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Apache Cordova vs Xamarin: What are the differences?

## Introduction
Apache Cordova and Xamarin are both popular tools used for mobile app development. While they both serve the same purpose, there are key differences between the two that developers should consider before choosing one for their project.

1. **Language Compatibility**: Apache Cordova primarily uses HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for app development, making it ideal for web developers looking to create mobile apps with their existing skill set. On the other hand, Xamarin allows developers to write apps in C# and .NET languages, providing a more native feel to the apps.

2. **Performance**: Xamarin apps are known for their high performance, as they compile down to native code. This results in faster execution and better overall user experience compared to Apache Cordova apps, which run inside a web view.

3. **Native API Access**: Xamarin provides direct access to native APIs of each platform, allowing developers to leverage platform-specific features more easily. Apache Cordova, on the other hand, relies on plugins to access native features, which can sometimes lead to compatibility issues or limited functionality.

4. **Community and Support**: Xamarin has a large and active community, along with extensive documentation and support from Microsoft. This can be beneficial for developers facing challenges or looking for resources. Apache Cordova also has a strong community, but the level of support may vary depending on the plugins being used.

5. **Platform Support**: Xamarin supports a wide range of platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows, providing developers with a comprehensive solution for cross-platform development. Apache Cordova, while also offering cross-platform support, may have limitations in terms of accessing platform-specific APIs or optimizing performance for each platform.

6. **Cost**: Xamarin comes with a cost, especially for enterprises or larger teams, due to licensing fees. Apache Cordova, being an open-source framework, is more cost-effective for smaller teams or individual developers looking to create mobile apps without additional expenses.

In Summary, Apache Cordova and Xamarin differ in language compatibility, performance, native API access, community support, platform coverage, and cost, offering developers various considerations when choosing a tool for mobile app development.
Advice on Apache Cordova and Xamarin

I would like to evaluate a good option to migrate an existing WordPress portal, where the customer can continue to access the news and also have a private area where they can receive personalised information and can demand or interact with the company and also have mobile support on both iOS and Android.

Currently the whole back system is in SAP and my main doubts are;

  • Best solution for the web portal that can generate content and can render well in the mobile solution.
  • Best option for the mobile implementation of the same portal and its private area ( React Native?)
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Replies (2)
Recommends

I think that React Native or Vue Native is the best choice for modern cross-platform mobile applications. And both of these frameworks have a large community. Apache Cordova was the pioneer in this way. We used it in projects in 2014. Ionic is also an old tool and in 2014 it was based at Apache Cordova. I don't think that it has so a big community like React Native or Vue Native.

For a web system, React or Vue is a good and modern choice too.

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Brad Jones
CTO/founder at Meet Kinksters · | 2 upvotes · 15.6K views
Recommends

No shade on the hard work of/on Ionic and Cordova over the years, but they are not the future and you will be going down a dead-end for maintainability going forward. React Native is an excellent bridge for any pre-existing JavaScript/TypeScript skills you might already have from web development.

Flutter is worth considering as a close second but I would recommend RN for the above reasons. Also consider using Expo to ease your build process.

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Bhupendra Madhu
Web Developer at Ecombooks · | 8 upvotes · 523.3K views
Needs advice
on
FlutterFlutterReact NativeReact Native
and
XamarinXamarin

I want to learn cross-platform application frameworks like React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, or Ionic, and I'm a web developer. I can learn other programming languages as well. But I'm confused about what to learn, which framework is best, and which framework will last long as the application grows further into complexity.

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Replies (3)
Myo Win
CTO at Myanmar Web Designer (MWD) Co., Ltd. · | 5 upvotes · 37K views
Recommends

Flutter is the best one. If you are a new comer in mobile app development, choose Flutter.

But if you have strong experience in JavaScript and you have a lot of JS websites that you want to develop into mobile apps, choose React Native.

Ionic also has its strong points such as a lot of prebuilt components for different platforms and minimal dev environment requirement (you only need a browser).

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Recommends

React Native has a very rich ecosystem and if you're already a web developer, the skills that you already possess will transfer over very well. React is the second most popular web framework according to Stack Overlow's 2022 Developer Survey. No one framework is the 'best' as they all serve different purposes and have different use cases. If you're looking to pick up something popular, I would recommend React Native.

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Kubilay Cagri Yildirim
Senior System Architect at Profelis Bilisim ve Danismanlik · | 1 upvotes · 4.6K views
Recommends

The easiest and fastest for you right now is React Native. I dont know about the Xamarin but I dont like microsoft.

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Needs advice
on
Apache CordovaApache Cordova
and
Vue NativeVue Native

Heya, I'm very new on here! And I hope I can get advice on this matter :

We are working on a new app. The web version is on Sails.js (V1)/node.js/vue.js. Started with the Web App default settings (including login and payments, which we are using use). We started with a web version to give access to the customer to start creating the data while building the mobile version. (iOS and Android)

I heard of Apache Cordova, that using the same JavaScript/css could be used to not re-code the front-end of the app for iPhones and Androids. I've been told that it is end-of-life now (? - I couldn't find this info myself).

I saw that Vue Native might be an alternative and would only need a few adjustments from our web version as we are using Vue.js for the frontend.

I know next to nothing on this, so I would really appreciate it if you guys could point me to possible solutions you've used and why instead of searching through all the existing solutions. (I'm very open to know if there are alternatives to those two too !!)

We will need to be using the GPS functions of the mobiles, which is a big part of the app.

Thank you!

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Replies (1)
ahmed Tirhmert
Fullstack Web Developer · | 3 upvotes · 70K views

i don't have any experience with the vue native what so ever but i think Quasar and Ionic are the best options for an HTML/CSS/JS based mobile app ionic has full support of vue and quasar is built on vue you may have to change some configurations in your project files

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William Miller
Needs advice
on
PyQtPyQtReact NativeReact Native
and
XamarinXamarin

We are developing an AWS IoT app for large boats. The IoT devices have sensors all over the boat for engine oil pressure, position, water depth, fuel level, crew location, etc. When the boat has internet, we interact with AWS cloud using lambda and Amazon DynamoDB. When the boat is offshore, the captain and crew still need normal and emergency alerts and real-time sensor information. The crew might have an Android or IoS phone or a Windows or macOS PC to receive alerts and interact with sensors. We may use the AWS GreenGrasss edge computing solution and either MQTT or HTML for that function.

Question: We want to develop a cross-platform client to run on Windows, Mac, Android, IOS, and possibly Linux. We are primarily Python programmers, so PyQt or Kivy are options for us, but we have heard good things about React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, and others. We think an AWS Greengrass core on an RPI4 could communicate to the client with MQTT or a local webserver with a client web interface.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

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Replies (2)
Recommends
on
React NativeReact Native

I don't know much about Xamarin but I know about PyQt and React Native.

However, I don't recommend PyQt because the apps made using PyQt are not that suitable for mobile apps. If you take a look at the PyQt interface, you will be able to see that the features are more of a desktop apps kind.

React Native uses JavaScript. React Native is immensely flexible in upgrading your apps because it allows you to formulate your app code into independent blocks.

In Xamarin, you have to write the code in .NET . The best thing about Xamarin is, that it extends the.NET developer platform with tools and libraries specifically for building apps for Android, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, macOS, and Windows

While the best choice for you depends on various factors but React Native app development is a promising overall choice. In today’s scenario, React Native has steady growth, flawless code structure, and brilliant and large community support. We suggest you go for React Native for your next project owing to its outstanding support from developers, easy availability, and cost-effectiveness.

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Saamer Mansoor
Founder at The First Prototype · | 4 upvotes · 47.8K views

It seems like your app is not really using any native functionality on the phone. I have experience with cross platform iOS & Android development. They are all really good tools! Xamarin (all the project on the website portfolio I attached) is awesome for accessing native functionality (NFC, Sensors, Bluetooth, etc), and I have built apps that have millions of downloads, some that hit Top 5 on Utilities, another that hit Top 50 in Finances. You just have to look at what your application intent is, it seems like it's just to read and post data. For that they are all pretty good, but you should also look into Ionic which may serve the same purpose

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Decisions about Apache Cordova and Xamarin

I wanted to develop a student app that possibly could be used by many teams (students from other schools)

I chose Ionic, because:

  • single codebase: previously, we used React Native for Android and Angular for web/PWA, which was troublesome

  • portability: runs on PWA (which is important, because iOS license is too expensive for school app), web, Android iOS (+ others, if needed)

  • full use of web technologies: Next.js, Tailwind, React in this example (in oppose to Flutter/Java/Kotlin)

  • stability and maintainability: low-entry level due to basic web technologies without new syntax (in oppose to React Native and Flutter), web is really stable and won't lose support (which doesn't have to be true with Flutter/Dart)

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James Bender
Lead Application Architect at TekPartners · | 5 upvotes · 53.7K views

I've yet to see a non-native application that I felt performed as well and/or provided the same user experience with Cordova/PhoneGap/Xamarin. Frankly, at best they all seemed like underpowered web applications deployed to a sandbox that ran on a phone. They didn't feel "slick" or "mobile-first" and in some cases the performance was unacceptable. At previous companies, we built a few of these apps at the client's insistence, and in every case, they re-engaged us about 18 months later to re-write the app(s) natively.

We are doing some research on React Native and Flutter, but I am not yet convinced that they can provide the same level of experience and performance as native, though I am trying to keep an open mind.

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Gabor Galazzo

As a startup, we need the maximum flexibility and the ability to reach our customers in a more suitable way. So a hybrid application approach is the best because it allows you to develop a cross-platform application in a unique codebase. The choice behind Ionic is Angular, I think that angular is the best framework to develop a complex application that needs a lot of service interaction, its modularity forces you (the developer) to write the code in the correct way, so it can be maintainable and reusable.

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Aleksandr Filatov
Contract Software Engineer - Microsoft · | 2 upvotes · 401.5K views

I've done some Hybrid Mobile apps with both technologies Apache Cordova and React Native and described my experience in my blog.

In a few words, I would suggest to use each technology in accordance what what is your current code base and what do you want to achieve.

React Native is a great option if you need that extra edge in performance with multi-threading and native UI rendering. Or you already have a web app based on React which you want to port to mobile.

On the other hand, if you have an existing web application code and you want to reuse some or all, including the ability to use web third-party libraries, then Cordova is the best option.

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Aleksandr Filatov
Contract Software Engineer - Microsoft · | 2 upvotes · 110K views
What is Proguard?

ProGuard is the most popular optimizer for Java bytecode. It makes your Java and Android applications up to 90% smaller and up to 20% faster. ProGuard also provides minimal protection against reverse engineering by obfuscating the names of classes, fields and methods.

How to use it in Cordova app?

I didn't find any plugins for it. So I've implemented it by myself and shared it on GitHub.

Feel free to use!

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Pros of Apache Cordova
Pros of Xamarin
  • 48
    Lots of plugins
  • 35
    JavaScript
  • 26
    Great community
  • 25
    Easy Development
  • 18
    Easy to learn
  • 15
    Cross platform
  • 7
    Open Source
  • 6
    Easy, fast, not buggy in my experience with my code
  • 6
    Lots of descendants; PhoneGap, Ionic, Intel XDA etc
  • 4
    Can use CSS3
  • 4
    Rich HTML 5
  • 4
    Easy debugging
  • 3
    HTML, CSS and JS
  • 3
    Fast and hot reload
  • 3
    Rich css ui
  • 3
    Use what you code in your browser
  • 2
    Need a light system
  • 2
    Native Web Technologies
  • 2
    Without extra tooling needed
  • 2
    One code base everywhere
  • 121
    Power of c# on mobile devices
  • 81
    Native performance
  • 79
    Native apps with native ui controls
  • 73
    No javascript - truely compiled code
  • 67
    Sharing more than 90% of code over all platforms
  • 45
    Ability to leverage visual studio
  • 44
    Mvvm pattern
  • 44
    Many great c# libraries
  • 36
    Amazing support
  • 34
    Powerful platform for .net developers
  • 19
    GUI Native look and Feel
  • 16
    Nuget package manager
  • 12
    Free
  • 9
    Backed by Microsoft
  • 9
    Enables code reuse on server
  • 8
    Faster Development
  • 7
    Use of third-party .NET libraries
  • 7
    It's free since Apr 2016
  • 7
    Best performance than other cross-platform
  • 7
    Easy Debug and Trace
  • 7
    Open Source
  • 6
    Mac IDE (Xamarin Studio)
  • 6
    Xamarin.forms is the best, it's amazing
  • 5
    That just work for every scenario
  • 5
    C# mult paradigm language
  • 5
    Power of C#, no javascript, visual studio
  • 4
    Great docs
  • 4
    Compatible to develop Hybrid apps
  • 4
    Microsoft stack
  • 4
    Microsoft backed
  • 3
    Well Designed
  • 3
    Small learning curve for Mobile developers
  • 2
    Ionic
  • 2
    Ability to leverage legacy C and C++

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Cons of Apache Cordova
Cons of Xamarin
  • 2
    No native performance
  • 1
    Hard to install
  • 0
    Hard to install
  • 9
    Build times
  • 5
    Visual Studio
  • 4
    Price
  • 3
    Complexity
  • 3
    Scalability
  • 2
    Nuget
  • 2
    Maturity
  • 2
    Build Tools
  • 2
    Support
  • 0
    Maturidade
  • 0
    Performance

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- No public GitHub repository available -

What is Apache Cordova?

Apache Cordova is a set of device APIs that allow a mobile app developer to access native device function such as the camera or accelerometer from JavaScript. Combined with a UI framework such as jQuery Mobile or Dojo Mobile or Sencha Touch, this allows a smartphone app to be developed with just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

What is Xamarin?

Xamarin’s Mono-based products enable .NET developers to use their existing code, libraries and tools (including Visual Studio*), as well as skills in .NET and the C# programming language, to create mobile applications for the industry’s most widely-used mobile devices, including Android-based smartphones and tablets, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

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What are some alternatives to Apache Cordova and Xamarin?
PhoneGap
PhoneGap is a web platform that exposes native mobile device apis and data to JavaScript. PhoneGap is a distribution of Apache Cordova. PhoneGap allows you to use standard web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript for cross-platform development, avoiding each mobile platforms' native development language. Applications execute within wrappers targeted to each platform, and rely on standards-compliant API bindings to access each device's sensors, data, and network status.
React Native
React Native enables you to build world-class application experiences on native platforms using a consistent developer experience based on JavaScript and React. The focus of React Native is on developer efficiency across all the platforms you care about - learn once, write anywhere. Facebook uses React Native in multiple production apps and will continue investing in React Native.
Electron
With Electron, creating a desktop application for your company or idea is easy. Initially developed for GitHub's Atom editor, Electron has since been used to create applications by companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Slack, and Docker. The Electron framework lets you write cross-platform desktop applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It is based on io.js and Chromium and is used in the Atom editor.
Ionic
Free and open source, Ionic offers a library of mobile and desktop-optimized HTML, CSS and JS components for building highly interactive apps. Use with Angular, React, Vue, or plain JavaScript.
Flutter
Flutter is a mobile app SDK to help developers and designers build modern mobile apps for iOS and Android.
See all alternatives