10 Best Cross-Platform Programming Languages
A budget-friendly approach on the one hand, and still efficient and qualitative on the other – cross-platform programming has become one of the most common choices in the context of software development. It is prevalent in the category of mobile applications. Companies wishing to conquer both the Android and iOS app market often decide to use cross-platform technologies that allow using just one code base for all application versions. Such a development strategy offers greater savings without sacrificing software quality. Thus, if you are interested in developing a new project in such a way, see what technologies you can choose from.
What is cross-platform in programming?
Cross-platform programming means creating software that will be implemented and run on multiple platforms. This application can run on Android and iOS, for example. For software to be considered cross-platform, it must run on more than one computer architecture or operating system. As creating such a program can be a time-consuming task, due to the differences between, among others, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), many frameworks and programming languages have been invented to facilitate this process.
Top 10 cross-platform programming languages
Below there is a list of the best cross-platform technologies. As it is easy to see, these are not only programming languages but also frameworks and other development kits.
Developed in 1995 by James Gosling of Sun Microsystems, Java is one of the universal cross-platform languages. For years, it has been the official programming language for the Android platform, although, in May 2019, Google announced Kotlin. However, Java is still used for Android application development and more. It is widely utilised for enterprise-scale web application development due to its stability and performance. Java is a general-purpose, class-based, high-level, object-oriented programming language. Its purpose is to allow application developers to write once, run anywhere, which means that compiled Java code can run on all Java-enabled platforms without recompiling. Java applications are typically compiled into bytecode that can be run on any Java Virtual Machine (JVM).
Ruby is an interpreted, fully object-oriented, general-purpose dynamically typed programming language. It has many unique features such as automatic garbage collection, “duck typing”, which means recognizing types based on their behaviour rather than declarations, exception handling, and more. It is often said that Ruby was designed to make Ruby fun and enjoyable for developers to be productive and follow good UI design principles. It is available to a novice programmer and produces satisfactory results. Moreover, Ruby programs are highly platform-portable. Currently, Ruby can be found more often in the form of a framework that significantly extends its capabilities, Ruby on Rails.
Flutter is Google’s UI software development toolkit based on the Dart object language. The platform includes two sets of its own, fully customizable widgets that consider all the crucial differences between the platforms. It has everything packed inside, including Cupertino and Material Design, and uses the highly efficient 2D rendering engine, Skia. The framework was introduced to the world in 2015 under the name “Sky”, but it was not until December 2018 that the first version was considered stable. It is currently one of the most popular frameworks to quickly build cross-platform applications with many ready-to-use components. It allows for rapid development thanks to the Hot Reload feature, which displays every code modification for developers to easily observe. In addition, it has an extensive library of widgets that perfectly mimic the native ones.
Ionic is a complete open-source SDK for developing hybrid mobile applications that is cross-platform at the same time. The original version was based on AngularJS and Apache Cordova. The latest version of Ionic has been rebuilt as Web Components Kit, allowing the user to choose any UI framework such as Angular or React. It also allows the use of Ionic components without a user interface structure. It provides tools and services for creating hybrid mobile, desktop and progressive web applications based on modern technologies and web development practices, using web technologies such as CSS and HTML5. In addition, ionic offers excellent opportunities to further expand its functions. On the Ionic website, you can find the official list of integration technologies that provide numerous enhancements and additions to the project. It also includes a range of plug-ins for easy integration with your device’s hardware. It is considered relatively simple to understand and accessible.
Xamarin is a free, open-source, cross-platform framework for developing Android and iOS applications with .NET and C #. Xamarin extends .NET’s capabilities with tools and libraries specifically designed to build applications for Android, iOS, Windows, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS. Launched in 2011 and acquired by Microsoft in 2016, Xamarin offers excellent compile-time checking so developers may experience fewer runtime errors. Xamarin also makes it easy to design native-like applications with a native-friendly interface. In addition, Xamarin integrates with Visual Studio, which is Microsoft’s IDE for the .NET Framework, allowing you to use Visual Studio to build applications for Android, iOS, and Windows.
Released in 1995, Qt is a set of portable libraries and programming tools dedicated to C ++, QML and Java. Their fundamental component is classes used to build the graphical interface of computer programs, starting from version 4.0 Qt also includes tools for creating console programs and servers. Qt is used to build cross-platform applications and graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that run on most mobile, desktop, or embedded platforms. It supports compilers like Visual Studio and PHP.
Which programming language is the best for cross-platform?
It largely depends on your goals and requirements that the software must fulfill. While most cross-platform languages support which platforms may be your targets, each of these technologies has its advantages, disadvantages, and limitations. When choosing a framework or language for your project, focus on the characteristics of your software and compare these functionalities and requirements with what the technology offers. By summing up all these data, you will be able to choose the best option for you.
Is Java a cross-platform?
Java is cross-platform because the program’s source code is compiled into bytecode. The bytecode is then executed by the Java JVM that has been written for the specific hardware platform. Therefore, the bytecode is expected to run the same way on all hardware platforms with Java virtual machines. Of course, sometimes problems may arise due to, for example, the outdated Java interpreter. However, by design, Java is a comprehensive cross-platform language.
Is Python a cross-platform language?
Indeed, Python is cross-platform. You can execute almost any Python program on Windows, Mac, Linux hardware, and even Android and iOS. But, of course, to build such applications in Python for various platforms and then run on them, you will need appropriate libraries, as well as a frequently installed Python interpreter.
What is the future of cross-platform development?
As a very beneficial and practical approach, cross-platform development will undoubtedly stay with us for longer and even more willingly. Many industry experts say Flutter and Kotlin are the future of cross-platform development, which is quite possible, given their popularity and hype. Nevertheless, we should expect this approach to be universal, and hence, a race to be called the best cross-platform technology, which translates into continuous improvements.