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Ionic Framework Review

by | Jul 16, 2015

Ionic Framework is an upcoming player to the game of hybrid mobile development frameworks. It leverages Apache Cordova to compile apps down to their native binaries, giving it the hybrid framework aspect. There are lots of apps that have been built by Ionic that are live in the large App Stores such as Sworkit, ChargeMap, and much more. Before I start this Ionic Framework review, I’d like to give a little insight into my own background on the framework.

Some Background Info…

I’ve been using Ionic for some personal side projects of my own, and I can say that I instantly fell in love with it. The amount of styles, features and functionality that you receive from Ionic right out of the box is fantastic. I had modal windows and action sheets setup in a brand new Ionic application within an hour of trying Ionic for the first time (tutorials to come in the future!). In addition to the modules that Ionic gives you, because Ionic is built around Cordova, it opens you up to Cordova’s vast plugin registry for hardware interaction. I can have a native-feeling application for iOS and Android ready within minutes, with camera functionality.

Camera sample app with "no image here"Camera sample app with image

Below, you’ll find a brief Ionic Framework review with some of my personal pros and cons that I found while working with Ionic. Oh and before I start, I promise I’m not some Ionic evangelist who lives and breathes Ionic. I’ve just found it to be a really nice framework to work with!

Ionic Framework Review: Pros

Ionic View – Pro

In addition to the quick setup that Ionic brings to the table, there were a lot of things that I took a liking to. Ionic provides Ionic View, an application that functions similar to Apple’s TestFlight application. Ionic allows you to upload your applications to their server, then you and anyone else with your application’s App ID can view the application through Ionic View. I can see this as a handy tool for those that aren’t enrolled in Apple’s Developer Program, and would like to get some ideas of how their application might look on iOS. Ionic View can be downloaded on iTunes and Google Play Store.

Web Developers Can Be Mobile Developers (maybe?) – Pro

Some people might actually view this as a con, rather than a pro. I personally consider it a pro though, as I’m coming into the mobile game with a web development background. A framework like Ionic enables those with web development experience to now step into the world of mobile development. Because Ionic uses HTML, CSS, and JS to create a rich mobile UIs, it paves a nice bridge for web developers who are looking to get into mobile development (like myself!).

Large Community Base – Pro

Even though Ionic Framework is up and coming, what framework doesn’t have its quirks? Luckily, Ionic has a large user base and an active forum where developers flock to ask questions and to help each other. I found the community really helpful when trying to find solutions to small, one-off questions and problems that I was having when developing. The fact that it’s a dedicated forum makes me feel better as well – it means that the folks at Drifty (the makers) are devoted to keeping their users and to getting more people in to successfully use their framework.

Ionic Support Tools – Pro

In addition to the framework and Ionic View, Drifty has provided support tools called Ionic Analytics, Ionic Push, and Ionic Deploy. These services are meant to help you analyze app usage, test push notifications, and help you push updates faster to your testers.  Faster updates mean less down time for the reviewing and approval process. However, despite how awesome these services are, they won’t be free. Drifty has started these tools off as free services during the Alpha period (right now), but as they mature and move further and further out of beta stages, developers should prepare to begin paying some money based on their application’s success.

Ionic Framework Review: Cons

Mobile-Targeted Only – Con

As you may have assumed, Ionic is a hybrid-framework that targets mobile development. Some users desire to use Ionic’s modules and directives for actual web applications, but Ionic doesn’t respond well to full web applications.

Ionic Framework review example webpage

Despite the fact that Ionic intends to target mobile platforms, it still includes bits and pieces that one might want to use on a full-scale web application. The overall UI looks like a magnified mobile app since it’s meant to be interacted with through mobile device means. This doesn’t look completely horrible, but it’s obviously not preferred. If I was planning on making a web application, I’d probably stick with Bootstrap or Foundation.

Free, but not forever – Con

Ionic Framework is free right now – Ionic View, support services, and the framework itself. However, there are developers out there that are taking advantage of the extra services provided without knowing what Drifty is planning on charging for the services. That means that either the developers are going to have to dish out money to continue their use of these services or find (potential) cheaper alternatives.  The framework itself will be free however, so I don’t see this being too bad of an issue.

In Conclusion…

I’ve enjoyed working with the Ionic Framework for hybrid-platform development. There have been some silly quirks here and there, but it’s been a pleasure to develop using their framework. If you’re someone who’s looking into development using a hybrid-platform framework, be sure to check Ionic Framework out, as there are many tools in the arsenal waiting to help jump start your development.

Not convinced by this Ionic Framework review that hybrid-platform development is right for you? Check out our survey to help you determine if PhoneGap/Cordova is the right set of tools for you.

Looking for Ionic Framework Consulting? Intertech’s Ionic Framework Consultant’s can help you meet your hybrid mobile development needs!

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