platform desktop apps. 
  • C#: This object-oriented language is a dynamic choice for cross-platform developers as it lets them build mobile solutions as well without using Java or Objective-C.
  • Kotlin: The upright syntax and simplicity of this language make it suitable for cross-platform app development. With fewer codes, developers can express more in this language. And the codes can be reused across mobile and desktop platforms.

So, which framework or language is the best for cross-platform app development? Well, it depends on the app, features, compatibility, team preference, budget, and other factors.

Evaluating IDE Options

While some IDEs have multiple-compiler compatibility, others might have real-time compilers. Finding the right combination of features in a universal desktop development IDE is a tricky task. We looked into the nitty-gritty of the most popular IDEs for your convenience. Here is a comparative discussion about the top IDEs.

Evaluating IDE Options

1. Visual Studio

Visual Studio from Microsoft is at the top of the list when it comes to versatile IDEs. It offers user-friendly features that cut the development time down and improve the development workflow. Take a look at its features.

  • Visual Studio supports 36 programming languages, including many cross-platform programming languages, such as C#, JavsScript, and more.
  • It has a real-time compiler that makes debugging less tedious.
  • The cross-platform coding environment has easy-to-use syntaxes, highlight options, etc., to make writing codes easier.
  • Managing the code files is super easy.
  • It is suitable for cross-platform desktop development.

2. NetBeans

NetBeans is another platform-independent IDE that supports multiple languages. It supports Java, C++, JavaScript, PHP, and other programming languages. As the platform, NetBeans is suitable for Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.

  • This IDE has multi-compiler compatibility.
  • It has rich static and dynamic libraries.
  • Remote development is possible with NetBeans IDE.

3. IntelliJ IDEA

If you want an IDE with code analysis features and automation tools, IntelliJ IDEA is the right choice. It supports programming languages like Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, TypeScript, and more. You can choose this IDE for cross-platform development for the following features.

  • Version control systems are integrated with this IDE.
  • It can understand the context of the project and suggest necessary codes.
  • The code analysis feature lets developers analyze static codes.
  • Multi-language coding assistance is available in this IDE.

So, what desktop software development IDE should you go for? Is Visual Studio cross-platform and the best  IDE available for this purpose? 

Well, Visual Studio is cross-platform as it is compatible with Windows, Android, iOS, etc. But if you talk about cross-platform desktop IDE, Visual Studio might not be the best choice. It isn’t compatible with macOS or Linux, so you can’t run cross-platform development on it.

Best Practices for Cross-Platform Development

Best Practices for Cross-Platform Development

Every developer has a way of writing codes, handling features, and implementing UI designs. Following the common conventions of the industry helps businesses optimize their cross-platform development workflow. Seasoned professionals suggest the following tips.

  1. Run a thorough analysis of app requirements. It helps understand what languages or frameworks might work best for those requirements. Also, it will allow you to choose the right IDE for the project.
  2. Finalize the app design while keeping platform-specific features in mind. It will result in less moderation afterward.
  3. Ensure code reusability in every step of development. It makes handling errors much easier.
  4. Plan the use of resources according to the requirements of the project. This way, you can optimize the development cost.
  5. Testing the codes earlier in the development process can keep a lot of hassle at bay. Practice unit testing across different platforms to ensure the app performs as expected.

Deployment and Distribution

Deployment and Distribution

Managing the deployment and distribution of cross-platform applications requires a keen eye on every little detail. You can take various approaches to deploying cross-platform apps. Here are a few deployment approaches.

  1. Making Executable Files: The whole application can be packed inside the executable file that users can run directly. 
  2. Using Installer Programs: In this approach, you can make a program that will handle the installation process and the downloading of the necessary files.
  3. Making Component Bundles: Once the program folder is downloaded, all the necessary components are bundled in the folder.
  4. Using Platform-Specific Channels: You can also distribute your cross-platform applications through channels like the Microsoft Store.

Deployment and Update Automation

Deployment and Update Automation

Using automation tools such as Jenkins, Travis CI, Ansible, Maven, etc., helps you automate the deployment process and ensure the application is free from unwanted bugs or errors. 

Integrating update procedures into a desktop app is also crucial as its update can’t be handled on the server. The app should be able to check for updates within a certain period or when the user wants. Also, automatic or on-demand download options should be available within the app.

Summary

With the growing number of users associated with two or more operating systems, cross-platform development is suitable for covering a broader audience. Businesses are investing in cross-platform development to enjoy its benefits. Choosing the right company for such development is crucial.

As it requires a sound understanding of the development workflow, languages or frameworks, the right IDE, and other factors, how to choose the best cross-platform app development company?

Choose a company that has a proven track record of building and deploying cross-platform apps. Also, the company should have cross-functional teams to handle the requirements of a feature-heavy and performance-oriented desktop application.

FAQs

Knowing the answers to some common questions will enrich your knowledge. Check them out.

Q: What is the best cross-platform framework for desktop apps?

Flutter is currently the most popular cross-platform framework for desktop apps. It can also handle apps for other platforms. Besides, React Native, Ionic, etc., are also popular cross-platform frameworks.

Q: Which language is best for cross-platform app development?

Each language comes with its benefits and challenges. Among them, Java, C#, Kotlin, etc., are versatile languages for developing cross-platform desktop apps.

Q: Can I develop a cross-platform app?

Developing a cross-platform app is a highly technical process that only experienced professionals can handle. So, we recommend getting your app developed by a trusted company.

Q: Is Ionic better than React Native?

Not necessarily. Ionic is more suited to mobile app development, whereas React Native provides more functionality in desktop app development.

Q: Is Python a cross-platform language?

Yes, it is. Applications built with Python can be run on different desktop operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, etc.

Q: Can React Native be used for desktops?

Of course. In fact, React Native has unique features like a fast refresh to make the changes visible in real time. It also provides great UI features to make desktop applications highly customized.

Q: What is necessary for deploying a cross-platform desktop application?

Deployment automation tools are necessary to make the deployment stage error-free. Besides, your app needs to meet the quality criteria of platform-specific channels.

Q: Is Visual Studio cross-platform?

It can be called cross-platform if you combine mobile platforms. But it isn’t cross-platform considering only the desktop platforms.

Q: Which platform is best for desktop application development?

Windows is a better platform for desktop application development, as developers get more resources and community support for this.

Q: Is Flutter faster than Tauri?

As Tauri is a lightweight library, it is faster than Flutter. But Futter is a full-fledged framework for better performance.

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